A Handful of Nails

  • Cast Number: 20
  • Run-time: 60 minutes
  • Bible Reference: Luke 23
First hand report on the crucifixion. The "thread" that ties this complete Easter drama together is the conversation between the two thieves that were on the other two crosses. We also hear from Judas as he has second thoughts, from the carpenter that built the cross, Simon of Cyrene, Mary, the disciples, Mary and Martha (sisters of Lazarus) at the tomb.
A wonderful drama with suggested music, (One Drop of Blood and Does He Still Feel The Nails), by Ray Boltz.

Set: Uses a split stage where action alternates between sets 1 and 2. Requires little in sets, props or special effects.

Cast:

Central theme:Elishua (el-ee-SHU-ah)
Benaiah, (ben-AY-ah)
Ishpan (ISH-pan)
Off stage voice of Guard

Sin of the Follower:
Judas
Guard
off-stage voice Annas
off-stage voice Caiaphas
other off-stage voices

Carpenter Segment Monologue

Simon of Cyrene Monologue

Golgotha segment

Jesus
Mary
John
Centurion Cornelius
Several soldiers, priests, crowd
(note these roles are very small and can be combined)

Bringing Good of Evil
Mary sister of Lazurus
Martha, sister of Lazurus
Thomas, the disciple
Centurion Cornelius

Dawn of Belief
Mary Magdalene
Joanna
Narrator

Sample of script:

Elishua is standing at upstage Set 1. Benaiah and Ishpan are thrown into the set, sprawl on floor, the off-stage voice of unseen guard is heard

Guard: Into this holding pen then, until the carpenter finishes his little gift for you! Let’s see, standard issue cross should do quite well, don’t you think? (laughs)
Elishua: Welcome to my humble abode! Don’t you like the strong iron bars for windows, the dirt floor packed hard by hundreds of shackled feet? May I ask, what brings you two gentlemen calling today?
Benaiah: Fool! How can you make jokes when you know full well our next stop will be Golgotha?
Elishua: Joke? Why not? The reality of crucifixion will hit quickly enough, allow me if you will, a few last moments of optimism.
Ishpan: Optimism? And of what can we be optimistic, whoever you may be?
Elishua: Elishua ben Jona, robber extraordinaire, at your service. And by what name may I refer to you two?
Benaiah: Doomed perhaps! Though the world knows me by the name of Benaiah, I have known many aliases, each recruited when a new identity seems wise. And those whose throats I have slit care not whether my name be Benaiah or Caiaphas.
Elishua: And a fine humour you have as well, may I declare, however I doubt that Caiaphas would chuckle that a murderer place himself on the same level as the high priest. But, yes, it is doomed we all are, no doubting that. And, you sir?
Ishpan: The name is Ishpan, and like Benaiah was found guilty of robbery, if you would know. Would you two mind keeping your humour and your observations to yourselves? Allow me to make what I can of my last few minutes.
Benaiah: Look the soldiers are bringing in another prisoner. Wonder what he has done?
Elishua: Done? And since when does one need to do something in this God-forsaken town to be brought to trial?
Ishpan: Benaiah! One could hardly count either of us as guiltless. We are worthy of our penalty. Yet, he out there does not look the ruffian.
Elishua: Whether worthy or whether not, makes no matter, should Pilate decide to exercise ius gladii at his whim. All it costs them is a mere handful of nails!
Benaiah: Ius gladii, oh yes, Pilate does takes delight in his power to pronounce death penalty. Look at the crowd out there, not only will that poor fool be crucified, he has been made into a laughing stock by all of them.
Elishua: Yes, Roman soldier and Jew alike, making the poor fool the butt of their cruel and ugly jokes. Strange how barbarism makes friends and cohorts of those who otherwise would gladly slit each other’s throats.
Ishpan: Look at the crowd; they have placed a purple cloak on his shoulders, woven thorns into kind of a crown. Why do they do this? Who is the prisoner that they would treat him this fashion?
Elishua: Where have you been? Have you not heard of the self-proclaimed King of the Jews, the supposed long-awaited Messiah, Jesus the Christ?
Ishpan: Oh, another Messiah declared? I have just traveled through Alexandria and Rome and in either city it seems there are those on every street corner purporting to be the true Messiah.
Benaiah: In Alexandria, Rome or elsewhere yes, I can see this, for in those unenlightened areas anyone making a statement is likely to be heard. But here in Jerusalem? I find that strange, bizarre!
Elishua: Look around you Benaiah, these are strange, bizarre times! Our nation have waited in desperation, to the point of frenzy, for the Messiah long promised!
Ishpan: See how they mock Him! Raw hatred for all he stands for! Why such universal hatred for the man?
Elishua: Ishpan, hatred today yes, but only a few days ago all these same people, save those closely affiliated with the Sanhedrin, all, to a man, hailed His triumphant entry to this same city!
Benaiah: Why, what has He done to make this change in their opinions?
Elishua: He, what has he done you ask? What would any person have to do to change the minds and hearts of a leaderless people? Perhaps you haven’t noticed . . . . the scene out there is a mob, and mob rule requires no rational thinking, only a scheming instigator. And, behold, the instigator, Caiaphas, the chief priest!
Ishpan: Why would the chief priest take interest in a delusional self-appointed prophet?
Elishua: Perhaps for the same reason as Pontius Pilate and Herod have such a tenuous relationship.
Benaiah: And that would be?
Elishua: Jealousy, jealousy my good man! Caiaphas fears that any other man’s shadow fall longer than his own lest the gullible Jewish nation pick up and follow in his retinue!
Benaiah: So this Messiah has called the nation to rise up against authority?
Elishua: Rise up against authority, the opposite actually, His teaching tells his followers to submit to those in authority, even to pray for their enemies.
Ishpan: Delusional, I take it.
Elishua: Take care that you do not confuse delusion with discernment. The man is no fool, He is a healer of sicknesses, I am told he has even raised people from the dead. No, don’t write Him off as the fool; Caiaphas himself made that mistake early and has lived to rue his lack of judgment.
Benaiah: I can’t believe my eyes! The man is being treated worse than a mangy dog yet he is looking at His tormentors without hatred, even with love. How, why does He not react as all hunted animals do? Is He not a normal, ordinary human man?
Elishua: A normal, ordinary human man? No, of course He is not!
Ishpan: What then, some god?
Elishua: Behold, the son of the one true God.
Benaiah: “The son of the one true God?” What foolish drivel, surely you don’t for a moment believe that He is . . . . .
Elisuah: . . .the Son of God? Yes, of course He is! That man before you is the Messiah. And after their gamesmanship, their torturing Him, they will crucify Him this same day.
Ishpan: Elishua, this time you ramblings have gone too far! We three will indeed be put to death today, but this man can not. He has only been tried today, the law provides that sentence not be carried out until the day following. And you very well know that tomorrow, being a Holy day, no execution will be carried out. The man will have a few days to wait for whatever sentence is pronounced here.
Elisuah: The law? Fool who makes the law? And those who make the laws can most easily bend or break them to suit their whim. No, the Messiah will die today.
Benaiah: Look the pathetic little man crying there at the outside edge of the crowd. A supporter of your Messiah perhaps? Some good your friend’s tears will do now for either he or your Messiah!
Elishua: My friend, I think not! No friend of the Messiah either! Behold the traitor, Judas of Kerioth! He who was by Jesus’ side, posing as a friend, all the while stealing from the treasury over which he had control, and finally, for the few filthy coins he now clutches in that purse, he sold the Messiah as a lamb to the slaughter.
Ishpan: You mean this man from Kerioth was a follower, turned traitor?
Elishua: I question that he ever was a believer, but though there be doubt in that, there is no doubt that it was he who sold Jesus, the Christ to the Sanhedrin, and who identified Him with a kiss to the Messiah’s cheek. See, see this traitor now, running off to the temple to talk with his fiendish friends!
Benaiah: Yes, so he is, and I saw that the Sanhedrin are in meeting, they all entered that door only as we were being led here. But this traitor is not acting like one who has triumphed, he is crying, tearing his clothing as he approaches the temple.
Ishpan: Do you suppose the traitor has changed his mind?
Elishua: Yes, I can believe that, (laughs scornfully), as sure as I believe that a snake raises up off his belly and stands upright on two hind feet! Besides, what difference would his relenting make, even if that should happen? No, the die has been cast, the Messiah is as good as a dead man.
Benaiah: He is approaching the guard at the temple . . . . . .
lights down on Set 1, up on Set 2

Sin of The Follower segment

Set - backdrop at Set 2 upstage indicates a house, at center stage is a rough doorway which Judas approaches to give the impression of entering a room.

Judas comes in from back of sanctuary, runs down the aisle, up on stage. While running he screams at the top of his voice.

Judas: Please! Listen to me! I must talk to you. There has been a terrible mistake!
As Judas comes to door, Guard comes out.
Guard: You! Stop that noise! The Sanhedrin is meeting, you will be . . .
Judas: The chief priests, the elders! I must see them!
Guard: No one is allowed in there!
Judas: I must see them, and now, before it is too late! I have betrayed innocent blood! An innocent man is about to die! I must stop them!
Caiaphas talks from offstage: Guards, the racket, what is happening out there? Did I not tell you we were not to be disturbed? Now tell the person to . . .
Guard: Sorry Caiaphas, sir, this man demands to see you and the rest, he . . .
Judas pushes the guard out of the way, rushes through the door, Guard follows him. Judas and Guard are only ones on stage, all others are voices from offstage. Judas and Guard act and react as though the others were right there in front of them, just offstage around the corner .
Judas: I must see you Caiaphas! I must explain to you and the elders! A terrible wrong is about to be . .
Caiaphas: Oh, it’s you, what’s your name, . . ah, yes, Judas, Judas Iscariot! And just what brings you here again, Judas Iscariot? I thought our business had been concluded. You have received what you bargained for, the thirty pieces of silver. And as for us, why we too are well satisfied with the transaction which we made, right, friends?
There is a stir of voices in the background, murmuring approval, agreement, some laughter.
Judas: But you don’t understand! I was wrong! He is innocent!
Caiaphas: You, wrong? Him, innocent? (laughs) Well, well! Quite a change in thinking from just two days ago! Remember, Judas Iscariot, remember how anxious you were then for His riddance! What, then, man? You, Judas Iscariot, you have your wish, and, we, . . . we have our wish as well, do we not, good friends of the Sanhedrin!
(Again sounds of agreement, laughter).
Judas: But you don’t understand! I was wrong! We were all wrong! He is . . .
Caiaphas: See here, my good man! Wrong you may be! Wrong we are not! Even now, as we speak, He is on His way. He, who seemed to enjoy His walks about the country, He is now on a final walk, up the hill to Calvary! Were we wrong? I think not!
(Again sounds of agreement, laughter).
Judas: But, that’s just it, listen to me, He must not die! We dare not murder the Son of God!
Caiaphas: Come here to me you little weasel! Today has ended all talk of sons of God! Now, then, look into my face you, you, parasite! And listen to my every word! We shall hear no more talk of this Jesus, your dear, dear friend! (laughs) Yes, a dear, dear friend of your’s, was He not? Such a dear friend that you betrayed Him, didn’t you, you, vermin! So don’t try to impress us with aspirations toward eleventh hour integrity! You have taken our money in payment for your deed. We have no more reason to have you around us!
Judas: But here, here is your money, every last coin! See, count it!
Caiaphas: And just why would we want your money, your blood money, Judas Iscariot? Take it and go, you . .
Judas: No, listen to me, you must take the money back, I can’t, . . . He mustn’t die, He must not die! I have sinned, I have betrayed innocent blood
Caiaphas: Well, well! Judas Iscariot, follower of this Jesus, the Nazarene, the self-appointed Son of God. Dear friends of the Sanhedrin, do you all hear the words of this Judas, the disciple? (scornfully) “He has sinned!” Tell me, dear Judas Iscariot! What is that to us? That is your responsibility!
Judas: But, please! I beg you! Here is your money!
Judas throws a money bag on the floor, out of sight. Sound of coins hitting the floor.
Caiaphas: You, you fool!

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