A Purim Play!

This is a 16 Scene Play, with a Cast of 15, that follows the Biblical account accurately and with humor. It takes place as a TV News story with two news people taking the lead parts. They must be people who can read well and project dramatically.
We have two local newscasters that appear on a nightly news show. His name is Steve Reible and her name is Susan Hutchison. Since this is Purim, and just for fun, we changed his to Steve DREIDEL and hers to Susan HUTCHIN-GROGGER – using two Jewish symbols, the dreidel and the grogger. Enjoy!

A Short Play for Purim
by Fern Julian Carlson
Finished at 8:10 am , 2/5/2000

“The KAYF Evening News” brings you the best of “Esther” – a play for Purim

Scene One: [News Room]
(Seated at a TV newsdesk, an anchorman reads the “news” from side of stage. Spotlight’s on him.

Newsman : (loud and friendly) “Shalom and welcome from the friendly folks at KAYF Television Studios! This is Steve Dreidel, (slight pause so the name can sink in) bringing you the latest reports from our continuing Top Story of the day. What do you see out there from your post in the field, (say it slowly) Susan Hutchin-grogger?”

Newswoman : (excitedly) “Well, Steve, the riots are continuing! Mass confusion and hysteria rule the evening as the casualty reports flood in! At latest count 75 thousand from all 127 Provinces have been slain. The Jews are proving themselves completely victorious! Seems like Someone or something is fighting for them! For those just tuning in, let’s repeat the story again from the top. Would you play that tape again, please, Steve Dreidel?”

“Sure, Susan, here we have it from the Palace at Shushan:”

Scene Two: [King’s Palace]
(King Ahashvarosh, seated on his throne, a little tipsy (?) bragging at the party about his queen. Bodyguard stands near. Gold and silver goblets and wine bottles fill a table in front of him. Two advisors sit on either side. Several others are seated around, being very attentive, on silver and gold seats. Background curtains hanging from dividers are blue and white and purple)

“I tell ya, she’s the world’s most beautiful woman – that queen of mine! Smart, too! I wish you could see her – all decked out in her jewels! (pause, as if thinking, then face lights up) You know, the women are all over at her place tonight having their own party. (hand stroking chin) I’ll think I’ll just have her come over and parade around here a while! Nothin’ like a little beauty to liven things up! And this party’s getting a little boring. We’ve been at it for a week now! I’ve spent 6 months showing off all my wealth and possessions – might as well have the little lady top it off! Go on over there, Bigthan and Teresh, and tell her to come at once wearing her finest jewels!”
(The two servants leave)

Scene Three:
[Queen’s Quarters]
Queen Vashti: (sitting around with a few lady guests when messengers arrive)

Messenger #1: “Oh Queen, the King has sent an order – you are to appear at the Palace Party -Room wearing your finest jewels!” (and nothing else!)

Messenger #2: “And the King is in a mood so you’d better hurry!”
Queen Vashti: (jumps up and yells at the king’s servants, hands in the air) “Absolutely NOT! I’m not going over to any drunken party, not NOW – not EVER! I’ll do almost anything the king commands, but not this, uh uh. I am the queen of this land and I WILL keep my dignity!” (She claps her hands twice and Messenger runs up) “Go tell the King I WILL NOT COME!” Messenger rushes over to the King’s Palace)

Bodyguard: (shouts) “The Messenger comes!”
(Messenger whispers in his ear and runs out)
Scene Four: [King’s Palace]
King Ahash: (furiously jumping to his feet) “WHAT! NOT coming! How dare she? I want her over here, now! I always get what I want! (King leans to one side to his advisor and asks in a little quieter tone) What shall I do – she won’t listen?”

Advisor #1: “O king, may you live forever! I say get rid of her – you know – give her the ax. She is not only messing it up for you, but look ..”

Advisor #2: “…what a bad example she’s going to be for all us other husbands. We’ll have a revolt on our hands if the First Lady is allowed to get by with this!”

King: “Yeah, you’re RIGHT! And I think I’ll send a letter to all my Provinces, you do know I control everything from India to Egypt! I wanta make sure all men STAY boss in their houses! We have to keep these women in their place! (mumbling to himself) Won’t come! I don’t believe this!”
Scene Five: [News Room]
Newsman: “Well, there you have it – the snowball that started the avalanche! All because Queen Vashti held on to her value system. Was it? – is it worth it to do what you think is right or should you just follow blindly along and do what you are told?” That’s a very important question!

Newswoman: “I think it depends on who is doing the asking. You know this is 483 BC and in modern times like these we have to weigh out the circumstances and count the cost. This time, I’m on the Queen’s side. He’s going to be sorry he got rid of her. These riots are going to cost him plenty! Back to you, Steve.”

Newsman: Thank you, Susan, we have another tape ready.

Scene Six: [King’s Palace]
King: (sitting alone in the semi-darkness, speaks slowly as if depressed) “This is pitiful! It’s so lonely – here at the top! What have I done? I really miss that woman. I think maybe I was a bit too hasty. But what’s done is done and I can’t undo it!”
(Enter King’s advisors:)

#1 says: “What’s the matter? You’re sittin’ here in the dark?”

#2 says: “Yeah, what’s wrong?”

King: “Oh, I’ve just been thinking – I miss my beautiful queen. Maybe I should have taken more time to solve the problem.”
#1 says: (loud and excitedly) “A contest – that’s it! Let’s send throughout all the kingdom and get all the most beautiful, refined young ladies to appear before the king.

#2 says: The one that pleases you the most – make her your new queen!” You’re the king – you can do what you want! (King begins to smile broadly)
Scene Seven: [Newsroom]
Newsman: “That’s just what they did. The message went out to all the Provinces. Officers were appointed to scout out and bring in the most beautiful young virgins. It was the mother of all Beauty Contests! And it took a while! It was over a year before the contest could even begin. These girls came in from almost every country in the known world. Many languages and customs had to be dealt with. But the big winner came from right here in Shushan —— Susan, do you have more on that?”

Newswoman: “Yes, I do, Steve. (shuffling through papers) Mordechai, the Jew from the tribe of Benyamin, who has been one of the kings staunchest supporters had adopted his niece – Miss Hadassah, bat Mordechai. Her Jewish name was changed to a more suitable Babylonian one – Esther, named for our goddess, Ishtar. This girl was taken from Mordechai and placed in the care of the king’s chief Harem Keeper. Nobody knew she was a Jew! Those people have been here for years – came in with Daniel in the Great Israeli Captivity back in 605. Anyway, Hadah – or Esther, that is, was a big hit with the crew over in the Harem. She was sweet, sensible and by far the most beautiful! Hegai gave her all sorts of tips on how to please the king. It is said he gave her the costliest ointments and perfumes and saw that she received special treatment. She even got seven serving girls and was moved into the best quarters in the place. She was a shu-in from Shushan and when the Big Day came – sure enough, she won the king’s heart and became Queen Esther! She ——–

Newsman: “Uhhh, Susan, —– (adjusting ear piece) I’m getting a message from the studio.”
It seems there is a hanging going on in the courtyard of Haman’s house. Whoa! Sounds like another mob scene. I remember Haman. He was getting to be quite a favorite around the Palace, here. That is until he lost his head … do you recall what happened, Susan?”

Newswoman: “Yes, Steve, they have that tape ready to roll now. Let’s take a look.”
Scene Eight: [King’s Palace] King Ahash, his 2 advisors and a few servants)

King: “Who is this Haman, anyway? I always see him here at court. Seems to be watching me and trying to please me all the time. He does seem to have some good ideas.

Advisor #1: “He is a very loyal subject, Your Highness! I think we’ll be seeing a lot of him!”

Advisor #2: “Yes, It will be interesting to see how far he will get in your kingdom, mighty one.”

Scene Nine: [News Room]
Newsman: “Sorry, that was the wrong tape – could you try it again, please?”
Newswoman: “Sure, but since we’re hearing about Haman, here’s an update on him. (reads from paper) He is an Agagite, comes from Idumea, I think they trace their line clear back to Esau! Sort of a cousin, you might say, to the Jews. They were Amalakites and Amalek was the grandson of Esau. The God of Israel has been against them for years. God even told King Saul to wipe them out but he didn’t do it. No wonder there has been trouble between him and the Jews. (listening intently to earphone) I think they have the right tape up now.”

Scene Ten: [Gates of the city of Shushan]
Bigthan and Teresh stand talking animatedly together – angrily . Two or three others sit around. Mordechai sits nearby holding a scroll and thinking out loud.)

Mordecai: “I am so thankful, (raises one hand toward heaven) may His name be praised, for the opportunity given to Hadassah. If only my uncle could see her now! He would be so pleased. His little Hadassah, queen of the Land of Babylon! And her mother, of blessed memory, wouldn’t she be proud? I tried to do my best with her. It’s all in HaShem’s hand’s now. Uhhh, what in the world are those two talking about? I know THEM! That’s Bigthan and Teresh, two thugs that somehow got on the king’s payroll as door-keepers! I don’t like the sound of this! Why, they’re – they’re plotting to … KILL the king! They don’t realize I understand their language. I’ve got to go and report this! (He hurries off to get word to his niece, Queen Esther.)

(Haman and Mordechai pass each other and a few people bow and scrape before Haman – Mordechai keeps walking… doesn’t indicate he even sees him.)

Haman: (wearing black clothes (a cape?) and a three-cornered hat) “Ohhhh! There goes that Mordechai! He makes me furious! Why can’t he realize how great and mighty I am in this kingdom. I’m second to the king now….. I’ve got to come up with something! …. Those Jews are all alike – No respect! I’m going to fix them (louder) – I’m going to fix them all!”
Scene Eleven: [News Room]
Newsman: “That was the beginning of the end for Haman. The story we have is that he went home and spoke with his advisors. They were all are into lottery games, “Dungeons and Dragons” and ouiji board stuff. They threw the dice and made a decision – the date the dice or purim came up with was just before Passover – the 13th day of the month of Adar. Haman went to the king and talked him into letting him write a paper to be sent throughout all 127 provinces calling for ALL Jews to be killed – destroyed, annihilated – zip – done – like dead! The whole schmeer! Susan, is that your consensus?”
Newswoman: “Yes, Steve, Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, succeeded in his diabolical plot to wipe out the Jews from the face of the earth – or at least it looked like he did! He and his cronies plotted all year just how to do this. In the meantime, back at the Palace, Queen Esther found out what was coming. She couldn’t see her Uncle Mordechai, because she couldn’t leave her quarters, but she had a trusted servant communicate with him regularly. Mordechai – well, don’t we have something on film?”

Newsman: “Yes, Susan, I think we can do that…”


Scene Twelve: [Gates of the city]
Mordechai: (wearing sackcloth and putting ashes on his head…and giving mournful cries) “I can’t remove these clothes – this is a sign of my mourning! Doesn’t Hadassah know what’s going on? Surely, there is a plan and a way of escape for our people. (He drops to his knees and murmurs a prayer [count slowly to 20]. Arises with a smile and says:) I will get word to the queen! I will give her the decree against us. Perhaps it was for such a time as this that Hadassah has become queen of all the land. It covers the earth. If the Jews are annihilated…, (bows head) noooo. I won’t even think this. YES, there IS a plan!”

Scene Thirteen: [Queen’s Quarters]
Esther: (seated with servant and reading a large scroll …) “My people are in great danger – I must do something to help. No wonder I was made queen! I have to think of a way to get to the king.”

Servant: “But my queen, he hasn’t called for you for a month. If you go into his presence without being summoned, you could be put to death! There must be another way.” (starts to cry)

Esther: I will ask Mordechai to gather our people here in Shushan and fast for three days. There will be no Passover Seder for us this year! Girls, we must fast and in three days I need you to help me get ready to approach the king. I WILL get in to see him. I MUST or we all perish.” (She bows her head)

Scene Fourteen: [Haman’s House]
Haman: (yelling loudly) “Zeresh, get in here! We have to talk! (She comes slowly into the room from down the aisle wiping her hands on a dish towel and mumbling loudly to herself – what does he want NOW! Running around all hoity-toity to the queen‘s banquet and I have to stay home and do all the work. Reaches Haman‘s side)

Zeresh: (bows slightly and sweetly says -) “Yes Dear, what is it?”

Haman: (seated, speaks angrily and overly loud – ) “I had such a great time tonight – even got invited back tomorrow! Yes, I did have a good time, that is until that jerk Mordechai just SAT there at the gate – not bowing – no show of respect. Nothing! Man, I hate that guy! I can hardly wait ‘til he’s DEAD! I hope I get the honor myself! Yes! (with an evil smile) I’ll insist on it!”

Zeresh: (rolling her eyes and mouths to the audience, ‘OH, brother!’) “Yes, I know you hate him hanging around – well, if he’s going to do that – why not let him REALLY hang around! Build a gallows 75 feet high and let him swing!”

Haman: “Hey! Excellent idea!” (smiling, holds her shoulders at arm‘s length) “You’re no Queen Esther, but you’re not so bad yourself!” I’ll get started right now!” (gives her a hug and runs off)

Zeresh: (throws her hands up, rolls her eyes so the audience can see and sighing, turns and goes back down the aisle)
Scene Fifteen: [Queen’s Quarter’s]
King Ahash: (sitting at the table, holding his glass and gazing at the queen) “I am still amazed at your beauty, Queen Esther! And now, you MUST tell me. Haman and I have come these two nights at your request, but tell me my lovely one, what is it you REALLY want? I will give you up to half of my kingdom.”

Queen Esther: (arises from the table and kneels at his feet – back NOT to the audience – says passionately) ”Oh my Lord, if you care for me at all and if it pleases you – just let me live!”

King Ahash: “My dearest Esther, let you live? I have become so fond of you. (hand on her shoulder) I would never want anything to happen to you. Are you ill? What are you saying?”
(Haman starts to look really nervous and antsy, begins to wring his hands – but not overly so as to look too fakey)

Queen Esther: “I am to die – I and all my people. You see, I am a Jewess from Israel, of the tribe of Benyamin. Forgive me for not telling you but you didn’t ask … and now we are all to be destroyed because of a wicked man’s pride!”
King Ahash: (excitedly and loud) “WHO – WHO would dare to set his heart to do such a thing? Where is he?

Queen Esther: (now standing) “The enemy of our people sits before you! (she turns to face Haman and points to him) He’s the one!”
(Haman looks very scared and sits shaking his head slowly and jerking a little)
(the king gets up and starts toward him, then changes his mind and quickly exits)
(Esther falls on the couch and leans to one side, head in her hand)
(Haman runs to her and kneels close to her in the direction she is leaning kind of on the couch, grabs her hand with both of his)
King Ahash: ( returns to the scene and shouts) “What is this? Will you try to attack the queen right here before me! Guard! Seize him!” (The bodyguard and messengers rush in. Bodyguard covers his face and takes him out.)
Scene Sixteen [Newsroom]
Newsman: “Well, that’s the wrap up, folks, and that’s all we have time for this go-round.” Susan, do you have anything to add?
Newswoman: “I think that about covers it for this hour – word is that the Jews have made quite a name for themselves and they plan to immortalize this day by celebrating it every year on this date – Adar 14. They have declared a holiday and are sending gifts to each other AND (S L O W L Y) I hear somebody’s writing a book! Back to you, Steve.”

Newsman: “Thank you, Susan, see you next hour. Goodnight from beautiful downtown Shushan and thanks to all the good people at KAYF Television (nods to the audience) for sponsoring this newscast.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

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