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Joseph’s Story

This is a look at the Christmas story from Joseph’s point of view and what he may have gone through accepting Mary to be his wife when she was expecting.

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Joseph’s Story

This is a look at the Christmas story from Joseph’s point of view and what he may have gone through accepting Mary to be his wife when she was already expecting.


Author:    Delvyn Case

Synopsis:

     A fiancee returns from visiting her cousin for three months and announces she is pregnant. From God. How can anyone believe such an incredible revelation? For Joseph in the Christmas story, the answer is easy if an angel appears. Yet what if the angel stops appearing? And what about others who are not visited by angels? 
     In Joseph’s Story Joseph struggles with the veracity of Mary’s claim that she has been overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and has become pregnant by God– not my man– until an angel appears to him. However, his young love is further tested by the reaction of his family and friends to Mary’s pregnancy. Abandoned by all Joseph must take his new wife soon to deliver one hundred miles to Bethlehem to register for the Roman census. They travel alone with Mary having increasing distress as she approaches the time for the birth of her child. There in the wilderness, Joseph must comfort his wife as she wonders whether she can make it to Bethlehem and where her child will be born. How can Joseph reassure Mary about the reality that she is carrying Messiah and where He will be born if no angel appears? 
     

Joseph’s Story


JOSEPH’S STORY

A Christmas Play

by

Delvyn C. Case, Jr.


Copyright 2010
by
Delvyn C. Case Jr.
All Rights Reserved

    CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that JOSEPH’S STORY  is subject to a royalty.  It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth, including Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union.  All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, and the rights of translation into foreign language are strictly reserved.
    The amateur live stage performance rights to JOSEPH’S STORY are controlled exclusively by Drama Source and royalty arrangements and licenses must be secured well in advance of presentation.  PLEASE NOTE that amateur royalty fees are set upon application in accordance with your producing circumstances.  When applying for a royalty quotation and license please give us the number of performances intended and dates of production.  Royalties are payable one week before the opening performance of the play to Drama Source Co., 1588 E. 361 N., St. Anthony, Idaho 83445, unless other arrangements are made.     
    Royalty of the required amount must be paid whether the play is presented for charity or gain, and whether or not admission is charged.  For all other rights than those stipulated above, apply to Drama Source Company, 1588 E. 361 N. St. Anthony, Idaho 83445.
    Copying from this book in whole or in part is strictly forbidden by law, and the right of performance is not transferable.
    Whenever the play is produced, the following notice must appear on all programs, printing and advertising for the play, “Produced by special arrangement with Drama Source Co.”
    Due authorship credit must be given on all programs, printing and advertising for the play.

No one shall commit or authorize any act or omission by which the copyright or the rights to copyright of this play may be impaired.

No one shall make changes in this play for the purpose of production without written permission.

Publication of this play does not imply availability for performance.    Both amateurs and professionals considering a production are strongly advised in their own interests to apply to Drama Source Company for written permission before starting rehearsals, advertising, or booking a theatre.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, now known or yet to be invented, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, videotaping or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.    Characters
Joseph, teens-20’s

Simon, friend of Joseph, age teens-20’s*

Reuben, friend of Joseph, age teens—20’s*

Mary, teens

Jacob, Joseph’s father, 40’s–50’s*

Rachel, Joseph’s mother, 40’s*

Rabbi, 50’s*

Eli, Mary’s father, 40’s–50’s*

Miriam, Mary’s mother, 40’s*

Angel Gabriel*

Roman Soldier, 20’s*

Innkeeper, 50’s*

Innkeeper’s Wife, 40’s*

*These roles can be doubled

Time
Days of Jesus’ birth

Places
Nazareth
Road from Nazareth to Bethlehem
Bethlehem

Scenes
I-1:  On a street in Nazareth
I-2:  In front of Mary’s home
I-3:  In front of Mary’s home
I-4:  Joseph’s carpenter shop
I-5:  Joseph’s carpenter shop
I-6:  On a street in Nazareth near the synagogue
II-1:  On a street in Nazareth
II-2:  In front of Joseph and Mary’s home
II-3:  On the road to Bethlehem
II-4:  Bethlehem—inn and stable
II-5:  Bethlehem—inn and stable
II-6:  Bethlehem—inn and stable

Sets
Street scenes:  Bare stage, plantings
In front of Mary’s home:  Facade of home and bench
Joseph’s carpenter shop:  Bench, carpentry tools, and piles of wood
Joseph’s and Mary’s home:  Facade of home
Road to Bethlehem:  Bare stage
Bethlehem—inn and stable:  Facade of inn, back wall of stable, piles of hay, manger

Costumes
Joseph, Simon, Reuben, Mary, Jacob, Rachel, Eli, Miriam, Innkeeper, and
Innkeeper’s Wife:  simple Bible robes, sashes, headpieces, and sandals, pregnancy enhancer (Mary)

Rabbi:  White robe and blue sash, headpiece, sandals

Angel Gabriel:  white robe

Roman Soldier:  Roman soldier uniform and helmet, sword

Props
I-1:  fabric, thread, and needle
I-2:  bench, jug, and cups
I-3:  bench, bowl with fruit, partially built bench
I-4:  bench, partially built benches, sandpaper
I-5:  sleeping mat
I-6:  scroll
II-1:  scroll, travel bags (2)
II-2:  scroll, travel bags (2)
II-3:  travel bags (2)
II-4:  bench, broom, travel bags (2), towel with basin
II-5:  bench, ornate boxes (3), scroll
II-6:  bench, broom, bed mats (2), travel bags (2)
JOSEPH’S STORY

ACT I,  Scene 1

{As the lights come up,  Joseph, Simon, and Reuben are standing on the top of stage right stairs.  Mary is sitting on top of the stage left stairs sewing with thread and fabric}

Simon:  {pushing Joseph playfully and pointing at Mary} She the one?

{Joseph nods}

Joseph:  {holding arms and looking dreamily at Mary} I love her.

{Reuben shakes head and sits down on top of stage right stairs.  Simon and Joseph sit down with Joseph still looking at Mary}

Reuben:  {hands up} How do you know?  How does  anyone know?

Joseph:  What? {Joseph turns to look at Reuben and Simon} {cont’d}:  Our families have lived on the same street all our lives.  Always understood Mary and I would…

Simon:  Reuben asked how do you know you  love her?

Joseph:  By looking in her eyes. {Simon and Reuben laugh}  By looking in her eyes, I know I love her and will do anything for her.

        {Simon and Reuben push Joseph}

Simon:  You love her.

        {Joseph nods at Simon with earnestness}

Reuben: {mockingly} And will do anything for her.

        {Joseph nods vigorously at Reuben}

Simon:  By looking…? {Joseph nods at both Simon and Reuben} Big promise for a look.

Joseph:  It’s love!

Reuben:  {shaking head}Gotta be more than that.  How ’bout a kiss?

Joseph: {offended} We’re not married yet!  {Simon and Reuben laugh and shake heads}{cont’d}  I’ve watched her.  At home she helps her mom.  Does all her duties.  At the synagogue she prays, doesn’t look around like the rest of the girls,  {pushing Reuben} {cont’d) or you.  {Reuben shakes his head smugly} {cont’d} Life will be wonderful for us when we’re married!  I got a house—when it’s finished.  A business.  All the work I can handle.  Everyone in Nazareth wants a carpenter these days!

Simon:  You won’t talk like that when problems…

Joseph:  Who will bother me…us?

Reuben:  The Romans to start.

Joseph:  {waving off} We’re under Roman rule.  It’s been hard for some but not me.        {Reuben stands up} 

Reuben:  Hard?  Had a friend killed…for doing nothing…standing on the street.  A soldier ran him through with his sword ’cause he looked suspicious.  The Romans confiscated my brother’s tools—all of them.  Said he was making weapons with them. {waving off} He’s just a blacksmith.  Now he can’t make a living. 

Simon:  Or thrown out of your house—so they can use it for a stable.  {pointing off center stage} My cousin, who lives at the edge of town.

Joseph:  They never come into my shop.  Never bother me.  {hands up} Who cares ’bout a carpenter?

        {Reuben shakes head.  Simon pulls Reuben down}

Simon:  The religious leaders.  Do you obey all their laws?

Joseph:  I go to synagogue.  I obey God’s laws.

Reuben: How many?

        {Joseph shrugs shoulders}

Joseph:  A lot.

Reuben:  {pointing finger at Joseph}  You’re to obey all of them. {with a grumble} The Pharisees’ laws. 

Simon:  They’re impossible.  So many laws.  Not all of ’em in the Scriptures,  I’ve heard.

Reuben:  {waving off} Better obey them– like they do.  {with arms outward} ‘Cause they sneak around watching everyone. 

Simon:  Do they obey all their laws?

Reuben:  And if you’re caught…{to Simon} Do their laws make anyone good?  Show anyone how to live?

Simon:  {to Reuben} I asked you if the Pharisees obey their own laws?
 
        {Reuben shrugs his shoulders}

Simon:  {waving off} Forget the Pharisees.  {pointing at Joseph} It’s God who tells us what to do.

Reuben:  {with disdain} Four hundred years.  Nothing.  {holding up one finger} Not one prophet even in these desperate times.  {waving off}  God hasn’t ask told us nothing.

Simon: {to Reuben} Don’t you think God wants people to do special things?  He has in the past.

Joseph: {to Simon} I’m no prophet.  I’m ordinary…a carpenter.  Just a carpenter.  He wouldn’t ask me to do something, special or not.  Would he?

Reuben:  If there’s a God.  {Reuben stands up} {cont’d} No more talk of religion.  Where does it get us?  Let’s go.  {Joseph and Simon look at each other and stand up} {cont’d} {to Joseph} Waiting a year before you’re married.  Won’t that be hard?

Joseph:  We see each other…talk.

Reuben:  With a chaperone.

Simon:  What are your feelings for Mary?  {Joseph looks dreamily at Mary} {cont’d}{to Reuben} Does he have any? {Reuben shrugs shoulders}  Joseph?

        {Joseph looks back at Simon and Reuben}

Joseph:  There’s a God.  I know there is.

        {Simon and Reuben look at each puzzled}

Reuben:  Do you have any?

        {Joseph is puzzled}

Joseph: What?

Reuben:  Feelings for Mary?

        {Reuben and Simon smirk at each other}

Joseph:  I have…some. {Reuben and Simon laugh} Many.  I have many.

Reuben: Be careful now.

Joseph:  After we’re married, I’ll have more…many more.  I’m sure.  {Reuben and Simon laugh again}  What are you laughing ’bout?

        {Mary stands up}

Simon: {pushing Joseph}You’d best keep busy.
 
        {Joseph turns and looks lovingly at Mary}

Joseph: {dreamily} What?

Simon: {to Joseph} To keep your mind off thinking ’bout your feelings.

        {Reuben notices Joseph is looking at Mary}

Reuben:  He’s not listening.

Simon:  He’d better.  We’ve got good advice.  We’re his friends.  Forever!

Reuben:  And customers.  My family is.  We’ll keep him in his shop.  Out of trouble.

Simon: {to Reuben}Unless he gets rid of the chaperone.  {holding out robe like pregnancy}  Then there’s trouble.  {Simon and Reuben nod and smirk.  Then they look at Joseph  and notice he is still looking at Mary}  How many words have you ever said to Mary?  Ever.

        {Joseph looks back at Reuben}

Joseph:  {dreamily} What are you talking about? {Reuben pushes Joseph}  A few.  Just a few.  We don’t talk.  She’s a girl.  We’re not supposed to talk.

Reuben:  What I thought. {not convinced} I’m sure she loves you a lot too.

        {Mary picks up basket.  Joseph looks at Mary}

Joseph: {dreamily} She does.

        {Reuben shakes head watching Joseph}

Reuben: {taking Joseph’s arm} Looking doesn’t do much.  Not when you have to trust someone.  Gotta be more when you’re married.

Joseph:  There is.

Simon:  There’s more to life.  To marriage.  Reuben knows.

Reuben:  When she says something, how do you know she’s telling the truth?

Joseph:  ‘Cause she loves me.

        {Simon and Reuben shake heads}

Reuben:  What if she’s lying?

Joseph:  She won’t. {Simon and Reuben look at each other}  I’ve seen her character.

Reuben:  By looking in her eyes?

Joseph:  By watching her.  You don’t have to talk with someone to know they’ve got character. Watch what they do—I told you.  Then I’ll ask her.  She’ll tell the truth.

Reuben:  It’s not enough.  Not always. 

Simon:  Reuben’s seen plenty of trouble.

{Reuben nods}

Reuben:  Look around town.  Our neighbors.  {bitterly} {tapping his chest} Our families.  {emotionally}  What do you do when people you trust let you down?  {Reuben is overcome with emotion.  Simon puts his hand on Reuben’s shoulder to comfort him}  How do you know how to act?

{Simon nods}

Joseph:  I don’t have an answer…not yet.  I’ll figure it out…later…after we’re married.

Reuben:  {regaining his composure}  Wait till you know.  Till you know!

Simon:  When you’re mature. 

Reuben: More mature.

Joseph:  I don’t want to wait!  {motioning to Simon and Reuben}  What ’bout you?  What do you know?

{Reuben looks at Simon.  Simon shakes his head.  Reuben and Simon look at Joseph}

Simon:  We’re not getting married.  We don’t have  an answer.  Don’t need to.  {Simon and Reuben  laugh}  Or be mature.

Reuben:  More mature.

        {Simon and Reuben laugh again}

Joseph:  Some help.  Some friends.

Reuben:  The best you got.  Remember when your donkey wandered into the Roman barracks and drank from the bath?

    {They laugh}

Joseph:  How can I forget?  You always remind me.

Simon:  {earnestly}  We’ll stick by you, no matter what.  We’re friends.

        {Reuben nods}

Reuben:  {motioning off stage right stairs}  Back to work.

{Reuben exits off stage right stairs.  Simon and Joseph start down stage right stairs.  Joseph keeps looking at Mary}

Simon:  When’s the betrothal?

Joseph:  {looking at Simon} When our families get together and decide.  {dreamily} {looking at Mary} Isn’t she beautiful?

{Simon pushes Joseph.  Simon and Joseph exit off stage right stairs.  Mary looks over at Joseph as he exits. Mary smiles sweetly at Joseph and exits off stage left stairs}

        {black out}





ACT I, Scene 2

{As the lights come up, Eli and Miriam are sitting on bench in front of their home.  They are talking.  Joseph enters hurriedly from stage right stairs.  He is excited.  He motions towards Mary’s home}

Joseph:  (excitedly) This way, rabbi.

{Rabbi enters from stage right stairs.  He holds chest out of breath}

Rabbi:  I know the house.  I know where  everyone lives in Nazareth.  {huffing and puffing} Slow down.  {pointing off stage right stairs}  Your parents can’t keep up with you.  {huffing and puffing—holding chest}  I can’t keep up with you.  {to himself}  Young people!

        {Jacob enters from stage right stairs, out of breath}

Jacob:  We’re here.
 
{Rachel enters from stage right stairs, out of breath. Jacob helps her up last step}

Rachel:  We made it.
               
Joseph:  {excitedly} Hurry!  Please!

Rachel:  {to Rabbi} He’s not excited.

Rabbi: {with a smile} Not at all.

{Rabbi raises left arm for Joseph to lead the way. Joseph, Rabbi, Jacob, and Rachel cross to Mary’s home.  As they approach the home, Eli stands up}

Eli: Shalom, {bowing head} Rabbi, Jacob, Rachel, and…{pointing to Joseph} Joseph.

Rabbi: Shalom Eli and Miriam

        {Miriam stands up}

Miriam: {bowing} Welcome to our home.

        {Rabbi, Jacob, Rachel, and Joseph bow in response}

Rabbi: We’ve come for the qiddushin of…{pointing to Joseph} Joseph and your daughter Mary.  Do you both agree to this betrothal?

{Rabbi looks at Eli and Miriam.  Eli and Miriam look at each other and nod in agreement}

Rabbi: {looking around}  Where’s your daughter?

Miriam:  {pointing back toward home} Inside.  She’s not expected this.

Rabbi:  Course not.  No respectable Jewish virgin would.  Has the bride price been paid?

Eli:  Both of our families are…{puts head down in shame}

Jacob: Our family understands a bride price cannot be paid.  There’s no dowry.  {pause} Both families are…you understand.

Rabbi:  {to Eli} This is true?

        {Eli nods in agreement}

Eli:  We buy two pigeons for sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem.  We can’t afford a lamb.

        {Rabbi nods}

Rabbi:  Have your daughter come out.

        {Miriam crosses to doorway of home}

Miriam:  {calling into home} Mary.

        {Mary enters stage from door of home}

Mary:  {hands to face in mock surprise} What is this?  Why’s everyone here?  {to Joseph}  Joseph, what are you doing here?

Joseph:  Mary, you’re speaking to me!

{Joseph looks down in embarrassment.  Mary holds hand to face in embarrassment.  Rabbi smiles and nods.  Rabbi motions for Mary and Miriam cross.  Mary and Miriam cross to Rabbi}

Rabbi:  We’ve come to officiate the qiddushin between Joseph and yourself.  Do you agree to this betrothal?  {Mary steps back as if fainting.  Miriam puts arm around and holds Mary up}  All right, young lady?

        {Mary stands up straight}

Mary:  {smiling} Shocked, surprised.  {to Joseph} Joseph, I didn’t know how you felt.

Rabbi:  Yes.  Yes.

        {All look at each other, smile, and laugh audibly}

Miriam:  {motioning to Mary} Answer the rabbi.  Do you agree?

        {Mary nods demurely}

Rabbi:  What young lady?

Miriam:  (kindly but firmly} Answer, answer!

Mary:  Whatever my parents desire.  They know best.

Rabbi:  {waving off} Even if arrangements have been made by parents,  Jewish law says you must consent as well.

{All look at Mary awaiting an answer.  Mary looks at each one}

Mary:  I agree!  I agree!

        {All applaud}

Joseph:  I knew she loved me.

Miriam:  {pushing Mary} Go your husband-to-be.

{Mary crosses excitedly to Joseph and stands downstage of Joseph.  Rabbi directs Eli and Miriam to cross and stand downstage of Joseph and Mary.  They cross and stand as directed.  Rabbi directs Jacob and Rachel to stand closer to Joseph and Mary.  Jacob and Rachel cross and stand as directed.  Rabbi is standing upstage of all}

Rabbi: Can we begin?

{Rabbi turns to Jacob and Rachel who look at each and then nod to Rabbi.  Rabbi turns to Eli and Miriam who look at each and then nod to Rabbi.  Rabbi nods to all}

Rabbi: {seriously}  This is a solemn and sacred step, broken only with a writ of divorce for serious offenses such as…{glaring at Mary} adultery.  {Mary looks down in embarrassment}  If the woman is found pregnant by another man, the penalty can be stoning.  {Rabbi looks at all.  No one responds}  {hands up}  Why dwell on such a matter?  This is a happy occasion.  {looking at Mary} There’s no need to be concerned.  {Mary shakes head vigorously.  Rabbi nods}.  {waving finger at Mary and Joseph}  Remain chaste and there’s no problem.  No chance of misunderstanding.  No…tragedy.  {looking around}  Where’s the wine?  {Miriam remembers she has forgot the wine.  She hurriedly crosses to home and exits into home.  Rabbi taps foot and smiles at Mary and Joseph.  He brushes off his robe. Miriam enters from home.  Rabbi is relieved.  Miriam crosses back carrying jug and cup and stands next to Eli}  The husband and wife-to-be will drink from one cup after they take their vows signifying their lives will become one.  {Rabbi nods to Miriam.  Miriam pours wine into cup}  {turning to Joseph} “I pledge my love for all my life.”

Joseph:  I pledge my love for all my life.

        {Rabbi turns to Mary and nods to Mary}

Mary: I pledge my love for all my life.

{Miriam hands cup to Rabbi.  Rabbi hands cup to Joseph who drinks from cup.  He hands cup to Mary who drinks from cup.  Mary hands cup to Rabbi who hands cup to Miriam.  RABBI nods to Joseph who takes both of Mary’s hands}

Rabbi: {holds hands up to bless Joseph and Mary} “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Joseph and Mary:  Amen.

Jacob, Rachel, Eli, and Miriam:  Amen.

Rabbi:  Amen!

        {Joseph pulls Mary to him and hugs her}

Miriam: {mocked shock} Joseph, please!

        {Joseph releases hug and holds Mary’s hands}

Joseph:  We’ll be happy forever!  In all ways!  {to Mary}  I love you.

Mary:  I love you, Joseph.

Miriam: {to all} Did you hear what my daughter said?

          {All laugh and clap hands}

Rabbi: Congratulations.  We’ll gather together next year for the missuin, when Joseph has finished his home in accordance with his father’s timing. {Rabbi looks at Jacob who nods}  Joseph will send his best man and friends along with the bridesmaids with torches…{hands up} here to your home…and Mary will be brought to Joseph’s home.  There at the door I will solemnize the occasion before Mary enters Joseph’s home for the consummation of the marriage. {Jacob, Rachel, Eli, and Miriam applaud. Mary and Joseph are embarrassed)  {waving finger at Joseph and Mary} Remember what I said. {Joseph releases Mary’s hands and steps back}  Better.  Shalom.

        {Rabbi turns toward stage right}

Miriam: Rabbi. {Rabbi stops and turns back.  Miriam hands jug and cup to Eli, and crosses to Rabbi} Mary’s prepared her first meal on her own for this special occasion.  You’d honor our home by eating with us.  {pointing toward home} Would you please join us?

Rabbi:  Wasn’t Mary surprised today?  Why would she prepare anything? {Rabbi looks at Mary as Mary smiles broadly}  I’d be honored.


{Miriam points toward the door to Mary’s home.  Rabbi crosses to door and exits into home.  Jacob and Rachel cross and exit into home followed by Eli and Miriam. Joseph holds Mary’s hand and starts to kiss Mary.  Miriam enters from door}

Miriam: Joseph!  Mary!

{Joseph drops Mary’s hand and steps back.  Joseph and Mary hurriedly cross and exit into home.  Miriam shakes head and exits into home}

        {black out}





ACT I, Scene 3

{As the lights come up, Miriam is sitting on bench in front of home.  She is putting fruit in bowl.  Joseph enters from stage right stairs carrying a seat and leg of a bench.  He crosses happily to Miriam}

Joseph:  {as he crosses} Shalom, mother—mother-to-be.  A beautiful spring day.

Miriam:  {looking up to sky} Not a cloud in the sky.  But in the days of Elijah the prophet…{Joseph reaches Miriam}  {motioning toward bench Joseph is carrying} From your shop?

Joseph:  {holding out to Miriam}For our home. 

Miriam:  {rubbing bench}Very smooth.

        {Joseph peers around Miriam}

Joseph:  Where’s Mary?

Miriam:  If you finish all the furniture as quickly as you’ve finished the rest of your house, you could get married next winter.  Maybe earlier than a year.

Joseph:  {shaking head} The rabbi said we must wait a year to be sure Mary…{embarrassed} you know.  My father wouldn’t agree to any change.  It’s tradition.

Miriam:  Mary’s been faithful.  Chaste.  And your father, he’s soft-hearted.

Joseph:  {anxiously} Is Mary…here?

Miriam: {not listening} I know it’s hard, seeing each other only during the day…

Joseph’s Story

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