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Christmas round the camp fire

This was written for a particular space, and used the various parts of it; it will need adapting to whatever space you are using, but that should be possible.

Living room scene – back left of stage.

Jim But I want to see It’s a Wonderful Life

Fred Why? You watch it every year – you know what’s going to happen; you can recite most of it!

Jim But that’s the point. I watch it every year. It’s part of Christmas. It’s one of the things I do.

Fred Yes – it’s just a repeat. Like everything else on telly this time of year.[waving rt around] I’ve been looking through the lists; it’s just repeats. Every year – it’s just the same thing over and over

Jim You’re a right grump today.

Fred well – it’s boring. It’s just the same thing over and over every time. We never do anything different. Same telly, same food, same music going on and on in the shops. [stumps around, picking things up and putting them down]

Jim Well, it’s no different from you playing that song over and over – it’s so dull. I think if I hear it again I’ll throw something at you

On another part of the stage

Angel 1 [looking through a timetable] so I guess it’s the same old thing again tonight?

Angel 2 [coming in] what do you mean?

Angel 1 oh, you know, patrolling the heavens, waiting to see if there are any messages to take, watching the earth to see if by any chance, this time, they might actually listen

Angel 2 I guess so.

Angel 1 (big sigh)

Angel 2 look, I know it feels repetitive, but what else can we do? There is only one message to give – we just have to keep on saying it until they listen.

Angel 1 I guess……

Another part of the stage

A “fire” is set up. The three arrive in down the aisle, talking as they come

Shepherd 1 Another exciting night awaits. Joy of joys

Shepherd 2 you’re sounding cheerful

Shepherd 1 well – it’s hardly very thrilling! Same thing every night, night after night, it’s so repetitive; sitting here watching sheep. Fun, I don’t think

Shepherd 3 [sits down]] I’d rather have that than the excitement of danger or missing sheep. Nothing wrong with a bit of the same old same old if you ask me.

Shepherd 1 but something different would be good, wouldn’t it. Just something a bit different, a bit – a bit ,,,well, I don’t know, just not another just the same night. [wanders off]

Shep 2 I hate it when he gets like that

Shep 3 Like what?

Shep 2 all boring about how boring and repetitive it all is

[settles down by the fire]

can’t he think of something new to say

Shep 3 Probably not. And at least we know where we are with him. I can’t stand those folk who are changing every minute and not the same two days together

Shep 2 you’re as bad as he is; just as boring and predictable, always repeating yourself. Me, I want a bit of – well, something new anyway!

Shep3 Well, [pointing] if you don’t get off after that sheep, you’re going to be discovering a new bit of countryside soon

Shep 2 [shouting out, and dashing off] hoy, come back, not down there….

Front right of stage; innkeeper fussing with glasses at a table. Chambermaid comes in carrying towels

Innkeeper come on, it’s not that hard. You do it often enough. You tidy the rooms, you make the beds, and you put the cows in the byre.

Chambermaid I know – I just got muddled. I didn’t mean to tidy the byre and put the cows in the bedroom. But the stable looks better now it’s tidy, doesn’t it.

Innkeeper I suppose so. Can’t say I’d really thought about it. Anyway, who’s going to see it.

Chambermaid well, the cows and goats might be pleased…?

Innkeeper don’t talk nonsense! And go and sort out the kitchen.

Chambermaid boooooooring

IK Well, it might be boring, but unless it’s done, we’ll not manage supper tonight. And I don’t want a repeat of that fiasco when we couldn’t find anything. There’s a good reason for putting things in the same place every time

CM But where’s the creativity in that?

IK You are not here to be creative. You are here to make sure things run smoothly. And you can’t do that by changing things!

CM [walking off muttering] can’t you – just watch me…

Earth was waiting spent and restless

Scene 2

Fred well, couldn’t we do something different this year? Something new, something that’s just what we do every year

Jim what do you suggest? and why does it matter so much to you?

Fred I just want something new – something to change things…don’t you ever want to see the world differently, go somewhere you haven’t been, be somebody you haven’t been?

Jim I have no idea what you are talking about. I guess I want things to be different sometimes. I mean, it’s hardly perfect, is it. [looks throught a newspaper] There’s wars and famine and everybody’s worried; that’s why we need the things we know, just doing the fun familiar things again. It’s reassuring. It feels safe.

Fred But it doesn’t change anything. Just doing again what we’ve done before means we’ll just get the same things over and over. Can’t we make it different?

Jim How? I think we’ve tried – tried in all sorts of ways. But it always back to the same stuff. It’s all just repeats….

Fred And you talk about me being gloomy!!

Jim I’m not being gloomy, just realistic. I mean, look at this [holds up a newspaper headline with bad news] This is what it always is. I don’t feel gloomy particularly. Just that doing things we already know is comforting when everything is like this

Fred [takes paper] But does it have to be like this? Can’t we do something different? Don’t people want things to be different [looks through the paper] no – I guess not! But can’t we even try to change it?

Jim Well, I’ll tell you what you can change; the way you’re cluttering up this room. Come on – time to go and get the shopping if we are going to have a meal at all. [both leave]

A1 [holding a large piece of paper] Well, here’s the day’s orders; you were right – it’s the same message again

A2 it’s hardly going to be different, is it. I mean, it is the only message that matters. The love, the determination to say

A1 I suppose – but you’d think that with them being so slow to get it, somebody might change it, or give them a fright by saying something unexpected or startling

A2 Like what?

A1 Like[starts acting fierce – walking up and down] – listen up, you’ve had your chance, and if you’re not interested, I’m leaving.

A2 Wow – that would be different

A1 Or – I’ve had enough, it’s all going to be different round here now. What I say goes, and what I say is stop all this nonsense or there is going to be a big stick

A2 To the point certainly..

A1 Or – well, you’re on your own now; you think your so big and powerful, go ahead, cope without me

A2 Ok – perhaps that’s enough…

A1 or – I’ve had enough, I’m ending it now. You have had your chance, and now it’s the turn of the cockroaches

A2 Nope – don’t think that one’s going to go anywhere. Look, I know you’re frustrated

A1 and bored!!

A2 OK – and bored – but this is the message. This is always the message. This is the only message. So, you better get those wings brushed, the trumpet polished, and get going. We’ve got the hillside to visit….

CM [coming in] I can’t get any more in. There’s no more room

IK [clearing table] What do you mean there’s no more room

CM I mean just what I say. The rooms are all full, the beds are all taken, we’ve got people sleeping on the settees, and under the tables. I can’t get any more in

IK But we’ve never been full before [checking big bookings book]

CM And just because it’s never happened before means it can never happen now does it?

IK But – I don’t know what to do. I’ve never had to cope with this before.

CM Come on. New is good! Well, at least it is different. I was getting really fed up doing the same old thing over and over. At least there’s some variety here, something to get a bit excited about.

IK What’s exciting about trying to do something you haven’t done before? That’s not exciting – it’s frightening. I don’t know what to do when there are too many people here. [ starts trying to clerar things away – find movement indicating panic]

Why are they here anyway! What’s going on?

CM I’m not sure. But it’s exciting! There are all sorts of people coming into town, all kinds of people I’ve never met before. It’s great to have something different, something I haven’t done before

IK Well, that may be, [ looks out over the “path” – and points out people moving] but what are we going to do with those folks coming up the path – how are we going to find room for them. I’m running out of new ideas.

CM Well, we better find them a place, There’s a baby on the way, and soon too, from the look of her. That’s so exciting! A whole new person – a whole new life, with all it’s new things, and who knows what. [finds blankets, pillows under table]

IK Do you think so? Isn’t it just more of the same – I mean, what kind of life, how is it going to be different from ours, just the same thing over and over – eat sleep, grow up, get into trouble, keep out of trouble, pay taxes, live, die….

CM Taxes – that’s what this is all about. I remember now!

IK They’re all coming in taxis??

CM No – they’re all coming to be taxed. I’ve just remember. It was all the gossip earlier in the day. Apparently people have to get themselves all across the country to get to home towns to make this tax thing work.

IK See – nothing really changes, it’s always the same; the government want the money, and we’ve got to sort out the consequences. That young couple are at the door – what are we going to do?

CM I don’t know! Let’s try something really new. Let’s see if we can’t get the stable sorted out and make up a bed in there. It’s warm and dry at least….

S1 Dull, dull, dull!

S2 You’ve said all that [gets out sandwiches and examines them]

S3 Yeah – you’re getting dull and boring. [finding something to do – whittling or something….?]

S1 But nothing ever happens

S3 So make it happen. Do something different – get up and dance and sing, and give us a laugh

S1 I’m not here to entertain you. I do have my dignity you know

S3 Well, you’re not being very dignified, going on about how bored you are.

S1 At least I’m trying to have conversation, talking about something real instead of just the gossip in the town

S3 Real – what’s real about you being bored. That’s not real. That’s just – boring! You say it every night. But you never do anything about it. You never change anything

S2 OK, OK, calm down both of you. Quarrelling won’t make it more interesting. Have something to eat [tries to hand food round]

S3 Oh, I don’t know. I could get really exciting, and thump him.

S1 That’s just about right isn’t it – your answer to everything; hit somebody

S3 At least I’m doing something, instead of just sitting there complaining. [squaring up to each other]

S1 And at least I’m talking about things that matter instead of saying soft things like you about being nice to everybody. That’s just tedious – I could write your script for you….

S2 Then why don’t you write it – or at least live it! You think I enjoy playing peacemaker between the two of you – over and over again. You want to know what’s dull and tedious – it’s having to listen to you two argue and bicker and go on and on and on and on the same way every night. Even the sheep are more interesting than you….

S1 [turns on S2] Then don’t do it if it bores you that much. I’m sure we’re not asking you for any favours. You’re pretty boring yourself if it comes to that

S3 [also turns to S2 – throws stick at him]Yes, that’s true! Always going on about how we ought to behave better and try harder and be different. You’re never any different – you just say the same thing over and over. You never give us any reason why we should be different, or act like you. You just stand up there, all holier than thou, and expect us to listen to you. Why should we? What makes you so special?

S2 I give up. I can’t be bothered with you at all. I’m off to talk to the sheep. At least they make some sense..... [walks off]

O little town of Bethlehem

Jim OK, so how might it be different. You go on about wanting something new. What is that you want?

Fred I’m not sure. But it’s just...well, can I put it this way. There’s a Russian proverb “We hoped for something better, but it turned out just the same”. People use it about politics I think. But it applies in all sorts of things. I keep hearing people talk about making the world better – it’s all over the news and the newspapers. [waving newspaper] But when I look around, it’s just the same – there’s not enough money, there’s too much fighting, there’s people killing each other and there’s not a lot to look forward to.

Jim But there’s good things too. There’s families that love each other, and there’s neighbours that help, and there’s people giving to charity and making campaigns [need to find something to do here]

F Yes, I know. But even some of that seems the same stuff over and over. We go on giving money – but people are still hungry. We go on making friends, and people still fall out. Nothing ever seems to change really

J Well, isn’t that because people are people – people stay the same; we still get things right and we get things wrong.

F Mostly we seem to get things wrong

J You really are fed up about it all, aren’t; you

F Yes – it just seems so hopeless

J What would change it – what would give you hope?

F I don’t know. What would give us a fresh start, and new things – a new way of living, something that means the good things don’t get drowned out by the bad

J Well, I’m not sure....

S1 You better go and get him back

S3 Why should I go – he’s the one who went stomping off! Anyway, you made him just as angry – you should go and get him.

S1 That’s just like you – always looking for somebody else to do the work

S3 Just like me! [walks away, with back to cage]You’re the one who’s always looking for somebody to blame –

[angels arrive near the fire, S3 turns round,stops dead] what’s that???

S1 [looking to S3} What’s what [turns round] oh that!!

A1 Don’t be afraid

S1, S3 aaarrgghh

S2 [running back from further up the aisle] see, I knew if I left you, you would end up fighting [looks up] arrgghh

A2 [to A1] It’s always the same. We turn up with good news, and people scream. It’s not right

A1 [to A2]We’ve got to keep going. Let’s try again.[to shepherds] Don’t be afraid. We bring tidings of great joy

A2 [to A1] Why does it have to be tidings. I know we have to give the same message, but can’t we say it better. What’s wrong with we’ve got some good news for you

A1 [to A2] OK – let’s try that.

A2 Don’t be scared. We’ve got some good news for you

S1 What?

S2 Tell me it’s not just me that can see them

S1 I can see them too

S3 OK, that makes me feel better. They’re saying something about good news.

S2 Well, at least you can’t say its boring here now

S1 Ha ha! I’d prefer boring to this

A1 Do you want to hear this news or not

A2 It’s always the same; we turn up to tell them the greatest message of all – and they’re busy with something else.

S3 Yes, sorry. What’s your news?

A1 Now I’ve lost my place;

A2 [mutters] tidings of great joy

A1 Ah yes – we bring you tidings of great joy. This day is born for you in Bethlehem’s town a saviour, who is Christ the Lord.

A2 And this shall be a sign for you. You shall see s child lying in a manger.

A1, A2 Glory to God in the highest, and peace to people on earth. Hallelujah [go b ack up to cage]

S1 Well!!!!

S2 tidings of great joy

S3 peace on earth?

S2 I’ll believe that when I see it

S3 I know what you mean

S1 Well!!!! Let’s go and see. You never know – at least it’s something different. [all set off down the aisle]

[coming in down chapel side aisle, carrying books and consulting them]

W1 The prophecies definitely say that the star will guide the way

W2 But if it’s a king, he must be born in the capital. It’s in all the instruction manuals, I’m sure [leafs through book]

W3 Maybe he hasn’t read the instruction manuals.

W2 That Herod definitely didn’t seem impressed when we asked him about a new king

W3 Can you blame him. I told you it wasn’t tactful.

W1 I don’t know else we could do. The star is supposed to guide the way, and it disappeared. When that happens, all you can do is ask – it’s the done thing

W3 Done thing or not, it nearly got us into real trouble back there.

W2 It’s over now – we got away with it – and with a new set of directions.

W3 Yes, but they don’t make any sense. Bethlehem! What kind of king is born in a little town like that?

W1 Well, we’re stuck with it. We have to keep going now. Maybe it’s a new custom – maybe it’s a mistake. But it’s all we’ve got.

W2 But it’s a real question, isn’t it. I mean, it’s odd enough having a new king when the old one is still so VERY much alive

W3 And scary

W2 OK, and scary – but having him born away from the capital. It’s all very odd if you ask me. I’m not sure I want to go on with this. [sits down on one of the pews, clearly not wanting to go further]

W1 [stops to talk to W2]Well, maybe that’s the point. They didn’t ask you. Maybe, they thought that rather than do it the way it’s always been done, it might be time to do something new.

W3 [catching them up]They? Who is they?

W1 I’m not sure, now you mention it. But there’s always a they isn’t there. There’s always somebody in charge, when it comes to kings and power and ruling the world

W2 But if there’s somebody in charge, wouldn’t they – whoever they are – want to do it the proper way, the way it’s always done.

W1 Maybe.

W3 And maybe not. Maybe this is something very new, something very different. Maybe we better get a move on and see just what is happening. [all three set off and walk up to cage – across and down other side – wait hidden on steps]

CM [hurrying in, wiping hands] Well, I’ve put them in the stable, and I think it will be alright

IK [coming in behind her with an armful of cushions]It’ll have to be alright – its all there is. Seems a bit strange though, bundling them away like that. Not right somehow.

CM I don’t know. It’s ok out there, you know. It’s warm and dry and windproof. And it’s a bit more private than in here.[putting things away]

IK That’s a good thing. I think that baby’s on the way.

CM Me too. Funny thing. I’ve seen I don’t know how many babies born, and you’d think you’d get used to it; it’s just the same each time. Except it isn’t. It’s never just the same. A new baby, a new life, the look of joy on the parents faces. It’s as if it’s new every time.

IK I know what you mean.

CM Do you think...

IK What?

CM It seems silly, but I just wonder – do you think it is ever possible that one day it might be different? That one day there will be a baby who does fulfil all the hopes and dreams.

IK Well, only if the hope and dreams are a bit different from what they usually are. Something new, I mean [tidying up – brushing the floor]

CM I guess...... Well, I better go and see if they’ve got all they want. As if we ever have all we want...[sets off again]

IK Do your best. It’s a new baby after all. Who knows what it might mean.....

Now –who’s that coming up the road. Not more people to fit in....

Silent Night

Tableau with nativity read

Start with Mary, Joseph and crib in the middle. As the story is read, each of the others come in and group around, one at a time until all are there.

Away in a manger

Prayers (led by children)

Love came down at Christmas

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