The Price of Labour

By Andy Lund 


A retelling of the parable of the vineyard owner who hires labourers at differing times of day.



 Matthew 20:1-16



Hermann (employer)
3 prospective employees



Narrator: The Kingdom of Heaven is like this: Once there was a man who went out early in the morning to hire some men to work in his vineyard.

Hermann: (Yawning) A very good morning to you. Schuster's the name. Hermann H. Schuster of Schuster's champagne, Schuster's schparkling wines, Schuster's sherries and Schuster's special reserve. Man of property, entrepreneur par excellence and a fair-minded employer to boot. Just at this moment employment is my problem. Work I've got, workers I haven't. And things could be so busy in the vineyards. Not that you'll catch me complaining. In fact you could say that I've got nothing to whine about. But I do need labour and plenty of it. Hence my presence here at the local job centre.

Man 1: Yes, guv?

Hermann: Hermann H. Schuster of Schuster's champagne, Schuster's schparkling wines Schuster's sherries not to mention Schuster's special reserve.

Man 1: You just did.

Hermann: Yes, quite. Are you looking for work?

M1: That depends.

Hermann: It pays £100 for a day's work. That's the plan.

M1: I'm your man. (Shakes hands)

Narrator: And so the work began up at the vineyard. (Now and whenever workers are added they mime work activities in the background) But more labour was still needed. 9 o'clock rolled around.

Hermann: It's me Hermann H. Schuster again. Still looking for labour. It's just so difficult to find these days. Now how about you, sir?

M2: Yes, squire? Can I be of service?

Hermann: I certainly hope so. I need hoe-ers and growers.

M2: I could be your man. How about the lolly?

Hermann: Err…pardon?

M2: The brass.

Hermann: Come again?

M2: The ready…the bread…the spondoolux.

Hermann: Sorry I didn't do Chinese at school.

M2 (Exasperated) How much does the job pay?

Hermann: Oh, why didn't you say so? £100 a day. That's the plan.

M2: I'm your man.

Narrator: And so Mr Schuster went on collecting his workers all day. He went out at 12, he went out at 3, and finally he went out at 5 pm. (Collects bigger and bigger group)

Hermann: Phew, I don't know who's working harder- me or them. Well, not much time to go now and so much work left to do. Now, this fellow looks a likely type. Excuse me, sir.

M3: Who me?

Hermann: Yes, sir-how do you feel about some work?

M3: Ah… work…did you say work?

Hermann: Yes I've got 256 acres of vineyards in desperate need of hoeing. Hermann Schuster's the name - of Schusters schparkling wines, Schuster's champagne…and all that.

M3: Well, I don't know. I've got this bone in my arm and I speak with a limp. And in any case, work's against my religion.

Hermann: Really?

M3: Yes, I'm a devout shirker. And then there's my back trouble.

Hermann: Oh, really?

M3: Yes, I can't get it off the bed.

Hermann: There's money in it.

M3: How much?

Hermann: £100, that's the plan.

M3: I'm your man.

Narrator: Well, that was 5 o'clock. At 6 the work's hooter blew and it was pay-out time at Schuster's wines.

Hermann: Thank you, one and all for your unstinting work. Thanks to you my vineyards are in fine shape-or should I say vine shape. Now it's pay time. Form a queue, please.

(He pays £100 to each man, beginning with M3 and working back)

M1: Just a minute Schuster! What's the game? Are you a shyster?

Hermann: No, a Schuster.

M1: These men you hired last only worked 1 hour.

M2: Yes, and we put in a whole day's work in the blazing hot sun.

M1: And you've paid us the same as them. This will have to go to arbitration. It's exploitation of the working masses- that's what it is.

Hermann: Listen, friend. I haven't cheated you. After all you agreed to do a day's work for £100. Now take your money and go home. I want to give this man who was hired last the same as you. Don't I have the right to do as I wish with my own money? Or are you jealous because I'm generous?

Narrator: Jesus said: Those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last.



© Andy Lund 1999
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
He may be contacted