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Last updated: October 30, 2018

'The Nativity Play'

Stage-play script and Sound effects

Perfect for the 2018 Christmas season!

'The Nativity Play' is a dramatic and reverent stage-play adaptation of The Gospels of Matthew and Luke. This adaptation--available in 70-minute, 30-minute and 15-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. (A shorter "Nativity Play Christmas pageant" version, suited to performance by ages 6-13 is also available.) Here is detailed information about the play, the cast, and sound design. The modest performance royalty I charge is based upon the venue (school, stage, worship service, recording, or broadcast) and the number of performances. It is well suited to Christian youth groups and Sunday school classes.

Along with the script for my Nativity play, you get a 7-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.

Contact me at and tell me about your intended production (venue size and number of performances). I accept credit cards via the free and secure service.  You can have the script, music and sound effects in your hands within hours. I deliver the script via e-mail as a PDF file and the pre-recorded sound effects tracks can be downloaded as MP3 files.

ALSO: If the stage-play version is beyond your production capabilities, see my web page about my radio-on-stage version of The Nativity Play. The radio-drama-on-stage version is much simpler to produce since it doesn't require sets, costumes or memorization, but it still pleases theatre audiences who get a big kick out of seeing the sound effects artists create the live sounds of pounding, sawing, jaw harp, lumber dropping,  etc. The radio-on-stage Nativity Play is available in 70-minute and 30-minute lengths, but NOT the 15-minute length.


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. My shorter versions omit some of these scenes but retain the most familiar ones.

The 70-minute, 30-minute and 15-minute versions are dramatic plays and NOT a typical Christmas Pageant to be performed by youngsters (for kid performers, a simplified Pageant version will be available by mid-November 2012). The Nativity Play is a vivid dramatization that reveals the humanity and humility of the 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 background sounds: wind, pastures of sheep, seagulls, rain, crickets, thunder, a massacre in a dream, etc. 


I offer two stage-play 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. These are full-blown stage-plays with characters speaking dialogue. (If you want a simplified Nativity Play with little or NO dialogue, see the Pageant versions.)

The 70-minute stage-play begins with several shepherds lamenting life after The Fall and wishing for a Redeemer, then the scenes shift 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 stage-play 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.

The 15-minute stage-play trims more dialogue and cuts several scenes included in the other versions. The remaining scenes are: Shepherds lamenting life after The Fall and wishing for a Redeemer, Mary receiving the Annunciation, the Journey to Bethlehem, No Room At The Inn, the Birth of Jesus, the shepherds and the Host of Angels, 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. The 15-minute Nativity adaptation still retains the drama as well as emotional and spiritual aspects.

Free "Nativity Play" Stage-play sample script:
Here are downloadable stage-play "The Nativity Play" sample scripts, including scene excerpts and a truncated version of the appendix:

        SCRIPT SAMPLE - STAGE-PLAY - The Nativity Play - 70-minute version - TRUNCATED.pdf (260 KB)

        SCRIPT SAMPLE - STAGE-PLAY - The Nativity Play - 30-minute version - TRUNCATED.pdf (226 KB)

        SCRIPT SAMPLE - STAGE-PLAY - The Nativity Play - 15-minute version - TRUNCATED.pdf (192 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 all three versions of the stage-play.

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

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

15-minute version cast size:
Large cast: 3 male, 3 female, 12 m-or-f
Smaller cast: 3 male, 2 female, 8 m-or-f

Without doubling, the cast list is as follows:
NOTE: Characters marked with an asterisk (*) do NOT appear in the 30- OR 15-minute versions.
          Characters marked with a pound sign (**) do NOT appear in the 15-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)


I also offer  23 pre-recorded sound effects tracks—20+ minutes worth—of the backgrounds, ambiences, and dreamscapes. (wintry winds, sheep grazing, rain, thunder, crickets, etc.)

While your troupe’s Sound Designer could assemble such sounds from various SFX collections, here, they are already edited, ambience is added and match the length of dialogue in the script. It will cost you more time and trouble to do this yourself than to purchase these tracks from me

TONY PALERMO is a radio playwright, professional sound effects artist, radio director, composer, and educator based in Los Angeles, California.

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