Eve of Discovery - Maundy Thursday

  • Cast Number: 17
  • Run-time: 80 minutes
  • Bible Reference: Luke 22
Maundy Thursday celebration, beginning with discussions among the disciples, talking of their fears and their perception of what is going on. A key segment is a discussion between Judas and his sister. The focus is on the time spent in the Upper Room, with the Last Supper celebration, and the washing of the disciples feet.

Cast: 15 male actors, 1 female actor plus a narrator. Actors can be any age

Set:The set is the Upper Room, the area which was used to celebrate the Passover, with the table at upstage center, far enough back that it can be kept quite dark early in the drama.
It is a long, rectangular room, built upon the roof of the house, therefore the back set could have windows painted showing hillside scenes. An earthenware jar is in the upstage left corner of the room, from here Jesus will get the water to wash the feet of the disciples. At upstage center is a low table, at which all would recline on carpets or cushions, (or alternately a standard table and chairs can be used).
The initial action happens in the sanctuary aisles and at floor level in front of the stage, later the scene switches to the table area at upstage. The key is keeping the table area in darkness in the early stages of the drama, obscuring the movement as individual actors take their seats at the table following their opening lines. If it is not possible to keep the table area in darkness, you can alternatively make this a two act drama, with the second act beginning just before Jesus enters the sanctuary.

Props: Dinner elements: Grape juice, bowls of salt water, parsley or celery, three matzos (wrapped in large napkin), bitter herbs (horseradish), haroses (mixture of apples, cinnamon, and nuts). Wash basin, earthenware jar, table, (with or without chairs), towel
Note: information on traditional food served was supplied by William A. Palmer, Jr. and Karen Dickson, and is used with permission

Samples of script:

In the dark the narrator speaks

Narrator: On the first day of the Passover ceremonies, when bread made with yeast was purged from every Jewish home, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where shall we plan to eat the Passover?” And Jesus replied, “Go into the city and there you shall find . . . .
Followspot up as Peter and John enter from the rear of the sanctuary, narrator’s voice blends right into the voice of Peter. Work on this to ensure it is a smooth, seamless transition.
Peter: . . . . a man carrying a jar of water.” How, in the whole city of Jerusalem, a city swollen with people arriving for the Passover, are we to find one particular man? Impossible! A needle in a haystack.
John: Think Simon Peter. A man. Carrying water?
Peter: Yes. A man carrying water. What is so unusual about . . . wait, what man would be walking about carrying water? Women’s work!
John: Women’s work, or perhaps a slave.
Peter: Impressive deduction, John my friend! Obvious why the Teacher called you from your life as a fisherman, through you He had bigger fish to fry. Now then if only we can control that temper, Boanerges, Son of Thunder, Child of the Storm!
John: Perhaps, in the same way as you dear Simon Peter, I too am a work in progress.
Peter: A work in progress molded by the Master Potter.
John: I am afraid for the Teacher, Peter.
Peter: As we all are, John, my friend. Yet it seems as though nothing will keep him away from celebrating the Passover here in Jerusalem, it’s as though some unseen magnet draws Him.
John: I pray God will protect our safety here in Jerusalem, Peter. Everywhere we go the Romans and temple guards watch our every move.
Peter: If it wasn’t that the Master is so popular with the people I am sure the high priests might try to arrest him.
John: Why do they hate the Master as they do? Is it because the Master stands for all that is good?
Peter: There are many good people about, John. No, it’s not his goodness that distresses Caiaphas and his group. It is the Master’s outspoken declaration to be the Son of God.
John: Peter, you know full well that the Master is the Son of God.
Peter: Yes, I know, but I worry for him, John! Sometimes I think if he would just, only for a little while, hold back, lay low, that perhaps . . .
John: Simon Peter! You, the Rock! How can you say such a . . .
Timothy comes on stage from side door
Peter: Wait, over there, see him, carrying a water jar . . .
John: Follow him, see where he goes.
Peter: Call out to him in case we lose him.
John: No, the Master clearly told us to follow him to the house he enters. Come.
Timothy goes up on stage, Peter and John follow behind
John: You, sir, our Teacher says for you to show us the guest room where he can eat the Passover with his disciples.
Joseph comes down from upstage center
Joseph: That would be me whom you are seeking.
Peter: It is the fellow with the water jar who we seek.
Joseph: No, I think it would be I.
Peter: And who might you be?
Joseph: I might indeed be anyone, but in fact am Joseph bar Joseph, and this my good slave Timothy. And you would be the Teacher’s disciples.
Peter: Teacher? What teacher? Us disciples? I tell you we are . . .
Joseph: You would be Cephas, the Teacher spoke of you. And you sir, James, is it?
John: No sir, his brother, John.
Peter: What is this, John, how do we know this man? He may well be . .
Joseph: I am a believer, same as you, Peter, and I spoke with the Teacher, agreeing to provide a safe upper room here where you may eat the Passover. You will indeed see to that, won’t you Timothy?
Timothy: What an incredible pleasure to have the Teacher here with us!
Peter: The slave is then, I take it a . . . .
Timothy: . . . a believer, oh yes, indeed, I and my whole family.
Joseph: Come along, don’t stand there, we all have work to do, preparing the upper room for the Passover feast.
Timothy: We have stocked the room with both food and drink, I will take this jar of water up now so that all may wash after the long trek.
Peter: Fine then, let us go. Perhaps if I am the first one to recline at the table I can select a favoured spot alongside the Master.
John: That is not funny, will I always be reminded of my error in jusdgement. . .
Peter: Temper, temper! (chuckles) Come along then . . . the others will be arriving shortly and we have preparations to take care of.
All go upstage to darkened area where they freeze in the shadows, after a few seconds Simon and Matthew come in from the rear of the sanctuary
Matthew: A lovely neighbourhood.
Simon: Matthew, Levi, spoken like a true tax collector!
Matthew: Truly dear Simon, will you ever forget what I was and see what the Master has made in me?

another segment:

Jesus stands, turns, walks onto stage and into table scene as light slowly come up, Jesus walks upstage right position, behind the disciples who are in their place at the table. As he comes behind each disciple he pauses a moment with his hands on their shoulders, mimes speaking to them
Narrator: Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end, each one special in his eyes.
Jesus takes his place at the center position standing behind the table
Jesus: Baw-ruch a-taw a-do-nai elo-hay-nu me-lech haw-o-lawm a-sher baw-char baw-nu mee-kawl awm v’ro-m’maw-nu mee-kawl law-shon v’ki-d’shaw-nu b’mitz-vo-sawv.
Blessed art Thou, O Eternal Lord, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
Disciples: Blessed art Thou, O Eternal Lord, King of the Universe, who has preserved us alive, sustained us, and brought us to enjoy this season.
All drink the first cup of grape juice. Jesus, taking place of the Father, now washes his hands in the bowl of water that has been provided for this purpose.
Narrator: And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin for to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
Jesus goes to center stage left position where he invites each disciple in turn to come to have their feet washed. This can be done quickly and kindly. Have disciple facing center stage in order that there is a good view of both Jesus and the disciple. After each actor has had feet washed they return to their position at the table. Narrator speaks of each person as their feet are washed
Jesus: Come first, that I may wash your feet, Simon Peter.
Peter: Lord, are you going to wash my feet?
Jesus: What I do you do not realize now, but you shall understand hereafter.
Peter: Never shall You wash my feet!
Jesus: If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.
Peter: Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

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