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Summary:  (A Reader’s Theater Presentation) A visitor is sent to earth. He‘s been here before and doesn’t want to come back. Earth people are violent and unpredictable. Yet his world has encountered difficult times and his commander wonders how such a violent people as humans have survived all these centuries. So he sends Travillion back once more. . ..
Style: Dramatic.   Duration: 45min(?)
Actors: 7+M, 2F, 3+M/F

 

(NOTE: What’s a Messiah is an unusual play. Most likely it will appeal to teens and young adults. When I wrote it I was beginning a series of inspirational science fiction novels and one of my Sunday School students loved them. He gave me the idea for this play and insisted he would play Travillion.
 The church where we produced the play has a small platform and a long, narrow sanctuary. We put the readers on one side of the stage, erected a curtain and back lit it on the other side of the stage. The teens, who refused to speak in public, created a series of simple sets and posed behind the sheet for shadow pictures. It worked well.
 Travillion sat on a stool and moved to a different location around the small sanctuary for each scene.
This play could work several ways. As usual, if you use this play, I expect you to change it to fit your own situation.  I can  see the same readers doing all parts, and the scenery being moved around them - very contemporary theater style. Another possibility is puppets acting out the parts as the readers read the parts.)

Cast
Travillion
Commander
Joseph
Shepherd # 1
Shepherd #2
Magi # 1
Magi #2
The Angel
A Jewish woman
Mary
Jewish men
Innkeeper.
Actors in shadow scenes optional
Singers: Choir or congregation. Instrumental music for some carols can be substituted.

Script

Scene One: An “Alien” Commander’s office

Travillion (To Himself)
 I’ve seen some strange things in my journeys to Earth. Most of them violent. World War II changed the whole world. So did the Crusades. Horrible things.  (As an afterthought) But the Magna Carta was peaceful.

Commander (Impatiently)
  Travillion. . . .

Travillion:
 Commander, are you really serious?

Commander
 Yes. I’m sending you back.

Travillion
 But the last time I was there they were building shelters underground and talking about nuclear war. Who knows what they’re doing now?

Commander (Dryly)
 You’ll be glad to know that war didn’t happen.

Travillion
 I bet they’ve found something just as violent to keep themselves occupied.

Commander
 They haven’t destroyed everything yet. Yes, humans are violent. But we’ve overlooked something. There’s something good that surfaces every time it really looks bad for the human race.

Travillion
 Where does it come from?

Commander
 We have isolated one event that happened a long time ago. It seems humans still talk about it. We’re sending you back to the place where it began. A small, unknown country in what Earth beings call the Middle East. Date, 2,500 years ago.

Travillion
 Where do I start?

Commander
 In a town called Nazareth. I’m sending you first to Joseph to see why he acted the way the ancient writings of earth say he did.

 

Scene Two: Joseph’s bed chamber

(Joseph and the angel look out at the congregation.)

Angel
 Joseph?

Joseph
 Huh? What? Who is there? It’s the middle of the night, don’t you know?

Angel
 I have a message for you.

Travillion
 It’s an angel. The male human will not know her.

Joseph:
 Identify yourself.

Angel
 Joseph, you know who I am. Look within yourself.

Joseph
 Mary spoke of a messenger when she told me of her. . . . condition.

Angel
 I am that messenger.

Travillion
 What condition? What did I miss?

Joseph
 What would you say to me?

Angel
 Take Mary as your wife. Do not be afraid of the Child . . .

Travillion
 Child? What child?

Angel
 . . .she carries. Take Him as your own. He is born of the Holy Spirit. Call Him Jesus. He will be the savior of his people.

Travillion
 A baby! Who is she ?

Joseph

 I will consider your words.

Song: O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Optional – can be left out, done by congregation, soloist, or instrumentalist)


Scene Three: The Streets of Bethlehem

Travillion
 Wow! Look at all these people! What is this place and what are they all doing here? They don’t all live here. This place isn’t big enough for this whole crowd to live here.

Jewish Man
 What a time for a census! Bethlehem cannot hold a single person more.

Travillion
 What’s a census?

Jewish Man
 Couldn’t Caesar just ask us? We would have told him how many of us there are. Gladly! And what is it to him who my ancestors are? Money is what he’s interested in. Taxes he calls them. I call it robbery! Legal robbery!

Jewish Woman:
 Benjamin, enough my husband. At least we have a place to stay. I have watched those two unfortunates. This is the fourth place the innkeeper’s turned them away. And she is heavy with child.

Jewish Man
 Would you have me give them your place?

Jewish Woman:
 Ah, well, I’ll offer a prayer.

Jewish Man
 I thought as much. So. Yahweh will provide.

Travillon
 Well at least now I know what a census is. But taxes?  (pauses)  Hey! I know that man. He’s the one the angel talked to about the woman and baby. I hope this Yahweh can provide.

Song: Away In A Manger (Optional/ congregation, soloist, instrumentalist or leave out.)


Scene Three: Innkeeper showing Mary and Joseph the stable.

Inkeeper
 Yes, it’s not much. But clean, it is. Just yesterday I put down clean straw. This census brought many people. I did hope for animals here. Not people. People pay for feed. Ah well, so be it.

Mary
 Joseph, please take it. The child will be born on the street if I must travel further.

Travillion
 The child to be born tonight? Here? No. It can’t be. They can’t establish a sterile field. Too Dangerous! What if something goes wrong? Nothing to transport the child out!  (pause) Can I watch?

Joseph
 We will make it acceptable. Perhaps the child will wait if Mary can rest.

Mary
 Do not be so sure, my husband. The child will come when Yahweh wills. Sooner than you want.

Inkeeper
 What may I bring you?

Joseph
 Strips of clean cloth. Or spare linens. Have you any?

Inkeeper (with conviction)
 Those who are lucky to have beds can sacrifice extra linens. I shall return.

Mary
 Joseph, he’d best hurry.

Joseph
 Mary what do you say?

Mary
 The child comes.

Joseph
 Now?

Travillion
 Now?

Joseph
 What must I do?

Travillion
 I’ve never seen anything born!

Mary
 Help me get comfortable for a moment.

Travillion
 Comfortable? How can she think of comfort at a time like this? Oh my! What pain! But she smiles between the pains. Then again the pain! How long can she stand it? The keeper is back. Poor Joseph. He looks helpless. What a violent way to enter the world.

Song: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Optional or congregational, solo or instrumental)


Scene Four: Shepherds in a field.

Travillion (Looking around wildly)
 Wait! Commander, where are you sending me? I want to see the child born. This is a wilderness. There’s no one out here. And what kind of animal makes that sad, pleading-for-help sound?

Shepherd One
 There’s a chill in the air. Are all the sheep in?

Shehperk Two
  Safe and sound. Not a wolf in sight. Moshe and Goshen are posted. No thieves tonight.

Shepherd One
 No, nothing tonight, may it please Yahweh.

Shepherd Two
 So be it.

Travillion
What is this? Commander, you sent me to watch these. . . . these common people? How could they have anything to do with the good that influences humanity? What a desolate place. (looks around) What is that awful bleating sound? I. . .

Sheperd One (Suddenly loud)
 Look!

Sheperd Two
 What?

Shepher One
 The light!

Shepherd Two
 Is that a person?

Travillion
Where? They can’t see me, can they? I see it now! The light. Look at the light. And it is a person. The Angel! They see the angel. Is it the same one? Am I hearing voices?

Angel
 And you will find the babe……

Travillion
 A babe? A Baby? The Child!

Angel
….Wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Travillion:
 A manger? The lady who didn’t have a place to stay! Could it be the same child? Is that why I’m here? The angel’s telling them about the baby I almost saw born? Why would she do that? The village’s important people should be told first! Hey, Look! More angels!

Shepher One ( looking up)
 The messenger speaks. What is this you say? Is that Jacob’s ladder to the heavens?

Shepher Two (looking up)
 They said ‘Glory to God in the highest.’

Angel:
 Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.

Shepherd One (still looking up)
 Glory to God in the highest?

Shepherd Two (keeping eyes on sky)
 How can there be peace in these days?

Trivillion
 What a sight! Angels, ladders, light in the darkest night! What does it mean?

Shepherd One
 But look, it fades away.

Shepherd Two
 Glory to God in the highest. . .

Shepherd One
 Peace. . .

Travillion
 The blackness returns. The wilderness blocks the light. Where is the joy of the encounter? It’s over. They don’t understand anymore than I do. Hey! Wait! Where are you going?

Shepherd One
 Come on, hurry! I want to find the child. He is the One!

Travillion
 What one? Which one?

Shepherd Two
 The Messiah? It can’t be!

Travillion
 What’s a Messiah?

Shepherd One
 If he isn’t, we haven’t lost anything.

Shepherd Two
 But so many have claimed. . .

Travillion
 Claimed what?

Shepherd Two
 …to be the Messiah.

Travillion (Raising his voice in expiration)
 What’s a Messiah?

Shepherd One
 No one will laugh at us. There have been so many good ones people just shake their heads and go on. What’s the harm in going? What if he is the savior of the world? Besides, the angels announced it, not a human.

Travillion
 Is a Messiah one who saves people? Saves them from what?

Shepherd Two (Thoughtfully)
 You’re right. Usually it’s a person claiming he is the Messiah or a woman claims her child is Messiah. The angels...glory....peace.... Surely this is the One who has come to show the way! Let’s go!

Travillion
 Messiah, Savior, the One who comes to show the way. I like it! Everyone needs direction. Save from what, though? Show the way to what? Maybe the way up the ladder to the One – you know, the God-in-the-Highest person. Does God-in-the-Highest live at the end of the ladder? Hey! Wait a minute. . . wait for me!  (looks around wildly) Commander, send me back to the child and parents. Hurry!

Song: Away In A Manger


Scene Five: Mary and Joseph in the stable.

Mary
 The child is clean.

Joseph
 And wrapped tightly?

Mary
 Make a place for me near the manger, would you, my husband?

Travillion
 Oh look, the child is born. Tiny little thing. How can that influence the good in the world? Do all humans start so small? Look how tenderly the father holds the child. But what is he wrapped in? He can’t even wave his arms.

Mary
 A beautiful child.

Joseph
 And what healthy lungs. Hear him cry.

Mary
 Yes. There. He knows you are his father. Hand him to me. He’s hungry.

Shepherd One
 Hurry! I see a stable on the edge of the village lit up. The child must be there.

Travillion
 Mary. Joseph. Look the shepherds! They come to see your child.

Joseph
 Why do you come?

Shepherd Two
 Many angels appeared in our fields and announced the birth of a child, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger instead of a house. They said ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace to all men who please God.’

Mary (to Joseph)
 The angel went to them as to me.

Josheph (replies to Mary)
 And to me.

Travillion
 I see. I see it now! The pattern. An Angel goes to Mary. Mary tells Joseph. The angel tells Joseph it’s okay. Keep Mary. Then the Angel tells the shepherds the baby was born. A messenger. That’s an angel. But from whom? The God-in-the-Highest? Where’s the highest?
 Are the messengers the ones who influence humans for good?

Joseph
 Angels told us of the child's birth also. You see, Mary became with child before the betrothal period ended. How, neither of us know. . . except the angels came and we believed.

Travillion
 A special child. Angels announce him. Wait. I was wrong. Could He be the influence?

Shepherd Two
 Let’s stay a brief time with the child. Then we have to tell the others about the angel announcing the Messiah!

Travillion
 I know who the Messiah is. Or what it is. Is this Child really the Messiah? I think the shepherds think so. I’ve got that part right. But how does he influence good on earth?

Song: We Three Kings (Optional… or congregation, soloist or instrumentalist)


Scene Six: The wise men’s camp

Travillion
 Where am I now? Let’s see. I recognize the village way over there. I’m standing at the road that intersects with the trade route from the east. That cloud of dust means lots of people are headed his way. I’ll stand here and wait for them.  (long pause) Hmmm.... The dust isn’t getting any closer. It’s settling. I’ll go see.

Wiseman
 Night’s coming. Let’s camp here.

Travilion
 What finery these men wear. Not from around here. Turbans, long, rich looking robes, camels, chests filled with who know what. . .

Wiseman One
 Last night the star looked like it stopped near that village. Tonight we will send our scouts and see.

Travillion
 Look at the big tents go up. What a job! WOW! Smell the food cooking. These people know how to travel. Who are they? Where’d they come from? Why am I supposed to see this?

Wiseman Two
 I sense we are near the end of the journey.

Wiseman One
 Two years is a long journey. Are we certain we interpreted the star correctly?

Wiseman Two
 The ancient texts say a new star will appear and mark the birth place of a the king of the Jews. I have told you this each time you asked during the long journey. And now King Herod himself pointed to this village.

Wiseman One
 I know. But this is such a small village. Surely no one with royal blood makes his home here. I had to ask once more. . .

Travillion
 King? What king? Now we’re talking about kings? King of the Jews? They’re not talking about the child. He’s the Messiah. He can’t be both.
 (pause) I’m off track. I let my curiosity get the best of me. Commander, please locate the child. Send me to him. These men are on a diplomatic mission of some sort. Looking for the king of the Jews. I made a mistake. I’m in the wrong place.

Song: All Come All Ye Faithful (Congregation, soloist or instrumentalist)


 Scene Seven: Mary and Joseph’s house.

Travillion
 Now wait. There’s a star. The sun’s coming up and I can still see a star over this house. Is this where the child is? Yes, I hear laughter. I know that voice.

Mary
 Yes, I know you enjoy the morning, my son. But you must eat. Yahweh provides food so you can grow strong and tall. Look. Your father comes. He has already been to the village and repaired someone’s roof or broken table. He still carries the sawdust on his feet.

Joseph
 Well, my family, what a glorious day. Work is to be found yet. But soon we will return to Nazareth. It is nearly time for Jesus to begin studies with the Rabbi.  (pause) Mary, have you seen the star that lingers near here even yet as dawn breaks?

Mary
 A star? First the angels. Now a star. Anna and Simeon have sent many people to visit our son. Who will come now?

Travillion
 Kings! At least I think they’re Kings. They come looking for a king.Mary. Joseph. Kings will come to visit. They called your son the King of the Jews. Look! They’re entering the village now. What a parade!

Joseph
 Mary, look at the men from the east. I’ve heard stories of such men from the rich traders I work for.

Mary
 Such wealthy people. Where is their destination?

Joseph
 I think they’re coming here.

Mary
 To see our son? His face is not yet clean.

Joseph
 Clean it. They approach quickly.

Wiseman One
 The star stops here.
 (Raises his voice.) Is anyone within?

Joseph (Calling to them)
 Who do you seek?

Wiseman Two
 The child who was born to be King of the Jews. We have followed the star from the east and have come to worship him. We bring gold, frankincense, myrrh and many other gifts.

Joseph
 You are welcome. Here is my wife and the child you seek.

Mary
 We call him Jesus.

Travillion
 These important men come to this. . .this little house, spread their gifts and worship a child. A miracle. Mary has to be puzzled. A special child, Angels, shepherds, and now kings! Does this child grow up to be a king? Is that how he influences the earth for good?

Song: Angels From the Realms of Glory (Optional… or congregation, soloist or instrumentalist)


 Scene Eight: A very quiet Wisemen’s camp.

Travillion
 Look! It’s the angel again. Talking to the men from the east. You know, it took a lot of faith to come all this way following a star. Then they recognized the child even in this lowly house instead of a palace. Didn’t someone call these guys Wisemen? Wait! What’s the angel saying?

Angel
 King Herod asked you for information because he wants to harm the child. Do not go back to him. Return to your home another way.

Wiseman One
 But what of the child?

Angel
 He will be safe. I take the Most High’s warning to Joseph. They will flee to Egypt. The child will grow and show all men the way to God.


Scene Nine: Travillion Makes His Report.


Travillion: (musing to himself)
 The angel again. The angel came to Mary. Then to Joseph. Then the angels went to the shepherds. To the wise men and finally to Joseph again.
 (long pause. Then he snaps his finger) Commander, come in!

Commander
 What is your report? What did you learn?

Travillion
 I know what the good is, and why it never completely goes away! And I know why it appears seemingly out of nowhere just when humanity gets into big trouble.

Commander
 Well, out with it! If we can figure out what it is, perhaps it can help our world. I’m afraid we’re headed for trouble.

Travillion
 Me too. I guess that’s why I agreed to go back.

Commander:
 Enough stalling. Tell me what you learned.

Travillion
 The good comes from the one they call God-in-the-Highest. The angels are messengers from the God-in-the-highest. So he has to be the source of the good. But I think it’s man’s interaction with God-in-the-Highest that really produces the good that we can see. And the child, Jesus made that interaction possible. I’m not sure how yet. Commander, I think I need permission to visit again.

Commander
 Granted. But do you mean when circumstances get bad, more people interact with God-in-the-highest?

Travillion
I think that’s the human way. I’ve seen it on my other visits.
(pauses) It’s too bad we don’t have a Messiah. Hey, Isn’t there a colony of mystics in the hills beyond the capitol city?

Commander
 I think so.

Travillion
 Maybe we should talk to them.

Song: Joy To The World

 

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© Copyright Jo Bower, 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.
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. She may be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.