Eyewitness 2

By Russell Stedman


A trilogy of multimedia Easter dramas.  Each drama is 35-40 minutes long.  Originally performed by our church over 3 consecutive years.
Part 1 :  The Original Easter
Part 2 :  The Conversion of Saul
Part 3 :  “Behind The Scenes” – Easter from a cosmic perspective.
Pre-recorded VCDs for the multimedia segments are available on request (for a fee – these are professional productions). For copies, write to the author at the email address below.
Parts 1 and 2 are set in a juxtaposition, with period-style costumes and closely based around the Biblical events, while at the same time using modern technology of television and telephones.  “Flintstonian” in a sense, and it works well.
Part 3 is more radical, kind of a cross between “The Screwtape Letters” and “Lord Of The Rings”.  It is both darker and more entertaining than Parts 1 and 2.  The use of 3 demons as main characters is a controversial choice.  Consists of Shadow-play scenes with narration and music to portray the Biblical events from Creation/Fall and to the life of Jesus, against live action scenes of 3 demons plotting to predict and disrupt an expected counter-attack from the Almighty following Satan’s great victory back in the Garden of Eden.  They eventually recognize Jesus as the focus of the Almighty’s counterattack, and set in motion several attempts to prevent the success of his mission.  The Shadow-play narrative style and music is based closely on “The Lord Of The Rings”, and the concept behind the overall drama is based on an article by John Bowen of www.dare-connexions.org on “The Spiritual Worldview of Lord Of The Rings”.

Part 2.  The conversion of Saul


Three months have passed since the events of the first Easter.  In 4 pre-recorded news broadcasts from Jerusalem (you can buy the VCD from russlerks@yahoo.co.nz), the  “Alpha Channel News” team present the rapid growth of a new movement in Jerusalem.
News Clip 1:  “The Way” movement, started by followers of the controversial figure Jesus, now deceased, is growing exponentially.
News Clip 2 : The governor of Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, warns the public against joining cults and deviant sects.
News Clip 3 : Followers of “The Way” movement, which was attracting so much attention in recent weeks, seem to have disappeared from Jerusalem.  What has made them leave so suddenly?
Interspersing the news broadcasts are live-action scenes, based around the characters Caiaphas the High Priest, Saul the head of the Jerusalem School of Religion, and Captain Brutus who is in charge of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.  After watching the news about “The Way” on television, Caiaphas has had enough.  It is time to put an end to this Jesus nonsense once and for all.  The more sophisticated Saul steers him towards a strategy of violent persecution backed with official approval from Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Jerusalem.  Brutus provides some men to help rough up the followers of Jesus.
Saul and his men invade the home of a family who are followers of Jesus.  They beat up the father and take him into custody.
In the next scene, they hit to road to Damascus.  Saul’s strategy has paid off well, and they are hot on the heels of those who have fled Jerusalem.  On the road, the risen Christ appears (a silhouette with voice-over, against a strobe-light – highly effective.)
In the climactic scene, Saul has just returned to Jerusalem.  He does not have time to let people know he has changed sides, when he is called into a live panel discussion with the Reporter from Alpha Channel.  Caiaphas, Brutus, and the wife of the man previously taken into custody are also in the panel.  The subject is about the flight of thousands of people from Jerusalem in recent weeks, all followers of “The Way”.  In this scene Saul breaks the news to Caiaphas, live on television, that he has become a follower of Jesus.  Caiaphas doesn’t take the news so well.


Caiaphas   Chief Priest, leader of the religious authorities.
Saul   Head of the Jerusalem School of Religion.
Brutus   Captain of a Roman Army garrison
Thug 1 and Thug 2  Two of Brutus’ soldiers, seconded to work for Saul.
Father, Mother, Daughter Followers of Jesus (mother is Mrs Joanna in last scene)
Sarah    Newsreader for the Alpha Channel
Reporter   Reporter for the Alpha Channel


Scene 1 – Alpha Channel News :  Monday

Good evening, I am Sarah and this is Alpha Channel news from Jerusalem on Monday... Leading the news at 6 o'clock...
Stockmarkets across the Roman Empire have soared today on news that the Gothic War is finally over.  The decisive victory at Vindobona last weekend brought an end to ten years of war with the Goths in the western provinces.
And in the sports news coming up, we begin a series on issues facing the organizers of next year’s Olympic Games to be held in Athens.  Tonight, the gladiatorial contests.  We listen to arguments for and against the use of live tigers.
Public interest is growing in a large group of people called “The Way”.  This movement is currently estimated to have about five thousand followers, and about a hundred new people are joining every day.  They meet each day in a public square in the city center. The movement is made up of followers of Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus was a popular teacher who was publicly executed in Jerusalem 3 months ago.  There were rumours he had supernatural powers to heal the sick, and even to raise the dead back to life.
However, opinion about Jesus was divided.  Some thought he might start a popular uprising against the Roman Empire, which rules our land.  Others disputed this view, saying it was simply scare-mongering by religious leaders afraid of losing their popular support as more people followed Jesus.
The Governor of Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, eventually sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion, under an unspecified charge.
Three days after Jesus was crucified, his body disappeared from its tomb, which had been placed under 24-hour guard by Roman soldiers.  The official explanation is that his followers stole the body while the guards were sleeping.  However, the whereabouts of the body has never been determined.
Followers of The Way insist that Jesus has come back to life.  They say he is the long-awaited Messiah, God’s special messenger.  Many claim to have seen him alive after his body vanished from the tomb.
The group is called “The Way” because his followers say that Jesus is the only way to God.
And in the business news coming up… Defense contractors are warning of financial losses and job layoffs now that the Gothic War has ended.  Can the defense industry survive the Pax Romana?  We interview the Chairman of General Catapult and Missile Systems after this break.

Scene 2 – In Caiaphas’ Office

(Caiaphas is in his office.  He has been on stage, watching the news on the Alpha Channel, during the whole of Scene 1.  His face has turned to disgust.  As Scene 1 ends, he reaches for the remote and flicks off the TV.)
Caia: No, no, no.  This will never do.
[Reaches for his phone]
Caia: Get me Captain Brutus, from the Roman army garrison.  Tell him to come and see me immediately.
 [Caia walks briskly up and down the stage.  He is very agitated.  There is a knock at the door]
Caia: Come in Brutus!
[Saul enters]
Caia: Saul!  Good to see you.  What brings you here?
Saul: Caiaphas, you’ve been watching the news?
Caia: Oh yes.
Saul: We cannot tolerate this situation.  First, that imposter Jesus claims he is the son of God.
Caia: Yes!
Saul: Then he made a fool of us in public.
Caia: [sniggering] Then we get him executed!
Saul: Then his mindless followers go around making up stories that his is alive again.
Caia: Yes!  Mindless!
Saul: And not hundreds, but thousands of people believe them.
Caia: Yes!
Saul: I’ve lost half of my best students to them.  One half!  All the other religious teachers say the same thing.
Caia: Yes, I know.
Saul: And now he is getting free airtime on TV!
Caia: Exactly!  See how the whole world has gone after him.
Saul: We have to put an end to this, Caiaphas.
Caia: Oh, you don’t need to convince me.  I just called for Captain Brutus, from the Roman Army Garrison.  He owes me a favour.  We can use some of his men to rough up these followers of Jesus and teach them a thing or two.
Saul: That’s a good idea, Caiaphas.  But it’s not enough.  We need a multi-level coordinated strategy.
Caia: What do you mean?
[There is a knock at the door]
Caia: Come in Brutus!
[The Reporter from the Alpha News Channel enters, with Cameraman]
Rep: Hello, Mr Caiaphas?  I’m from the Alpha Channel.
Caia: Oh, you again.  Why don’t you just go away.
Rep: I was wanting to hear your reaction to the growing popularity of the Jesus movement.
Caia: [shouting at the top of his voice]  You want my reaction?  [rolling up his sleeve]  Here’s my reaction!!
[Ca starts to move threateningly towards the Reporter.  Saul blocks him]
Saul: [Aside to Ca…]  Now, now.  Let me handle this, okay?
 [To the Reporter, suavely]  How can I help you?
Rep: I understand the religious leader are very opposed to the followers of Jesus.  Is that true?
Saul: No, we are not opposed to the followers of Jesus, as such.  But we are concerned that so many people are being fooled.
Rep: Are you saying Jesus was a conman?
Saul: Absolutely.  And a dangerous one.  He challenged the essential beliefs that define our culture, and hold our society together.  He was danger to our nation’s stability.  And these followers of his are just perpetuating his lies.
Rep: But what about their claims that he is alive again?
Saul: Oh yes, they say he did all sorts of wonderful things.  They say he turned water into wine.  They say he walked on water.  And what proof can they offer?  None!  It’s the same with this so-called resurrection.
Rep: But if he is still dead, how come no one can find his body?
Saul: My friend.  If I told you the moon is made of cheese, could you prove me wrong?  No, you couldn’t.  But is the moon made of cheese?  Your common sense tells you that it is not. So if you tell me Jesus is alive again, can I prove you wrong?  There is no body, no proof one way or the other.  But is it possible he is alive again?  Everyone knows it is impossible for a dead man to rise again.  This talk of a resurrection is nonsense!
Caia: Yes.  Nonsense!
Rep: But hundreds of these followers say they have seen him alive again, after he was executed.
Saul: Of course they would say that.  And let me tell you, I have just eaten a cheese sandwich, made with a piece of the moon. [Saul starts to usher the Rep and Cameraman out the door]  So here is my challenge to them – let them produce the living body of Jesus, and I will follow him too.  Now, goodbye and thank you!
Rep: [As she is pushed out the door] Thank you very much for your time.
[Saul shuts the door]
Saul: It is my pleasure. [to Caiphas] Now, let’s get down to business.
[There is a knock at the door]
Caia: Come in Brutus!
[Brutus enters]
Caia: Ah, Brutus, at last!
Br: Was that the Reporter from the Alpha Channel?  I don’t like her.  She made a fool of us in that interview about Jesus’ missing body.  What did she want?
Caia: Actually Brutus, that’s why I wanted to see you.  These followers of Jesus are growing fast and we have to put a stop to it.  Now let me introduce you to my dear friend Saul.  He is the best teacher in our religious school.  He has some ideas of what to do.
Br: Pleased to meet you.
Saul: My pleasure
Caia: Saul, you were saying, we need a… what was it … a multi-level something.  What do you have in mind?
Saul: Brutus, do you have some good men, who might like to earn some extra cash?
Br: Well, I’m not sure I can...
Caia: [taking Brutus aside]  Brutus, remember how I saved your skin, when the body of Jesus disappeared from the tomb you were guarding, a few weeks ago?
Br: Al… Alright, then.
Caia: That’s better.
Br: So what do you want me to do?
Saul: Two things.  I need some help to make life a little bit uncomfortable for some of these followers of Jesus.  And I need you to look the other way, if you know what I mean.
Br: [rubbing his fingers together]  I think we can come to a satisfactory arrangement.
Saul: Good.  Now, Caiaphas.  I understand you are on good terms with Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor?
Caia: Indeed, I am.
Saul: Can you call him now, and introduce me to him?
Caia: Alright.  [Lifts the phone and dials the phone]  Hello, it’s Caiaphas here.  I’d like to speak to the Governor.  [pause]
Hello, Ponty!…  Not bad, but I could be better.  I could use a little bit of help, Ponty…  Can I introduce me to my colleague, Saul.  He has something to ask you. [hands the phone to Saul]
Saul: Hello, Governor.  I’m sure you’ve seen the news about these followers of Jesus…Yes, we are very concerned actually.  They are a religious cult.  And with so many people joining them, there might just be a riot or a revolt in Jerusalem, and that would make you look very bad…Exactly.  We need to act immediately.  We would like to ask for your help to influence the media.
[Lights fade, end of Scene 2]

Scene 3 – Alpha Channel News :  Tuesday

Good evening, I am Sarah and this is Alpha Channel news from Jerusalem on Tuesday... Leading the news at 6 o'clock...
The Roman Emperor has proposed a global missile defense system, to protect the Empire from catapult attacks by rogue provinces.  The proposal has strong support from the defense industry.
And in the sports news coming up, we continue our series on the Olympic Games to be held in Athens next year.  Tonight, motivational techniques used by coaches in the rowing events.   We ask the question, are chains, drums and whips really necessary?
In a speech today, the Roman Governor of Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, warned the people against joining cults and deviant sects.  He said such groups can be identified by the fantastic stories they invent about their leaders.  These groups are dangerous because they do not respect recognized authorities.  He appealed to the public to stay away from cults and deviant sects, and to inform the authorities of any people they know who are involved in such groups.
And in other news… Governor Pontius Pilate has announced special festivities will be held in Jerusalem next month, to celebrate victory over the Goths.  More details after this break.

Scene 4 – In the Family Home

[The family has been watching Scene 3 on TV.  As the news ends, Father switches off the TV].
Father: Now, my family, this is bad news for us.  The authorities are going to try to stop us from following Jesus.
Daughter: Why, Daddy?
Father: I think the religious leaders are behind this.  They’re afraid of losing their power.  They hated Jesus.  Now they will try to make people hate us, too.
Mother:  They will try to scare us.  They might even try to hurt us.  But we must not be afraid.  Was Jesus afraid of them?
Daughter: No.  But I’m scared, Mummy.
Mother: I know, it is a bit scary.  But we must stand up for what we know is true.  We know Jesus is the Messiah.  We know he loves us, he died for us, and he’s alive again.  And we know we belong to him, no matter what happens.
[There is a knock at the door.  Father opens the door.  Thug1 and Thug2 barge in]
Thug1: We hear you are followers of Jesus.  Is that true?
Father: Yes, that’s true.  We are all followers of Jesus.  He is our Saviour.
Thug1: So he’s you’re Saviour is he?  Let’s see if he can save you from this!
[Thug1 has a baton in his hand.  He hits Father over the head.  Father crumples to the ground]
Thug1: Are you a follower of Jesus now?
Father: [on his hands and knees, looking at family then straight at Thug1]  Yes, I am.
[Thug2 kicks Father in the stomach]
[Saul enters]
Saul: Now then, what’s going on here?
Thug1: We’ve found some more followers of Jesus, Mr Saul.
Saul: Very good, very good.  Alright, we’ll take this one.
Mother: No!  Please don’t take him away!!
Saul: Now then, woman.  Do you want me to take you as well?  And leave the little girl here on her own?
Mother: What are you going to do to him?
Saul: Oh, nothing much really.  Let’s just say, we’re going to re-educate him a little bit.  In the long run it will be good for him.  It’s not good for people to believe all sorts of nonsense about a dead man, is it?
Daughter: You’re a bad man.  And you need Jesus.
Saul: You silly little girl.  You have no idea what you’re talking about.  [To the Thugs]  Alright, you can take them away.

Scene 5 – The Road To Damascus

(On the road to Damascus.  Saul with Thug1 and Thug2.)
Saul: Okay, time for a rest.
Thug1: Phew!  Why do we have to go so far and so fast?
Saul: Because this nonsense about Jesus is spreading like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire.  If we want to stop it, we have to move quickly.  We’ve done a good job in Jerusalem, the followers of Jesus are on the run.  But a lot have run to Damascus.  So we have to go there and stop them from spreading more lies about a dead man. Now let’s rest for 10 minutes, then we get going again.
[Main lights fade.  Strobe light behind the stage begins flashing and continues while Jesus is on the stage.  Saul and the Thugs turn away from the light with their arms up, shunning the light . Jesus walks onto back of stage from behind the set.  The light is behind Jesus so he only appears as a silhouette, his features cannot be seen.  His arms are slightly stretched out in front of him, towards Saul.  His voice may be spoken by someone else. As Jesus says “Saul”, Saul stands and turns towards Jesus]
Jesus: [slowly] Saul…Saul…  Why should you fight against me?…  You cannot win.
Saul: Who…who are you??
Jesus: I am Jesus.  I am the Alpha and the Omega.  The Beginning and the End.  I was dead, and behold, I am alive forever.
[Saul falls to the ground]
Jesus: I am the one you are fighting.  You cannot win this battle, Saul.
[Jesus exits stage, stage lights fade up, strobe light stops]
[Thug1 goes over to Saul, who is still lying on the ground.  He is a bit panicky, afraid something else might happen].
Thug1: Mr Saul!  Mr Saul, are you alright?
[Saul tries to get up but is having difficulty]
Saul: [sounding confused]  Have I been wrong… all this time??
Thug1: Come on, let’s get out of this place.
[Thug1 & Thug2 drag Saul off the stage]

Scene 6 - Alpha Channel News

Good evening, I am Sarah and this is Alpha Channel news from Jerusalem on Friday... Leading the news at 6 o'clock...
Tragedy in Jerusalem today.   Senator Gracchus from Rome, who was to attend the celebrations to mark the victorious end of the Gothic War, was killed today after a roofing tile fell from a building and frightened his horse.  The Senator was thrown to the ground and later died in hospital.  Authorities are investigating whether this is the result of poor roofing standards, or the work of a Gothic assassin.
And in the sports news coming up, we continue our series on the Olympic Games to be held in Athens next year.  Tonight, Formula One Racing.  We ask the question :  should Formula One racing become an official Olympic sport?
And now we have a special feature on cults and new religions.  There has been much attention over recent weeks on a group called “The Way”.  These people were meeting together in public places in the city center until quite recently.  Now they are rarely seen in public and many are reported to have left Jerusalem, with some going as far away as Damascus.  What has made them leave so suddenly? Let’s go now to our reporter who is following this story.

Scene 7 – Live On-Stage Interview

Reporter Good evening.   I am joined in the studio by… Mrs Joanna, a member of “The Way” whose husband is awaiting trial for unlawful assembly, Captain Brutus, who is in charge of the Roman army garrison in Jerusalem, by the Honorable Rabbi Caiaphas, chief priest of Jerusalem, and Mr Saul, dean of studies at the Jerusalem Religious School, who just returned today from Damascus. Good evening to you all, and thank you for joining us.
Mrs Joanna, followers of “The Way” are now rarely seen in public, and many left Jerusalem.  Why is this?
Joanna: It’s because we want to avoid being intimidated and beaten.  My husband was attacked in our own home, by some of the Captain’s soldiers, under the direction of Mr Saul.
Rep: Captain, is this true?
Brutus: My men are soldiers, not terrorists.  If you want to accuse them, show me proof and I will sort them out.
But let me say this.  The Way is made up of fanatics.  History shows such groups destabilize society.  We have to decide whether we should allow individuals to say and do whatever they want, without considering the whole society.
Rep: Yes, a stable society is what everyone wants.  Mrs Joanna, should individuals be allowed to say and do whatever they want?
Joanna: Jesus taught that we should think of others as being more important than ourselves.  I think that’s good for society.  All my husband and I are doing is standing up for what we know is true.  We don’t want to cause trouble for anyone.
Rep: Rabbi Caiaphas, there’s no harm in letting people believe what they want to believe is there, provided they don’t provoke unrest?
Caia: It’s not that simple I’m afraid.  I agree with the Captain.  New religions always cause trouble.  No, it is better for everybody if we stick to the beliefs we grew up with.  These beliefs make us who we are.  These beliefs bind us together.  New beliefs are dangerous.
Rep: Mr Saul, you are a highly regarded religious teacher.  Followers of The Way do have some extraordinary beliefs, especially the belief that Jesus has risen from the dead.
Saul: You’re right.  Which is why The Way might seem to be very extreme, quite fanatical, and possibly dangerous.  But, I’ve been thinking… is it impossible for an Almighty God to raise the dead?
Rep: What do you think, Rabbi Caiaphas?
Caia: Of course, God could raise the dead.  But he wouldn’t raise Jesus from the dead.
Saul: No he wouldn’t.  Unless Jesus was the Messiah.
Caia: And he wasn’t the Messiah, was he.
Saul: How do you know for sure?
Rep: [to Caiaphas]  Well?
Caia: I am the Chief Priest.  If Jesus was the Messiah, God would have told me.
Saul: Caiaphas, I’m sorry to spring this on you live on television, but I wish you had gone with me to Damascus.  I had an experience on the way there that has left me in no doubt that Jesus is alive.
Caia: What?!  Are you out of your mind??
Joanna: Praise the Lord!!
Rep: What happened on the way to Damascus, Saul?
Saul: I met Jesus.
Caia: See!   He’s gone mad!!!
Joanna: Hallelujah!!
Saul: You know I’m not mad, Caiaphas.  I am a scholar.  I have dedicated my whole life to the faith of our forefathers.  And now I realize that Jesus is the fulfillment of all that our forefathers had hoped for.
Caia: Enough!!  Brutus, do something!
Brutus: Okay, Okay, let me handle this. [to Saul].  So Saul, what did you actually see on the way to Damascus?
Caia: No, you fool!   [On his feet, turning to the audience].  This is nonsense.  These are lies!  Jesus is not alive.  He is dead.  And he should stay dead!!  [To Brutus].  Captain, let’s go.
Brutus: But, I still want to hear…
Caia: [To Brutus] Go! [To Saul]  You will pay for this.  I’ll make you pay for this.
[Caiaphas and Brutus exit the stage.]
Rep: Mr Saul, one last question.  For a man of such deep convictions, you seem to have completely changed your views about Jesus.  So who do you say Jesus really is?
Saul: He is who he said he is.  [Turns to Mrs Joanna]  Please tell your daughter I’m very sorry for what I said to her.  She was right.  I did need Jesus.
Rep: It sounds like this person Jesus just won’t go away.  Back to you, Sarah.

Scene 8 – Alpha Channel News :  Friday Night wrapup

Thank you.
And now Alpha Channel wants to hear your views.  We bring you another Alpha Channel Viewers Poll.  Tonight’s question is: Should followers of “The Way” be allowed to practice their beliefs?
If your answer is “yes”, call 1 800 YES WAY.  If your answer is “no”, call 1 800 NO WAY
We will announce the results at this time tomorrow.
End of part 2 - go to Part 3
Copyright Russell Stedman, 2001, all rights reserved.
This script may be used with royalty payment, provided no charge is made for entrance to the performance. In return, the author would like to be told of any performance. He may be contacted at : russlerks@yahoo.co.nz