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I've been teaching Sunday School for over 18 years and teaching children's drama for seven. Something wonderful happens every week. I'll let you know what we're doing and share some tips to help with your own drama room.
"I have seen younger children roll with laughter as they portrayed favorite Old Testament characters, and I have seen older ones moved to tears as they begin to grasp the reality of Jesus' sacrifice through "The Gift is Given." Laura clearly writes with children in mind, but her unique sense of humor transcends generations and her deep spirituality touches the hearts of children and adults alike."
Our new rotation is The Lord's Prayer and the second grade got the first crack at performing the play of the same name in the drama room this week. In the play a young girl named Hannah tries to get out of her promise to help her mom teach younger children the Lord's Prayer in Vacation Bible School in order to go to a movie with a friend. Hannah's mom puts her foot down and tells Hannah that her movie plans are canceled and she'd better practice the prayer and go to bed.
Frustrated, Hannah tries to rush through the prayer so fast that she doesn't notice Jesus enter the room till he speaks to her. Jesus then sits down with Hannah, explaining how he gave the disciples this special prayer, then takes her through the prayer line by line to help her understand the meaning and importance of each part.
This play has only a few speaking parts and, wouldn't you know it, the second grade class was bigger than normal with extra visitors present. Kids who wanted to be onstage were allowed to dress as disciples for the short scene in Galilee and I assigned extra stagehands and special effects crew so everyone had a job. The roles of Hannah and Jesus should be assigned to strong readers so that the other children can hear the points of the lesson covered in the teaching scene. I let the children come close and sit at the edge of the stage during this part. It must have worked, because we had a good discussion about prayer and why it is important to talk and listen to God after the play.
Sometimes things just work together: our church worship on Sunday was dedicated to the United Methodist Women, and the theme of persevering in the service of Christ was underlined with thoughtfully chosen hymns and scripture. This helped me fine-tune my lesson for Jesus Chooses Twelve for the fourth and fifth graders. They are an enthusiastic bunch but sometimes have a little trouble settling down to a serious theme.
After reading the story from Luke, I gave them a few hints about things to listen for in the play, and we got straight to the performance. At this point they need very little help with the acting part, and some of them are getting very good at figuring out what their character is feeling and delivering their lines accordingly.
After the final scene when the Old Man is revealed in chains, they sat on the stage for a question and answer session about the twelve disciples and how their lives changed once they decided to follow Jesus, and there were some solemn faces as they talked about what it must have been like. I asked "If it was illegal to be a Christian, what do you think would happen?" One of the boys said "Well, you'd be jail, Miss Laura." The kids laughed when I thanked him for the compliment, then we had a prayer together, asking for the faith and courage to be like the first disciples and follow Jesus no matter where he leads us.
This week a host of third graders filled up the drama room and were very pleased to hear there would be enough roles for everyone to have a part. They were very interested in the story and asked plenty of questions about the disciples after we read the verses from the fifth chapter of Luke.
Casting Jesus Chooses Twelve was easier than usual, since everyone was able to participate. The play allows for small parts to be double cast if the class is small, but it's nice when you can do a crowd scene and have an actual crowd! The kids enjoyed being disciples in one scene and disgruntled taxpayers in another, then converting back to disciples for the dinner at Levi's house.
There were some serious faces when we discussed the lives of the original twelve after Jesus had risen and ascended back to heaven. Realizing the dedication and sacrifice required of Christ's followers for the first time is pretty sobering, but they understood the point. One of the students summed it up like this: "Jesus told them to do his work, and they did it. We have to be brave because they were." Smart kids—they teach me as much as I teach them.
It's a new year and a new rotation about the calling of the twelve disciples. Our play, Jesus Chooses Twelve, is based on the fifth chapter of Luke and explores both the rewards and difficulties involved in being a true follower of Christ. The story is narrated by the Old Man, who remains unseen till the end of the play. He tells about his early life as a fisherman on the sea of Galilee, working with his father and brother and his friends as the first scene opens. Peter, James, John, and Phillip are discussing their empty nets on the shore when Andrew enters with Jesus.
A crowd is following Jesus along the shore and Jesus asks to sit in Peter's boat so the crowd can hear him teach. Peter agrees, and the fishermen listen with the crowd. After Jesus finishes his teaching he asks Peter to put out his nets, which Peter does though he has caught nothing all night. When the nets are suddenly so full they have to call for help, Peter kneels before Jesus in awe, and Jesus asks Peter and the other fishermen to follow him. The Old Man picks up the tale at the beginning of the second scene, explaining what it was like to follow Jesus, who ministered to everyone whether they were loved or hated. This leads to unhappy Levi, or Matthew, sitting at his table collecting taxes, with the assistance of Vincentio, or Vinny, an opportunistic Roman soldier who extorts extra money out of the taxpayers with threats. Jesus approaches Levi, and offers to give him a chance for a different life, following Jesus. Levi accepts and leaves with Jesus.
The next scene is at Levi's home, where he is giving Jesus and the other disciples dinner. A crowd has gathered to see Jesus and a Pharisee complains about the riff-raff Jesus is hanging out with, only to be offended when Jesus says he has come to save sinners, not just the righteous. The stage darkens and the Old Man speaks again, saying that Jesus continued to do what was right, unafraid even to the end. Though they weren't special like Jesus, the disciples promised to follow in his footsteps, no matter what it cost. At this point the lights come on and reveal the Old Man for the first time: he is in chains in a prison cell. A soldier comes in and takes him away at sword point as the curtain falls.
The second grade arrived rested from their holiday break and ready to do some serious acting. A good thing too, because we had more parts than second graders and most of them had to take two roles. Each of them put on a basic robe, adding or changing accessories when switching to another character. This was less time-consuming than a complete costume change but still allowed them to be creative and have fun. And in spite of the serious subject, we had tons of fun!
It's Walk Through Bethlehem Set Up week at Church Street and things are proceeding at a searing pace. If you've not heard of Walk Through Bethlehem, hold onto your hat while I get you up to speed. Every December for the last 15 years, a group of volunteers headed up by my Fearless Leader, Children's Ministries Director Sue Isbell, transforms our Parish Hall into the town of Bethlehem as it may have appeared 2000 years ago, on the night of Christ's birth: synagogue, marketplace, inn and stable.
Over 100 costumed characters portray shopkeepers, storytellers, shepherds, and Roman soldiers. A special family is in the stable and everyone is talking about a baby born that night. Wise men wander through the crowd, goats, sheep and camels graze outside, and if you know where to look you might see an angel. This interactive Nativity is our gift to the community and admission is free. This 2011 edition of Walk Through Bethlehem will take place Sunday, December 18, from 1-6 PM.
Today was Wood Chip Day, the day we bring in two truckloads of wood chips to cover the floor of the entire Parish Hall. This is done by the world-famous Walk Through Bethlehem Chip Monks, using only shovels, wheelbarrows, and rakes—plus a lot of muscles and sweat. They do it all for love (and a pretty decent lunch) and are the superheroes of our set up crew. Last year I posted a video of the Monks at work, and in response to popular demand, I filmed our wheelbarrow warriors once more doing their wonderful work.
It's always a good Sunday when the first graders come to the drama room, and this was no exception. Again I let them come into the room while it was dark except for the star lights on the stage, and it was great to see their eyes light up and hear the wow in their voices.
Attendance was high and we had plenty of actors to fill the parts in Shepherds Visit Jesus, with some left over. This was no problem: I offered the kids that didn't get a speaking role a chance to be sheep, and they jumped on it. No sound effects were needed to produce realistic sheep baas, and they added lots of fun to the night scene in the fields, especially when the angel came and they all played dead. I had a hard time smothering my snickering while the angel made her announcement.
Later they gathered around the manger with the shepherds and everyone took a turn hugging the baby, as if it was really Jesus and not just a doll. First graders may be lots of work and keep the drama room action-packed, but they are hands-down the sweetest. They truly are a blessing and worth any extra effort I have to make.
This Advent season opened a week early for us, because we are participating in a church-wide study based on The Journey, a book by Adam Hamilton. In the drama room, we are focusing on the shepherds, using my play Shepherds Visit Jesus. The play emphasizes the change that occurs when God touches our lives: the shepherds in the beginning are very poor, and socially marginalized because of their dirty outdoor work. No one has a good word to say for them, as one of the characters puts in early in the play.
However, something amazing happens: God sends the angel Gabriel to tell the shepherds of the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem, and launches them on a quest to find the baby and spread this good news for all people. In spite of the disbelief and outright hostility of some of the townspeople, the shepherds persist in their search, find the baby and kneel to worship the holy child. They leave ready to go out and spread the word, in spite of the difficulty they will face.
The second graders were the first to experience the play and because all the action occurs at night, I made a decision to leave the overhead lights off as they came into the room. The stage was lit with tiny white lights on the ceiling to represent the stars, and one bigger Star of Bethlehem. This caught the children's imagination right away and they were ready to get started. This second grade class has some definite leaders and they are starting to show great organizational skills already. Casting went quickly and I let them be a bit creative about costuming so we could get to the performance. One of the girls decided she needed to be a sheep—what were the shepherds watching, after all?
It was a great show and the shepherd jokes seemed to help them understand the plight of the shepherds in the beginning. The miraculous change that God can work in us when we follow his directions is a concept adults have to struggle with, but children have no problem with it. "Nothing is impossible," said one of my favorite second graders, and looking at these kids, I have to agre
Sometimes decisions in the drama room are easy—when my second grade class arrived to perform Samuel: Here I Am, the girls had decided it was time for some girl power on the stage, so we had girls playing the lead parts and the boys opting to do the smaller roles and the special effects.
I was impressed with how well this class works together and how much character they infuse into even short parts. Again I assigned a photographer and got some cool split-stage shots of the night scene between Eli and Samuel. Looking at the photos helps me see the play through a child's eyes—what a great way to find out what the kids think is cool and important! Once again the music in the sound effects provided a jaw-dropping moment when the voice of a child answers God's call. The idea of God calling us at every age really came home to these kids—and I have no doubt they would answer here I am, just like Samuel.
I will out of town next week, traveling to West Virgina to visit my oldest son, who will performing in his first major graduate school recital. When I return, believe it or not, it will be time to start our Advent rotation. This year we are starting a week early because we are participating in a church-wide study based on Adam Hamilton's book The Journey. The study is divided into several parts, each taking an up-close look at the different people involved in the story of the birth of the Christ Child. In the drama room we will be studying the part of the shepherds, so the play is Shepherds Visit Jesus, based on the gospel of Luke. More about that next time!
Our second week of Samuel: Here I Am brought me a class full of third graders looking forward to our church Trunk-or-Treat event that evening—perhaps that's why they were so creative when accessorizing their costumes for the play. Again, I had more talented actors than parts, so I had to emphasize the importance of the special effects crew to making this play work.
I even created a new job by allowing one of the boys to use my camera and be the official photographer. He was very serious about his job, trying all kinds of artistic angles and close-ups of the action.
All of the special effects kids did a stellar job and stayed focused on getting their cues just right. We had some great comic moments from the actors as well—all the children love the scene in which young Samuel keeps waking up sleepy old Eli because Samuel thinks Eli is calling him.
It was a very vibrant production and I complimented all of the kids during class discussion at the end of the play. I couldn't help smiling as we prayed together, asking God to help us listen for his voice and follow his directions for our lives. These children take directions to a whole new level.
Advent is only four weeks away, so we've switched up the rotation schedule and I had the fourth and fifth graders for two Sundays in a row—but they didn't mind a bit. We started our Old Testament rotation on the prophet Samuel with the play Samuel: Here I Am, based on the beginning three chapters of the first book of Samuel.
In the opening scene, Hannah weeps and prays in the temple, asking God to bless her with a child. She promises that she will dedicate the boy to the Lord if God gives her a son. The elderly priest Eli finds her and asks the Lord to grant her request. Hannah acts as narrator through the rest of the story.
In Scene II, Eli's own sons, Phineas and Hopthni, sneak in after Hannah leaves. They are selfish and disrespectful even though they are priests in the temple. They shame their father by stealing the offerings and taking the sacrifices to God for their own use. Eli scolds them but it too old and weak to control their behavior.
In Scene III, Hannah's prayer has been answered, and the twelve year old Samuel is living at the temple and being taught by Eli. He is faithful and obedient, taking care of the temple and Eli. Hannah visits him and brings him a new robe in the first part of the scene; in the second half it is night and he and Eli are going to bed. Samuel hears a voice calling him by name as he lies on his mat in the temple. Thinking his master is calling, he runs to Eli three times before Eli realizes the Lord must be speaking to the boy. Eli tells Samuel to answer "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening," and wait to see what God wants to say. The awed Samuel follows these instructions and God tells Samuel that Eli's family can no longer serve Him, and He has chosen Samuel to be his faithful prophet, bringing God's word to His people. Samuel promises to obey, though he is worried about breaking the bad news to Eli. In the final scene it is the next morning. When Eli insists on hearing God's message, Samuel faithfully passes it on and the old man understands and accepts the justice of the message. Hannah ends with words from 1 Samuel 3:19: "The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground."
Since there are only five speaking parts and the fourth and fifth grade is a pretty large class, casting the play was pretty competitive, but by this time the kids have learned the "pick a number" system well enough to do it without much help from me. I also assigned extra special effects crew since I had a spotlight for the night scene and the sound effects included music as well as the voice of God. Because the title of the lesson includes the words "Here I Am," I used the hymn with the same title to underline the theme, and told the children there would be a test on the song afterward so they should listen to the words carefully. Between each scene, the deep bass voice of God sings one of the verses, which end with the question, "Whom shall I send?" At the end, the question is answered by the voice of a child singing the refrain, which begins, "Here I am, Lord." The contrast between the two voices took the kids by surprise; mouths fell open. God calls all of us, and we have to listen and answer, no matter what age we are. That was the conclusion of our class discussion after the play, so of course they aced the test!
Whew! The last couple of weeks went by at warp speed, leaving me with no time to write about our last two performances of Zacchaeus, by the third grade on October 9 and by the fourth/fifth grade this past Sunday, October 16. However, the chance to think over and compare these age groups has given me some food for thought.
The third grade group is always high energy, and has some trouble settling down to begin the play, but this time I noticed a huge jump in reading and organizational skills since our last class together. The children not only got started faster, they laughed at jokes they might not have noticed before. They had a better understanding of the characters and the lessons being taught as well.
The fourth and fifth graders as the oldest class are usually quick to get casting and costuming done, and this time they were really interested in the development of the story and how Zacchaeus changed during the play. The discussion after the play was lively and opinionated, as they talked about why friends and people are more important than just having lots of stuff.
It's fascinating to see their minds develop and their characters unfold. Watching kids grow through different stages of understanding is what has kept me teaching all these years. That and the hugs—those are pretty fantastic too.
It's our second week of Zacchaeus and the first grade reported to the drama room already excited about the acting out the story. It's about a guy who is smaller than everybody else—and as the youngest class in Spirit Adventure, these kids know all about the hardships of being short. Today was only their second trip to the drama room, but they are already starting to get the hang of things. Though still a little shy about reading the scripts, these children are willing to step up and participate.
With first graders, patience and flexibility are required to keep everyone focused and involved in the story. I stay onstage, helping them read, sometimes shortening the dialogue if necessary so we can keep the action moving. First graders are usually happy to help change the scenery and assemble props for the action; they liked setting the table for the dinner party in particular. They were also amused by the crowd figures, which were taller than most of them.
At the end of the play everyone wanted to take turns climbing the stepstool behind the wall to get the view from the tree and of course I let them. I think they would have stayed all day to play, but parents were waiting, so I persuaded them to put away props and take off costumes for our final prayer. We thanked God for Jesus, who is our friend even when nobody else is. I added a silent prayer of gratitude for another first grade class full of little people with big hearts.
Our new rotation is based on a favorite New Testament story, Zacchaeus. The play opens at the palatial residence of Zacchaeus, a small man in a big job: chief tax collector for the Roman government in Jericho. It is morning and Marcus, Zacchaeus's Roman counterpart, has come to collect the tax money for the week, or the loot, as Marcus calls it. Tax collectors in those days were allowed to extort as much money as possible from the citizens. All is not well; Zacchaeus's mother is worried because her son is lonely and friendless and he has been sleeping poorly. Marcus is unsympathetic, pointing out how wealthy Zacchaeus is and how well he lives. Then Zacchaeus enters and hands over the sack of ill-gotten gains, but he is getting tired of being hated and feared and wonders aloud if money really is everything. Aghast at this crazy talk, Marcus counsels Zacchaeus to get some fresh air and clear his head.
In the next scene, Zacchaeus has taken this advice and gone for a stroll. He is surprised to see an excited crowd waiting in the street and asks what is going on. The people in the crowd insult him and tell him to get out of sight; they are waiting to see Jesus. When Zacchaeus tries to stay the crowd pushes him away angrily. Determined to see Jesus any way he can, Zacchaeus climbs a tree. When Jesus arrives, the crowd is shocked to hear the Lord invite himself to dinner at the house of Zacchaeus, who is so surprised he falls out of the tree. He is unhurt, much to the crowd's disappointment, and joyfully leads the Lord home to meet his mother.
In the third and final scene, Jesus and his disciples sit at table with Zacchaeus and Marcus while Zacchaeus' mother bustles around feeding everyone. The disciples make small talk with Marcus and can't help hearing the rude remarks of the grumbling crowd that has followed Jesus to the house. Zacchaeus stands up and confesses his wrongdoing, then shocks Marcus by offering to repay all the money he has cheated people out of and give half his wealth to the poor. Marcus faints, the crowd cheers, and Jesus blesses Zacchaeus and proclaims salvation has come to the house.
This was the perfect story to use the new wall I made a couple of weeks ago. I put the wall in front of some tall silk trees, then placed a stepstool between the trees. This way Zacchaeus could mount the steps and put his head among the branches over the top of the wall, and look as if he'd really climbed the tree. The second graders were very impressed with this bit of stage magic, and there was fierce competition for the part of Zacchaeus, which we settled by the usual method of picking a number. The other parts were quickly cast, and we got down to business.
Crowd scenes are always fun, but sometimes we don't have enough for a crowd, so my solution for this problem is to create crowd figures: kid-size cardboard people, so one child can stand behind them and become a crowd. This always tickles children and grown-ups so I have no problem giving out the crowd parts. The crowd noise sound effects were a big hit too, and the children loved the dinner party at the end. We sat around the table for our ending prayer and thanked God for reminding us that friends are more important than money, and for sending Jesus to be our very best friend.
Last Sunday was my week off, so I worked on converting a wide screen TV box into a new wall— making new and improved set pieces helps keep things fresh and new in the drama room, so the kids stay interested. Besides, I like to do something messy and creative now and then. It's fun.
This week I had a room full of third graders ready to tackle Letters of Paul:Race for the Kingdom. Tackle is exactly the right word, because they were great stage ninjas and we got the scene changes done in record time. Our actors were terrific too and really got involved in figuring out the clues from Paul's letters in each scene.
We finished in time to discuss the play together and say a prayer, asking God to help each of us to find what our job is in the body of Christ, so we can do it to the best of our abilities. None of these third graders is afraid to jump right in and do whatever work is required, so I'm sure God has some great things in store for all of them.
It's always a special day when I get to meet a brand new class of first graders and introduce them to the drama room. Every year I marvel at how people so small can be so smart, and today was no different.
Since they had been first graders for only a week, they were almost intimidated by the stage and the idea of acting out our story, Letters of Paul: Race for the Kingdom. However, three of the girls stepped up when asked to volunteer to play a part, and turned out to be excellent readers. The rest of them fell in love with the idea of being stage ninjas, and I ended up having to read one of the characters. Because I usually stay onstage with the first grade anyway this worked out fine. The boys and girls had a thrilling time changing scenery and learning to work together.
It took some time to get to the end of the play with so many new things to learn, but no one was at all ready to leave. As we gathered for our final prayer, I heard one of the girls say "This room was fun!" to her friend, who nodded emphatically, and that's all I needed to hear to know I'm in for a grand adventure teaching this wonderful bunch of kids.
Promotion Sunday is here and everyone is back from summer vacation, so I had a dozen brand-new second graders to begin our new rotation on the letters of the apostle Paul. Since 13 books of the New Testament are Paul's letters, this lesson covers a lot of material, but the theme we focus on is working together as the body of Christ.
Letters of Paul: Race for the Kingdom is the title of the play for this lesson. Three children arrive, pushing and shoving, trying to be first to sign up for an amazing race, and meet Paul, who explains that they can sign up only as a team—everyone must work together to make it to the finish. After a bumpy start, the kids learn to use their individual talents to help each other along the way. The race is long and hard, so Paul has sent letters ahead, which the children use to figure out problems and stay on course. By the time they reach the end, they understand what it means to be part of the body of Christ, and Paul welcomes them into the Kingdom.
The new second graders moaned when they found out there were only four characters, but I explained that the whole point of this play was that we are all important parts of the same body. Anyone who did not have a speaking role would be stage crew, or as I prefer to call them, stage ninjas—quick, silent and able to shift scenery in the dark. This play has four scenes, all requiring a complete change of set pieces and props, so there is something for everyone to do, and it all has to happen fast. It's a great hands-on lesson in working together. The kids loved this idea, and did a great job pitching in. Probably we weren't as silent as your average ninja—but we had way more fun!
Summer is winding down and so is our Old Testament rotation on Joseph In Egypt. I had a mixed class of both third/fourth and second graders—some of them had been in the drama room already but wanted to do the play again; others had been gone during their turn at the drama room and heard about what they had missed.
All the kids really enjoy this play, not just because of the dancing and the fun costumes, but because they like the story. Joseph's hard times and sudden reversal of fortune, then his unexpected reunion with the brothers who betrayed him are full of drama—but to the kids, the important thing is "that God stayed with him the whole time" to quote one of the third graders. Children take comfort in God's faithfulness in a world that gets crazy at times. The last scene, where Joseph reveals his identity and forgives his brothers to reunite the family is the hands-down favorite.
When it's time for the group hug, the kids go from shy to exuberant in seconds. "C'mon, everybody!" one of them will shout, and Bam, it's a pile-up. What a great way to end our summer time rotation—or anything else, come to think of it.
It's hard to believe it, but my last Sunday with the fifth graders has come—it will be Promotion Sunday before we start the next rotation, and this wonderful group of fifth graders will be heading off to Confirmation as sixth graders. It's always tough to let them go, and this small but mighty class had some of my most enthusiastic actors in it. One of the most talented actually came home a day early from camp in order not to miss her last Sunday in the drama room.
Thank heaven Joseph In Egypt is a story that ends with happy tears—I was able to blame my wet eyes on method acting. With our dedicated shepherd pitching in as Pharaoh, the kids gave one of their best performances ever and we were able to dance our blues away after the final scene. In our final prayer I thanked God for my time with these kids and asked for His blessings on them as they go through their year of Confirmation, learning to become full and responsible members of the church. I have no doubt that they will rise to the challenge. All of them are stars already.
Another hot summer Sunday and I had five first graders excited about performing Joseph In Egypt. One of the boys was so happy to be in the drama room he raced up to give me a hug first thing. Everyone had to take a part, since Joseph had more brothers than we had actors. I like to stay onstage with the first graders to help them with stage directions and reading, so it's no problem to put on a costume and participate in the action. Initially they were a little shy about Walking Like Egyptians, but once they warmed up there was no stopping them. We had a wonderful time dancing and the group hug at the end of the play was the best yet!
The first Sunday of Joseph In Egypt started off a bit slow—the holiday last week meant several families were still on vacation and attendance was low. When we met in the Gathering Place, I counted only two second graders and one of the shepherds suggested they should combine with the third and fourth graders and go to watch a movie in the Heavenly Box Office.
However, when I asked the two kids involved, they firmly vetoed this idea; they wanted the drama room, period. Several of the third and fourth graders overheard and immediately began to ask if they could join us instead of watching the movie, so we went from two actors to a full-size cast in a matter of minutes. This is not the first time this has happened and it would be nice to take personal credit, but I'm not the attraction. It's drama that the kids love. Drama gives children a chance to be active instead of passive, to be a participant instead of a spectator. That's why it is such an important tool for teaching and why I love being in the drama room.
Since the children were so enthusiastic, I was glad I spent extra time getting the stage set and costumes just right. They had a great time performing the story and especially enjoyed the music between scenes. We had to end the play with an impromptu dance party—it was hard to get them to hold still for a picture. Let joy be unrestrained, I always say, especially if you can spill it on other people. These kids got it all over me.
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and time to enjoy friends and family. We combined classes and had a Games Day last Sunday, so I spent my time working on my stage set for Joseph in Egypt, part two of our rotation on Joseph.
The play picks up the story of Joseph's life at one of his lowest points: he has been falsely accused and is in the prison of the Pharaoh. But God has not deserted Joseph and things are getting ready to change. God has been sending troublesome dreams to the Pharaoh and none of the king's sages can help. However, Pharaoh's cup bearer Amon remembers a dream he had in prison, and the young man who explained it, so he finds Joseph and takes him to the Pharaoh. When Joseph interprets both dreams as a warning of severe famine, the Pharaoh is so impressed that he appoints Joseph as his second-in-command to oversee the harvest and storage of the grain in preparation for the famine. Joseph, with Amon as his steward, is so successful that Egypt becomes the source of food for everyone when the famine spreads to the all the surrounding lands.
Everything is going smoothly, till one day Joseph's brothers arrive from Canaan to buy food for their starving families. Though they do not recognize him, Joseph is torn in two with conflicting emotions. He sends them away so he can regain his composure and tells Amon he must help his brothers, who seem to have changed, but he must test them to make sure. He concocts a two-fold plan: first he accuses them of spying, takes Simeon hostage and sends the rest home to fetch his baby brother Benjamin as proof of their story.
When they return with Benjamin, he welcomes them warmly but arranges for Benjamin to be accused of theft. When his brother Judah offers his life as a slave to save Benjamin, Joseph breaks down completely and reveals his identity. His brothers are terrified till Joseph tells them that what they did was part of God's plan to put Joseph in Egypt so that he could save his family when the time came, and assures them of his complete forgiveness. The play ends with Amon urging everyone into a group hug to reunite the family.
I have to admit to possibly having too much fun with the stage set—couldn't resist recycling some obelisks Sue made for VBS last year and of course we have to have some examples of Walking Like an Egyptian. The gold mask and sketch of Mom are just for laughs. I can't wait till next Sunday to see the second graders' reaction!