Bethlehem Times

By Mark and David Ralf


The Bethlehem Star newspaper is being prepared with the central story gradually being pushed out! (A variation on "Away with the Manger" by John Fewings)


Asst Editor
Script Girl
Photographer (if required)


A large blank newspaper is attached to a flipchart showing a front page spread of the Bethlehem Star with blue layout markings. The audience can see over their shoulders as they work.· Blutak is needed to attach one big headline to the wall.· As Sally introduces each new story, she hands them a piece of paper.· The designer and Asst Editor both have wads of paper (their scripts) that appear to be their stories for inclusion in the paper.


(Scene: · A newspaper is being edited.· Two people are trying to fit in all the copy, photos and headlines.· They appear to be under a deadline to get the work done and fit everything done.· Sally keeps bringing in another story for inclusion.)
Scene 1
Sam: (Staring at the blank newspaper page and holding a wad of papers - the script) Why couldn’t this happen yesterday?
Joe:  I know, yesterday we were making it up to fill the page and today all heaven’s been let loose.
Sam: Usually I don’t write the news, I only print i,t but I think we’ll be leaving something on the cutting room floor today.
Joe: But this is a great story…A new baby that’s clearly something special. New baby boy born during the census - heart-rending stuff, it’s got to be worth loads of extra copies to all the relatives.
Sam:  And that’s most of the house of David
Joe: I'd better get some more scrolls in!
Sam: So we lead with the baby born during the census. And we can run it parallel to the story on overcrowding in Bethlehem. Lots of trade interest there.
Joe:  I’ve got a great title - “Miraculous birth in Bethlehem” (Hold’s up a big headline too large to fit across the page.) And we can include interviews with the parents and still keep the innkeeper story…
Sam: The headline doesn’t really fit - let’s use “Census baby born”. It’s a real “gotcha” headline.
(The big headline is stuck onto the wall in a prominent place near the paper but ignored.  They quickly assemble the headlines, photos and text and step back to admire their work that fills the page beautifully. Sally walks in…)
Sally: Hey guys, I’ve got a special story.We got a definite link between that huge star and the birth of the boy. Josh’s done a great piece on it. (hands it to the editor)
Sam: Great - it never rains but it pours….Where are we going to put this?
Joe: No problem. We just trim out the other articles and slot it in as a side panel. What do you think? (Turn page to reveal new page with extra article added)
Sam: Good job…
Sally: The editor says he wants the horoscopes right next to that piece on the star - and no buts!
Sam: But there’s no room…(puts his hands up)I know - no buts!
Joe: Horoscopes - who reads that stuff.This is real journalism. Why mess around with this rubbish.
Sam: The editor’s a great follower of horoscopes…
Joe: Well, when I said rubbish - I meant they’re obviously important for some people. I’m sure we can accommodate them.(Turn page to reveal new page with extra article added)
Sam: It’s a bit busy now, but it still works.
Sally: I’ve got another one….Three important ambassadors from the East - all came to visit the baby with big time gifts. The editor says this is major news and MUST go in.(hands it to Sam)
Joe:  We’ll be the wise men if we can fit all this in…
Sam: Maybe if we trim the two original stories we can run this one along the bottom…Great photo too.
Joe:  OK. That could work…(Turn page to reveal new page with extra article added)
Sam: So we have the birth with parent’s story, overcrowding, innkeeper, star, horoscopes and visiting ambassadors with high-class presents.
Joe: And this has to fit on a double page spread? Do we have to fit any more stuff in?
Sam:  We could always do the piece on the carol singers again!
Joe: No way. They’re always drawing attention to themselves.
Sam: And they’re so loud
Joe: Or collecting for some worthy cause.
Sally: You’ll never believe this, guys...
Joe: Another one?
Sally:  Some donkey rode a pregnant woman and her partner into town.
Sam: Whoa! Does this have to go on our page?
Sally: I’m afraid so! There’s a connection to the birth, and animal stories are good for circulation.
Sam: We’re going to need a new picture for the baby story.Maybe something with a bit more colour in it.
Joe: Well…. Wait…. We could move the innkeeper story to the top, shorten the baby story and slip the donkey article in the space in the middle.(Turn page to reveal new page with extra article added)
Sam:  That’s seems to work - though it's getting a bit crowded.

(This next section sends out a photographer to the nativity scene. It can be omitted if required.)
(The photographer and his assistant will go to the traditional nativity scene, and keep rearranging people for the picture.
He will eventually end up with the Wise men at the centre, shepherds giving contrast with the bright Star, the sheep, the angels etc etc etc. The only thing that won’t really fit is Mary, Joseph and Jesus, who keep being moved to the edge of the scene and are eventually left out. Lots of opportunity here to improvise on a theme.)
Joe: We’re going to need a new picture for the baby story.Maybe something with a bit more colour in it.
Sam: Geoffrey, Geoffrey.We need a picture of the baby born during the census.
Geoffrey: What's wrong with that one?
Sam: We’ve had to move things around.We need a picture that shouts “special baby – buy this paper!”You know the sort of thing…(Geoffrey goes off)
(Back to the original story, folks!)

Sally:  You guys, I’ve trailed this around every other team - it’s got to go on this page.
Joe: What is it?
Sam:  It’s huge!
Sally:  Hold everything!I’ve just got a juicy bit from our sister paper, the Nazareth Herald.There’s a possible scandal connected with our story.Some people don’t think Joseph is the father.
Joe: Then why all the stuff in the sky? The baby is either special or he’s not.
Sam: The press needs to stay unbiased - we’ll print both stories!
Joe: Ok. We can edit out the parent’s interview and just keep the happy baby bit.
Sam: It won’t fit.
Sally:  Are you guys ready with that page? The editor’s waiting for it.
Sam: Pressure, pressure. Everything’s so “stressy” nowadays.
Joe: We’ll drop the baby story completely and just use the Dad scandal piece.We don’t need the baby story, now we’ve got all this good stuff! (Turn page to reveal new page with extra article added)
Sam: OK Quick recap…We’ve got the overcrowding and the Innkeepers, stars, horoscopes, wise men from the east and the scandal piece.
Joe: Looks good to me…A great page once again from the best two hacks in Palestine.
Sam: Give us the stories and we’ll trim them to fit…(They slap each other’s hands)
Sally: Can I have the page layout now?
Sam: Sure, here you are…
(They hand over the page layout to Sally and she walks away…They clear off any remaining bits leaving only the original big headline on the wall…)
Joe: (As they walk away together…) It’s a good page but I can’t help but think we’ve missed some good news.
© Mark and David Ralf, December 2002, all rights reserved.
This script may be performed free of charge. In return the author would like to be notified of any performance. He may be contacted at :