It’s Christmas Eve and Jim and Nancy Marley, with their three kids, Tom, Belle, and Tony, have just returned from buying more presents at the mall. They agree that they’re too tired to go to church, so after a quick prayer, they head off to bed. But when young Tony makes a special request, Gabriel, the Angel of Christmas Past, appears. He starts the family on a special journey which is soon led by Mike, the Angel of Christmas Present, and then Archie, the Angel of Christmas Future. Needless to say, the family’s journey to Bethlehem that wonderful night changes them forever. This funny but tender story will lead your congregation to reflect on their own Christmas celebration and worship experience. There are many flexible speaking parts for adults and children, several which are small enough to be modified or removed if necessary. Carols can easily be added.
Performance time: 45-60 minutes depending on music.
PLAYWRIGHT SHANA OSHIRO TALKS ABOUT HER PLAY
THE CHRISTMAS CAROL -- A SPECIAL REQUEST
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS PLAY?
A: Last fall I was asked to help coordinate the children's Christmas Eve service, which had been a play in the past. They wanted to do something new, so I wrote this play while I was backstage during a run of The Sound of Music.
Q: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART OR LINE IN THE PLAY? WHY?
A: My favorite line/part in this play is when Mary offers the baby Jesus for Tony to hold, and after "Peace on the earth, good will to men from heaven’s all gracious king. The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing," is sung, Tom says "everything is quiet." Then there is just that simple, peaceful space where the family is truly in the presence of the Christ, worshiping Jesus in the quiet reverence and humility.
This is my favorite part because even as we worship in church, at Christmas we so often forget in the midst of the festivities, rituals, and traditions to simply have that space where we reflect on the baby Emmanuel--God with us all, for all of us to hold in our hearts always. It's a paradox, but the miraculous birth of Christ took place in the humblest, quietest of settings. We must remember to connect to this peaceful place so we can truly receive Him.
Q: TELL US ABOUT THE CHARACTERS.
A: The Marley family-- Nancy, Tom, Belle, Jim, and Tony-- are meant to represent a typical church-going family. Even though there are times when Belle and Jim seem like rude and obnoxious children, they're really just excited kids at Christmastime, even if perhaps with some of the attitude challenges that pre-teen children might show. Tom and Nancy believe in raising their family in a Christian home, but like many of us, have become disconnected from the depth of the relationship we are to have with God through Christ and the spiritual significance of the holiday. Tony is the youngest, and because he is only 5-6, he is still pure enough at heart that he has the simple desire to seek the Lord. It is certainly no accident that the family is named the "Marley's," alluding to the ghost that haunts Ebenezer Scrooge in Dicken's classic novella. Since the angels come to visit the family, the name Marley was given to them instead, representing the reminder that their encounter should place on the hearts of the audience.
The Angels are each given special names-- Gabriel, of course is obvious. "Mike" would be a contemporized reference to Michael, and Archie refers to the arch angels of the Bible. They guide the Marley's through their journey to have a real Christmas at home, which is Tony's "Special Request." Many of the other characters-- the livestock, the star (Twink), and the shoppers-- add life and texture to the story as the Marley's go through their journey. Another key set of characters are the "Gallant" family, who are purposefully not given individual names, except for the old comic strip reference in the child's. This family is meant to represent all the people around us-- in the community, the country, and the world-- who go on with simple needs not being met because we are so accustomed to living in excess.
Q: WHAT DID YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS PLAY?
A: I hope to have created an experience that allows for lots of opportunity for participation-- especially for larger churches that have drama and ministries. Those who would like to participate extensively can work on the heavier parts, while those who want also to be included, but may not have the time to attend many rehearsals can also take part. The script also lends itself to easy amendments and there are many parts that can be combined into one. The most important thing is that for whoever participates, there is opportunity to learn from the story for young Christians as they work together to tell it. While there is an essence of "cuteness" to some parts of the story, I also hope that through the humor and fun, audience members of all ages would come away with a strong, but simple message: that Christ came to this earth to redeem all of mankind to unity with God in perfect Love. This love from and for Christ should be the first thing on our hearts and minds throughout the season to carry us through every day of the year.