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The Essence of His Death

50 minutes / 15 characters

Hordedef and Sekhti, Egyptian purveyors of rare essence (used in the manufacture of perfume), have come up into Judea for the Passover. Familiar with the Hebrew holiday, they will be actively trying to separate the residents of Jerusalem from some of their hard-earned money. In the city, they are caught up in the political intrigue surrounding the trial and subsequent execution of a "prophet" from Nazareth. In the midst of it all, Sekhti falls in love with a young believer named Dinah.

Meanwhile, Nicodemus, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin finds the courage to renounce his standing in the Council and publicly claim this crucified one as his Master.

Men and women, young and old, Hebrew and Egyptian—all are somehow changed by this one called Jesus Christ. Some will hear His words but reject them as blasphemy; others will hear his words as wisdom, but never yield their lives; but some will believe and open their hearts, taking Jesus at his word and finally knowing the true Essence of His Death.

For musical variations on this play, see The Choice, or The Essence of His Death: The Musical (a larger production).

Why Jesus died for us; Human traditions vs God's word


  • Hordedef: Egyptian merchant of essence, perfumes and spices
  • Sekhti: the younger Egyptian merchant and our hero
  • Theodosius: a greasy, Roman merchant
  • Nicodemus: member of the Sanhedrin
  • Malchiah: friend of Nicodemus
  • Jerusha: servant woman of Caiaphas
  • Crassius: Roman soldier
  • Lucius: younger Roman soldier
  • Peter: the apostle
  • Dinah: a young, pretty Jewish woman and our heroine
  • Abigail: Dinah's older, wiser friend
  • Rahab: nasty, venomous friend of Dinah
  • Caiaphas: the Chief Priest
  • Artemus: servant of Nicodemus
  • Street people: Extras (any number)

Essence requires a standard stage-lighting setup and/or a curtain. Because His Company typically performs in church sanctuaries, we rarely use a curtain for scene changes, depending more on black-outs.

In the original production we used program music between scenes to both give movement and energy to the play's pacing and to set the mood for the upcoming scene.

In keeping with His Company philosophy, the set for Essence is nominal, allowing the audience to focus on the characters and action. However, this play would also work well with a more traditional background and set. If your facilities and budget will allow, you could use painted backdrops, scrims, set pieces, etc. In our production (staged in a typical, carpeted sanctuary) we "suggested" elements that could have been actual set pieces in another production. For example, for the well or spring in Act 1/Scene 4, we simply had the women dip their pitchers over the side of a wooden banister.

The following set pieces are required:

  • "Rocks" or something for merchants to sit on
  • Benches for sitting
  • Fire ring (instructions for construction included with script)
  • Spring or well (or area of stage to suggest same)
  • Rough wooden table


  • 5 large shoulder bags for merchants
  • Collection of glass and stone jars with stoppers
  • 3 leather pouches for coins
  • Coins
  • Large handful of gaudy, costume jewelry (Theodosius)
  • Water pouch
  • Large broken crusts of bread
  • 1 medium size fish (e.g., trout)
  • Collection of sticks for fire
  • Swords for soldiers
  • Collection of pottery waterjugs and baskets for women
  • Water
  • Collection of jugs, baskets, sticks, etc. for extras
  • Large impressive chair for Caiaphas (optional;depends on blocking)
  • 25 lb. bag of kitty litter (painted; for spices in Act 3/Scene 1)
  • Collection of blankets

The Essence of His Death The Choice Jesus Crucifixion Sacrifice Egypt Sekhti Hordedef Dinah Peter Denial Caiaphas Nicodemus Perfume Spice Easter

PDF for Production (6409)
Plain Text for Review (1965)

(Download: right-click / View: left-click)

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by Dr. Radut.