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Summary: The Christmas story from a different point of view. Suitable for Epiphany, Christmas or New Year. It is the night before the Magi visit. Our scene is the inn in Bethlehem. Mary, Joseph and Jesus are absent – they have moved out of the stable into a house in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11). The Magi will visit tomorrow. The characters are the innkeeper who let them use his stable, his wife, and one of the servants of the Magi.
Style: Dramatic.    Duration: 12min
Actors: 2M, 1F
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-18, Luke 2:1-20.

 

 

Characters:
John:, the innkeeper
Ann:, his wife. Ann and John have been married a long time. They are both
forthright and argumentative, but they love each other.
Servant, an unnamed senior servant of the Magi

Script

Scene: the interior of an inn, empty except for John, the innkeeper. John is cleaning up before locking up for the night. He might be wiping tables, cleaning glasses, mopping the floor, or whatever would make it obvious to your audience that this is an inn.

Ann:    [enters through the inn door, wearing a coat and scarf, obviously cold] [calls] Hello dear, I’m back. [looks round] Have all the customers gone home already?
John:     Hello! Yes, they all left early. Not that there were many to start with.
Ann:     [takes off scarf and coat] Well, it is freezing cold outside – I’m not surprised people are staying home.
     [John: continues to clean, Ann: hangs up her scarf and coat, and then...]
John:     How were the new family?
Ann:     Mary’s tired, but happy. I only saw Joseph briefly. He looks shattered. And the baby! The baby was adorable!
John:     [not impressed] It’s only a baby, Ann, nothing special.
Ann:     [they’ve had this sort of conversation before] Oh John, don’t be such a grump. Every baby is special. At least to its parents.
John:     [giving in graciously] I suppose so. [changing the subject] How are they settling in?
Ann:     Very well. It was good of your cousin to take them in. [reproachful] It’s a shame you couldn’t have organised it before the baby was born.
John:     Ann! We’ve been through this. You know that the stable was only ever a temporary measure. There was nowhere else for them to go on the night they arrived. The town was heaving with people because of that stupid census.
Ann:     [anxious] John:! Don’t say such things. The walls have ears.
John:     Huh, there’s no-one here but us. And the census was stupid. It was an insult to Jewish dignity.
Ann:     [getting frightened, looking round] John:! Watch your mouth!
John:     Well, it was.
Ann:     Yes, but don’t say it so loudly... [pleading] please...
John:     [giving in] Oh alright. [pause] Anyway, the stable was only temporary until we could find them a proper place to stay. It is not my fault that the baby was born that night.
Ann:     Well all I can say is it’s a good thing that I was here to help them.
John:     Huh! At least, I wouldn’t have let those stupid shepherds near the place.
I can’t believe you let them in the stable.
Ann:     John! They meant well. I couldn’t see any harm in letting them see the
baby. They’d come a long way.
John:     [grumbling] They were soft in the head if you ask me. [sarcastic] Wittering on about angels...
Ann:     I didn’t hear you complain when Joseph shared that lamb with us.
John:     Very nice it was too. [short pause] But I still would have sent them packing, lamb or no lamb.
Ann:     [accepting his point without agreeing with it] Yes dear. I’ll go get us some food while you finish clearing up.
     [she moves to leave to go to another room, but before she can get off-­‐ stage there is a knock at the inn door]
Ann:     [turning] who could that be?
John:     It’s almost closing time     [another knock at the door]
John:     [yells] Come in. It’s open.
     [door opens, Servant sticks his head round the door]
Servant Excuse me. Is this an inn?
Ann:     [giggling] Well, it’s not the roman barracks, dearie!
John:     Ann! [he gives Ann: a hard stare]
     [Ann: scuttles off through the inner door, to the kitchen]
John:     Yes, sir, sorry about that. Yes, this is an inn. Do come in.     [Servant comes in]
John:  Do sit down. Can I get you a drink?
Servant[sits down at a table] Too right! I’ll have a ... um ... what do you recommend?
The local beer’s very good. Brewed just outside Bethlehem. I’ll have a pint. And one for yourself too. Very kind of you sir.
[John: pours two beers and puts one in front of the Servant. John: settles himself in for a chat. During the next few lines there is scope for comedy with the beer, if that would be appropriate in your church. The local beer is likely to taste awful to the Servant but he would not want John: to see that he thought it was awful.]
[while pouring the beer] You’re not from round here are you?
Servant: No. I’m with the caravan that arrived this morning. We’ve pitched our tents just outside the east gate.
John: Oh yes. Some of the lads were in here talking about you. It’s a big caravan, they said, nice looking tents, lots of people, very fine...
Servant: Indeed it is. We’ve travelled a long way on what is, [taking John: into his confidence] frankly, a wild goose chase. [pause] I am totally fed up with it. [pause, take a drink]
John:[intrigued] go on...
Servant: My master and his two mates – we call them Magi back home – John: [interrupting] Magi?
Servant: It means “wise men”. [pause] “Bumbling fools” would be a better description at present. [pause, realises what he’s said] Sorry, I’ve had a bad day.
[somewhat sarcastic] Anyway, we’re looking for a “new born king.” My master says he’s seen the king’s star and that we must go and pay homage. Load of rubbish if you ask me, which he doesn’t.
John: But what are you doing here, then? If you’re looking for a king, surely you should be in Jerusalem?
Servant: Oh, we’ve been there. We’ve seen Herod.
John: [incredulous] Herod the King?
Servant: [sarcastic] Of course, Herod the King. And a right shifty so‐and-so he is.
John: [suddenly frightened, as Ann was before] Shhh. What if someone hears you?
Servant: So what? He was shifty. I wouldn’t trust him an inch.
John: Look mate: I will not have treasonous talk in my inn!
Servant:[conciliatory] Alright. Alright. Keep your hair on.  Well, anyway, your Herod tells us to come to Bethlehem to find this new born king. So we all traipse down here. And what a dump this town is [suddenly realising what he’s said]. Begging your pardon, of course. Anyhow, I am one of the few in the caravan who can speak your language, so I’ve been the one who’s had to hunt all over town, all day, for some hint that there might be a “new born king” in this place, somewhere. [pause] And can I find him? No! Not a hint, not a sniff, not a sign.
John: How old is this new king supposed to be?
Servant: We don’t really know. My master’s mates reckon he could be anything up to two years old. That’s what we told Herod. But my master says he thinks that the kid will have been born in the last month or so.
John: [thoughtful] Hmmm. Of course, there’s babies born all the time...
Servant: Oh but this is a special baby. A royal baby. [pause] Frankly, I don’t think he exists. [finishes drink] Well, thanks for the drink. I must be off to report that I haven’t found that baby. [stands, throws some coins on the table] Keep the change. [Exits] Goodnight.
John: [distractedly] Goodnight.
[John: scoops up the coins, looks at them, looks at the door, looks back at the coins and puts them in his pocket; he returns to his cleaning]
John: What a week, eh? A baby, shepherds, angels, wise men... [as he exits through the kitchen door] It makes you think.

© 2011 Neil Dodgson, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the
Internet, without written permission of the author.<br>
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 at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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