Reader’s Theatre for Easter
Here is the reader’s theater I wrote for our Good-Friday Service. I hope somebody else can use it!
It’s super easy and can be pulled off with virtually no practice. A great way to get people involved!
(It is the Passion Narrative, from the Gospel of Mark. During practice, it was about 35 minutes, with the songs)
NOTE: I wrote the five parts to five different people. Choose your readers carefully!
Reader One: Narrator – good voice, able to read LOTS
Reader Two: Disciples and misc. voices – minimal reading
Reader Three: This is Jesus. Choose carefully.
Reader Four: Almost no reading. Very easy part.
Reader Five: Very little reading. Easy part.
ACT ONE: Introduction
Reader 1: Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Reader 2: who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Reader 3: but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Reader 1: Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Reader 4: For when we were still helpless, Christ died for us.
Reader 5: It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person.
Reader 4: But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!
SONG: Above All
ACT TWO: The Last Supper
Reader One: It was now two days before the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the teachers of the Law were looking for a way to arrest Jesus secretly and put him to death.
Reader Five: “We must not do it during the festival,”
Reader One: they said,
Reader Five: “or the people might riot.”
Reader One: Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease. While Jesus was eating, a woman came in with an alabaster jar full of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. Some of the people there became angry and said to one another,
Reader Four: “What was the use of wasting the perfume? It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!”
Reader One: And they criticized her harshly. But Jesus said,
Reader Three: “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me. You will always have poor people with you, but you will not always have me. She did what she could; she poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial.
Reader One: Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Jesus to them. They were pleased to hear what he had to say, and promised to give him money. So Judas started looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them.
Reader One: On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day the lambs for the Passover meal were killed, Jesus’ disciples asked him,
Reader Two: “Where do you want us to go and get the Passover meal ready for you?”
Reader One: Then Jesus sent two of them with these instructions:
Reader Three: “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house he enters. He will show you a large upstairs room, fixed up and furnished, where you will get everything ready for us.”
Reader One: The disciples left, went to the city, and found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus came with the twelve disciples. While they were at the table eating, Jesus said,
Reader Three: “I tell you that one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
Reader One: The disciples were upset and began to ask him, one after the other,
Reader Two: “Surely you don’t mean me, do you?”
Reader One: Jesus answered,
Reader Three: “It will be one of you twelve, one who dips his bread in the dish with me. The Son of Man will die as the Scriptures say he will; but how terrible for that man who will betray the Son of Man! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!”
Reader One: While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples.
Reader Three: “Take it,”
Reader One: he said,
Reader Three: “this is my body.”
Reader One: Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them; and they all drank from it. Jesus said,
Reader Three: “This is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals God’s covenant. I tell you, I will never again drink this wine until the day I drink the new wine in the Kingdom of God.”
Reader One: Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
Song: All Who Are Thirsty
ACT THREE: Gethsemane
Reader One: Jesus said to them,
Reader Three: “All of you will run away and leave me, for the scripture says, ‘God will kill the shepherd, and the sheep will all be scattered.’ But after I am raised to life, I will go to Galilee ahead of you.”
Reader One: Peter answered,
Reader Five: “I will never leave you, even though all the rest do!”
Reader One: Jesus said to Peter,
Reader Three: “I tell you that before the rooster crows two times tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me.”
Reader One: Peter answered even more strongly,
Reader Five: “I will never say that, even if I have to die with you!”
Reader One: And all the other disciples said the same thing. They came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples,
Reader Three: “Sit here while I pray.”
Reader One: He took Peter, James, and John with him. Distress and anguish came over him, and he said to them,
Reader Three: “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch.”
Reader One: He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering.
Reader Three: “Father,”
Reader One: he prayed,
Reader Three: “my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.”
Reader One: Then he returned and found the three disciples asleep. He said to Peter,
Reader Three: “Simon, are you asleep? Weren’t you able to stay awake for even one hour?”
Reader One: And he said to them,
Reader Three: “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Reader One: He went away once more and prayed, saying the same words.
Reader One: Then he came back to the disciples and found them asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to say to him. When he came back the third time, he said to them,
Reader Three: “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come! Look, the Son of Man is now being handed over to the power of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”
Reader One: Jesus was still speaking when Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders. The traitor had given the crowd a signal:
Reader Two: “The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him and take him away under guard.”
Reader One: As soon as Judas arrived, he went up to Jesus and said,
Reader Two: “Teacher!”
Reader One: and kissed him. So they arrested Jesus and held him tight. But one of those standing there drew his sword and struck at the High Priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus spoke up and said to them,
Reader Three: “Did you have to come with swords and clubs to capture me, as though I were an outlaw? Day after day I was with you teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must come true.”
Reader One: Then all the disciples left him and ran away. Then Jesus was taken to the High Priest’s house, where all the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the Law were gathering. Peter followed from a distance and went into the courtyard of the High Priest’s house. There he sat down with the guards, keeping himself warm by the fire. The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some evidence against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they could not find any. Many witnesses told lies against Jesus, but their stories did not agree. Then some men stood up and told this lie against Jesus:
Reader Four: “We heard him say, ‘I will tear down this Temple which men have made, and after three days I will build one that is not made by men.’ “
Reader One: Not even they, however, could make their stories agree. The High Priest stood up in front of them all and questioned Jesus,
Reader Five: “Have you no answer to the accusation they bring against you?”
Reader One: But Jesus kept quiet and would not say a word. Again the High Priest questioned him,
Reader Five: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed God?”
Reader Three: “I am,”
Reader One: answered Jesus,
Reader Three: “and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven!”
Reader One: The High Priest tore his robes and said,
Reader Five: “We don’t need any more witnesses! You heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?”
Reader One: They all voted against him: he was guilty and should be put to death. Some of them began to spit on Jesus, and they blindfolded him and hit him.
Reader Four: “Guess who hit you!”
Reader One: they said. And the guards took him and slapped him. Peter was still down in the courtyard when one of the High Priest’s servant women came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked straight at him and said,
Reader Four: “You, too, were with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Reader One: But he denied it.
Reader Two: “I don’t know…I don’t understand what you are talking about,”
Reader One: he answered, and went out into the passageway. Just then a rooster crowed. The servant woman saw him there and began to repeat to the bystanders,
Reader Four: “He is one of them!”
Reader One: But Peter denied it again. A little while later the bystanders accused Peter again,
Reader Four: “You can’t deny that you are one of them, because you, too, are from Galilee.”
Reader One: Then Peter said,
Reader Two: “I swear that I am telling the truth! May God punish me if I am not! I do not know the man you are talking about!”
Reader One: Just then a rooster crowed a second time, and Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows two times, you will say three times that you do not know me.” And he broke down and cried.
Song: For Those Tears I Died
ACT FOUR: Trial
Reader One: Early in the morning the chief priests met hurriedly with the elders, the teachers of the Law, and the whole Council, and made their plans. They put Jesus in chains, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him,
Reader Five: “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Reader One: Jesus answered,
Reader Three: “So you say.”
Reader One: The chief priests were accusing Jesus of many things, so Pilate questioned him again,
Reader Five: “Aren’t you going to answer? Listen to all their accusations!”
Reader One: Again Jesus refused to say a word, and Pilate was amazed. At every Passover Festival Pilate was in the habit of setting free any one prisoner the people asked for. At that time a man named Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder in the riot. When the crowd gathered and began to ask Pilate for the usual favor, he asked them,
Reader Five: “Do you want me to set free for you the king of the Jews?”
Reader One: He knew very well that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask, instead, that Pilate set Barabbas free for them. Pilate spoke again to the crowd,
Reader Five: “What, then, do you want me to do with the one you call the king of the Jews?”
Reader One: They shouted back,
Reader’s Two and Four Together: “Crucify him!”
Reader Five: “But what crime has he committed?”
Reader One: Pilate asked. They shouted all the louder,
Reader’s Two and Four Together: “Crucify him!”
Reader One: Pilate wanted to please the crowd, so he set Barabbas free for them. Then he had Jesus whipped and handed him over to be crucified.
Song: The Old Rugged Cross
ACT FIVE: Crucifixion
Reader One: The soldiers took Jesus inside to the courtyard of the governor’s palace and called together the rest of the company. They put a purple robe on Jesus, made a crown out of thorny branches, and put it on his head. Then they began to salute him:
Reader Five: “Long live the King of the Jews!”
Reader One: They beat him over the head with a stick, spat on him, fell on their knees, and bowed down to him. When they had finished making fun of him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. On the way they met a man named Simon, who was coming into the city from the country, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. They took Jesus to a place called Golgotha, which means “The Place of the Skull.” There they tried to give him wine mixed with a drug called myrrh, but Jesus would not drink it. Then they crucified him and divided his clothes among themselves, throwing dice to see who would get which piece of clothing. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The notice of the accusation against him said: “The King of the Jews.” They also crucified two bandits with Jesus, one on his right and the other on his left. OMITTED TEXT People passing by shook their heads and hurled insults at Jesus:
Reader Four: “Aha! You were going to tear down the Temple and build it back up in three days! Now come down from the cross and save yourself !”
Reader One: In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the Law made fun of Jesus, saying to one another,
Reader Five: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself ! Let us see the Messiah, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him!”
Reader One: And the two who were crucified with Jesus insulted him also. At noon the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout,
Reader Three: “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?”
Reader One: Some of the people there heard him and said,
Reader Two: “Listen, he is calling for Elijah!”
Reader One: One of them ran up with a sponge, soaked it in cheap wine, and put it on the end of a stick. Then he held it up to Jesus’ lips and said,
Reader Two: “Wait! Let us see if Elijah is coming to bring him down from the cross!”
Reader One: With a loud cry Jesus died. The curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. When the army officer who was standing there in front of the cross saw how Jesus had died he said,
Reader Five: “This man was really the Son of God!”
Song: Once Again
Closing Song: When I Survey