Jerusalem Live

  • Cast Number: 18
  • Run-time: 90 minutes
  • Bible Reference: Luke 22:4
An Easter Telecast

Theme: This docudrama dares to ask the most critical questions of all life: not only who was Jesus, but who is Jesus, and, most important of all, what does He mean to you now?
It's nearly spring of A.D. 30. Rome is attempting to keep a fragile peace with it's province of Judea. A dove faction in the Jewish hierarchy is attempting to prevent anything from disrupting hoped for peace talks with their Roman conquerors. They're convinced a humble carpenter's son from Galilee is a threat to that peace process and have arranged the help of one of the Nazarene's own followers to help take him off the world stage permanently. The political powderkeg in Jerusalem has attracted the attention of the world press and the electronic media.

Production Notes
This dramatic retelling of the arrest and trial of the Galilean through the camera lenses of ABC News could take place on a nearly bare stage with tight, close-up, overhead spot lighting on the principal actors to create stark realism and add emphasis to dialogue. Wherever possible, very familiar dialogue is used from Scripture to add authenticity to the recreation of actual events (*).
To economize on the number of actors necessary on stage, liberal use is made of prerecorded crowd noise supplemented by a variety of live, male and female voices off stage. The authenticity and impact of that technique will be greatly enhanced if the mix between recorded and live voices is balanced equally and at full volume. Limiting the number of characters seen on stage from the antagonists' point of view further underscores the fact that Jesus, abandoned early by his own followers, from a human standpoint, suffered, bled and died alone.
Costuming can be simple and typical Biblical garb for those in the Passion Week cast, but, Peter Jennings should appear in a business suit behind the anchor desk, while Dean Reynolds could be wearing a typical khaki-type, "bush" shirt. To note the passing oftime, Jennings should change neckties from scene-to-scene, Reynolds may change shirts for each scene.
It's recommended that only Jennings and Reynolds be "miked" into the PA system.
This script makes no provision for the entrances and exits of ABC News personnel. That should be at the discretion of the director. Nor does the author suggest house lighting for the musical bridges. The bridges and their titles are optional. Song title substitutions may be made too, of course.

(The play opens with a dark stage, a dark auditorium. BLACKOUT.)

(1) VOICE 1:We interrupt this program to bring you a special report from ABC News. Here now from our ABC studios in Washington is Peter Jennings . . .

(Lights up on a bare anchor desk, down stage right- Peter Jennings is seated behind the desk and looks straight ahead as though facing a camera at eye level.)

(2) JENNINGS:Good evening. ABC News has just learned that recent Israeli efforts to regain a measure of autonomy at the expense of Rome may be in jeopardy. With us live from Jerusalem tonight is ABC's Mideast correspondent, Dean Reynolds . . .

(Solo spot up on Dean Reynolds who is standing alone, down stage left with a microphone in hand. Reynolds also looks straight ahead as though facing a camera.)

(3) JENNINGS:Dean, our sources tell us there was an incident that took place just a short while ago in the Jewish capital that could threaten to derail Jerusalem's peace ta1ks with Rome . . .

(4) REYNOLDS:That's right, Peter I'm standing just outside a garden spot, just southwest of downtown Jerusalem, an old olive grove the neighbors here call 'Gethsemane.' A few minutes ago, this was the scene of a near riot as representatives of the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin as it's called, attempted to capture a man they say is a bigger threat to peace than Rome itself. ABC News obtained this exclusive footage of the actual arrest.

(Lights out stage right and stage left. Light up center stage where three sleepy men lay on their sides in a semi-circle, while a fourth male, Jesus, bends down in a catcher's position, hovering over the prone male in the center).

(5) JESUS:Why are you still sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.

(F/X: We hear the sound of an angry mob approaching in the distance and the noisegradually gets louder, and we can begin to pick out individual voices shouting loud threats, i.e., "We know you're in there!", "We have you surrounded!", "There's no escape!", "You must come peacefully!", "Surrender now!", "Come out now!" etc., repeatedly. As Jesus looks toward his right . . .)

(6) JESUS:Get up! (Jesus stands up straight as his three sleepy companions slowly and reluctantly join him on their feet.) Let's go! My betrayer is here!

(F/X: We hear the sound of the angry mob reach a crescendo and then subside as Jesus, encircled now by his three companions, looks off stage right and calls out · ·)

(7) JESUS:Who is it you want?!

(8) CHORUS OF VOICES FROM STAGE RIGHT:Jesus! Jesus of Nazareth!

(9) JESUS:I am he.

(F/X: We hear dull thuds as the sound of men falling down.)

(10) JESUS:Who is it you want?!

(11) CHORUS OF VOICES FROM STAGE RIGHT:Jesus! Jesus of Nazareth!

(12) JESUS:I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then, (Jesus gestures toward the trio of followers), let these men go!

(From out of the shadows, Judas appears and approaches Jesus . . .

(13) JUDAS:Rabbi!

(Judas embraces Jesus, who offers no resistance, and he receives a kiss on both cheeks.)

(14) JESUS:Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?

(Judas offers no response, but, with head bowed in shame, backs away slowly, walkingbackwards, toward up stage right.)

(15) JESUS:(Tenderly) Friend, do what you came for.

(Judas turns on his heels now and runs out of the light and off stage right)

Two men dressed as temple guards come from out of the shadows, step between Jesus' followers and seize him by both arms, pulling Jesus away from the other three men. Just then, Peter angrily pulls a dagger out of his tunic and slashes at one of Jesus captors. The guard screams and grabs his ear, falling to the ground in pain and thrashes around, groaning and moaning in agony.)

(16) JESUS:(Angrily) Peter! Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? All who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put more than twelve legions of angels at my disposal?!

(Guard 1 continues to rock back and forth in pain on the ground while holding his bloody ear to the side of his face. Jesus gestures to Guard 2 that he wishes to attend to Guard 1 and Guard 2 releases his grip on Jesus' arm. Jesus walks over to the writhing Guard 1, bends over the fallen soldier and looks up at Peter)

(17) JESUS:No more of this!

(Jesus reaches for the fallen man's hand which has been holding his severed ear, pulls the hand away, places his own hand on the side of the guard's head for a moment then drops his hand, revealing a perfectly whole ear. The guard is astonished, but doesn't know how to thank the man he came to arrest. He looks up into the face of his captive with reverence and awe.)

(A third guard suddenly appears from out of the shadows, angrily pushes the worshiping Guard 1 aside and roughly grabs Jesus by the arms. Guard 2 joins Guard 3 and both start to drag Jesus off stage left. Jesus holds his hands up to motion the guards to stop as he wants to address the unseen "crowd" following the trio ahead. Jesus looks back to address the imaginary mob . . .)

(18) JESUS:Am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?

(The temple guards take another step forward, trying to pull Jesus along toward stage left. Jesus resists and manages to halt his arrestors again . . .)

(19) JESUS:Every day, I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not lay a hand on me. But, this is your hour . . . when darkness reigns. . .

(20) GUARD 3: (To Jesus, very angrily)That's all, dog! You'll have your day in court. We're taking you to Annas!(Guards 2 and 3 roughly drag a stumbling Jesus off stage, upstage left.)

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