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Progress Report: Good Friday Script

The demands of the Christmas cantata that Linda and I produced this year limited the work we could do on the new script for Good Friday. But with the Christmas performance in the history books for another year, we can turn full attention on the Resurrection weekend.

The earlier article stated that for Good Friday this year we are combining four songs by Ruth Elaine Schram with a new monologue by the apostle John. In recent days the monologue has morphed into a dialogue. The monologue just wasn't working, so now it will be John and his brother James--which is working much better.

To pique your interest I include a rough draft (still needs some tweaking) of the new first scene below. Here it is:

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The Time: Late Friday night, just after the burial of Jesus
The Place: Garden of Gethsemane

House lights down.
The first two lines are from offstage.

James
(breathless, as if running)
Don’t turn around! The torches will light your face.

John
They’re too far back—and we’re almost there. They headed up toward the city. We’re all right.

Stage lights up low (blue gel) on James and John as they enter.

James
I don’t know why you wanted to come here anyway. Too dangerous. This is the first place they’ll look for us!

John
We’ll see them—we’ll hear if they’re coming. Besides—
(painfully)
—they have their hands full right now.

James
(looking back from where they came)
Could you tell how many there were?

John
(energetically)
Does it matter? How many do you think it would take? Two? Three? Do you have a weapon? I don’t.

James
(returning)
What about His mother?

John
She’s with the other women. I thought it safer for them right now if I weren’t along. She’ll be all right. The [guards?] should leave them alone.

James
(agitated; pacing)
I heard we are to meet up later—to sort things out.

John
(distantly)
Yes… sort things out.

James
(more distantly)
Yes.

Lights fade to black (passage of time).
Then, after 5-count, lights up.

It is an awkward moment; neither knows how to broach the painful subject that’s been on their minds since the arrest. But James finally breaks the silence.

James
Is this the end? Is this the end of it?

John
(with a sigh)
I don’t know, James. I really don’t.
(pause)
How this place is now changed. So many memories—and now that’s all there is. Just memories.

James
This garden was our home—our refuge.

John
We were [__] here. The Master seemed almost one of us. Here we were family.

James
(abruptly)
So what happened? This isn’t how we began. This isn’t how it was to end.
(beat)
Now what? What are we to do? Do we all just go back home, back to work, as if none of this happened? Do we just go back to our nets?

John
I don’t think so.

James
You were the closest to Him, John—did He know this was coming?

John
(perturbed)
Well of course He did—He spoke of it a number of times.

James
But how were we—how was I to know when He wasn’t speaking in riddles! I’m just a fisherman—how can I remember all He said? How am I to understand such things?

John
None of us understood at the time—still don’t. But He did tell us He would be betrayed, and that this would—

James
(interrupting; furious)
He was betrayed, all right. Right here, in this very refuge, He was betrayed by that snake Judas. May he rot in hell for what he did! How could Jesus have been so blind as to include him in our family?
(pause)
What treachery! What deceit.

John
Was it? Or did Jesus know that, too?
(pause)
We had a habit of underestimating Him. It was too easy to think of Him as just one of us. But He wasn’t. For all his faults, Peter saw it. Our Master was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
(pause)
Would the Son of God be fooled by a traitor? He knew it at the supper. He knew it at the end. Surely He knew it when He called Judas.

Lights fade to black (passage of time).
Then, after 4-count, lights up.

James
I’m beginning to think I didn’t even know Jesus. It all happened so fast. Did we really know Him? Did we have any idea what it was like for Him?
(pause)
What was it like for Him to live with all of us, knowing the ____ and intentions of each heart? What was it like for Him to approach the end, knowing what would happen?
(overwhelmed)
What a horrible way to live! What He must have gone through!

John
(soberly; bitterly)
And He went through it alone.

James
When Jesus needed us the most, we were asleep!
(pause; recalling)
Each time He woke us we had lost more of Him. By the last time, I barely recognized Him. The sorrow. The horrible pain He was suffering written across His face.

John
That face will haunt my dreams.

James
And we were asleep!
(weeping; wearily)
I—I was asleep.

Lights fade to black



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by Dr. Radut.