The Power of the One-Act Play
After many years of writing epic 2-3 act plays to tell the Jesus Story, I turn this time to a 1-act play. A shorter play is much less demanding on the local church to produce. The story is briefly told and goes straight to the point. Sub-plots and secondary characters are not needed. Music is used as commentary and mood setting. Best of all is the hand-off! When the play is over, the pastor can immediately call for a response from the congregation. I believe so strongly in drama in service to evangelism that I present this 1-act play for your consideration. Running time with optional music: approximately 50 minutes (without music approximately 40 minutes).
Here is the synopsis from the script:
Scene One: Mary and Joseph
Scene Two: John the Baptist
Scene Three: Nicodemus and Claudius
Scene Four: Mary Magdalene
Scene Five: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus
Scene Six: Paul and Timothy
Scene Seven: James, the Lord’s Brother
The Seeker* is a reporter investigating the Jesus Story. The action takes place as a dream entirely in his home office. After a disturbing phone call from his editor, exhaustion overtakes him and he collapses into a deep sleep. He begins to dream visits from the characters in the Jesus story in which he has been immersed. These visitations are based on extensive research into the biblical record of Jesus. Seeker is acquainted with details from scriptures and with Christian traditions of theology from an orthodox point of view shared by most Christians, especially Evangelicals. He admires the Jesus Story from an artistic point of view and would love to believe it to be true. In his dream, Seeker encounters people he has studied, interviewing them in the process. He is open minded but cannot cross the line from reason to faith. Personal needs lie beneath the surface of this investigation and for the most part do not enter into his thought processes. The play is open ended leaving the final decision to the audience.
*I have written this character from a male point of view. Please tolerate the masculine pronouns if the role is played by a woman.
Seeker: Seeker is a modern newspaper reporter whose world view has been shaped by modern thought. He is open minded and sincere. Deep spiritual needs may be present in his life, but they do not surface in this investigation.
John the Baptist: The classic prophet in the wilderness is consumed by his mission.
Nicodemus: This leader of the Sanhedrin council is reasonable and unable to dismiss Jesus.
Claudius: A Roman officer of high rank who is impressed with Jesus if not with Israel.
Mary Magdalene: This former prostitute was delivered by Jesus from demon possession.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus: This family of believers hosted Jesus and His men in their home. Mary is the worshiper. Martha is the worker, and Lazarus is the one redeemed from death.
Paul and Timothy: The Apostle and his young assistant are imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel. Paul is absorbed in his work and a bit absentminded. Timothy reads the scriptures.
James, the Lord’s Brother: Is the pastor of the Jerusalem church although he has not always believed in Jesus.
This play can be effectively presented without music. I have included suggested familiar congregational songs as an option. The function of music in this play is to provide the audience with time to reflect on each scene. For the most part these songs are vintage worship songs so people can more easily sing along if they wish. They characters do not sing. I estimate about 10 minutes of music, extending the play to an estimated running time of 50 minutes. Here is the playlist:
Prologue: 1. Tell Me the Story of Jesus (Chorus)
Scene One: 2. Tell Me the Story… (Verse & Chorus)
Scene Two: 3. Lamb of God (Twila Paris)
Scene Three: 4. The Lord Thy God in the Midst of Thee
Scene Four: 5. Who Can Satisfy My Soul (Jernigan)
Scene Five 6. I Live (Rich Cook)
Scene Six: 7. I’m Free (Bill Gaither)
Scene Seven: 8. Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord
Epilogue: 9. REPRISE: Tell Me the Story of Jesus (Verse & Chorus) with I Love to Tell the Story (Chorus)
Sheet music is included with the script as a separate document. Producers are free to use different songs to facilitate the participation of their audiences.
This play is available on a contract basis with the cost of the use of the script varies with the size of the church. There will also be a royalty fee for each performance. Contact Steve Phifer: (863) 512-3671 DrStevePhifer@gmail.com
If you want to know more about establishing a theatre production team in your church, you can find a series of five articles on this website: “Production: To Be or Not To Be? Story to Tell”
PART ONE: A Story to Tell-Don’t Do a Production-Build a Production Company
PART TWO: A Story to Tell-How I Learned to Love Jesus and Hate Christmas
PART THREE: A Story to Tell-The Case for Music Theatre in the Local Church
PART FOUR: A Story to Tell-The Big Story: Intimacy vs. Grandeur
PART FIVE: A Story to Tell-Twelve Steps to More Professional-Looking Productions
Here are the links to these articles
Also this one:
Enjoy the company of the creative ones in your as you “Tell the Story.”