Humor Fiction posted October 17, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
Updating the birth story

A Modern Day Nativity

by Elaine Chiodi

Cast of Characters (in Order of Appearance)

Narrator - Introduces each scene and closes play, speaks from offstage
Mary - About 18, mother of Jesus
Archangel Gabriel - Youthful, messenger from God
Joseph - About 20, Mary's fiance and father of Jesus
Rude Person - Mid 40's, Emergency Room clerk
Angels. - Youthful, heavenly hosts (2)
Hans. - Mid 20's, shepherd from Germany
Sydney. - Mid 20's, shepherd from Australia
Pup. - Young, shepherd-like dog
Baby Jesus. - Newborn (baby doll may be used)
Moe Weiss - About 70, First Weis Man traveling from afar
Abe Weisman - About 60, Second Weis Man
Jacob Weisberg - About 50, Third Weis Man


MARY sits on a small couch reading Notice of Eviction.


"In the Biblical world, there are two types of beings: one, the humans of earth and, two, the spirits who walk amongst them.

This is one of their stories told throughout time: of love, loss, wonder and redemption. The names are the same, but the century and the details have been changed.

Let us start with Mary, a young woman living without sin, with her fiance, Joseph. She
doesn't know it yet, but her whole world
is about to change."

MARY (gasps in fright as Archangel Gabriel climbs through apartment's open window)
"Oh my."

"Hey Mary, Hail Mary, Mary full of grace. I bring tidings from above, to tell you face to face.

You've been chosen as the one to bear God Father's only Son.

Don't cry, don't fear, no panic here. You'll still be virgin pure. We'll pass the word to Joseph, you can rest assured."

Mary stands and moves to Archangel Gabriel.

"I don't understand, I've known no man. How can this be true?"

"It's God's will to be fulfilled and bring no harm to you."

MARY (bows her head in acceptance)
"I am His maid; He'll be obeyed. Shall we start today?

This building's sold and I've been told we must leave, and soon. It's best we pack and start our trek before there's more delay."

ARCHANGEL GABRIEL (grasps Mary's hand)
Go in peace, go in love, go with your mind at rest. It seems a bit confusing, but believe it's for the best.

Joseph enters Right.

Mary turns and moves to Joseph.

"Come Joseph, come sit down. Good news, bad news all around. The bad news first, no sense to wait. Our home's for sale, we must vacate."

Joseph moves to and sits on the unoccupied sofa.

JOSEPH (sadly)
"Man, what a drag it is leaving home.

So, if that's the bad news, what's the good.
You found somewhere stable outside the 'hood?"
(smiles at his joke)

Mary puts a hand on Joseph's shoulder


"Ummm, not yet, but we have a new condition. His name is Jesus and He's on a mission.
My new friend Gabe here will explain. No fuss, no muss, hopefully, no pain.
So, take deep breaths and close your eyes, 'cause you are in for a big surprise."

As the lights dim, Archangel Gabriel moves to and stands between Mary and Joseph. All three join hands and they walk out Right.

Instrumental version of the Beatles' "Let It Be" plays softly in the background



"Days come and days go. Still no home for Mary and Joe.
Then a friend gives Joe a hint; A construction job, a long-term stint.
So up they pack and hit terra firm, even though Mary's now near term."

Joseph enters Right on motorbike with a very pregnant Mary in the sidecar.

Campsite with tent and lounge chairs are Up Center, dimly light.

Well-lit Emergency Room entry is on Left.

MARY (anxiously)
"Uh oh, Joe, I must lay down, Before this baby starts to crown.
Put the pedal to the metal and hold it down.
Try up ahead, where that light is red, an Emergency Room, the road sign said."

Moves to ER door, wheeling the bike.

"Hang on tight, we're almost there. Boy, this birth thing's a real scare."

Mary cradles her abdomen as she and Joseph move to the reception area.
Looking around they see a Rude Person in hospital gear standing behind a triage counter.

RUDE PERSON (looks over her glasses and blows a whistle to indicate which direction to come)
"It's clear to see just why you're here. By the look on your face, your time is near.
Now sit over there and fill out these forms. Are you looking for private, semi- or one of the dorms?"

Hands Mary a clipboard with at least 10 pages on it, then turns to Joseph.

RUDE PERSON (tics off on fingers)
"And while wifey writes, hubby, you come with me. There are some papers that I must see:
A driver license and second ID; plus insurance and bank cards for payment guarantee."

JOSEPH (gasps audibly)
"I can prove who I am, but the rest is a bust. No health plan, no bank card, in God we trust."
(points and looks up)

"Hold on, missy, you both must leave.
It's pay up or go, that's what we believe."

Approaches Mary, blowing whistle and grabs pen from Mary's hand.

"But where can we go? We need help fast. I'm close to birthing and we're almost out of gas."

RUDE PERSON (sniffs loudly)
"There's a campsite up the road, just to the left. Takes hippies and Euros and the financially bereft. Tell them your story, they may rent you a tent."

Waves dismissively at them as they leave.

Mary and Joseph return to the bike and take off to the campsite Center Upstage.

A blinking neon sign indicates the campsite name and slogan:

"International Rent-a-Tent"

"Rent One Now,
They're going fast.
In this market,
They won't last."

An arrow points to the last available tent.

Mary and Joseph push the bike to a ragged and dirty tent. Mary unfolds a blanket and lays down on a plastic lounge chair.

Within seconds, she begins to moan. Joseph stands in front of her, spreading her shawl to shield her from view.

The Star of Nativity rises behind them.

MARY (behind shawl)
"Oh my, ohmy, oooohhhhmyyyyy."

JESUS (behind shawl)

Two Angels enter and move to the side of tent. They quietly hum Silent Night until end of the play.


A German and an Australian shepherd with a small puppy enter from the Right.

HANS (scans the sky)
"Ho, Sydney, what's that sound? Seems to be coming from all around."

SYDNEY (twirls around, looking up)
"Blimey, Hans, look to the sky. A flock of angels flying by. And over our campsite, what a sight.
It's the blooming Star we saw last night."

HANS (pushes Sydney forward at the shoulder)
"Well, c'mon Syd, don't stand around. Something grand may be found. Take up your staff, I'll grab the pup. Let's go and see just what's up."

They move to Center and stop to the Right of Mary and Joseph. They kneel when they see Jesus.

"What Child is this, that angels sing? Is he a prince, a poet, a king? His light shines so bright, his face so serene. The most holy being I've ever seen."

MARY (lifts a swaddled Jesus to her shoulder)
"He's our son Jesus, sent from above. He's come to show kindness, mercy, and love. His journey's just started, His life will be brief. Some joy, some wonder, then much pain and grief.

That is His heavenly Father's way to show death as the road to redemption day. Join us in praise to the Lord here today, and remember His birth whenever you pray."


Three Weis Men approach from the Left. A muffled argument sounds from O.S.

They enter in single file and stop abruptly about 5' past the side curtain.

MOE WEISS (looks up and speaks in a theatrically hammy voice)
"Three roads, three tunnels, three miles so far, following that yonder Star. We must push on, whate'er the cost; if we give up now, our journey's lost.

ABE WEISMAN (whining, pokes Moe's back with a finger)
"Oy vey, Moe, don't be a such a schmoe. How much further do we have to go? This trip's no stroll along Jones beach; you said it would be quick to reach."

JACOB WEISBERG (looks down, with a small shake of his head)
"You know Abe's right, Moe,we've come quite far, following that meshuga Star."

MOE WEISS (impatiently)
"Oh, quit your kvetching, we'll take a stop. I think I see a coffee shop.
No... wait a minute... that's not a store, it's what we have been searching for!
Sweet little Babe lying in a manger; Ah, what in life could be any stranger?
(dramatically clasps hands and looks up)

ABE WEISMAN (sarcastically)
"Well, since you ask -- How about this task. We're bearing gifts, we know not where, to see a Child with grace so rare. No apps, no maps, just a Star, to guide us on our way so far."

"You know Abe's right, Moe, it's been a ways, not one, not two, but many days. So, what you say, I hope is true; our journey's end, our trip is through.

All move to Center while talking, and stand Left of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

MOE WEISS (bows low, then kneels. As he speaks, he gestures first over his shoulder with his left arm, then towards the Family with his right arm))
"Yes, here we are, boys, what a sight. I know I won't forget this night.

Greetings, madam; greetings, sir; greetings, little one. We come from very far away
Bearing gifts for your Son.

My name's Moe Weiss and I bring gold; an AMEX gift card, the best, I am told. It's fully loaded to the max; just spend it wisely is all I ask." (shakes a finger at them)

Moe approaches and presents a small gold-tone envelope to Mary

ABE WEISMAN (steps forward waving his hand in Moe's direction)
"Feh, my gift to you is not so dramatic. A truckload of Pampers, now that's pragmatic. With baby wipes, my gift's complete, to keep the tushie smelling sweet. Think of Abe Weisman with every swipe. A maven's gift without the hype."

Bows deeply and presents Mary with a certificate for future FedEx delivery.

JACOB WEISBERG (pushes past Moe and Abe; taps side of nose, then points at Joseph)
"Jacob Weisberg is my name, selling cars is my game. My gift to you is a key, to any of the cars you'll see: a van, sedan, or SUV. Check out my website, I'm on line; we deliver in double time."

Presents Joseph with several auto brochures and a generic car fob, which he pushes to make beep.

Facing her guests, Mary sits up straighter and opens her arms to include them all.

Joseph steps toward Mary and picks up Baby Jesus.

"Oh dear Lord, it's such a surprise, all these gifts before our eyes. How did you know we'd need these things; you must be wizards or the wisest kings.

Thank you, thank you with all my heart, but now it's time that we must part. Joe starts his job in a day or two. We still have so much left to do.

We thank you all so very much. Once we're settled, let's do lunch."

Shepherds, Weis Men, angels move off in the direction from which they arrived.
Mary picks up scattered items as the Family moves Upstage.
Shouts and calls of farewell can be heard as all depart.

"Auf Wiedersehen, mach's gut."

"Hoo-roo, mates. Toodle-oo."

"Shalom. Zay Gezunt."


Instrumental version of the Beatles' "Let It Be" plays softly in the background.

"And so for tonight, all's right with the world. A new day tomorrow will be unfurled. Challenges, answers, and peace in our hearts. Remember acceptance of what life imparts.

The Good Lord has come to show us the way; now we must follow His path each day. So, good-night, dear friends; I bid you adieu. With faith, hope and love, we'll see our way through."



Old Story With a Twist contest entry


Except for the opening narration, this play is to be read poetically. It started as an idea for a women's group, then became a challenge when no one stepped up to organize the program. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Renate-Bertodi at

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