A Christmas Drama
In addition to being used as a standard drama, this can be a Sunday School Christmas presentation, utilizing all younger people. If younger actors are used, ensure that casting is very thorough for those playing key roles.
This drama compares the "original Christmas" to how we celebrate Christmas today. It looks at the concept of "no room in the inn" and compares this to our willingness (or lack thereof), to make room for others in our celebration of Jesus' coming to earth. It looks at giving: on the one hand how the Magi felt so honored to be allowed to give to the Christ Child, alternatively how we today tend to have such a "me" oriented approach to giving at Christmas.
Thus this drama features an on-going series of "parallel stories within stories" flowing throughout the drama. Each tries to incorporate a faintly perspective into the focus of the story line. The original Christmas story will be depicted from the standpoint of a number of "families" involved in that happening: Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the Wise Men and even the Innkeeper, all are viewed from the family perspective. In the Contemporary Christmas we see the effects and the impacts of "families" as well: the family preparing for Christmas who want outsiders, the family who are unhappily "giving" at Christmas, the "family" of friends who are celebrating the birthday of an unknown friend, even the young boy who reaches out and includes another boy as his "family". The drama is meant to point out how much, (and how little), things have changed in 2000 years.
The following are the story lines:
– no room in the inn &, no room for a homeless family over the holidays
– shepherds celebrate the birth & a group celebrate "The Birthday Party"
– three kings discuss bringing gifts to the Child & couple assemble a Christmas gift
– boy invites a non-Christian friend to concert & shepherd boy invites friend to visit the manger
Stage Layout. Costumes, Props & Sets
There are really "three separate stages" on the stage. On Stage Right will be the Contemporary Christmas. Stage Left will be the Original Christmas. As much as is possible, through lighting, the two stages will be kept isolated. On extreme Upstage Left, (or Center, depending on the configuration and available exit doors in the facility where this drama is staged), is a raised stage where "the disciple Luke" acts as narrator for the original Christmas scene. Luke speaks lines which are, to a large extent, direct quotations from the Gospel of Luke.
There will need to be a backdrop across the entire stage area. If possible this could be a dark brown tarp which would create a dark background to best absorb light. If possible have painted backdrops for each set, these need not be elaborate. Just one or two scenes painted on a cloth approx. six feet wide, can be rolled down from the backdrop and will give the impression of a street scene, a stable, a barn, etc.
This is really a one act play in that there is no stop in the action other than switching back and forth between the various "stages on the stage". When switching "from one stage to another" the lights are slowly brought down on the first stage and after a few seconds of darkness slowly come up on the next stage. The action therefor is constantly moving and flowing.
A. Raised Stage at Upstage Left or Center:
Needs complete railing around, (ensure railing is sufficiently solid to provide safety when stage is dark yet as slimline as possible in order that the audience's view of the actor is not obscured). Provide a chair so Luke can sit as low and unnoticed as possible when not in the scene.
B. Original Christmas Stage
– Set I – The set is a street scene. The scenery should be the walls of buildings including the inn, perhaps with trees. There is a fire burning at Center Stage, (use a rotating artificial fireplace). Note – this fire can be left in place throughout all scenes but must be turned off when the Contemporary Stage is featured.
– Set III – The set is a pasture scene with some scrub bush and rocks.
– Set V, VIII – The manger scene has a low manger as the focal point, behind which Mary will sit. The backdrop is a stable scene so it should be fairly dark.
– Set XI – will have the two boys get out of their chairs and come on stage. This will be the manger scene set but the entire stage will need to be used to get all actors on stage.
Costumes for this and all Original Christmas Stage scenes will be biblical period dress, use darker, somber, earth tone colors except for Mary and Joseph who should wear lighter, brighter colors to set them apart. The Three Wise Men should be in rich bright colors. Luke's costume should be somewhat matched to the color of the background behind him in order that he will fade into the background when the spotlight is off him.
Lighting for all Original Christmas Sets should be designed to show night moods, therefore soft blue tints. A sharp spotlight is needed for the star in Set III. In Set V, VII and XI should have a small, low level light behind and above the manger scene to represent the star over the manger.
C. Contemporary Christmas Stage.
– Set II – The set is the exterior of a modern home. The ground is made up to indicate snow on the ground. A wheelchair will be needed and, if possible, an overhead light to represent a street light.
– Set IV, VII, LX – Only props required are two seats at the front of the audience. The two boys will have to be placed sufficiently high that all in the audience will be able to see them, yet try to avoid blocking the view of the audience as much as possible.
Set VI – The Birthday Party will be in a house, so very plain walls are all that are required. Jessie sits on a high stool. Birthday hats and noisemakers are needed.
– Set X – is in same set as Set VI. A couch- table, two chairs and a toy train needed. Note – these props can be on stage at all times, cover with a blanket to hide them in other scenes.
Costumes for all Contemporary Sets will be modern day leisure wear. Heavy jackets will be needed for Set II. For the two boys use lighter, brighter colors so that they will stand out at the front of the audience even in low light conditions. Rocky's clothing could be slightly scruffy and worn.
Lighting for all Contemporary Christmas Sets should be designed to show tension and conflict, therefore stark untinted light or red tints. In Set X, start to introduce a limited amount of softer blue tint midway through the scene, as indicated in the script.
Conduct of Characters
As a general statement, all characters on Original Christmas Stage will be quieter and more subdued. Ensure that all actors work on their voices and delivery to get across to the audience their loving, kindly, awe-struck natures.
Luke is animated, has a deep, resonant voice. His lines are delivered in a very precise, measured, educated, manner. He should give the impression of one very deep in thought, straining in his mind as though to recall the most obscure detail from his recollection of the events which happened. Luke is a very crucial role in this drama and the actor who is chosen will have to be prepared to commit a great deal of time and effort to get his role down perfectly.
The other critical keys to this drama are the two boys. Johnathan must come across as a very tender, loving person, "the all-around nice kid next door". His love and concern for Rocky must be very obvious.
Rocky is a young boy who "protesteth too much". He wants to project a loud, uncaring character but he doesn't quite carry it off. His basic hurting nature must always show through. Be extremely careful with this character to ensure that he is that combination "rough tender" character.
The characters on Contemporary Stage will mostly be louder, more aggressive- less loving. The exceptions to this will be the family and Anne in Set II. Set X will start off with actors loud, aggressive and unloving. As time goes by they will gradually become more soft spoken and loving. Note – ensure that this transition from loud to soft is very gradual as it will come across as very phony if there is a sudden switch in attitude.
The greatest asset to this drama would be remote mikes. While it is quite possible to use, (and conceal), standing mikes at the manger scene, the Birthday Party and in certain other scenes, remote mikes are almost a must for the two boys and would be most useful in other scenes. Take great care that mikes are turned off when actors are not performing. Where using standing mikes ensure that they are concealed in manger, in a birthday cake, etc. The total effect is largely lost if there is a mike very conspicuous.
Sample of script
Light comes up on raised stage at Extreme Upstage Left where Luke is pacing back and forth, telling the events of the birth of Jesus.
Luke: They call me Luke, the Doctor. Now, many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been surely believed among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to give an orderly account for you, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Lights come up slowly as a large number of actors dressed in biblical costume as travelers, come on to Stage Left from entrance at Upstage Center.
Luke: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to his own town to register.
All actors file onto stage. They stand, sit and lay down on stage, indicating there is no other place for them. Joseph and Mary also enter Upstage Left from Upstage Center entrance. As Joseph and Mary enter, all other actors will make room for them so the two central characters will be isolated and thereby become evident, allowing the audience to focus on them. Joseph is helping Mary along, she is in obvious discomfort, (don't overdo this as it must not look humorous).
Luke: So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Lights down on Upper Stage.
Mary: Joseph, I can go no further. I must rest.
Joseph: Here is an inn.
Joseph calls at door at Upstage Center: Sir, hello! We must have a room.
Innkeeper comes to door, obviously roused from bed, a frustrated look on face: And where might you expect to find a room? It is the time of the census and my inn has been full and overflowing for days.
Joseph: But sir, I beg you! My wife is, is about to have a baby! It is her first, I am concerned for her. Surely you wouldn't allow that the baby be born outdoors on such a cold night?
Innkeeper: I told you, I have no room available. I am sorry for your situation, but there's nothing I can do for you. Perhaps if you . . . if you went to the temple. (Innkeeper smiles a relieved smile). Yes, that's it! Take your wife to the temple. She will be looked after there! Good evening to you now!
Innkeeper turns to walk back inside but Joseph grabs his arm.
Joseph: Please sir! It is five long miles back to Jerusalem, the baby will be born soon.
Innkeeper: What do you expect of me? I have already told you that I have no room! (thinks a second, smiles). And, even if I had room, there is no midwife about. As you well know the law requires that a midwife be present. (smiles more broadly as he tries to break loose from Joseph) I would like to help you. I really would. But, . . it is not possible, sorry.
Innkeeper's wife calls from. inside: Who is that out there Jacob? Who are you talking with?
Innkeeper to Joseph: It is my wife, I must go in. (to wife) It is just another traveler, Elizabeth. I have explained that we have no room, they are about to leave.
Joseph, loudly so as to be heard inside the house: I beg you both! You must help us! My wife is about to give birth! Please!
Elizabeth comes outside: About to give birth? Oh would you look at her Jacob? She is only a child herself. Surely there is something we can do.
Jacob: Woman, you know there is nothing we can do, we have no rooms available.
Elizabeth: There is always our bed, Jacob.
Jacob, angrily: I'll not give up my warm bed on such a cold night to, to a Nazarene! (Realizes he has gone too far, backtracks). Er, yes, . . . . and besides, there is no midwife to attend. You know the law! There must be a midwife, we could be in trouble with the law.
Elizabeth: Well they can not simply be turned out in the cold! What about the stable? At least they would be warm from the animals! Go on down to the cave, the two of you. I'll be along with some blankets.
Mary: God bless you, dear lady! Thank you!
Innkeeper, as he turns to go back inside: Woman why did you agree to this? We must not get involved with these, . . . these, . . . travelers. Who knows who they may be?
Elizabeth: Jacob, they are only children, and there is the baby to think of. Now go back to bed while I take blankets to the stable to keep the child warm.
Lights down on Original Stage, then up on Raised Stage.
Luke: While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Lights down on raised stage.
Lights up on Contemporary Stage, (Stage Right), where George, a man in a wheel chair, his wife Doris, and daughter Diana are standing.
Diana: Where are we going to sleep tonight, Dad?
Doris: Hush, Diana, Dad will see that we find somewhere to sleep, it will be OK!
George: Here’s a house with a light on inside.
George rings "doorbell", Doug comes to door, with Christmas tree decorations in his hand, looks down at wheelchair, frowns:
Doug: Do you know what time it is? And it's Christmas Eve! What can I do for you?
George: Sorry to bother you sir. Our car broke down. It is very cold and our daughter is ill. Would it be possible to come in for a moment while we warm up and decide what we can do?
Doug: I'm really sorry but as you see we are getting ready for Christmas. I'd really like to help but you understand how it is, a family holiday and all. May I suggest that you go to the hotel back down the road, they'll have lots of rooms available tonight. Have a good holiday, now!
Doug goes to move back- inside but George grabs his arm.
George: Please sir! We can't walk the five miles back into town. And the snow is very deep for my wheelchair. (embarrassed) And besides, we have no money for a room. We spent our last penny on some medicine for my daughter, Diana.
Doug smiles condescendingly: Don't you worry about a thing. The Salvation Army will sure look after you! After all, that's why we pay taxes, to have a helping hand available when fine folks like you have things go wrong! Just wait here while I call a taxi for you. Wait right where you are, the taxi will be along in just a few minutes!
Anne calls from inside: Who is that out there Doug? Who are you talking with?
Doug to George: It's my wife, we are decorating the tree, I must go in. I'll phone for that taxi right away. (to wife) It is just a traveler, Anne. Seems they've had some car trouble. I'm going to phone for a taxi for them.
George: Please! May we come inside, just until the taxi comes'? My daughter is sick. Could we please just warm ourselves?
Anne steps outside. A sick daughter? (touches Diana's forehead) Oh, Doug, the child is burning up, she has a fever. All of you, come in, hurry, bring her inside!
Doug: Anne, you know there is nothing we can do. They have no money for a hotel room and we have no rooms available.
Anne: We'll sort that out later. Right now I want to get that child into bed.
Doug: Anne, you know how much I want to help, but there is nothing we can do! This man is in a wheelchair. Unfortunately we have stairs throughout our house. (to George) Sorry but there's just nothing we can do! There's just no room …. you understand…….
Anne: There is the summer cottage out back. I'll get a fire going and bring some blankets. Come along George…. Doris….. Diana. Things will be OK!
(balance of script available at no charge to DramaShare members)