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"The Nativity Play"
Radio Drama Script and Sound Effects

by Tony "Sparx" Palermo

The Nativity Play is a dramatic and reverent radio-on-stage adaptation of The Gospels of Matthew and Luke. This adaptation--available in 70-minute and 30-minute versions--is perfect for Christmas productions: community theatre troupes, college, high-school, and middle school casts, and as part of worship services in churches. Here is detailed information about the play, the cast and sound effects. The modest performance royalty I charge is based upon the venue (school, stage, worship service, recording, or broadcast) and the number of performances. 

The play is intended to be produced as a radio drama--on-stage--where actors read from scripts into microphones, while a live, on-stage sound effects team produces a variety of sounds (jaw harp, pounding, sawing, stomping, marking on a slate, etc) in coordination with the actors. This form of production doesn't require memorization, sets or full costumes, hence the show can be mounted with amateur casts in very few rehearsals. It is well suited to Christian youth groups and Sunday school classes.

WHAT THE SCRIPT INCLUDES:
Along with the Nativity Play script, you get a 10-page appendix including casting monologues, a sound effects cookbook, pre-recorded track listings and audio-gear requirements.
NOTE: There is NO fee per-script-copy. I send you a PDF of the full script and you can make as many copies as needed for cast and crew—at no additional charge.

TO ORDER:
Contact me at and tell me about your intended production (venue type/size and number of performances). I deliver the script via e-mail as a PDF file and the pre-recorded sound effects can either be downloaded as MP3 files, or shipped via postal mail in the form of audio CDs. The live sound effects (pounding, sawing, jaw harp, etc.) are up to you to assemble, but my script has a "cookbook" section explaining how to make each sound using items you can find in your town.

ALSO AVAILABLE:


My script dramatizes the Nativity story of how Mary & Joseph bring the light of Salvation to a weary world. It brings to life scenes and characters that were merely described in the Gospels, including the shepherds, the meeting of Mary and Joseph, the Annunciation, the Visitation to Elisabeth, Joseph's Dilemma, Angelic Dreams, King Herod's tyranny, The Census, The Journey to Bethlehem, No Room At The Inn, The Birth of Jesus, The Host of Angels, the Adoration of the Magi, The Slaughter of the Innocents, The Flight to Egypt and more. The 30-minute version omits some scenes and shortens dialogue in others.

The 70-minute and 30-minute versions are dramatic plays and NOT a typical Christmas Pageant to be performed by youngsters (for kid performers, a simplified 15-minute Nativity stage-play version is available). The Nativity Play is a vivid dramatization that reveals the humanity and humility of Mary, Joseph and Jesus--as well as the despair and longing for a Messiah by the people of Israel. As with my popular, faithful adaptations of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol and Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life!, this show is suitable for all audiences, yet performable by students--from middle school up through college, as well as adults. I remain true to Matthew and Luke, bringing plenty of authentic Biblical elements--infused with a touching, Christian spiritual dimension.

Additionally, pre-recorded sound effects are available for the more unusual sounds: wind, pastures of sheep, rain, crickets, thunder, a massacre in a dream, etc. Please note that sounds generated by the characters, such as doors, carpentry sounds, crowd chatter, etc. are not part of the pre-recorded collection. They are intended to be produced live by the sound effects crew in coordination with the actors as they perform.

TWO RADIO-STYLE VERSIONS:

I offer two radio-on-stage versions of The Nativity—of differing lengths. Below, I describe both version, so you can see what each includes or omits. Both dramatize Mary & Joseph's life with mix reverence and humor, making for an uplifting and entertaining Christmas show.

The 70-minute version begins B.C. (Before Christ) with several shepherds lamenting life after The Fall and wishing for a Redeemer, then to a Nazareth marketplace where a charitable and pious Mary meets Joseph, the Annunciation, the Visitation to Elisabet & Zakarais, Joseph's carpentry work on King Herod's palace, the birth and naming of John The Baptist, Mary's return home, Joseph's Dilemma, his angel dream, and a reconciliation between Joseph and Mary. Act 2 includes King Herod's tyranny, the Roman Census, the Journey to Bethlehem, No Room At The Inn, the Birth of Jesus, the shepherds and the Host of Angels, the prophecies of Simeon and Anna, Herod and the Magi, the Adoration of the Magi, Herod's fury, the Slaughter of the Innocents, The Flight to Egypt and the Return from Egypt. This version includes the full canticles from Luke: Mary's "Magnificat", Zakarias' "Benedictus", Simeon's "Nunc Dimittis" --all in English, of course.

The 30-minute version repeats most of the scenes from the 70-minute version, but trims lines and omits several scenes entirely; No Nazareth marketplace meeting of Joseph and Mary, no Joseph's carpentry at Herod's palace, no John The Baptist naming ceremony (thus cutting Zakarias' "Benedictus" canticle), no strife with Mary's family over her situation, no dramatization of Joseph getting advice to "quietly divorce Mary." It also eliminates two scenes depicting King Herod's tyranny and cuts one of Joseph's angel dreams--and shortens Mary's "Magnificat" and Simeon's "Nunc Dimittis" speeches. The 30-minute version is intended for productions with time limitations: worship services, theaters, classrooms or radio stations. However, in 30 minutes, this Nativity adaptation still holds up as an emotional and spiritual experience.

Free "Nativity Play" Radio Drama sample script:
Here's a downloadable radio drama "The Nativity Play" sample script, including scene excerpts and a truncated version of the "How To" appendix:

        SCRIPT SAMPLE - RADIO DRAMA - The Nativity Play - 70-minute version - TRUNCATED.pdf (188 KB)

        SCRIPT SAMPLE - RADIO DRAMA - The Nativity Play - 30-minute  version - TRUNCATED.pdf (160 KB))

Cast size:
Throughout the Nativity play, there are never more than 8 characters in a scene, so a small cast can easily perform the entire show by doubling or tripling roles. You are permitted to change the genders of characters to suit your troupe. And many roles were written to be easily played by women OR men (The Narrator, shepherds, angels, Magi, Inn-Keeper, etc.) You can employ anywhere from 8 to 34 actors. There are two ranges of cast sizes for both versions of the radio play.

70-minute version cast size:
Large cast: 9 male, 8 female, 17 m/f
Smaller cast: 4 male, 5 female, 7 m/f

30-minute version cast size:
Large cast: 5 male, 5 female, 13 m/f
Smaller cast: 3 male, 3 female, 10 m/f

Without doubling, the cast list is as follows:
NOTE: characters marked with an asterisk (*) do NOT appear in the 30-minute version.

NARRATOR The narrator (Male/Female)
MARY 16 year-old farm girl (F)
JOSEPH 20 year-old carpenter (M)
JOAKIM* Mary's blustery father
HANNAH* Mary's sympathetic mother (F)
ELISABET Mary's aged kinswoman (F)
ZAKARIAS Elisabet's husband (M)
HEROD THE GREAT Tyrannical "King of the Jews" (M)
SIMEON Old, pious man (M)
ANNA Old, prophetess (F)
AUNT MORAG* Mary's stern aunt (F)
AMBASSADOR LIVIUS Roman ambassador (M)
ESDRAS* Joseph's cantankerous carpentry mentor (M)
MALKIOR Persian Magi (M/F)
GASPAR Indian Magi (M/F)
BALTAZAR Assyrian Magi (M/F)
BO'AZ Old, wizened shepherd (M/F)
EFRAYIM Cynical shepherd (M/F)
SHEP Young shepherd (M/F)
INN-KEEPER Crusty inn-keeper (M)
RACHAB Inn-Keeper's kindly slave (F)
LIAT* Mary's friend (F)
CHASIDA* Mary's friend (F)
OFFICER* Nazareth constable (M)
ETAN Herod's minister (M)
QUEEN MALTACE Herod's wife (F)
DIVREE* Herod's High Priest (M)
MASTEMA* Abusive overseer (M)
THIEF* Bitter thief (M/F)
LAMBS/INFANTS Bleating lambs, Crying infants - Jesus & John (F)


TONY PALERMO is an audio theatre producer, performer, and educator living in Los Angeles, California.
He performs professionally, conducts workshops, and produces programs for hire.
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All contents © 1996-2006 by Anthony E. Palermo. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 09/24/13