“Dead is Dead” – A Script for Easter

I was asked to write a Good Friday script for our school’s chapel. It’s entitled “Dead is Dead.”  My actors did an incredible job with it – about a disillusioned couple the day after the crucifixion. To celebrate Easter, I’ve included the full script of “Dead is Dead” below. Would love your feedback on it.

If you celebrate, I hope you have a great one!

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Dead is Dead

by

Mark W. Sasse

Characters

Jabez, husband of Naarah, follower of Jesus

Naarah, wife of Jabez, follower of Jesus

Daughter, of Jabez and Naarah

Roman Soldier

Setting: At their home in Jerusalem the day after the crucifixion of Jesus.

Jabez is sitting eating some bread, giving it to her child. Child runs off to the side of the stage and is playing in the dirt. The JABEZ is standing in a contemplative pose.

NAARAH

Do you want something to eat?

(He shrugs it off.)

I remember the first time I saw him. He had a single loaf of bread in his hand.

(in thought)

On the hillside. The crowd was massive, and I pushed my way in. I was just curious, nothing else.

JABEZ

Curiosity is better left alone unless you want a dagger in your heart.

NAARAH

I refuse to believe it was all for nothing.

JABEZ

It doesn’t matter what you believe when yesterday is still seared into our memory. We saw it with our own eyes, and that’s the end of it.

(The girl runs up from behind and tugs on the arm of her papa.)

GIRL

Papa, papa. Come here. Come here.

NAARAH

But it doesn’t make any sense. How can it be finished? There’s more to it than just yesterday. Our eyes have seen things, and you know it. It’s not like the first unbelievable thing we saw was yesterday.

GIRL

Papa, papa.

JABEZ

(gruffly to girl)

Not now. Can’t you see your mother and I are in a conversation?

(The girls runs off and starts digging and playing in the dirt off the side of the stage.)

Why did I let you drag me into this?

NAARAH

Don’t blame your lack of faith on me.

JABEZ

Faith is now the last thing we need. We have given everything for him. And now what are we going to do? We’ll be outcasts. That bread in your hand might be some of the last you’ll ever have.

 

NAARAH

Stop it.

JABEZ

How could we have been so foolish?

NAARAH

I came to you and told you what I saw. That’s all. The rest was your decision.

JABEZ

And what exactly did you see? Perhaps your heart was a little too emotionally involved to see things objectively.

NAARAH

I’m not going to let your bitterness cloud my vision. I was on that hillside, and he took that loaf of bread and a small fish and fed thousands with them. Emotion doesn’t fill an ox cart full of bread. Tears have never multiplied fish. It happened, and you know it happened. Because you saw what he did for the blind beggar.

(He turns away disgusted.)

Don’t turn away from me. You know what I’m talking about. How many times did you pass him in the streets as he sat near the well in his ragged clothes? And you saw the rabbi heal him. I know it. I saw the faith in your eyes when you came home that day.

JABEZ

(emotion)

Where is faith now? Nailed to a bloody, wooden cross.

(The daughter comes back over to him.)

GIRL

                (pulling on his arm)

Papa! Come over here and look.

JABEZ

Not now!

(Daughter walks away again.)

NAARAH

It may not all make sense, but I refuse to believe it was all for nothing.

JABEZ

Yes, I saw with these very eyes what he did to the blind beggar, and I can’t explain it. But those same eyes witnessed something very different yesterday. Stop blinding yourself with reckless faith. Stop seeing what you only want to see. He’s gone.

NAARAH

But perhaps …

JABEZ

Dead is dead. It’s no different if he had fallen into a well or been bit by a viper or the Roman Legion sliced off his head. Either way, dead is dead, and we’d both be much better off if we can admit that fact. Jesus of Nazareth is dead. And life doesn’t come from death.

GIRL

Papa …

JABEZ

Not now!

GIRL

Someone’s coming.

(He looks and sees a Roman soldier coming at him quickly.)

ROMAN SOLDIER

Jabez!

(Jabez tries to run, but knocks into his daughter who falls to the ground. He stops to pick her up and Naarah comes to get the girl as the soldier punches Jabez to the ground.)

I should slice you here, and I would if it were up to me.

(Standing over him with a sword to his throat.)

JABEZ

What have I done?

ROMAN SOLDIER

Your neighbors have let it be known that your household was part of the rebellious movement of Jesus of Nazareth.

JABEZ

Please don’t hurt my family.

ROMAN

I am here to make one thing perfectly clear, and let the pointed edge of my sword re-enforce it. The governor of Judaea will crush anyone who perpetuates rumors or prophecies about the Nazarene. He is dead, and all thoughts of rebellion are buried in his corpse, or the likes of you will be buried alongside him. Do I make myself understood?

JABEZ

Yes.

ROMAN

Stand to your feet.

(Jabez slowly stands)

I just need to make sure you understand.

(He smacks him twice and Jabez staggers to the other side of the stage and falls on his face near the place the girl had been playing. Naarah and the girl are crying, and they go to his side.)

I think we understand each other now.

(The soldier exits.)

NAARAH

Jabez. Are you all right? Oh, God our father help us. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of God. Jabez.

(He starts to move.)

Jabez.

(She helps him to sit up.)

He’s gone. It’s okay. He’s gone. Are you all right?

JABEZ

No matter what happened yesterday, I’m not going to let Roman tyranny rip the faith out of me.

NAARAH

                (smiling)

No, I suppose you wouldn’t.

GIRL

Papa, I want you to see something. Look!

(She points out to a place in front of them.)

The olive seeds we planted. Remember, you said they were no good. But look, they are sprouting, papa!

(He looks out on the plants and reaches for them.)

JABEZ

That’s impossible. I stopped watering those a month ago.

 

NAARAH

Look at them!

(Jabez starts laughing.)

JABEZ

A miracle in the desert. Life indeed coming from death.

(Holding on to each other.)

Maybe we should wait and see what tomorrow will bring.

 

Good Friday Original: The Life of Christ in Verse (A Sistine Chapel sketch)

On this Good Friday, I thought I’d take this moment to share with you a new dramatic sketch I wrote. Actually, it’s more of a rhythmic poem in a sense, based on some paintings in the Sistine Chapel. Some of my young actors will be performing this at the Penang Performing Arts Centre in May as part of our Fine Arts Week and the replica Sistine Chapel display. I’m very pleased to share the full script below as a way to celebrate this holy week for Christians. When you read it, put some rhythm into it! And to all those who celebrate, have a blessed weekend. 

The Life of Christ in Verse     by    Mark W. Sasse

This was inspired by the following four paintings of the life of Christ in the Sistine Chapel.

  • Temptation of Christ by Sandro Botticelli
  • The Sermon on the Mount, by Cosimo Rosselli
  • The Delivery of the Keys by Pietro Perugino
  • The Last Supper by Cosimo Rosselli

This is the Life of Christ in verse.

The key Christ gave Peter.

The ability to open the doors of,

Salvation

provide the way,

the blessed key,

Peter,

The blessed key,

He was given,

by our Lord and Savior

Salvation,

blessed are the hungry

for they shall eat

at the Last Supper

Of Christ

Where he took the wine

Blessed are those who thirst

And he took the bread

Blessed are those who hunger

Broken and bloody for you,

After righteousness

Salvation

That’s the key,

Peter’s key,

the one given to him by Christ

Blessed are the poor in spirit

They will inherit

Blessed are the meek

For they shall sit at Christ’s feet

At the last supper

and the bread will dip in the wine

of the one who was tempted

more than he could bear

the key

temptation

blessed are the poor in heart

the key

temptation

will not overcome

will not lead to salvation

for Christ was tempted by

Satan

the devil

The evil one

Satan

gave it all to him

but it wasn’t his to give

That’s the key

of Peter

Leads to salvation

but the one at the Last Supper

with the bread dipped in the wine

temptation

the one who would betray

not three times like Peter

but for all time

Temptation

he wanted it all

Satan said it could all be his

30 pieces of silver for Judas

All the kingdoms of the world for Christ

but it wasn’t his to give

And the one at the supper

with the bread dipped in

fell to the temptation

but Christ said

Blessed are those who hate you

that’s the key

blessed are the peacemakers

Peter’s key

blessed are those

persecuted

tempted but not fallen

lied about

but not for Christ’s sake

That’s the key

Salvation

to overcome temptation

Salvation

the key Christ gave peter

to open up the door

and this is the life of Christ

Blessed are the poor in spirit

who sit with Jesus at the last supper

Blessed are the meek

Who resist temptation

the convincer Satan

who says that all is yours

but it isn’t his to give

Blessed are those who mourn

For their sin, washed away after the last supper

for they will be comforted

Blessed are those who hunger

at the last supper

who eat the body and drink the blood

who stand in the wilderness and resist

temptation

who receive the keys that Peter received

salvation

for those who are persecuted

Blessed they are

Who sit at his feet and hunger and thirst

Blessed they are

and when we have temptation

blessed are the merciful

and when we have persecution

blessed are those who mourn

for their sin

for the temptation

for the bread dipped in the wine

it could have been you

blessed are the poor in spirit

it could have been me

blessed are the meek

we could have fallen

temptation

out of salvation

but he came to give Peter the keys

and that is the key

we have received

but will we use it

we will abuse it when we are tempted

but he is merciful

because of what he did

the day after

the last supper

which wasn’t the last

the temptation wasn’t the fall

he died

but it wasn’t the end

blessed are the poor in spirit

who yield to temptation

but receive his mercy

who had bread dipped in wine

but receive his mercy

who desire the whole world to bow

but receive his mercy

who would fall at the feet of the prince of this world.

but because of the last supper

and the sacrifice the next day

and that is the key

Peter’s key

to open the door

It’s yours.

For blessed are those who are tempted,

Who receive the bread dipped in the wine,

but who hear the sermon on the mount

and receive the keys of Peter as your own,

rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.

And this is the life of Christ in verse.