Remembering Paul

  • Cast Number: 19
  • Run-time: 90 minutes
  • Bible Reference: Acts
10 act play on the life and ministry of Paul, told through those who knew him best. Follows the life of Saul (Paul) from early life through to conversion, ministry and death.

19+ (as written, mostly women, some actors can play multiple roles*)
The roles of Marian and Ruth are rather large, could be split up among other actors
Marian, older woman in Jerusalem
Ruth, older woman in Jerusalem
Mary, young girl in Jerusalem
Thecla, preacher taught by Paul
Dara, female, teacher
Young Saul, young boy
Hannah, woman in Jerusalem
Martha, woman in Jerusalem
Elizabeth, woman in Jerusalem
Paul, likely middle age
Bodyguard, male, on Damascus road
Festus, likely middle age
Agrippa, likely middle age
Bernice, Agrippa’s wife
Centurion Julius
Helen, woman on ship
Publius, governor of Malta
Sarah, male or female
Eunice, male or female
crowd persons (as available)

Offstage voice of Jesus

* NOTE: Following roles could be played by single actor with costume change:
Bodyguard, Agrippa, Publius
Martha, Helen, Sarah, Dara
Elizabeth, Eunice, Bernice

Acts I, III, V and X are in a room in Jerusalem where women are working
Act II is a school setting
Act IV is on Damascus Road
Act VI is in Festus’ court, some opulence
Act VII and VIII are aboard ship, some backdrops showing ships rigging
Act IX is on the island

Sets need not be elaborate, simply creating the mood

Spots to isolate stages and for the Damascus Road encounter

traditional, Act VI would have more elaborate dress, Julius in Roman costume

food, water, fabric, jar, packages, scrolls, tables, chairs, handcuffs, plastic snake, firewood

Sample of script:

ACT I – Jerusalem 64AD

group of women are working with food, fabric, loud chatter and laughter

Marian: All of you, get busy! . . . There is so much to do!

all look up, casually go back to work

Marian: Look at the young ones! . . No sense of urgency! . . . You would swear we have all week to prepare!

Ruth: Marian, go easy on the young women; they share our concern for the needs of the churches.

Marian: Too bad concern didn’t translate into less chatter and more work.
(loud, addressing all the women)
All of you! . . Time is of the essence! . . . Move swiftly, less talk and more action!

Ruth, to Marian: Please Marian, go easy on them . . Eliphalet is not expected to be here in Jerusalem until next week.

Marian: And when he arrives provisions for Paul’s churches must be ready and waiting.

Ruth, points offstage: The provisions for the church in Athens are ready and bound into packets.

Marian: That is the smaller packet; the provisions for Corinth and Philippi are much larger and will need more care in packing.

Mary: Why are we sending provisions to the churches which Paul planted? . . Didn’t they used to send money and support to us here in Jerusalem?

Marian: Things are more difficult among the new churches. The Romans are more heavy-handed, and with Paul in jail in Rome there is no one to urge them on.

Ruth: True. Paul sends letters of guidance to the churches, but they need a hands-on approach.

Mary picks up a jar, drops it on the floor, it shatters

Marian, shakes Mary, speaks loud: Clumsy child! . . Now look what you have done! . . . Now pick that up, every splinter, if it gets among the tenting fabric someone will be badly cut! . . John Mark and his team are counting on this fabric for their tent-making.

Mary: Forgive my clumsiness Marian; I will clean it up at once.

Ruth, embraces Mary: It will be fine Mary, I will bring another jar from home.

Mary: Thank you Ruth.

Mary wipes away tears, goes back to work
there is a noise offstage, people walking

Ruth: Someone coming.

Marian: Several women by the sound.

Thecla and her group come on stage, the other women mill around the newcomers suspiciously

Thecla: Hello to this house.

Marian: Hello to yourself. . . And who might you be?

Thecla: I might be almost anyone, but truth is I am Thecla of Iconium, preacher of the Lord Jesus Christ, he crucified and raised again to eternal life.

Hannah, suspicious: A woman preacher? . . . Odd that.

Thecla: The message of life everlasting through Christ is not bound by gender, ethnicity or status, and is for men, women, children, Jews and Gentiles, slave or free.

Marian: You speak well, and from where did your fountain of knowledge flow?

Thecla: From the heart of the one true God, through His servant Paul, a man with whom I believe you are familiar.

Marian: We are familiar with Paul.

Hannah moves to Marian, pulls her aside, speaks in a whisper

Hannah: Marian, be careful, we don’t know her; she may be trying to find out more about the followers of the Way.

Marian, looks at Thecla, speaks to Hannah: Perhaps, yes perhaps she may be at that.
(moves toward Thecla, speaks)
And what . . Thecla . . is your business here?

Thecla: I came to meet a woman named Lydia of Thyatira. I was told she might be here.

Marian: Lydia was my mother; she went to be with the Lord six months ago.

Thecla: I am sorry to hear that, Paul spoke often of her, and fondly.

Marian: And what of Paul?

Thecla: That is the reason for my visit. To tell you Paul too has gone to be with his Lord.

gasps and shock from all actors

Thecla: Paul wanted me to meet with you and to deliver his love for you in person.

Marian: Such a tragedy to lose such a man of God!

Thecla: The swords of Nero have cut a wide swath among the Christians in Rome.

Hannah: If what you say is true, and we have no proof of that, but assuming it is true, it is as Paul would want it . . to be worthy to lay down his life for Jesus Christ.

Ruth: And tell me, what of the others, the Christians in Rome?

Thecla: Dispersed throughout the region, into Spain and beyond. . . Paul always said when Rome plants its heel on the necks of Christians they beat a retreat, preaching the salvation of Jesus as they go.

Marian: Paul . . martyred! . . . How fitting!

Hannah: You came all the way here to tell us of Paul’s death?

Thecla: Yes . . and to learn more from you.

Hannah: If as you say, you were trained by Paul, what could you learn from us women?

Thecla: I want to know more of who he was . . who he became . . the story behind the story of Paul, from the beginning.

Marian, frowns, looks closely at Thecla: I see great love in your eyes for Paul.

Thecla: Yes, love, but not simply the love of a woman for a man. . . The love in Christ for a fellow believer, a fellow preacher.

Marian, motions to the crowd: These women here, most knew Paul, or Saul, as was known back then. . . I am sure they can share about the man and his mission.Sit down . . we will talk.

Hannah: I tell you, be careful Marian!

Marian, firm: That is enough Hannah! . . I said we will talk .. Now sit. . . Ladies . . refreshments for our guests.

drinks and a loaf are brought to Thecla and the others

Marian: Starting at the beginning . . remembering . . Saul of Tarsus . . .
Saul’s family moved to Tarsus from Gishala, in Galilee.
Saul’s family, being wealthy tentmakers, arranged that, from a young age, Saul be well educated. And so Saul was taught by the foremost teacher and intellect of the day, none other than the renowned Gamaliel. . .

lights down on Stage 1

ACT II – Tarsus

lights up on Stage 2 village scene, young Saul is sitting reading a scroll, Dara comes onstage along with other young children

Dara: Students, today Gamaliel was called away on important business at the temple. I am Dara, Gamaliel’s assistant, I will take over as your tutor today.

Young Saul: Hmmm, Dara, your name means wisdom.

Dara, smiles: You must be the young Saul. Gamaliel told me about your intellect and studious nature. . . . I trust I will live up to my name in your eyes.
Now then, we continue your studies into the law as written down by our forefathers and by the prophets of God.
What needs to be understood is that the law, while infallible and ultimate, must be understood, interpreted and adapted from the perspective of current reality.

Young Saul: Excuse me madam, but can you explain how the law, if infallible and ultimate, can be interpreted and adapted. . . Is the law, being infallible and ultimate, . . not simply the law, and thereby above adaptation?

Dara, smiles: Ahhh, young Saul, you are a rigorist, are you not? . . But over time as you grow and become more learned you will find that the holy books of the law contain hundreds, no, thousands of laws, . . ranging from when to rise in the morning through to the prescribed manner of conducting the most obscure business dealings,. . . even to how one must treat canker sores in ones mouth. . . And the fact is that, in this modern and enlightened age in which we live, new breakthroughs in medicine, and new manners of doing business must supersede old thoughts.

Young Saul: And in so doing put the law to shame and disrepute?

Dara: There is neither shame nor disrepute in being open to new advances.

Young Saul: New advances come from ordinary mortal man. The law was delivered straight from the mouth of God. . . I shall never accept even the slightest adaptation of the law unless delivered directly from the mouth of the Lord God Jehovah himself.

Dara: But we, the Jewish people, have had no prophet in many, many years. . . In the absence of that we, the people of God, must prayerfully adapt and stay relevant.

Young Saul: In my heart the ancient law will still stand uncontested until a prophet of God makes his appearance and announces changes . . if any . . to the law.

Dara: You are a sceptic young Saul. . . Tell me, in this day of so many false prophets, how shall you know that this new prophet is the real thing?

Young Saul: Dara, my esteemed teacher, I shall not be easily persuaded of the legitimacy of a self announced prophet of God.

Dara: I can see that. . . So to prove his legitimacy what will it take . . a clap of thunder, the skies opening up . . . loud music and the singing of angels . . what will it take?

Young Saul: I am not sure Dara . .. Perhaps it will take a mighty blow from the Lord God Jehovah that will knock me to my knees, perhaps a ray of light from the heavens so strong that it will take my sight . . I don’t know. . . But this I know, . . . at the time this happens, if ever it does . . . I WILL KNOW!

Dara, frowns, pauses, thinks: Yes young Saul, I sense that you shall indeed . . . for you are a perceptive one.

Young Saul: The prophets tell of a coming Messiah, perhaps it is he who will reintroduce and, if necessary, adapt the law.

Dara: The coming Messiah, our hope . . . long predicted, but slow in coming.

Young Saul: A thousand years in God’s sight is but a fleeting moment. . . I believe that the Messiah will come, and soon. . . And further I expect that I shall see the Messiah with my own eyes.

Dara: And I too have the strange feeling that you shall.
(pauses, stares at Young Saul, thinks, shakes head as though clearing thoughts)
Enough for the moment children, it is time for lighter thoughts. . . Go outside and play. . . . Perhaps when you return Gamaliel shall be back . . to face your studious questions and comments young Saul.

children leave stage, Saul being the last to leave, Dara watches, deep in wonder as they go

lights down on Stage 2

ACT III - Jerusalem

Marian: Young Saul was one of the most promising students ever trained by Gamaliel, . . and likely one of the most challenging as well.

lights gradually up on Stage 1

Thecla: How like the Paul I knew, demanding nothing but the truth . . even at that age.

Ruth: Demanding? . . Paul? . . Oh yes, and anyone, friend or foe soon learned that there was no grey in Paul’s life, only black and white, truth or falsehood. . .

Thecla: But those were qualities that we appreciated, loved, in Paul.

Ruth: Appreciated? . . Loved? . . . Perhaps. . . . Depending on whom you asked. . . As a young man receiving his rabbinic training in Jerusalem those traits certainly did catch the attention of peers and superiors alike. . . In some cases this created respect and admiration . . In others only fear and mistrust. . . But whatever the emotions Paul stirred up, he quickly rose through the ranks to positions of power in the Jewish community.

Thecla: Well I can see where the establishment would dislike him.

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