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Were You There?

35 minutes / 3 characters

Were You There? blends extended, heart-wrenching monologues with dialogues between the elderly Barabbas and his adult nephew, and Ananias, his fellow Zealot from the time of Christ's crucifixion.

Central to this play is Barabbas who, though now a believer, begins the play bearing a heavy burden of guilt for the fact that—quite literally—Jesus died in his place. Like a soldier struggling to forget the horrors of war, Barabbas wants to forget the horror and guilt of that time long ago when he was released and the innocent Jesus died upon the cross made for him. But his nephew persists in nagging Barabbas about that time—and the part his uncle played in the dramatic, earth-changing events. At last Barabbas gives himself permission to remember what happened—and why—and how it changed his life forever.

Production Notes
There are three "situations" employed in this play: First is the natural dialogue between Barabbas and his nephew. It takes place in real time (today: thirty years after the crucifixion). Second are the audience-directed "asides" by Barabbas, in which he shares his contemporaneous thoughts. Third is the brief historical exchange between Barabbas and his compatriot, Ananias.

The challenge for the director (and actors) is that the actors move back and forth between these three situations quickly and seamlessly—at times, one line to the other actor, the next line as an introspective aside. The audience's suspension of disbelief can be aided by the clever use of stage lighting and even well-timed program music, but, as always, the key to it all working comes down to the believability of each actor's performance.

In this play, what the actors do when they are not the center of attention is critical. For example, there are some things that Barabbas says that his nephew should not "hear." Artful lighting can help, but often there is insufficient time to transition from one to the other, so the physical attitude of the detached actor is key—telegraphing to the audience that he is not privy to what the other character is saying. The director will need to pay special attention to blocking in this regard.

Barabbas, the zealot (in his fifties)
Nephew (in his twenties)
Ananias (in his twenties--from thirty years ago)

No set or props are required, but can be employed at the director's discretion.

Barabbas Zealot Ananias Prison Crucifixion Release Jesus Died Believer Uncle Nephew Jerusalem Pilate Trial Praetorium Herod's Palace Pardon Crosses Golgotha Easter

PDF for Production (2727)
Plain Text for Review (1609)

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by Dr. Radut.