Samson: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

 By Peter & Mary Minson


The story from Judges Ch. 15-16, adapted for Narrator and improvisation with a congregation.
Uses a lot of references to New Zealand culture - will need adapting for other cultures.



Part 1: The History Lesson

[Narrator and John Cleese character enter. Cleese is in a bit of a dream, and is hauling a box of props.]

Narrator: OK everyone. Are we all ready for another mind-boggling family drama? Good. Now we have to go back in time a tad for this one [nudges Cleese into action]

Cleese: Right! [trying to recover his equilibrium] Right! Yes! [in most head-masterly manner] Do let's go back in history. The Maori of your country have been here for approximately how many years? Come on, speak up child, don't mutter. Can't abide children who mutter! Good! About a thousand years. And then Captain Cook spied New Zealand a hundred and fifty years ago [produces hat and telescope]

Narrator: No, no, no, you have to go much further back than that!

Cleese: Right. Of course. Good. Yes. [sing-song story-teller style] A long long time ago, children [fishes about in his box, finds tunic for knight] during the ... er .... Crusades in fact, many noble knights rode off to recover the Holy Land.

[Aside to Narrator] Actually, funny thing, I was in a film once, and we had coconuts to make the noise of horses hoofs. Oh! [finds pair of coconuts in box, completely ignores congregation as he is fascinated with making the clop-clop sound; laughing to himself.]

Narrator: Excuse me. Could I have your attention. Hey, you with the coconuts!

Cleese: [stops, mortified by his slip] Oh. Sor-ry! Where were we? [whispered consultation with Narrator] Oh. Rightoh! Something a little older still? But we're getting to the right country? The Holy Land? Good. Right. Yes. [finds laurel wreath and toga in box] "Friends, Romans, and countrypersons! Lend me your ears!"

Narrator: [coldly] No.

Cleese: No? What's your problem!? I believe my Roman speech is around the time of Christ, is it not? And are we or are we not speaking in terms of the territory presently occupied by the Jews and the Palestinians?

Narrator: Yes, but we're meant to be well before the time of Christ. It's important for the children to get it clear.

Cleese: [remembering the children, and suddenly coming on smarmy and smiley] Ahhhhh yes .... the children! I'll just see if I have anything more appropriate in my box. For the children! [brings out a simple headband over a dish-towel. Holds it up. Sighs. Bored, teeth clenched, tired] This will have to do, won't it? Yes, right. Now, children. Many, many, many years before Jesus was born blah blab blab, there was a man named Samson.


Part 2: The Heavenly Post

[Enter Fred Dagg-style Angel, towing a stuffed dog, still attaching his wings.]

Yeah, gidday. I missed out on the part of Samson, so I'm gonna play one of the Lord's angels, as you can probably guess by me wings, and me halo. I'm a recent appointment, actually, as you might'a guessed. Used to be a cow-cocky in Gisborne. Oh - 'n' this is me flamin' sword of the Lord - I sometimes get to use that.

Yeah, well. God needed a bit of cheering up one day. Needed something a bit different - so he hired me. [To dog:] Get in behind, Satan! Anyway, seems I've drawn the short straw for helping you fellas today with the story of Samson.

Now kids if you'd like to gather round I've got a model here to show you. The rest of you big jokers & jokesses can look at the map. It's a funny thing but I can always imagine things better if I've got a bit of land to look at. Now come n' have a look at this [Shows model] Mind me wings, now. (Shows kids area where Samson lived.)

Right. Well we better get on with things. Let's meet Samson. Oh - hang on a tick. First can I have an adult volunteer to be a lion. I've got a costume for you here somewhere. You've got to fight Samson in a minute. (To the Lion) Now. Can you just hide over there till I call you. Right oh. Now. Samson.

(Samson enters up main aisle, speaking as he comes.)

SAMSON: Cooorr! Beauuudifull!! Ma! Pa! Ooohh I godda have her! Orr what a slice of heaven! She's got it all! Ma! Pa! I want my wedding. I've got it all worked out. You just get her for me! She's a beauty!

(Voice of parent, off stage} But, where did you meet her, Sam?

SAMSON: (stops at fruit bowl and starts unloading grapes and eating them. Shouts back to parent) Down at Timnath.

PARENT: (Timnath!? But that's Philistine country)

SAMSON: Yeah, well so she ain't one of the local chicks. Ohhrr, but what a peach pie. (Pause) I'm gonna have her. (Pauses for reply but there is none. - To himself - groaning) I gotta go back. I gotta see her again (Starts off)

PARENT: (Where are you going now, Sam?)

SAMSON: Oh! I'll be back to see the test! I gotta go. (Goes off whistling) "U fill up my senses"

Angel: (Whistle} Now. Where's the joker who's volunteered to be me lion? O.K., Trev, Go for it.

(Lion leaps out towards Sam)

SAMSON: Uh,Oh! T R O U B L E spells trouble! Just as well I can spell! But I've left my spear at home. What do I do now? (Sam & lion circle each other) Ah .. I can feel the Spirit of God stirring in me .... I'll best this lion yet! Nothing will stand in my way today.

(Both leap at each other, yelling, roaring. Sam defeats lion) Ahh ... Nothing like a bit of God power -100 proof Holy Spirit - Asterix eat your heart out! Now I'm off to see the apple of my eye!

(Sam exits down centre aisle and out back doors, and comes around to side door ready for next entrance at front}

Angel: (Casually sets up a dart board somewhere, throws a couple of darts.) Well as you can see, Sam's a bit shy of the bull's-eye just yet. He's got enough horsepower to plow a paddock and might make the All Blacks, but he could just do with a bit of restraint! Y'know? A bit of common sense. [throws another dart] Dunno if he's much good at focusing yet; Dunno if he even realises there is a bull's-eye! In fact, I've got an inkling that his dart board mightn't look like ours. Ah well. Let's see how he goes with his love life. (Tips hat back on head) But I gotta say, like his parents, I have me doubts.

Now, this next bit's a few weeks later, yer all got that? (Whistles) Samson - are you ready? Good oh!

(Samson is again going to visit his love. Begins down the aisle again. Definitely in love...vague, moony. Holding a rose.)

SAMSON: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet..." Ah she's mine, my little rose Ahh -be-auuuutiful. Hey, isn't this where I killed that lion a few weeks ago? Yeah - I recognise that stream - and those cedars. The carcass should be here somewhere, Yep, there it is. Well - wha da ya know - it's all rotted away and now it's full of bees. (swots away at them as if they're flies.) And look at this -There's a whole lot of honey here too. (Takes up a large plastic jar of honey - tastes it) Ah Beauuuutiful! Ohrr, terrific! (Offers a taste to a child, swots a few more bees in a desultory fashion.)

Well I'll take some home to Ma & Pa But I won't tell them where I got it - not quite kosher, you know! They'll need a bit of sweetening at present - they won't even come and meet my WO-MAN - still, I'll be taking her home to meet them when they cool down a bit. I'm actually on my way to my wedding now. (Shy) Feasting starts tonight - Seven days of it and - she's mine. Ohrrhh!!! I gotta go!

(Sam walks out the back door again)

(Angel's next speech is quite long. As he talks, a wedding feast scene is created. Quiet joking and laughter even music.)

Angel: (rubbing his neck and holding his hat) Well, our front-row forward Sam ... this "friendly ox of a man" here has got his wedding details right - Seven days of it, he said. And he's right. There's his wife and her rellies there, and two Philistine rugby teams - 30 strong lads - to keep an eye on Samson 'cause he's a foreigner. And ol' Samson there, just like the arrogant blighter he is, he's made a wager - placed a bet - with some of those Phillies. No, not like lotto or the TAB! He's asked them a riddle (that's what the folks used to do in those days they had a bit more time up their sleeves) He says if they can guess the answer, he'll give them a prize, but if they can't, they have to give Sammy the prize. (Throws a dart) Ahh Sammy Sammy! If you'd only learn to put your strength to the right use, sunshine!

Well, things went a bit wrong for Samson. The Phillies put the heat on his sheila: "Find out the answer or you and your folks are history.." Turned out they didn't have long to live anyway. Anyway, she nagged and nagged Samson 'till he told her - talk about a promise of things to come! Oh, this is the riddle, anyway. We've still got it, thousands of years later. I wonder if any of youse can figure it out? "Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet"

(Wait for answer)

Yep, well you can see the Phillies had no show without some help, had they? Unlike you fellas, they knew nothin' about any lion. But once Samson's sheila spilled the beans and told them, Sam the man had to go and get the prize from somewhere. He was so angry he went to another Philistine town, Ashkelon (point map} and killed 30 men so he could hand their clothes and goods over to these 2 rugby teams at the feast. (Sigh)

(People in wedding scene gradually start leaving the feast now as Angel continues, till only Samson is left on stage.)

In the end, because Sam stormed off in a rage, they gave his wife to another man! (pause} Sammy destroyed their crops for that - and then the people who'd lost their crops went and killed Sam's girl and her family. Talk about UTU. Talk about lack of control! It was getting worse and worse! I always had a bad feeling about that wedding. So did his folks of course. I'm not in favour of a rip, tear, bust approach myself...

Well as anyone could have told you, Samson wasn't exactly into Anger Management when he heard his sheila and her folks had been knocked off. He went totally ape, killed a whole heap of Phillies in a terrible rage as a pay back. Things were really hottin' up.

Ever had arguments in your place where things keep getting worse? Like a landslide comin' down a hill? You know you should just shut your mouth, but instead out comes the next angry word, and then there's violence, and on it goes. Well after that lot of killings, Samson was a wanted man, so he went and lived in a cave 'till things cooled down a bit.

Now we need some help here for a few minutes. Could I have the end two people in each pew come out into the aisle and pretend, in a few moments, to be the Phillies on the war-path for Sammy. And you lot who've been our wedding crowd, can you change nationality now, and pretend to be Israelites. You're a group from the tribe of Judah who're going to grab Samson to hand him over to the Phillies, to get them off your backs and bring peace back to the land. [to congregation] Nothin' much has changed in the Middle East, has it?

You Phillies in the aisle -all you got to do is advance towards this roped man, shouting "Now we've got you!" and "Allah Bar Akbar" sort-a-thing. Try that, could you. Here, get him roped, you lot of Izzies. Get in behind, Satan! This dog likes a bit of action. Thinks you're a mob o' sheep! Can't imagine why! You Phillies in the aisle, retreat to the back of the church when he charges!

Right, ACTION! Phillies - start your shouting

SAMSON: "The Spirit of the Lord has come upon me! Nothing can stand in my way! I will destroy you all." (ropes fall off. He grabs the jawbone of an ass, and charges to back, roaring. He rushes to front, holds up reddened jawbone and shouts) With this jawbone of an ass I've slain 1000 men!

(Others come through side door and join in shouting)

OTHERS: We could do that! That's not hard. C'mon ....

Angel [blows whistle] Half time. O.K. Thanks everyone, you can all take a breather now, and let's take a moment to stand and say gidday to each other, and then we'll sing a rugby song or something.

SONG: [magnifying God's power} or "Our God is an awesome God"

(When all sit down after song, Angel puts up second sign - "Little old me" and continues:)

ANGEL: Some of you are gettin' a bit comfy there. Dinkum. I reckon you're sayin' to yourself, "Well I'm all right, Fred, I'm not big Samson with a whole lot of power to use all wrong. No need for me to practise saying "Whoa there!" to myself, like I was some sort of runaway horse." Well hang on a minute, mates. Cos actually, well, I'm ashamed to admit it, but the other day I read somethin' in a book - I do read every now and then! Anyway, this shook up me thinking on how we all use power and control and stuff. This smart fella writin' the books said "We as individuals have more power than ever before because we can use power that the ancient world didn't have. Like atomic power. One individual can start it off; all that power. And like the power of communication. A few lies, or a word of praise, can go round the world."

He's right, isn't he? I mean, how many of youse watched the world soccer cup final live? Yeah, well, see? We might think Samson's violent And we might say he's using his power badly, But we better just watch out! Satellites, and e-mail and stuff, and technology have given us a powerfulness that Samson, for all his personal strength, never had to deal with. And if we can't say "Whoa" to our temper, or if we misuse our gifts and strengths, whatever they are, we can find ourselves up the creek - in terrible trouble.

This guy in the book says these days we need people of self-control more than ever before. So I stuck that in my pipe and had a quiet smoke on it for a day or two. And I thought you'd like to know. Anyway, that's enough preachin'.

Now, after this bit of a scrap it says Samson ruled Israel for 20 years and everything sounds hunky dory. But most of you know it doesn't stay that way, 'cause Samson meets a woman called Delilah - Deli for short - a tasty little treat. She lived way back up the Sorek Valley and as you might guess, she was another Philistine. By now, she's already had a few goes at trying to find out the secret of Samson's strength. Because the Phillies have promised her an enormous fortune if she can worm it our of him. But so far - no luck.

(Enter samson and Delilah.)

Angel: You know...this all reminds me of something ....

[Samson and Delilah stand almost back to back, But we soon perceive that they are in two different places.]

DELILAH: [Recitative to tune of "And I've had so many men before" (Mary's song from Jesus Christ Superstar)] He's coming again today! (Groan) Oh there's never been a man like him. I know so many women would give their right hand to have him but he's mine. And yet... (Groan) I just wish he'd tell me the secret of his strength - then I'd show I'd really won him and I could be rich, rich, rich. Get out of this hovel, never have anyone look down on me again, never have to cook a meal again nor wash a garment or sweep floor. (Groan) Three times he's made a fool of me. I know he almost told me last time. I know he's come close, so close. This time. Ohh if only I could get it out of him this time. O Samson come to me soon!

SAMSON: [Recitative to tune of "My my my, Delialah"] Delilah, Ahh beauuutiful. She's so hot! Her eyes can sparkle like ice in the morning sun! But ahh they can snap, too, like lightning. If only she'd give up on this stupid idea of hers to know about my hair. I dunno what gets in to her head! Ah but I love her. She's got fire and fight in her. I'd never tell her, not that it would matter if I did, I don't intend to cut it, I can always fight off anyone who comes near me. The Spirit of God always stirs within me and gives me such strength. But I wouldn't tell. She's not trustworthy. But oh she's hot. But I get so sick of her nagging. I almost did tell her once - but - never again.

Sings: [tune: I don't know how to love him] Ah I can't wait to love her! Ah! Delilah

(Angel silently hangs up sign: "Many people who could not be conquered from without, lost the battle within.")

(Four chairs are set up in a row with a cloth hanging down their back. Something rich. Actors dressed as Phillies go and hide under it, peeping at congregation. When they're in position Sampson reclines at one end, Delilah, with grapes, kneels at other end.]

DELILAH: [doing a cutesy Miss Piggy act] But what is the real secret of your strength, Sammy darling, why can't you tell moi? Your own sweet Delilah? Why don't you just whisper it to me? Just - let it float out of your mouth to me.

SAMSON: My strength comes from God, Delilah. I've told you.

DELILAH: I know that, I know that, but there is something special as well - [pouting] all the times you've tricked me and made a fool of me.

SAMSON: Well you shouldn't have told anyone!

DELILAH: [angry - hits Sam] Sometimes you make me so mad! [gooey again] But it was all a joke really. No one could harm you. You're so wonderful. C'mon honey just tell me a little weenie bit.

SAMSON: Well, it's my hair (lightly smiling as though it's a private joke).

DELILAH: I know, I've been meaning to talk to you about that - Don't you ever get a hair-cut?

SAMSON: My hair's the secret of my strength.

DELILAH: Oh my darling, have another grape. What do you mean, my love - your hair?

SAMSON: Well, when I was a child God told my mother to never let a razor touch my hair, and she obeyed.

DELILAH: I just thought you were trying to be a hippie or something.

SAMSON: No, No , it's the sign of God with me.

DELILAH: That's it? That's all? Just that. Simple little thing. Here have another grape. (Samson goes to sleep. She snips his hair. Men under bed jump out - shouting)

MEN: Delilah - Samson! The Philistines are upon you.

SAMSON: (shouting) I'll Have you! - I'll defeat you as before!!

(Shouts, surrounded by Phillies and hustled out)

(Angel enters in his gumboots, kicking stones up the aisle.)

Angel: Yeah. Well. That was hard eh, poor old Samson captured and blinded by his enemies. He didn't realise God had departed from him. 'Tis a terrible moment for any of us. - Yeah, us angels have been through it too, yer know. Sometimes God leaves because there's no real hospitality; It's no good lookin' at each other forever an' not talkin, like bits o' furniture. God doesn't want to be a fly on the wall of your life. Bit borin' for him. I mean even up in heaven there, it's a big place - even we've had our share of ignorin' God. He's never pushy, y'see.

We gotta look for him, like you lot, and yarn with him. No use playin' "Stalk the Cat" past a certain point. And God loves a yarn, o'course. And of course - that was what his son Jesus was good at, keeping His Father, God, in view all the time as he lived and worked. That's why Jesus said: "The Father and I are One." And he said, "Behold I stand at the door and knock". That means God's always ready for a come-back .... when we're through with ignoring him. But anyway, we gotta finish this particular yarn.

So - Sammy was carted off with his crewcut to the Gaza Strip, to a prison there, and they used him to grind grain, like he was an animal. (another wig on Samson)

SONG: on the theme of patient suffering.

Angel: Now, in chapter 16 of the book of Judges at last we hear some good news. You know it makes me wanna shout. It makes me wanna blow a trumpet - can we have a trumpet on that keyboard, mate? Alright. All you kids - come out and read this verse - I've got it here on me script. "BUT THE HAIR OF HIS HEAD BEGAN TO GROW AGAIN AFTER IT HAD BEEN SHAVED." All right. So lets get some action.

The Philistines have a grain God called Daygon, and if they're not careful today I think the night is gonna come indeed for some of the Day-gone worshippers. They've had a big feast in the temple of Daygon and they've brought out their splendid prize, our mate Samson, who once killed so many of them, and they've had a good laugh that he can't do them any harm and they've got him now.

And - he's just finished doing a few tricks for them cause he's got no choice, and now they've told his attendant to tie him up somewhere so he can hear their fun but can't see it and take part. Here - Philistine Lad - put him there in the middle between the pillars, where they can see him.

SAMSON: (To lad) Look, son, how about letting me feel the pillars this house is standing on, so I can get my bearings, eh? It's so easy to feel giddy in the dark all the time. Thanks mate. I reckon I'll be here for four hours don't you?

LAD: For sure.

SAMSON: So you can have a break, Eh?

LAD: Why, yes.

SAMSON: You've been wanting to get home to your family to see the new calf, haven't you?

LAD: Reckon!

SAMSON: Why don't you take off for a while?

LAD: I'm gone like a goose.

SAMSON: See yer a bit later lad.

LAD: See U, Uh Samson. Thanks. Thanks a lot. I'll bring yer back something to eat from Mum.

SAMSON: Yeah. That'll be great, now skedaddle. (Overtaken by taped Arabic music, laughter, Slowly puts out his arms, Bracing himself, testing himself.) "O Lord Yahweh, I beg you, remember me, your foolish servant. Give me strength again this one more time, 0 God, and let me be revenged on the Philistines"

(Pillars and canopy collapse - Pause after Samson falls)

Angel: (Throws dart towards bull's-eye) Bull's-eye Samson. You spoke directly to God and you saw him as the source and you fitted in, faults and all, with God's purpose for your life, which is stated in the Bible like this: "Samson will begin to deliver his people from the Philistines". And Judges 16:30 says: "Those whom he slew at his death were more that those who he'd slain in his life."

Alright you lot (to those under canopy) Get in behind. Clear off now. And kids. Gather round for the last bit with our model. (Put model on steps) The Phillies and the Israelites had been getting on well till Samson came along - almost too well. - Like the tribe of Judah were already ruled by them. Samson was of the tribe of Dan.

Now imagine God looking down from Heaven on to earth, like we are at this model. He's got a plan. A plan for telling the world about himself and for helping us in our trouble - because things don't always go right. OK. Part of his plan is to send Jesus about a thousand years after this.

Now - he's wanting there to be prophesies about Jesus, and he wants his people to remember how he's looked after them - and it'll all be lost and forgotten if they get mixed up and overrun with the Phillies. So God wanted Samson to help keep the Israelites separate, so his plan could be carried on through the Israelites. Neat eh? God's not silly. And here we are, still part of that plan nearly 3000 years later. Well, let's all sing a song now and how about we do "I want to be a History Maker"




© Copyright Mary and Peter Minson. All rights reserved.
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