By Nancy Ackman
Cast of Characters
|James:||A self-absorbed boy who has been dipping into sorcery.|
|Grandpa:||James' patient, God-fearing grandfather.|
|Saul:||The proud and disobedient King of Israel. Handsome.|
|Abner:||Israelite ground troops commanding officer.|
|Reporter 1:||Typical reporter. From James' imagination.|
|Mitzi Farko:||Self-assured reporter for the show, "A Current Occurrence."|
|Photographer:||Mitzi's silent partner.|
|Madame Endor:||A witch seconding as a carpet retailer.|
|Aide 1:||Saul's right-hand assistant.|
|Aide 2:||Saul's left-hand assistant.|
|Samuel:||The Old Testament prophet's ghost.|
Special Effects For Conjuring Scene
|Fog:||Hang a gauze drop between the set opening and normal background. The fog will appear when the light on the gauze is increased and the background light is dimmed.|
|Smoke:||Dry ice dropped into a basin of hot water creates a steam that can be blown onstage with a fan. Theatrical smoke pots or smoke powder.|
|Thunder:||3' X 6' piece of 26 gauge sheet metal with fasteners sandwiching the top end. Shake lower end.|
|Lightning:||Flash on and off light (olivettas or other floodlights). Do sparingly – will shorten the life of the lamp.|
|Sound Effects:||Wind blowing, screams, howls, etc.|
James is sitting on his bed – down stage left. The light gradually comes upon him – the rest of the stage is dark. He is consulting a big, heavy book – covering his face with his hands and muttering. He stands up, takes a piece of chalk out of his pocket along with a candle. As he begins to draw on the floor, Grandpa's voice comes through from offstage.
(The boy acts as though he doesn't hear.)
|Grandpa:||James, come on! We're waiting for you.
(The boy slowly looks up and stops what he's doing.)
|Grandpa:||James, can you hear me? Are you in your room?|
|James:||Yeah, yeahI'm coming..I'm coming. (To himself, looking at the book) Soon, I'll get it right. Soon.
The light fades stage left and brightens down stage right where the rest of the family is gathered in the living room. Grandpa is seated in his easy chair, reading. Grandma is in her rocker winding a ball of yarn. Sarah is sitting at her feet on a stool holding the yarn between her hands.
|Grandpa:||Maybe I should go get him.|
|Grandma:||No, he'll come, don't push him.|
|Sarah:||He's madabout tonight. He really wanted to go to that party.|
|Grandma:||Shhh, here he is.
(James enters stage leftstands defensively with his arms crossed.)
|James:||Well, whad'ya want? Can't I have any privacy here?|
|Grandpa:||Sure. We only want you to join us. We enjoy being together as a family.|
|James:||I've got a news flash for you, Grampswe are not a family.|
|Sarah:||We are too. They're Dad's parents. They are our grandparents.|
|James:||Big deal! He died when you were just a baby. I can't even remember him. Where have they been all these years? It's their fault we've had all these problems.|
|Grandma:||James, we tried to keep track of youto find you butwell, your Mom moved a lot.|
|James:||No great loss. We had plenty of other "fathers" and "uncles." We didn't need you.|
|Sarah:||Speak for yourself! I'm glad to be here. Mom isn't well and I was afraid of her. And I hated being alone all the time.|
|James:||I was there. It's not my fault I got in trouble. It's because Mom got so weird.|
|Sarah:||But you're getting even weirder than her. And you're mean, ever since you started reading that book and playing your game.|
|James:||Shut up! Just shut up!|
|Grandma:||Sarah, don't tattle. James. Don't talk to your sister like that.|
|Sarah:||Well, it's true. He says he has special powers and can talk with dead people and|
|James:||(Moving threateningly towards her) If you don't shut up, you'll be one of the dead I can talk to.|
|Grandpa:||James, we don't talk like that in this house.|
|James:||I'll do what I want. Besides, I don't even want to be here!|
|Grandma:||Sarah, why don't we go into the kitchen and fix a snack?|
(Sarah and Grandma exit stage right.)
|Grandpa:||Son, I –|
|James:||Don't call me that! I'm not your son. Not yours or anyone else's! (He moves down stage with his back to his grandfather.)|
|Grandpa:||(Slowly and stiffly getting up. Goes to stand behind and to the right of James.) James, you're wrong. You are Someone's son. You have a Father you loves you.|
|James:||Please! Get a grip, old man. I don't want to hear this again. If God is like the other "fathers" I've known, I don't want anything to do with Him.|
|Grandpa:||I seeyes. (Sighs) I can see it from your view. But, tell me, James. What do you want? What are you searching for so hard?|
|James:||(We see the struggle on his face that his grandfather can't.) I want power. I want to be special. I want to be accepted. I want to do anything I want.|
|Grandpa:||Does your game and your books tell you how to get those things? Power and honor and love?|
|James:||You leave my private things out of it! You would be surprised at what I can do. You would be shocked at what my friends can do.|
|Grandpa:||Maybe.or maybe not. That's one reason your Grandmother and I decided not to let you go to that Halloween Party tonight.|
|James:||But you can't stop me from practicing here. It's a special night, with a lot of power. You wouldn't know that though, would you, old man?|
|Grandpa:||I know more than you might think.|
|Grandpa:||The roots of Halloween are in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. It involved, among other things, human sacrifice and calling up the spirits of the dead.
(James face registers some surprise as he listens.)
|James:||Wellerthat was then.|
|Grandpa:||But Halloween is still occultic. And if we participate, we give authority to its evil roots. Even the apparently innocent jack-o-lantern represents a man who sold his soul to the devil.
(Just then Sarah and Grandma come in with a tray, bowl of popcorn, and glasses.)
|Grandma:||Here we are.
(Grandpa and James join them – Grandpa sits down and James pulls up a chair.)
|Grandma:||Sowhat were you two talking about while we girls were slaving over a hot microwave?|
|Sarah:||(Laughing) Grandpa, I heard you say something about a man who sold his soul to the devil. Who?|
|Grandpa:||Well, instead of that. I'd like to read you a story.|
|Sarah:||Oh yes! Please do. About a brave and handsome king.|
|James:||No. How about something scary and gory – from STEPHEN King.|
|Grandma:||I want something from the Bible.|
|Grandpa:||I think I can tell you one story that will suit you all.|
|James:||No way. Get outta town.|
|Grandma:||Which one, dear?|
|James:||Are you telling me there's a ghost story in the Bible? I don't believe it. How scary can it be with all those "thees" and "thous"?|
|Grandpa:||I'll tell you what, James. I'll read the story from a newer translation, but I want you to picture the story in your mind. I'm not telling you to visualize, nothing evil. Picture it in a way you can understand|
|James:||Okay. (Puts his chin on his hands.) So, what's this ghost story called?|
|Grandpa:||It's called "King Saul and the Witch of Endor."|
|Sarah:||Oh boy! It does have a king. Is he brave and handsome?|
|Grandpa:||He was handsome. But not very brave.|
|James:||Just who is this guy, Saul?|
|Grandpa:||He was Israel's first king. God wanted to rule Israel, but the people demanded a king. Someone who looked good.|
|James:||Saul must have had good media consultants.|
|Sarah:||They didn't have those then, silly.|
|James:||I can picture the story any way I want.|
|Sarah:||Anyhow, I thought David was the first king.|
|Grandma:||No, he was second. Saul started out all right, but he was full of pride and false modesty. And he was a rebel.|
|Grandma:||He wouldn't listen to God. Saul did what he wanted. Then he blamed everybody else for his own actions.|
|James:||Well, maybe he came from a dysfunctional family, too.|
|Grandpa:||Why don't you listen to the story and then see what you think
(The light slowly fades, leaving James alone at the curtain, still with his chin in his hands.)
|Grandpa:||(His voice only) Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was...|
Center stage left represents James' imagination. Light comes up on center stage left. There is a podium with Saul behind the mike. He and his several advisors are all dressed in Army camouflage uniforms. There are a few chairs with reporters in them.
|Saul:||Therefore, as your military and spiritual leader, I want to stress the importance of this law. In this land there will no longer be any wizards, necromancers, or those who commune with familiar spirits. Anyone who participates in these things must die.|
|R1:||King Saul! Is this law effective immediately?|
|Saul:||Yes. This law will be enforced against those offering occultic services as well as those in the general population who go to necromancers or witches for advice.|
|R2:||Your Excellency! Are you aware that this broadcast is sponsored in part by the "Fiends of the Psychic Network?"|
|Saul:||Uherno. But that would be my staff's fault, not mine. Abner! Make sure that infomercial is off the air!|
|Abner:||Yes, King. Right away. (Hurries off)|
|R1:||King Saul. What has caused you to enact this law?|
|Saul:||As you know, in Deuteronomy 18:9-13, God has expressly forbidden these acts. I'm only obeying God.|
|R2:||Uh, but King Saul. These things have gone on for years. Why are you doing something about it now?|
|Saul:||Well, the people have indicated this is what they want and I was kind enough to give in to them. But now, well, I am doing what is right.|
|R3:||What about rumors of war with the Philistines? Is there any truth to those rumors?|
|Saul:||No comment. (Looking warningly at Aide 1)|
|Aide1:||Enough questions. We have fact sheet to hand out with all the information you need.
(As reporters and aides begin to leave)
|Aide 2:||Your Excellency, I just wanted to remind you that you agreed to an exclusive interview with "Current Occurrence."|
|Saul:||I'd forgotten. Can I get out of it?|
|Aide 2:||(Shaken) Well, they're sending Mitzi Farko, the lovely and award-winning journalist to grill, er.I meaninterview you.|
|Saul:||(Brightening) Ah, well. I can't disappoint my public.
(Enter stage left Mitzi Farko, power dressed, coiffed, microphone in hand. Photographer in tow)
|Mitzi:||There you are, Excellency! We've just enough time to place you. Deadline, you know.|
|Saul:||Ah – yes, Ms. Farko! Where shall I stand?
(She indicates a spot and stands next to him with photographer and camera appropriately placed.)
|Saul:||Mitzi, could I change places with you? This isn't my BEST side.|
|Mitzi:||Sorry, Excellency. This is MY best side. Oops. Four, three, two, one – Good afternoon. I'm Mitzi Farko with "Current Occurrence" live from the bombshell press conference just given by King Saul.|
|Saul:||Hello, Mitzi. Hello, loyal subjects.|
|Mitzi:||King Saul, tell us a little about your background.|
|Saul:||I'm from the tribe of Benjamin. My father is Kish. One day I was out rounding up some of my father's livestock, and before I knew it, Samuel the prophet had anointed me King. So, as you can see, I come from humble beginnings. Just a farm boy destined for greatness.|
|Mitzi:||Fascinating. Samuel was always there for you. How have you dealt with the loss of your mentor?|
|Saul:||It's been quite difficult. He was always a comfort and source of guidance for me. I loved him and will miss him.|
|Mitzi:||Yet, there were rumors - rumors of a falling out between the two of you. Over your offering of the sacrifice|
|Saul:||That wasn't my fault. Samuel was late.|
|Mitzi:||And the incident over Agagyour disobedience?|
|Saul:||No! I did what I was supposed to doeventually.|
|Mitzi:||Hmmm, yeswell. Tell us, King Saul. How can you outlaw the fortune tellers and witches when you had the priests of God slain? Isn't that sending a mixed message?|
|Saul:||I was justified. They were harboring a known criminal. Those priests were wrong. I am right.|
|Mitzi:||(Moving in for the kill) Excellency, we haven't mentioned his name, but the "known criminal" was David of Bethlehem. There are those who say that before he died, Samuel anointed David to replace you! And now that there are reports of Philistine troop movement|
|Saul:||Ridiculous! This interview is over. (Stalks out.)|
|Mitzi:||Well, there you have it. The reports of the King's shaky emotional condition seem to be true. A very touchy King has outlawed ALL occultic practices. No more daily horoscopes. No more channeling crystals.
(As Mitzi is talking, Abner has entered left stage center by podium and a woman has come with him talking earnestly. Mitzi sees the woman.
|Mitzi:||(To the photographer) Quick! It's Madame Endor. Let's get her. Oh, Madame Endor, Madame Endor! Could I ask you a few questions?|
|Endor:||(Looking for an escape) UherI don't have any answers. I don't know anything about the futurereally. Or the past|
|Mitzi:||But you are the Madame Endor of the "Fiends of the Psychic Network?" aren't you?|
|Endor:||No! No! You have confused me with my identical twin sister. I'm the good witcher. Erahtwin. She's the evil one. I took over the family business. That's it. The family business.|
|Mitzi:||And that would bewhat?|
|Endor:||Oh! Uhcarpeting Yes, that's it. Carpeting.|
|Endor:||No, rolls. Rolls and rolls of indoor/outdoor carpeting. Yes, Endor's Outdoor, Indoor/Outdoor Carpeteria.|
|Mitzi:||Endor's OUTDOOR, Indoor/Outdoor Carpeteria?|
|Endor:||But yes! That way you can shop in a healthy environment.|
|Endor:||No, he doesn't work there. But say, I think I went to school with his brother Dominick.|
|Mitzi:||(Looking confused) Well, we'll try to get an interview with your, uhidentical twin sister.|
|Endor:||Ta, now. I MUST go. (Exit stage left)|
|Mitzi:||There you have it. Another exclusive interview from "A Current Occurrence." This is Mitzi Farko signing off. Cut! Let's get out of here.
(Mitzi and photographer exit stage left.)
(Lights fade – come up on family down stage right – listening to story)
|Grandpa:||What do you think so far, James?|
|James:||(Yawning) Boring. Not scary at all. Just one dippy witch.|
|James:||Oh. My version, like you said.|
|Sarah:||Go on, Grandpa. You're right. Saul's not brave and he doesn't seem very nice.|
|Grandma:||Go on, dear. The best part is coming|
|Grandpa:||War! And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart greatly trembled.
(Again the lights go down on the family downstage right, and come up center stage left)
The lights come up on Saul's office center stage left. The podium has been replaced by a desk. There is a map on the board behind the desk. Abner and the aides are present.
|Saul:||(Pacing in front of his desk) Abner. Abner, what are the latest reports?|
|Abner:||(On the phone) The entire Philistine army is occupying the plain of Esdraelon. Their camp is on the southern slope of the Mountain Range.|
|Saul:||Here, Aide. Mark that on the map!|
|Aide 1:||Yes, sire.|
|Saul:||(To Aide 1) Aide, put down a map tack for every 100 Philistines.|
|Aide 2:||But sire. We don't have enough. There are so many Philistines.|
|Saul:||Fool! I know that! (Shaking.)|
|Abner:||Sire. Your Excellency. Please get a grip.|
|Saul:||I don't know what to do! What should I do? Someone give me an answer. Samuel. I need Samuel now!|
|Aide 1:||Ieruhbelieve he's dead.|
|Saul:||Fool! Shut up. Just shut up. I know he's dead.|
|Abner:||King Saul, if I might make a suggestion. We need to mobilize our troops, as a show of force.|
|Saul:||Yes. Yes, of course. Where do you think?|
|Abner:||On the other side – on Mount Gilboa. Shall I take care of it?|
|Saul:||Yes, please. (Waves his hand as if distracted.)
(Abner gets on the phone.)
|Aide 2:||Sire, I checked with the prophets and well. None of them have anything for you.|
|Saul:||What about the dice?|
|Saul:||The Urim, you idiot! Never mind. I've not heard from God. Where is Samuel now? I need him.|
|Abner:||(Hanging up the phone) The troops are mobilized, sire. It's the right thing to do, you'll see.|
|Saul:||Abner, God has taken His hand from me. The rumors are true! We'll all be killed!|
|Abner:||Excellency, calm down.|
|Saul:||Find me a woman that tells the future.|
|Saul:||Yes. I will speak to Samuel one way or another. If God won't talk to me, I'll take matters into my own hands.|
|Abner:||(Hesitating) But sire, you just outlawed that sort of thing. Remember the people you just executed?|
|Saul:||It didn't change anyone's mind, did it? Everyone still BELIEVES in the occult, right? (Wide-eyed) RIGHT? You, you tell me what the people are saying.
(Abner and Aides start rap song.)
Hey, we're no doctors but we've made a diagnosis,
(Saul indicates – Go ahead)
You've got heart trouble, call 911.
You already know what the future holds,
(Saul – what?)
The little matter of sacrifice without waiting for Samuel,
And how about David? We don't mean to carp.
|Abner:||Well, I do know a woman who might be able to help
(Lights fade and come up down stage right on the family)
|Grandpa:||James. James! Are you following the story?|
|James:||Yeah. It's okay. But how does the witch call up the spirit?|
|Grandma:||Be patient. It's coming. But it's not something anyone should play around with, dear.|
|Sarah:||Yes. My Sunday school teacher says astrology and magic are wrong. It scares me. Why is this story in the Bible?|
|Grandpa:||I believe it's a warning. God made us and He knows what's best for us. Playing Satan's game is not good for us. God has given us protection from demons.|
|James:||What do you mean?|
|Grandpa:||I'll tell you later. First, let's see what Saul does.|
|James:||He was the King, he could do anything, right? He wasn't ashamed of what he was doing.|
|Grandpa:||Oh no! Listen. "And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment"
(Light fades up center stage left.)
(Crossfade.At Endor. See "Suggestions For Special Effects")
Saul is disguised with a trench coat and dark glasses. Abner and Aide 1 are with him. There should be a sign for the Carpeteria.
|Saul:||Wait a minute. Where are you two bringing me? I don't want carpet. I need advice.|
|Abner:||Trust me. I know this woman. She told me to meet her here. In her office.
(The room is dark with gauze, suggesting a foggy effect. There is a round table with chairs and a cot of sofaLighting should be eerie, gloomy. Hot spot on Madame Endor.)
|Endor:||(Enters stage left) Welcome, welcome. What can I do for you gentlemen? Could I conjure up a little Berber?|
|Abner:||Erno. That's not what we're looking for.|
|Endor:||Oh. Well, how about-|
|Saul:||Let's just cut to the cheese. I want you to call up the spirit of a dead friend.|
|Endor:||Oh my. No! You know our wonderful King Saul has outlawed anyone channeling. People have been executed. Do you want me to die?|
|Saul:||(Removing his glasses) No. I promise you there will be no punishment for you.|
|Endor:||Very well. Who shall I bring up?|
|Saul:||Bring up Samuel.
(Madame Endor holds a large crystal and begins making a big production of hand movements over it.)
|Endor:||I am visualizing my Spirit Guide.visualizing my Spirit Guide. Come oh-
(The special effects need to take place as the robed and hooded firgure appear.)
|Endor:||(She screams) You've tricked me. You are Saul!|
|Saul:||Don't be afraid. What do you see?|
|Endor:||I see a specter out of the earth.|
|Saul:||What is he like?|
|Endor:||He ishe is an old man, wrapped in a cloak!|
|Saul:||It must be him! (Saul bows down.)
(Abner and Aide are wide-eyed and speechless.)
|Samuel:||What do you want? Why have you had me brought back?|
|Saul:||Because, I'm in a terrible trouble. The Philistines are at war against us. To top it off, God has left me. He won't answer by the prophets or by dreams. What choice did I have but to come to you?|
|Samuel:||Why do you need to ask me anything since the Lord has become your enemy? He has done exactly what He said He would.|
|Samuel:||He has taken the kingdom from you and given it to David!|
|Samuel:||If you had done what you were supposed to with the Amalekites this would not have happened. Plus, Saul, everyone will suffer. Your army will be destroyed tomorrow and you and your sons will be with me!!!
(Samuel leaves in a flash. Saul falls on the ground paralyzed. All gather around him and lift him to the cot.)
|Abner:||Saul. King! Have you fainted?|
|Saul:||Iuhhaven't eaten. Oh, God. What have I done?|
|Endor:||Sir, let me fix you something to eat.|
|Saul:||Nono I couldn't.
(All encourage him.)
|Endor:||I won't take "no" for an answer. After what I've done, you owe me this. (She hurries away.)|
|Saul:||(Sitting with chin on hands) Why me? Why me? All I wanted was for people to accept me. I was powerful. I was successful. Who is to blame for this mess?
(Crossfade to downstage right.)
|Grandpa:||She brought the meal to the King and his men and they ate it. Then they went out into the night.
|Sarah:||Is that all? What happened to King Saul?|
|Grandma:||Exactly what God said.|
|James:||You mean he and his sons died the next day?|
|Grandma:||Yes, dear. God means what He says about not messing around with spirits and such.|
|James:||Is that what it was? Wasn't it really Samuel?|
|Grandpa:||Well son, there are arguments for both sides. But let's just say it's never all right to disobey God.|
|Sarah:||How did Saul die?|
|Grandpa:||Here's the condensed version. The archers overtook Saul and wounded him badly. He begged his armor-bearer to kill him, so the Philistines wouldn't torture him. But his armor-bearer was afraid, so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. Saul, his armor-bearer, his three sons, and his troops died that same day.|
|Sarah:||Wow. He committed suicide?|
|Grandma:||Not a very happy ending for a young man so full of promise. Sarah. Let's you and I go to bed.|
|Sarah:||Okay. (Kisses Grandpa and waves to James.)|
|Grandma:||(Kisses them both) Goodnight!
(They exit stage right)
|James:||Sounds like Saul had problems with his armor.|
|Grandpa:||Yes, he did. Another man, another Saul, wrote many years later about spiritual armor.|
|Grandpa:||In Ephesians, Chapter 6, there is a list of the armor God gives us when we war in Christ. It helps us fight the spiritual battle.|
|James:||You mean just words.|
|Grandpa:||No, real armor. I'll show you how I put it on every morning. (Standing and miming each)
1. The belt of the truth. Jesus is Lord.
2. Breastplate of righteousness. Jesus blood makes me right with God.
3. Shoes of the gospel. My mission is to show Jesus to all men.
4. The shield of faith. I believe God no matter what happens.
5. The helmet of salvation. I am the Lord's forever. He will never leave me.
6. The sword of the Spirit – God's Word. My instruction manual (holds up his Bible) See, now I'm ready to wrestle, not just with flesh and blood.
|James:||But with spirits also. Funny, Saul killed himself with his sword. Like, he died because he didn't know what God said. God's Word was his downfall.|
|Grandpa:||No, James. He heard it. He didn't do anything with it. (Pause) Goodnight, son. Are you going to bed?|
|James:||Yeah. In a minute. Goodnight.
(Grandpa exits stage right.) (James picks up Grandpa's Bible and sits in his chair. He leans forward.)
|James:||Uh. God. You don't know me, and I don't know what to say. But, I saw something tonight that scared me. I don't want to be like Saul. I want to be someone you're proud of. I know I've done wrong things and I'm sorry. Jesus, come into my heart and help me. I feel like you died just for me.
(He's quiet and then stands up and begins to mimic his Grandad putting on his armor as the lights fade.)