Christmas Eve Night

A Children's Drama for Christmas Eve

by Nancy Owen

THE CAST

Shepherd 1
Shepherd 2
Other Shepherds (optional)
Sheep, Lamb

Angel
Innkeeper's Wife (or Innkeeper)
Joseph

Mary
Star Speaker
Heartbeat Speaker

SETS AND PROPS

All Scenes
Spotlight(s) (to dimly light stage space; should appear like nighttime), bales of hay
Shepherd Scene
Shepherd costumes, two or more shepherd's crooks, tree, electric logs (or logs and paper flames), flute, sheep (children could be dressed as sheep), lamb Angel Scene
Angel costume, stepladder 
Innkeeper's Wife, Joseph, and Mary Scene
Costumes for innkeeper's wife (including shawl), Joseph, and Mary; front of inn with doorway; stable; manger filled with hay; sheep (children could be dressed as sheep); small wooden bench for Mary 
Star Scene
Lighted star, long extension cord 
Heartbeat Scene
Audiocassette recording of heartbeat sounds (or actors on stage can tap out heartbeat on the floor)

SETTING

The setting is an open space surrounded with scattered bales of hay. At stage right a ladder sits centered behind some bales of hay. At center stage a bale of hay hides a small manger. The star is sitting in the manger. Next to the manger is the front of an inn with a doorway. At stage left electric logs or (logs and paper flames) give the illusion of a small fire where the shepherds sit to warm themselves and tell their story. A small tree can be set up a short distance from the fire.

THE DRAMA

Shepherd 1:

It's a cold night. The stiff wind keeps us close to the fire. It is a night like all the rest. The stars, the open fields, the quiet darkness. Yet, despite this sameness, we shepherds know we must be prepared. Wild dogs and thieves keep us alert. So I play my flute to pass the time and encourage the dawn. . . (Shepherd plays short interlude on the flute.)

 

 

(During the flute interlude Shepherd 2 enters carrying a lamb.)

Shepherd 2:

And the sheep?. . . They rest contented, unaware. It is our job, not theirs, to be aware of danger. They sleep and graze and trust us for protection. It's not often exciting, but still an important and constant job . . . And so in these hours of darkness we listen and watch . . . and wait.

 

(Shepherds freeze around the fire, unaware of the angel.)

Angel Scene: Spotlight focuses on the angel who is sitting at the top of a ladder. The words inside the quotation marks are spoken to the shepherds and the other words to the audience.

Angel:

They're afraid of me. I tell them not to be afraid. "I am just a messenger." Calling myself an angel doesn't seem real and I am real. "Listen" . . . but still they tremble . . . Perhaps it is because they fear the thief in the night . . . "Fear not! I come offering a gift. A simple message. Good news!" (Angel comes down off the ladder.)

I come to them because as shepherds they know how sheep trust and follow even though they don't understand. They don't understand either and they fear me, but still, they will trust and follow. It is important. And a shepherd understands this.(Angel moves behind ladder.)

 

Innkeeper's Wife, Joseph, and Mary Scene: Spotlight focuses on each as they speak. Innkeeper's wife enters and stands in front of the inn. During the monologue she moves the bale of hay away from the manger as if tidying up the stable.

Inkeeper's Wife:

You must not be angry with us. We do the best we can! Our inn filled up this afternoon . . . Taxes are due you see, and well, there are so many people in town. We feel sorry for them, we really do. She's too young to look so tired. We couldn't turn them away! There was nowhere for them to go! We thought at least in our stable the animals might provide them with some warmth. It's turned cold! . . . We do the best we can. (Before exiting, Innkeeper's Wife lays her shawl in manger.)

 

(After the Innkeeper's Wife's monologue, Mary and Joseph enter down the center aisle and take their places on either side of the manger. As Joseph speaks, Mary inspects stable and manger and remains standing.)

Joseph:

I thought the journey would be too much for her. I thought it best for her to remain home . . . but she is very stubborn (pauses to think, rewords) insistent! She comes to a stable, due to have a child, certainly tired from the days of traveling and all that she must face and yet, quietly she prepares as if she knows . . . How can anyone know? How can anyone prepare for a miracle? (Joseph exits briefly.)

Mary:

He thinks I'm quiet out of a sense of purpose. But I have no words to express my fears. I don't know what expectations I'm supposed to fulfill. I don't even know why I was chosen! I did not choose. Would I choose this course for my life? Choose this place to give birth in? Or a night this cold and dark? No, the smell of straw and the company of animals is not my idea. It overwhelms me. And all I know is, tonight, I will give birth to a son and even his name has been decided for me. He will be called Jesus. (Mary kneels beside manger. Joseph enters, goes to Mary, and also kneels.)

 

Star Scene: Spotlight focuses on the star in the manger, or turn on lighted star if using a star with a light in it. Angel stands in front of ladder. Star Speaker lifts star out of manger and holds it high during the monologue.

Star:

There are many stars out tonight. But there is one that will shine brighter than all the others. We are all followers here and . . . all followers need a guide. A sign, a direction. Not all signs are this obvious. But it is not every sign that must lead so many. Tonight we say chasing stars is important. Tonight we say shine. Remember this. . . Show the way so none will wander off and be lost. Tonight is important. So let a light shine in this darkness to bring us all together . . to point the way . . . to share a miracle. (Star Speaker hands star to Angel who carries it with her up the ladder and then sits holding the star. Then Star Speaker kneels at the manger.)

 

Heartbeat Scene: Spotlight focuses on Heartbeat Speaker. As Heartbeat Speaker enters, play the recording of the heartbeat, softly at first and then gradually increasing the volume. Or all on stage begin to tap out the heartbeat sound, softly at first and then gradually increasing the volume of the tap.

Heartbeat:

A star shines, yes, but surely one thing more is needed. There is another sign here tonight at the stable. Can you hear it? A sign that continues even when the light of the sun eclipses the star. It is a simple sound. A heartbeat.

It is always there, but seldom heard, unless you listen. . . It is always the first sound we hear. It comforts us as babies. It is a sign that a new life is beginning.

 

(Spotlight moves from character to character. During this next set of lines, each actor stands on their first line, and then moves to the manger for the final tableau and their second line.)

Shepherd 1:

It is a sound shared with all creatures, large and small.

Shepherd 2:

A sound that lulls a newborn lamb to safe sleep.

Angel:

A message . . . a gift to each of us.

Inkeeper's Wife:

A rhythm we share with strangers and friends.

Joseph:

A life force that joins husband and wife.

Mary:

A sound of comfort and love between mother and child.

Star:

A sign of God's presence.

Heartbeat:

An earthly sound beating in all of us tonight and all that will follow. Reminding us to...

Shepherd 1:

Come out of the cold.

Shepherd 2:

Trust and follow.

Angel:

Let go of your fears.

Inkeeper's Wife:

Open your homes.

Joseph:

Seek your destiny.

Mary:

Realize the choice of love.

Star:

Look for the signs.

Heartbeat:

Listen for the heartbeat.

(Spotlight on entire cast.)

All:

Come to the stable.

(Entire cast freezes in tableau.)

Thank you to Nancy Owen for permission to include this drama on the website.