By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Dramatization of Bible Stories - An experiment in the religious education of children
Author: Lobingier, Elizabeth Erwin Miller, 1889-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dramatization of Bible Stories - An experiment in the religious education of children" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.






[Illustration: A SHEPHERD]





(_Elizabeth Miller Lobingier_)







The progress in religious education in the last few years has been
highly encouraging. The subject has attained something of a status as a
scientific study, and significant investigative and experimental work
has been done. More than that, trained men and women in increasing
numbers have been devoting themselves to the endeavor to work out in
churches and Sunday schools the practical problems of organization and

It would seem that the time has come to present to the large body of
workers in the field of religious education some of the results of the
studies and practice of those who have attained a measure of
educational success. With this end in view the present series of books
on "Principles and Methods of Religious Education" has been undertaken.

It is intended that these books, while thoroughly scientific in
character, shall be at the same time popular in presentation, so that
they may be available to Sunday-school and church workers everywhere.
The endeavor is definitely made to take into account the small school
with meager equipment, as well as to hold before the larger schools the
ideals of equipment and training.

The series is planned to meet as far as possible all the problems that
arise in the conduct of the educational work of the church. While the
Sunday school, therefore, is considered as the basal organization for
this purpose, the wider educational work of the pastor himself and that
of the various other church organizations receive due consideration as
parts of a unified system of education in morals and religion.

                                              THE EDITORS



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS                                            xiii

INTRODUCTION BY EDWARD SCRIBNER AMES                                1


I. EDUCATIONAL AIMS IN DRAMATIZATION                                5

II. THE METHOD OF DRAMATIZATION                                     9

III. THE DRAMATIZATION OF "JOSEPH"                                 17



VI. THE DRAMATIZATION OF "RUTH"                                    59

VII. THE DRAMATIZATION OF "QUEEN ESTHER"                           68




XI. THE DRAMATIC QUALITIES IN A GOOD STORY                        109


XIII. STAGE SETTING AND PROPERTIES                                130

XIV. COSTUMING                                                    144


INDEX                                                             161


A SHEPHERD                                               Frontispiece

FIGURE                                                           PAGE

1. PHARAOH'S COURT                                                 42

2. A SCENE FROM DAVID AND GOLIATH                                  47

3. ESTHER AND MORDECAI                                             73

4. ESTHER DANCES BEFORE THE KING                                   75

5. THE KING HOLDS OUT THE SCEPTER TO ESTHER                        79

6. QUEEN ESTHER PLEADS FOR HER PEOPLE                              81

7. THE THREE GUESTS BLESS ABRAHAM AND SARAH                        88

8. THE WISE AND FOOLISH VIRGINS                                   101

9. THE GOOD SAMARITAN                                             104

10. WATER JUGS AND OTHER CLAY UTENSILS                            132

11. WOMAN CARRYING WATER JUG                                      133

12. ANCIENT WELLS IN PALESTINE                                    134

13. ANCIENT WEAPONS                                               135


15. SICKLES                                                       137

16. SCEPTER                                                       138

17. SHIELDS                                                       139

18. TRUMPETS                                                      140

19. SIGNET RING                                                   141

20. LAMP                                                          141

21. EGYPTIAN DESIGNS                                              142

22. HELMETS AND CROWNS                                            143


24. THE COSTUME OF ABRAHAM                                        147



27. COSTUMES                                                      150



This book is its own best commendation, for it is a most convincing
record of an important experiment in education. It is the more
interesting because it is a real contribution to educational method
from the field of religious education, which too often only
appropriates and imitates what has been achieved elsewhere.

This experiment is founded upon the powerful dramatic impulse of
children and upon the educative value of the natural expression of that
impulse under the mutual self-criticism of the participating group. The
function of the leader has been that of an unobtrusive member of the
group contributing such suggestions from a wider experience and deeper
insight as would naturally elicit and guide that criticism. That this
fine art of teaching has been realized with unusual skill in this
experiment will be apparent to the discerning readers of this record,
as it has been by those who have watched the progress of the work

Too much emphasis cannot be given to the fact that the primary aim of
this use of dramatization is the education of the children and not the
entertainment of spectators, although, when such dramatization is
rightly estimated, nothing could be more genuinely entertaining. Those
who are expecting to find here ready-made plays for children, with
directions for staging them, will be properly disappointed, while those
who are seeking illustrations of vital methods of education through the
cultivation and use of the dramatic impulse will be amply rewarded.

The latter will appreciate the frank portrayal of the early and cruder
efforts of the children and their own critical reactions due to further
reflection and experimentation. These will understand something of the
ability and patience that Miss Miller has employed in allowing the
native impulse to develop naturally and to mature through the reactions
of the children themselves. They will realize that the little people
actually formulated the scenes and the lines of the dramas even if it
required many weeks in some cases to do so; that it is better for the
actors to make their own costumes and stage properties, however simple
they may be; that it is more educative for each child to be familiar
with all of the parts, and thus with the drama as a whole, than to be
coached ever so cleverly to impersonate a single character; and that
facility and power in dramatization are thus attained which are
permanent sources of pleasure and understanding.

It need scarcely be added that the biblical stories are exceptionally
well suited to such use and that when so employed they yield their
profound religious quality directly in deep and lasting impressions.
The children who have been so fortunate as to belong to this dramatic
club not only "know" these stories, but they have lived them in an
intimate and durable experience.



Dramatization is not commonly recognized as a means of vitalizing the
religious education of children. The public school has found it to be
one of the most effective methods for enriching the pupil's ideas of
given units of subject-matter and for leading to the establishment of
permanent interests and of habitual modes of action.

The use of dramatization in the school in order to accomplish these
ends finds its justification in certain fundamental principles of
teaching. Subject-matter is so presented that the important ideas stand
out clearly. These ideas are mastered by utilizing them in some form of
activity which leads to self-expression on the part of the children.
Judgments are formed and conclusions are reached when children enter
actively into a situation which presents a problem; ideas become their
own through experience. Through dramatization children give expression
to these ideas in the light of their own interpretation. The
formulation of standards, the placing of values, and the realization of
truths and ideals follow as direct results of actively entering into
the life-experience of others.

From a psychological point of view ideas and ideals, whether religious
or secular, are developed according to the same general laws.
Furthermore, the principles of teaching which are effective in the
daily classroom must be equally significant in religious training. It
follows, therefore, that dramatization and other forms of
self-expression are as valuable in attaining the aims of the Sunday
school as they are in teaching the curriculum of the day school.
Through dramatizing a Bible story children come into a comprehension of
the life-experiences of a highly religious people; they are forming
their own standards and ideals through meeting and solving the simple
life-problems of the Hebrews. Each child has as great an opportunity
for self-expression through dramatizing a Bible story as that afforded
through dramatizing any other story. He not only develops his
individuality, but through this kind of work he must necessarily come
into the realization of his place within the group, as is the case in
all well-directed dramatization.

The period is rapidly passing in which dramatics is looked upon by
church members as being sinful and not in any way to be connected with
the church. This view is a relic of a conception of religion in which
all forms of freedom and pleasure were considered evil. People
interested in religious education are now realizing that dramatization
is not an activity foreign to children, but that it is an outgrowth of
the play interest which is natural to all children. They are aware of
the fact that dramatization becomes evident in the earliest stages of
childhood through the desire of children to imitate in play the
surrounding social activities. Many churches have already made use of
these natural tendencies by incorporating organized play as one of
their activities. Since dramatization is but a specialized form of
organized play, and inasmuch as it can be used very effectively in
vitalizing the religious training which all children should receive, it
deserves a wider recognition and adoption.

This book contains a description of a children's dramatic club which
has been conducted as a part of the work of the Sunday school of the
Hyde Park Church of Disciples, Chicago, Illinois, for the purpose of
accomplishing the ends stated above. Before this dramatic club was
organized a small amount of dramatization was attempted in certain of
the classes during the Sunday-school period. The enthusiastic response
from the children to this new phase of the work revealed the need for
more of this kind of activity, and as a consequence it was decided to
devote one hour each Sunday afternoon to the dramatization of Bible
stories. The membership of the club included children ranging from six
to fourteen years of age. The average attendance has been from twenty
to thirty children each Sunday throughout these four years of the
club's existence.

This organization was attempted more or less as an experiment with the
hope that definite results could be accomplished. The practical
problems which have arisen, the details of method of procedure, and the
results which have been secured will be discussed in the following

Several of the stories are given in the dramatic form which the
children have worked out. This is done for the sake of showing what
kind of a result may be secured. It is hoped that these plays, as they
are written here, will not be given to children to learn and act; such
a procedure would be entirely contrary to the spirit and purpose in
which this experiment is set forth.



Two very different aims are revealed in the present-day employment of
dramatization. Children are often required to give a dramatic
production at some entertainment or social event. For this purpose a
story is selected which has already been put into dramatic form. The
parts are assigned by the leader, and the children are asked to
memorize these parts in exact form and order. The children are then
trained to give their parts according to directions. Throughout the
preparation of the play the finished production is the goal of
endeavor. In such instances as this the children are a means to an end,
and their own training and development are usually sacrificed in the
leader's attempt to secure a highly finished product.

In contrast to the case just mentioned, dramatization is looked upon as
an important educational factor in the development of children. From
this point of view dramatization is utilized in developing on the part
of the child intense and permanent interests in the words and deeds of
noble characters, in developing power of natural expression in them as
individuals and as members of a group, and in raising standards of
action to higher levels by giving forceful expression to worthy ideals.
These aims are realized through the use of informal methods which give
the children abundant opportunity for initiative and choice. The
children themselves prepare their dramatization under the guidance of a
leader who has a vision of the results which may be secured and who is
skilful in directing the activities toward these ends.

The little dramatic club herein described adopted at the outset the
point of view outlined in the preceding paragraph. Its organization was
based on the belief that the development of boys and girls is a much
more vital consideration than the development of a dramatic production.
Throughout its history the chief purpose of the club has been to
promote the growth of children through the free, spontaneous
dramatization of Bible stories. In order to accomplish this aim, an
informal method of working out dramatizations has been used. The public
presentation of a play is only incidental to the children; there is no
need for them to act out a story that has been dramatized by someone
else. Their aim is realized in the joy of actually living the story
over each time they play it, though this may result in the highest form
of entertainment. That children should "speak lines" given them to
memorize for the sake of entertainment is deadly--to the child as well
as to the audience.

There is some difference of opinion as to the value of the classic
language of the Bible for children, and many advocate the use of modern
or simplified versions. If, however, the children have made their own
efforts to dramatize the story, using first of all their own words, it
is easy to help them to adopt much of the beautiful classic language in
putting the work into its final form. The biblical wording helps to
give the play its proper dignity and atmosphere, at the same time
acquainting the children with the exact language of a piece of good

The method of procedure which is followed in leading children to work
out their own dramatizations varies slightly according to circumstances
but in the main is as follows:

A story is chosen by the leader which includes the elements essential
for a good dramatization, and it is told to the children in such a way
that the action or events are emphasized. Direct discourse is used in
the telling, and an effort is made to develop simple and vivid mental
pictures. The children divide the story into its most important
pictures or scenes. They then suggest in detail what should take place
in the first scene, and some of them are asked to act it out as they
think it should be done. This first presentation is sometimes stiff
and more or less self-conscious. The leader raises such questions as,
"Which parts did these children do best?" "Why?" "Where can they
improve it?" "What would you do to make the part better?" "What do you
think should have been said here?" This leads to constructive criticism
of the scene by the children themselves rather than by the leader in
charge. Each child is eager to offer suggestions at this point and is
anxious for an opportunity to give his own interpretation of the part
by acting it out. He formulates his words as he acts. He forgets
himself in the genuine interest which arises as he relives the
experience of someone else. Each scene is developed in a similar

The leader encourages freedom in individual interpretation, yet she is
ever keeping before the children the fact that they are trying to give
a true portrayal of the characters or conditions. It is often valuable
to have a discussion of individual characters for the purpose of
securing clear ideas concerning them. After all have tried various
parts and have offered many suggestions, they may be led to choose that
interpretation which seems most adequate, or they may all work out the
interpretation of a part which will involve the ideas of many. After
the story has been played through a few times, each child should be
able to assume any character. It is an essential part of this method
to see that every child has a different part each time.

Very often, when the play develops to this stage, some one child, or
several, will suddenly become aware of repetitions in the scenes and
will suggest that some scenes are unnecessary. It is then the time to
refer to the number of scenes in a good drama, and to lead the children
to realize that in any good play much is left to the imagination of the
audience, and that only the essential scenes need be shown. By means of
discussions the play is worked over again, and it is finally reduced to
the three or four scenes that seem absolutely necessary.

In many instances the dramatization needs no further development. None
of the words have been accepted as definite, for, although the thought
given is the same each time, exactly the same words are never said
twice. The story is interpreted slightly differently with each
performance. This interpretation, without obtaining a highly finished
result, is best for short stories or incidents. Fables and parables may
be used well in this way. The action follows continuously with the
development of the thought.

In the case of a story which has a more detailed plot and which
involves more complicated situations the development may go further:
the wording is carefully worked out by the children and the language of
the Bible is employed. The words which are finally used by the
children may be composite results developed by the group as a whole, or
after they have gone as far as they can with them the leader, or a
committee composed of several children with the leader, may suggest a
final form which is good from a literary standpoint.

Children either volunteer or are chosen by the others to take finally
certain parts. There is a marked socializing influence evident in the
fact that a child is chosen by the other children for the good of the
group and not for self-aggrandizement or partiality toward a friend. It
is always the case after a few rehearsals that each child knows every
part and can easily adapt himself to the part of any character. There
is no trouble about a substitute when one or two children fail to
arrive. Each child has lived the story until it has become a very vital
part of him. The finished product belongs to the children; they have
developed it; it is not the production of someone else which they have
learned by heart.

At the final presentation of the play the children invite parents and
friends. This is not thought of as a climax toward which they have been
working; it is hardly more important than any of the rehearsals; it is
simply an opportunity for others to enjoy the story with them. The
encouragement of this attitude toward the public presentation of a
play is important in that it does away with the self-conscious feeling
of a child that he is acting before people, or that people are
interested in him rather than in the character that he portrays. Much
harm can be done by allowing a child to feel that he is "showing off"
on a stage.

This mode of procedure in developing a dramatization illustrates the
general method which is employed in order to secure the results herein
discussed. It should be helpful as a method which may be varied or
built upon according to the circumstances. Detailed descriptions of
exact modes of procedure in presenting different kinds of Bible stories
to the dramatic club will follow. Costumes and stage settings have
always been of the simplest nature and will be discussed at length in a
separate chapter.

In order that this method may be of greatest practical value to those
who are unfamiliar with it, a summary may give the steps in logical
sequence. This outline is not to be taken as unchangeable, but merely
as a working basis for the beginner.

     1. Select a story with care; then adapt it for telling.

     2. Tell the story, emphasizing the essential parts.

     3. Let the children divide the story into pictures or scenes.

     4. Have a discussion of what should take place in each

     5. Let volunteers from among the children act out one scene
     as they think it should be done, using their own words.

     6. Develop criticism by the other children with suggestions
     for improvement.

     7. Have a second acting of the scene for improvement.

     8. Let each of the other scenes be worked out in the same

     9. See that every child has the chance to try out many parts.

     10. Play the story through many times. Change it often
     according to the criticism, until the children recognize the
     result as a product of their best effort.

     11. With the help of the children change the words into
     biblical form.

     12. Let the group assign definite parts to be learned for the
     final performance.



As will be noted in the following chapter, it is well in beginning
dramatic work with children to use for the first efforts very simple
stories. _Joseph_ is too long and complicated for an early experiment.
We may begin our exposition of method with this story, however, as it
illustrates especially well the details of the developing process.

At the first meeting the story was told in terms that followed closely
the Bible version. The children were asked to select the big events, or
pictures, in Joseph's life. They readily spoke of his life in Canaan as
a boy; his being put into the pit and sold to the merchants; his life
in Egypt with Potiphar; the prison experience and the interpretation of
Pharaoh's dream; the change of fortune in becoming ruler of the land;
the famine and the visits of his brothers; and, finally, his kindness
to his father and brothers in giving them a home in Egypt.

The story was told to the children very much as follows:

     Jacob was an old man, too old to care for his large flocks.
     He sat in the door of his tent day after day, and sent his
     twelve sons off with the sheep and goats to find grassy

     Now of all the twelve sons Jacob loved Joseph, a lad of
     seventeen years, the best. Joseph was next to the youngest
     and often stayed with his father while the older brothers
     went away. Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors and
     showed him often that he was the favorite. This made the
     older brothers very jealous of Joseph, and they began to
     dislike him.

     Once Joseph dreamed a dream, which he told to his brothers,
     and it made them hate him all the more. He said to them,
     "Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: Behold,
     we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf
     arose, and stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood
     round about and bowed down to my sheaf." Then his brothers
     said to him, "Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou
     have power over us?"

     Then Joseph dreamed yet another dream, and he told it again
     to his father and brothers, and said, "Behold, the sun and
     moon and the eleven stars bowed down to me." And his father
     said unto him, "What is this dream that thou hast dreamed?
     Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow
     down ourselves to thee?" And the brothers remembered what
     their father had said, and they wished that harm might come
     to Joseph.

     It happened soon after this that Jacob sent his ten older
     sons with the flocks to Shechem, a place some distance away
     where there was good grass. Now the brothers were gone for
     so long a time that their father became anxious and decided
     to send Joseph after them. He said to Joseph, "Do not thy
     brethren feed the flock in Shechem? Go, I pray thee, see
     whether it be well with thy brethren and well with the
     flocks; and bring me word again." So Joseph took money and
     food in his bag, and his staff in his hand, and went out to
     find his brothers.

     At Shechem there were no brothers to be seen. Joseph was
     wondering what he should do next, when he saw a man coming
     toward him over the field. "What seekest thou?" said the
     man. And Joseph answered, "I seek my brethren; tell me, I
     pray thee, where they feed their flocks." "They have
     departed from here," said the man, "and have gone to
     Dothan." Then Joseph went after his brothers and found them
     at Dothan.

     Now when the brothers saw Joseph afar off, they knew that it
     was he from his coat of many colors, and they plotted
     against him. One of them said, "Behold, this dreamer cometh.
     Come, now, let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and
     we will say unto our father that some evil beast hath
     devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his
     dreams." Reuben, one of the brothers, felt more kindly
     toward Joseph than did the others and said to them, "Let us
     not kill him, but let us cast him into this pit that is
     near." Reuben thought that he would come back later after
     the brothers had gone and help Joseph out of the pit and
     take him to his father.

     When Joseph came to his brothers, they quickly took the coat
     of many colors from him and bound him and cast him into an
     old well which was dry. Then they sat down to eat bread.
     They had hardly become settled when one of them cried out,
     "Behold, I see a caravan! It is a company of Ishmaelites,
     with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going
     down to Egypt." Then Judah said, "Why do we slay our brother
     and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to these
     Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our
     brother and our flesh." The brothers were content to do as
     Judah had said. They drew Joseph up out of the well, and
     when the Ishmaelites came near they sold him to them for
     twenty pieces of silver. And the brothers went away to kill
     a goat so that they might dip Joseph's coat into the blood,
     that their father might think that he had been killed by
     some wild animal.

     Reuben did not know that Joseph had been sold, and returned
     unto the pit after the brothers had left. When he saw that
     Joseph was not there, he rent his clothes, and ran after the
     others, crying, "The child is not, and I, whither shall I

     And when the brothers brought Joseph's coat to their father,
     they said, "This we have found, thou knowest if it be thy
     son's coat." And Jacob knew it, and said, "It is my son's
     coat; an evil beast hath devoured him." Then Jacob put on
     sackcloth and ashes and mourned for Joseph many days.

     Now the Ishmaelites brought Joseph down into Egypt and sold
     him to Potiphar, a captain of King Pharaoh's guard. And
     Joseph was faithful and served the Lord, and Potiphar saw
     that he could be trusted with great responsibility and made
     him ruler over his household. But Potiphar's wife grew
     jealous of Joseph and disliked him, and told Potiphar things
     which were untrue about Joseph. After awhile Potiphar began
     to believe his wife and he decided that Joseph was not a
     good man, so he had Joseph cast into prison.

     And it came to pass that the butler and the baker of the
     king of Egypt were put into prison at the same time that
     Joseph was there, and they were placed in his ward. One
     morning Joseph found them both very sad and he said unto
     them, "Wherefore look ye so sadly today?" And they said, "We
     have dreamed a dream and there is no one to interpret it."
     Then Joseph said, "Do not interpretations belong to God?
     Tell me your dreams, I pray you." And they told him their
     dreams, and he gave them the meaning thereof. To the chief
     butler he said, "Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up
     thine head and restore thee to thy place." But to the chief
     baker he said, "Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up
     thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree." And
     it came to pass that on the third day Pharaoh gave a feast
     to his servants, and he restored the chief butler to his
     place, but he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had

     At the end of two years Pharaoh dreamed a dream. He was
     greatly troubled, and sent for all the wise men of the land
     to tell him the meaning of his dream, but there was none
     that could interpret it unto Pharaoh. Then the chief butler
     spoke to the king and said, "I do remember this day, that
     when Pharaoh was wroth with his servants and put both me and
     the chief baker into the prison, that we each dreamed dreams
     in one night; and there was a young man there, a Hebrew, who
     interpreted to us our dreams, and they came to pass as he
     interpreted, for the chief baker was hanged and I was
     restored to my office."

     Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and they brought him in
     hastily out of the dungeon. And Pharaoh said, "I have
     dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it,
     and I have heard say of thee that thou canst understand a
     dream to interpret it." And Joseph answered Pharaoh, "It is
     not in me; God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." Then
     Pharaoh said, "In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of
     a river; and there came up out of the river seven fat cows,
     and they fed in a meadow. And, behold, seven other cows came
     up after them, lean and ill favored; and the lean and
     ill-favored cows did eat up the fat and well-favored cows.
     Then I dreamed again, and, behold, seven full ears of corn
     came upon one stalk, and then seven ears, withered and thin,
     came up after them, and devoured the good ears."

     And Joseph said to Pharaoh, "God hath shewed Pharaoh what he
     is about to do. This is the thing which he is about to do:
     Behold, there will come seven years of plenty throughout the
     land of Egypt; and there shall rise up after them seven
     years of famine, and the famine shall consume the land. Now,
     therefore, let Pharaoh look out a man, discreet and wise,
     and set him over the land of Egypt, and let him gather up
     all the food during the years of plenty and lay it up in the
     cities, so that the land shall not perish in the famine."
     And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and he said,
     "Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the spirit
     of God is? Forasmuch as God has shewed thee all this, there
     is none so discreet and wise as thou art; thou shalt be over
     my house, and according to thy word shall all my people be
     ruled." Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand and clothed
     him in fine linen and put a golden chain around his neck.

     Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went over
     all the land of Egypt. He gathered up the food for seven
     years, and laid up the food in the cities. And the seven
     years of plenteousness that were in all the land of Egypt
     were ended, and the seven years of famine began, and there
     was famine in all the lands. Then Joseph opened the
     storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, and other countries
     sent to buy grain from Joseph because they had stored none.

     Now in Canaan Jacob and his eleven sons were suffering from
     the famine. They heard that there was food in Egypt, so
     Jacob sent down all the brothers, except Benjamin, to buy
     food. When they came before Joseph and bowed themselves to
     the earth, they knew him not. But Joseph saw his brothers,
     and he made himself strange unto them, and treated them
     roughly, that they should not know him. And when they bowed
     before him Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed
     of them. "Ye are spies," he said, "ye are come to see the
     bareness of the land." They answered him, "We are true men,
     we are no spies. Thy servants are twelve brothers, the sons
     of one man in Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day
     with our father, and one is not." "Hereby ye shall be
     proved," said Joseph, "if ye be true men; let one of your
     brethren be bound in the prison while ye go and carry grain
     to your father's house, but bring back your youngest brother
     to me."

     The brothers took the food back to Canaan, to their father's
     tent, and told him what the ruler in Egypt had said. Jacob
     mourned and was loath to let Benjamin, his youngest son, go
     back to Egypt with them. "My son shall not go down with
     you," he said; "for his brother is dead and he is left
     alone: if mischief befall him, then shall ye bring down my
     gray hairs with sorrow to the grave." But the famine was
     great in the land, and they had eaten up all the grain which
     they brought from Egypt. The brothers would not go down
     again until Jacob had consented to let them take Benjamin
     with them. And Judah said unto his father, "Send the lad
     with me and we will rise and go, that we may live and not
     die. I will be surety for him; if I bring him not back unto
     thee, then let me bear the blame forever." Then Jacob
     answered, "If it must be so, do this: take the best of the
     fruits in the land, and carry down the man a present, a
     little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts,
     and almonds and take double money, and take also your
     brother, and arise and go unto the man; and God Almighty
     give you mercy before the man, that he may send you away
     with your other brother and Benjamin."

     And the men took the present and double the money and
     Benjamin, and went down into Egypt, and stood before Joseph.
     When Joseph saw Benjamin, he ordered that the men be brought
     to his home, and that a feast be made ready, and that the
     other brother be brought out of the prison. But the men were
     afraid because they were brought into Joseph's home, and
     they bowed themselves to the earth before him and presented
     their gifts. Then Joseph was greatly moved and said unto
     them, "Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is
     he yet alive?" And they answered, "Thy servant, our father,
     is in good health; he is yet alive." And they bowed down
     their heads. Then Joseph lifted up his eyes and saw
     Benjamin, his mother's youngest son, and said, "Is this your
     younger brother of whom ye spake unto me?" And he said to
     Benjamin, "God be gracious unto thee, my son." Joseph was so
     overcome by his love for Benjamin that he hastened out of
     the room where he could weep alone. And he washed his face
     and composed himself and commanded that the food be served.
     They all ate and were merry, and Joseph helped Benjamin to
     five times as much as he did the others.

     Then Joseph commanded the steward to fill the men's sacks
     with food, and to put each man's money back into his sack,
     and to put his silver cup into the sack of the youngest. As
     soon as the morning was light the men were sent away. And
     when they were gone out of the city and were not yet far
     off, Joseph sent a servant after them to search their sacks
     for his silver drinking-cup, and he sent word that the one
     who had it should be brought back to him.

     Now the brothers were greatly distressed and protested that
     they knew nothing of the cup. What was their astonishment at
     finding their money in their sacks and the cup in Benjamin's
     sack! Then they rent their clothes and returned to the city.
     And Judah came to Joseph and fell on the ground and said,
     "What shall we say unto my lord? or how shall we clear
     ourselves? God hath found out our sin, behold we are my
     lord's servants." Then Joseph said, "Get up and go in peace
     unto thy father; I shall keep for my servant only the man in
     whose sack the cup was found." And Judah came near to Joseph
     and besought him that he allow Benjamin to return to their
     father; he told him that he had promised his father to bring
     the lad back safely, and that it would kill the old man if
     they returned without Benjamin. "Now therefore, I pray
     thee, let thy servant abide as a bondman, instead of the
     lad." Then Joseph could not refrain himself, and he wept
     before his brothers and made himself known to them. "I am
     Joseph, do ye not know me? Is my father yet alive?" And the
     brothers were troubled, and they did not know how to answer
     him. "Come near, I pray you." And they came near, and he
     said again, "I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into
     Egypt. Now be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye
     sold me hither, for God did send me before you to preserve
     your lives. Haste ye, go up to my father, and tell him that
     Joseph, his son, still liveth, and bring him down unto me."
     And Joseph fell upon Benjamin's neck and kissed him, and he
     kissed all his brothers, and they were astonished, for they
     knew now that this was Joseph whom they had sold.

     Now the word was spread over Pharaoh's house that Joseph's
     brethren had come, and it pleased Pharaoh greatly. He came
     in where they were and said unto Joseph, "This do ye: Say to
     your brethren that they are commanded to go back into
     Canaan, and to pack all their household goods, and to bring
     their father and their families, and all their flocks, and
     to return into the land of Egypt, for all the good of the
     land shall be theirs."

     Then the brothers were joyful, and gave thanks unto Pharaoh
     and to their brother, Joseph, and they left the city to go
     back to their father. And when they came unto Jacob and told
     him all, and showed him the wagons which Joseph had sent to
     bring him down into Egypt, his soul rejoiced, and he said,
     "It is enough; Joseph, my son, is still alive: I will go and
     see him before I die."

The children decided that it would take a great many scenes in order to
act out the story adequately. At first they mentioned seven or eight.
One child was asked to describe the first scene as he thought it ought
to be, and several others added to the description. Volunteers were
then called upon to act it out then and there.

The first scene was placed in front of Jacob's tent. Jacob is anxiously
awaiting the return of his ten sons with the flocks. He becomes worried
because they do not come, so he sends Joseph to seek his brothers.
Joseph accepts the command and leaves the tent.

This scene was acted very naturally and spontaneously by several groups
of children. Each time it was changed, for no two groups of children
interpreted the action or words alike.

The children who were not acting were made to feel their responsibility
also, for they were asked to make note of the best parts. A general
discussion was held at the end of each presentation, in which the good
points were emphasized and suggestions were given as to improvement.
The criticism in all of this work comes for the most part from the
children; the leader in charge directs it, but keeps from imposing her

As the meetings of this dramatic club last but one hour, nothing more
could be done than work out one scene at this first time. The children
were asked to think the story over and to come the next Sunday prepared
to suggest the second and third scenes in detail.

At the next meeting the second and third scenes were worked out in the
same manner as the first.

The second scene places Joseph at Shechem. Here he meets the man who
tells him that his brothers have gone to Dothan.

In the third scene the brothers are seated on the ground eating and
resting, with their shepherd staffs beside them; they begin to talk
about Joseph and to tell of his dream and their hatred of him. Just at
this point Joseph runs in and gives his father's message. He also tells
of his experience in Shechem in not finding them there. Then the
brothers take him and bind him and throw him into the pit. The caravan
comes along and Joseph is sold and taken away. After the brothers
depart, Reuben, not knowing that Joseph has been sold, comes back to
the pit, hoping to help him out. When he finds the boy gone, he weeps
and goes sorrowfully away. (A doorway which leads off from the stage at
the back was used for the pit. There were no camels in the caravan; the
men walked by.)

During the next hour scenes which describe Joseph's life in Egypt were
roughly blocked out. The children made up their words as they acted the
parts. The language at this stage was very modern, but for the time
being the emphasis was placed upon the thought expressed and upon the

Several of the older girls volunteered to write out the first few
scenes in order to bring the language into better form. At the fourth
meeting these were brought in and discussed by the children. The
following is a version of the first scene just as it was written by a
girl of twelve years. It is given here that the contrast may be seen
between this as a piece of work which may be made better and the final
play at the end of the chapter.

     SCENE I

     _Jacob:_ It is time my sons are returning with their flocks.
     See if thou canst see them coming.

          [_Exit servant._]

     _First Lady:_ Yes, they have been gone a long time. We have
     only Joseph and Benjamin with us.

          [_Enter servant._]

     _Jacob:_ What didst thou see?

     _Servant:_ Master, I saw nothing of your sons.

     _Jacob:_ I shall send Joseph after them. Bring Joseph
     hither. [_Turns to another servant._] Bring a bag of food
     for him to take with him on his journey.

          [_Servants leave._ JACOB _looks away, hoping to see his

     _Jacob:_ I do not see them. What can be the matter?

          [_Enter_ JOSEPH _with servant._]

     _Second Lady:_ Joseph will be sure to find them.

     _Jacob:_ Joseph, my son, I am sending thee after thy
     brethren. Take this food to Shechem and bring thy brethren
     back to me.

     _Joseph:_ I will do as thou bidst.

          [JACOB _stands and puts his hand on Joseph._]

     _Jacob:_ May the Lord go with thee.


The third scene was written by a girl of eleven years and was as


          [_All brothers look down the road._]

     _All Brothers:_ What shall we do with him?

     _Seventh Brother:_ I know; let's kill him!

     _All except Reuben:_ Yea! Yea!

     _Reuben:_ Nay, do not kill him; let's put him in a deep pit.

     _Tenth Brother:_ Well, all right.

          [JOSEPH _appears; exit_ REUBEN.]

     _Joseph:_ Ah, I have found ye at last, my brethren.

          [_All grab_ JOSEPH.]

     _Joseph:_ What have I done to deserve this?

     _Fourth Brother:_ Get some rope!

          [_Exit sixth brother and brings some rope back with him.
          Eighth and ninth brothers bind_ JOSEPH _with ropes. All
          take hold of him and push him into the pit._]

     _Tenth Brother:_ But what shall we tell our father?

     _Eighth Brother:_ Let's tell him that Joseph was killed by a
     wild beast.

     _Ninth Brother:_ We will take his coat of many colors, which
     our father gave him, and dip it in the blood of a goat.

     _All:_ Yea! Yea!

          [_Seventh brother sees some merchants._]

     _Seventh Brother:_ I see merchants in the distance. Let's
     sell Joseph to them.

          [_One brother goes after the merchants, while the
          others bring_ JOSEPH _from the pit. Merchants enter._]

     _Tenth Brother:_ What will ye give us for this lad?

     _Merchant:_ I guess we can give ye about twenty pieces of

          [_Merchants take_ JOSEPH _with them. Brothers go on
          their way. Enter_ REUBEN _after his brothers have gone.
          He runs to the pit._]

     _Reuben:_ Joseph! Joseph! Where art thou? The lad is gone.
     Whither shall I go?

          [REUBEN _goes away, sobbing and wringing his hands._]


       *       *       *       *       *

At the meeting when these were read the children began to criticize the
length of the play. One little boy made the remark, "We keep telling
the same things over; why can't we leave out that second scene? It is
so short, and Joseph could tell his brothers in the third scene that he
didn't find them at Shechem." This suggestion was readily accepted, and
as a consequence the second scene was omitted. Then the entire group
consciously worked on the play to see what parts were unnecessary.
Several children had recently been to the theater and had seen some
good plays. They told the others that there were few scenes and that
there was much left to the imagination of the audience. The result was
that this long-drawn-out play was cut down to three essential scenes.
The first scene was placed at Dothan, and was much the same as the
original scene iii. The second scene was placed at Pharaoh's palace
where Joseph was brought to interpret the king's dream. The third
represented the brothers coming to Joseph with Benjamin, the youngest,
ending with Joseph's forgiveness of them and his sending for Jacob,
their father.

After these three scenes were decided upon, the older children were
asked to begin writing them out in final form.

At the fifth meeting of the club all the children sat in a circle with
Bibles and pencils and paper and, together with the leader, they
formulated the speeches, making them conform as nearly as possible to
those in the Bible. The work that had been done outside was discussed
and built upon. This part of the procedure did not take as long a time
as it may seem, because the children knew so well what thoughts they
wanted to express--they had lived the story so many times. They
practiced after this, using the words they had decided upon.

For the next meeting or two the children acted out the play, trying
each time to improve it by better interpretations of the parts. The
fact that they had learned definite words did not in the least check
the freedom of the action or cause the play to lose the spontaneity
which first characterized it, for the reason that the story had quite
become a part of the children before they decided upon the set

The question arose as to which children should take certain parts. In
some instances several wanted to learn the part of one particular
character. They were each given the opportunity of learning it, and
then at the next meeting each acted it as best he or she could before
the group. The other children were judges and decided upon the one who
seemed to represent the character best. Whenever this method of
choosing characters has been employed there has never been any hard
feeling on the part of a child because he was not chosen. The justice
of the choice is quickly recognized when it comes in this way rather
than from the leader.

There were many little children in this club who were scarcely old
enough to learn a part or to say very much. They were easily worked
into the caravan, or they took such parts as servants in Pharaoh's
court. Each child was made to feel that one part was just as important
as another and that those who had nothing to say were very essential
elements because of their acting.

Eight or nine meetings were needed before the play was entirely
finished. The children had very simple slips for costumes which they
had been wearing at each rehearsal. Bright-colored sashes and
headdresses they brought from home. Pharaoh was more gaily dressed than
the others. The child who took the part made for himself many ornaments
from gilt paper.

Very little attention was given to stage setting, what was used was
extremely simple. A few of the older girls made designs from the
Egyptian lotus to stand around the walls of Pharaoh's palace or to be
carried by the servants. Colored illustrations of Bible stories by
Tissot were suggestive helps in these details. The ten brothers made
themselves shepherd staffs from limbs of trees. This small amount of
stage setting and costuming was used at many rehearsals and was all
that was necessary to produce the right atmosphere.

As soon as the children felt that the play represented their best
effort they invited their parents and friends and presented it before
them one Sunday afternoon at the time for the regular meeting.

It happened that a few days before the final presentation four of the
principal characters were taken ill with measles and chicken-pox. Four
others, who had not given special attention to these parts, but who had
minor parts, assumed the important rôles and went straight through the
play with no trouble whatever. The audience never knew the difference
and the children thought that it was entirely natural that they should
be able to do this. The play all the way through was characterized by a
spirit of dignity and seriousness.

As direct results of this work in dramatization it was noted that all
the children had acquired a certain freedom of expression, a
self-confidence, without conceit or too much sureness, and the ability
to work harmoniously with the group. One or two timid children learned
to forget themselves, and one overconfident child was helped by seeing
that others could learn to do the part even a little better than

The children who took part in this little play of _Joseph_ will never
forget it. Several years after the play was given they were frequently
referring to it with great happiness. Joseph is one of their favorite
characters because they have lived through his experiences with him.

The following is the play as it was given in its final form. It is not
to be taken as a play which may be given to children to be learned as
it is; it is given here that there may be some idea of the standard
which may be reached.


     SCENE I

          PLACE: Dothan.

          CHARACTERS: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar,
          Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Joseph, Several
          Ishmaelitish Merchants.

          [_The ten brothers are sitting and lounging on the
          ground, eating bread._]

     _Reuben:_ Shall we stay longer in this place? Our flocks
     have fed well in Shechem and Dothan. Let us return again
     unto Canaan and to the tent of our father, Jacob.

     _Judah:_ Oh, why should we go back? Our father loveth us
     not! It is Joseph, our younger brother, that he favoreth!

     _Levi:_ Yes, this Joseph! This dreamer of dreams! He
     thinketh he is greater than we. He thinketh he shall rule
     over us!

     _Judah:_ Ye heard him when he said, "Hear this dream which I
     have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field,
     and, lo, my sheaf arose, and stood upright; and, behold,
     your sheaves stood round about, and bowed down to my sheaf."

     _Simeon:_ Ha! Shall he indeed reign over us? Or shall he
     have dominion over us?

     _Levi:_ Yea, and he dreamed yet another dream, for he said,
     "Behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars bowed
     down unto me."

     _Dan:_ What is this dream which he has dreamed? Shall his
     mother and father and eleven brethren indeed come to bow
     down themselves to him?

     _Simeon:_ Joseph and his dreams are hateful unto me! I was
     glad when our father said to us, "Take the flocks to feed in
     Shechem," for now we are free of him.

     _Levi:_ It seemeth to me that I see this Joseph, this
     dreamer whom we hate. He is yet afar off, but he surely
     approacheth us!

     _Reuben:_ Can it be he?

     _Dan:_ Yes, for I see the coat of many colors, the coat our
     father made for his favorite son.

     _Levi:_ Why should he come to us? Cannot our father trust
     the flocks to our hands without sending this Joseph to spy
     on us?

     _Dan:_ It is he! It is Joseph!

     _Simeon:_ What shall we do?

     _Judah:_ Our time is come. We despise him; let us slay him.

     _Reuben:_ Nay, thou dost not mean to slay him!

     _Several:_ Nay! Nay!

     _Judah:_ We must surely slay him. We must rid ourselves of
     this dreamer. Think how he said he should reign over us! Let
     us be rid of him!

     _Simeon:_ Yes, thou art right--we must slay him.

     _Several:_ Yea, yea, slay him! Destroy him! He shall dream
     no more such dreams!

     _Simeon:_ Behold, this dreamer cometh near! Come, now, and
     let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will
     say, "Some evil beast hath devoured him," and we shall see
     what will become of his dreams.

     _Reuben:_ Let us not kill him. Shed no blood, but cast him
     into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand
     upon him.

          [REUBEN _goes away._]

          [JOSEPH _runs up._ GAD _lays one hand roughly on his

     _Gad:_ How comes it that thou art here? What is thy

     _Joseph:_ My father commanded me and said, "Go, I pray thee,
     and see whether it be well with thy brethren and well with
     the flocks; and bring me word again." So he sent me out of
     the vale of Hebron, and I came to Shechem. And you were not
     there, and I came on after you and found you here. What
     troubleth you? Hath aught happened to the flocks?

     _Simeon:_ Hear his tale! This dreamer of dreams! So he would
     reign over us, would he! Strip him of his coat of many
     colors! This favored son!

          [_Brothers bind_ JOSEPH _and cast him into the pit._]

     _Joseph:_ What have I done to deserve this?

          [_Brothers sit down again to eat their bread._]

     _Gad:_ Behold, I see a caravan!

     _Simeon:_ From what country?

     _Gad:_ It is a company of Ishmaelites, from Gilead, with
     their camels, bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going down
     into Egypt.

     _Judah:_ What doth it profit if we slay our brother and
     conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to these
     Ishmaelites and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our
     brother and our flesh.

     _Several:_ So be it.

     _Gad:_ Hail the caravan, and bargain with these men.

     _Simeon_ [_salutes the head man of the caravan; the brothers
     listen attentively;_ GAD _brings_ JOSEPH _out of the pit_]:
     What wilt thou give us in exchange for this lad? We would
     sell him.

     _Merchant_ [_looks_ JOSEPH _over, then consults with his
     men_]: Twenty pieces of silver will we give for him.

     _Simeon_ [_to the brothers_]: These merchants will give us
     twenty pieces of silver for this dreamer.

     _All:_ Sell him! Sell him!

          [JOSEPH _is taken over by the merchants and they all
          move on. The brothers are dividing out the money._]

     _Gad:_ The lad is gone with the merchants, but what excuse
     shall we make unto our father?

     _Simeon:_ Say unto him that a wild beast hath devoured him.
     Here is his coat of many colors--we will kill a goat and dip
     the coat in the blood! Then our father, Jacob, will grieve
     for his son!

     _All:_ As thou sayest, so let us do!

          [_Brothers move off stage, discussing the money._ REUBEN
          _comes back. He runs and looks in the pit. He tears his
          clothes when he finds that_ JOSEPH _is not there._]

     _Reuben:_ The child is not, and I, whither shall I go?


          PLACE: Egypt. In Pharaoh's palace.

          CHARACTERS: Pharaoh, Joseph, Wise Men, Chief Butler,

          [_Pharaoh is sitting on his throne; many wise men come
          in and bow down before him._]

     _Pharaoh:_ Arise, O wise men of Egypt! I have sent for you
     this day because of a dream which troubleth me.

          [_Men stand up._]

     _Wise Men:_ What is thy dream, O King?

     _King:_ I dreamed, and, behold, I stood by a river, and
     there came up out of the river seven fat cows, and they fed
     in a meadow. And, behold, seven other cows came up after
     them out of the river, ill-favored and lean. And the
     ill-favored and lean cows did eat up the seven well-favored
     and fat cows. Then did I awake, but the second time I slept
     and dreamed. And, behold, seven good ears of corn came up
     upon one stalk, and, behold, seven thin ears sprung up after
     them, and the seven thin ears devoured the seven full ears.
     And I awoke again, and, behold, it was a dream. Now, is
     there one among you who can tell me the meaning of these
     dreams, for my spirit is troubled because of them?

          [_The wise men in turn come out and bow before the king
          and say_]:

     _First Wise Man:_ O my lord King, thy dream troubleth me,
     but I am not able to interpret it.

     _Second Wise Man:_ O King, also, I cannot tell thee the
     meaning of thy dream.

     _Third Wise Man:_ Most gracious King, I, also, am unable to
     interpret thy dream.

     _Fourth Wise Man:_ O great Pharaoh, I regret that I am
     unable to help thee.

     _Pharaoh_ [_angrily_]: Are ye called the wise men of Egypt,
     and yet are ye not able to interpret a dream?

          [_The chief butler comes forward and falls before the

     _Butler:_ O great King, I am only thy chief butler, but I
     beg of thee allow me to speak.

     _King:_ Speak, butler, what wouldst thou say?

     _Butler:_ O King, I do remember my faults this day. When
     Pharaoh was wroth with his servants and put me in prison,
     both me and the chief baker, behold, we dreamed a dream in
     one night, and there was a young man, a Hebrew, and we told
     him, and he interpreted to us our dream. And it came to pass
     as he interpreted unto us, for I was restored unto mine
     office and the baker was hanged.

     _Pharaoh:_ Send for this young Hebrew; bring him into my
     presence. [_Servant goes out for_ JOSEPH.] Butler, who is
     this boy that interpreted thy dream?

     _Butler:_ His name is Joseph, O King. He was brought down
     from Canaan by a caravan and was sold to Potiphar, the
     captain of Pharaoh's guard. But he displeased Potiphar, so
     he was thrown into prison at the time thy servants were

          [_Enter_ JOSEPH. _He falls on his face before_ PHARAOH.]

     _Pharaoh:_ I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that
     can interpret it, and I have heard say of thee that thou
     canst understand a dream to interpret it.

          [JOSEPH _rises._]

     _Joseph:_ It is not in me; God shall give Pharaoh an answer
     of peace.

     _Pharaoh:_ [_Repeats his dream to_ JOSEPH.]

          [JOSEPH _comes nearer to_ PHARAOH.]

     _Joseph:_ What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh:
     Behold, there will come seven years of great plenty
     throughout all the land of Egypt. And there shall arise
     after them seven years of famine. And all the plenty shall
     be forgotten throughout Egypt, and the famine shall consume
     the land, and it shall be very grievous. Now therefore let
     Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise and set him over
     the land of Egypt, and let him appoint officers over the
     land. And let them gather all the food of those good years
     that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh. And
     let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be
     stored against the seven years of famine, that the land may
     not perish through famine.

     _Pharaoh:_ This plan seemeth good unto me. Can we find such
     a one as this is, a man in whom the spirit of God is?

     _The Wise Men:_ Nay, O King, he is most wise.

     _Pharaoh:_ Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, thou
     shalt be over my house, and according to thy word shall all
     my people be ruled, only in the throne will I be greater
     than thou. See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
     [_To his servants:_] Bring a golden chain, and fine raiment
     for this man.

          [_He puts a ring on_ JOSEPH'S _hand. When the clothes
          are brought they are put around him, the chain on his
          neck, etc._]

     _Pharaoh:_ Thou shalt ride in the second chariot and all my
     people shall bow the knee unto thee. [_All people in the
     room bow._] I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift
     up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

     _Joseph:_ May the Lord God give me power to do his will.


          PLACE: Pharaoh's palace.

          CHARACTERS: Joseph, His Eleven Brothers, Servants,

          [JOSEPH _is seated on his high seat. A servant comes

     _Servant:_ Master, the men that came down from Canaan to buy
     food of thee have returned and would have a word with thee.

     _Joseph:_ Bring them in. [_To another servant_]: Go see that
     a feast is prepared for these men.

          [_The brothers enter bringing_ BENJAMIN. _They all fall
          on their faces._]

     _Joseph:_ Arise! And have you returned bringing with you
     your youngest brother?

     _Reuben:_ O sir, we have brought our youngest brother; he is

          [BENJAMIN _is led forward._ JOSEPH _goes near and puts
          his hand on_ BENJAMIN.]

     _Joseph:_ And is this your younger brother of whom ye spake
     unto me? God be gracious unto thee, my son! [_To the
     brothers:_] Is your father well, the old man of whom ye
     spake? Is he yet alive?

     _Levi:_ Thy servant, our father [_all bow heads_], is in
     good health; he is yet alive.

          [JOSEPH _turns away and begins to weep; he leaves them
          abruptly and walks to the other side of the room._]

     _Joseph_ [_to the servants_]: Cause every man to go out from
     me! [_All begin to leave the room, brothers included._] [_To
     the brothers. He walks quickly after them and holds his arms
     out toward them._] Stay! I am Joseph; doth my father yet
     live? Come near to me, I pray you. [_They come somewhat
     nearer and fall to the ground._] I am Joseph, your brother,
     whom ye sold into Egypt. Now, therefore, be not grieved nor
     angry with yourselves, that ye sold me thither, for God did
     send me before you to preserve life. For these two years
     hath the famine been in the land; and yet there are five
     years more. God hath sent me before you to save your lives.
     Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, "Thus
     saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt.
     Come down unto me, and tarry not. And thou shalt be near
     unto me, thou and thy children, and thy flocks, and thy
     herds and all thou hast. Oh, do you not see that I am Joseph
     that speak unto you?" [_He weeps again and turns away._]

     [Illustration: FIG. 1--Pharaoh's court]

     _Brothers:_ Joseph, our brother Joseph! Can he forgive us?

          [PHARAOH _enters here_]

     _Joseph:_ O King, these are my brethren, and from my
     father's tent.

     _Pharaoh:_ Say unto thy brethren: "This do ye: Go back unto
     the land of Canaan and take your father and your household
     goods, and come unto me. And I will give you the good of the
     land of Egypt, and ye shall eat of the fat of the land. Now
     ye are commanded: This do ye: Take ye wagons out of Egypt
     for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your
     father, and come, for the good of the land shall be yours."

     _One Brother:_ We thank thee, O great Pharaoh, and our
     brother Joseph. This is greater than we deserve. We will
     bring our father down straightway.

     _Joseph:_ Praise be to God who has done this good thing!




When beginning dramatic work with a group of children who have never
had the training before, it is always well to select as the first story
to be dramatized one that is short, simple in structure, and full of
action. If children undertake a long story which involves complicated
situations, they easily become discouraged and lose the joy and
spontaneity which are essential elements in successful dramatizations.
Fables, such as "The Boy and the Wolf" or "The Fox and the Grapes," are
excellent to begin with, because they contain the necessary qualities
which make up a good short story. Situations as simple as those which
are presented in these fables are entered into with great freedom, and
they seem to pave the way for more ambitious dramatizations.

The story of _David and Goliath_ is short, simple, and yet contains
vivid action. It was chosen as one of the first stories to be given to
the dramatic club because of these qualities. After the children had
gone through the experience of dramatizing it they had gained a
self-confidence and a realization of their own power in interpreting a
story through dramatization.

The methods employed in presenting _David and Goliath_ were much the
same as those described in connection with _Joseph._ The point that
must be kept in mind in all of this work is that the dramatization of a
story begins with the action and that the words are developed. The play
is never written first and acted afterward.

While telling the story the leader placed much emphasis upon the
activities and ideals of the shepherd life of the Hebrews in the time
of David. The children made their own armor--helmets, swords,
shields--from cardboard and colored papers. Pictures and descriptions
which they secured helped them to get correct ideas as to shapes and

The costumes were simple little slips that could be belted in at the
waist, and came only to the knees. The children helped to plan and make
them. David made his shepherd staff from a limb of a tree, and the
soldiers made their spears by fastening gilded points to long sticks.

A question arose as to how the sling was made. The children found, upon
looking up this point, that the sling was woven from different colored
wools. From a good picture they constructed looms from cardboard and
actually wove several slings like David's. Fig. 14 shows a diagram of
the loom as the children worked it out.

A very great value was derived from this construction work, in that it
came entirely from the children; it was an outgrowth of their genuine
interest in the subject. They were reliving the same experiences and
solving the same problems that had confronted David.

The gentle spirit of David had a direct influence upon the whole group.
It made no difference what part a child interpreted--whether that of
Goliath or of one of the brothers--it was evident that David's high
ideals and sweetness of character called forth admiration.

Fig. 2 gives one of the scenes from _David and Goliath._ The play
follows as it was given.


          CHARACTERS: David, David's Three Brothers, King Saul,
          Goliath, Israelite Soldiers, Philistine Soldiers.


          PLACE: On the battlefield.

     _First Brother:_ Have ye seen this Philistine who is come
     up, this giant who has defied the armies of the living God?

     _Second Brother:_ Who has seen him?

     _Third Brother:_ I have seen him; he is verily a giant. His
     height is six cubits and a span. He weareth an helmet of
     brass upon his head, and he is armed with a coat of mail,
     and he hath greaves of brass upon his legs, and the staff of
     his spear is like the weaver's beam; and one bearing a
     shield goeth before him. Our soldiers are truly afraid. They
     flee as he approacheth.

     [Illustration: FIG. 2.--A scene from _David and Goliath_]

     _Goliath_ [_apart from the king and soldiers_]: Why are ye
     come out to gather your armies to battle? Am I not a
     Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for
     you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight
     with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants; but
     if I prevail against him and kill him, then shall ye be our
     servants and serve us. I defy the armies of Israel this day;
     give me a man, that we may fight together.

          [_Some of the soldiers turn and flee._]

     _Saul:_ Hear the words of this Philistine. I know not what
     we can do. Have we no man among us with the strength or
     boldness to fight this giant? I will enrich him with great

     _Second Brother:_ In truth, he is a mighty giant, O King.
     Our soldiers are greatly dismayed; no one will accept this

          [_The king and two soldiers go out. Enter_ DAVID. _He
          runs up to his brothers and salutes them._]

     _First Brother:_ This is David, our younger brother! How
     cometh it that thou art here?

     _Second Brother:_ I thought we left thee tending the sheep.

     _Third Brother:_ What news dost thou bring of our father? Is
     all well with him?

     _David:_ My father commanded me, saying, "Take now for thy
     brethren this parched corn and these ten loaves, and run to
     the camp of thy brethren; and carry these ten cheeses unto
     the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren
     fare." And I rose up early in the morning, and left the
     sheep with a keeper, and came as my father commanded.

          [_Brothers take food from_ DAVID.]

     _Goliath:_ Why are ye come out to gather your armies to
     battle? Am I not a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul?
     Choose you a man for you and let him come down to me. If he
     be able to fight with me and to kill me, then will we be
     your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him,
     then shall ye be our servants and serve us. I defy the
     armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight

          [DAVID _listens. The soldiers seem disturbed and

     _David:_ What meaneth this?

     _Soldier_ [_walks up to_ DAVID]: Have ye seen this man who
     is come up? Surely to defy Israel is he come up. And it
     shall be that the man who killeth him the king will enrich
     with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make
     his father's house free in Israel.

     _David:_ Who is this Philistine that he should defy the
     armies of the living God?

     _First Brother_ [_showing anger against_ DAVID]: Why camest
     thou hither? And with whom hast thou left those few sheep in
     the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thy
     heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the

     _David:_ What have I now done? [_He turns from his brothers
     and speaks to the people._] What shall be done with the man
     that killeth this Philistine and taketh away the reproach
     from Israel? For who is this Philistine that he should defy
     the armies of the living God? I will fight him, and if I
     prevail against him and kill him, then will the Philistines
     be our servants and serve us. The Lord God of Israel will
     deliver him into my hands.

     _Soldiers:_ Saul, the king, shall hear these words!


          PLACE: Saul's tent.

     _David_ [_comes in and salutes the king_]: Let no man's
     heart fail because of this giant; thy servant will go and
     fight with this Philistine.

     _Saul:_ Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to
     fight with him; for thou art but a youth, and he a man of
     war from his youth.

     _David:_ Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and when there
     came a lion or a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock, I
     went out after him and smote him, and delivered it out of
     his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I caught him by
     the beard and smote him and slew him. Thy servant slew both
     the lion and the bear; and this Philistine shall be as one
     of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
     The Lord that hath delivered me out of the paw of the lion,
     and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of
     the hand of this Philistine.

     _Saul:_ Go, and the Lord go with thee. [_To soldiers_]:
     Bring forth armor; this youth must be ready to meet the foe.

          [_The soldiers bring armor._ SAUL _puts the armor, a
          helmet and a coat of mail, on_ DAVID. DAVID _puts on his
          sword, then walks a few steps. He suddenly throws the
          sword down and begins to take off the armor._]

     _David:_ I cannot go with these, for I have not proved them.
     [_He takes the armor off and keeps only his shepherd's staff
     and sling._] The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of
     the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me
     out of the hand of this Philistine.

          [_He bows to the king and goes out._]


          PLACE: The battlefield.

          [DAVID _picks up five smooth stones and puts them into
          his shepherd bag._ GOLIATH _comes toward him. He is
          dressed in armor, and the man that bears his shield
          comes before him._ GOLIATH _looks surprised and
          disgusted when he sees_ DAVID.]

     _Goliath:_ Am I a dog that thou comest to me with staves?
     Come to me and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the
     air and unto the beasts of the field.

     _David:_ Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear
     and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the
     Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
     This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I
     will smite thee, and take thy head from thee; and I will
     give the bodies of the Philistines unto the fowls of the
     air, and unto the beasts of the field, that all may know
     that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall
     know that the Lord saveth not with the sword and with the
     spear, for the battle is the Lord's and he will give you
     into our hands!

          [DAVID _puts his hand into his bag and takes out a
          stone and slings it, so that it hits the giant in the
          forehead. The giant falls. The Philistines flee._ DAVID
          _stands with his foot on the body of the giant._]

     _Israelite Soldiers with David:_ The battle is the Lord's!




The method of presenting the story of _Moses in the Bulrushes_ differed
somewhat from that employed with _Joseph._ There was little need to
tell the story at the beginning, for every child already knew it in
detail. Consequently the leader had the children tell most of it, while
she supplemented and directed attention to important parts.

In this case the entire play was planned roughly before any of it was
acted. The story was criticized by the children as to its organization
and unity, and as a result they made up an ending (Act III) which they
felt was needed to make the story complete. Experience with the other
plays had led the children to feel the necessity for having a
satisfactory ending after the climax.

At the second meeting several girls brought in the scenes as they had
written them out. They had tried to embody the points which the
children had decided upon as the general plan of the play. The final
play varies very little from these scenes thus written by the girls

There was no difficulty in solving the problem as to what they would do
for a baby in the first part of the play. Many dolls were brought in,
and the choice fell upon the one that received the largest number of
votes because of his likeness to the baby Moses. A woven basket served
for the cradle of bulrushes. There were many rehearsals when there was
no doll or cradle, but the children never felt the lack. Their
imaginations can supply all needs.

A few big Egyptian designs were made for the first and last scenes,
which were placed in the king's court. These were fastened on the walls
and around the king's seat, as was done in the play of _Joseph._

Before the play was given before parents and friends the children
decided to call it _The Childhood of Moses._ An older boy in the church
printed programs for the occasion that the audience might better
understand the play. They read as follows:


     Dramatized and Presented by the Children's Dramatic Club of
     the Hyde Park Church of Disciples


     PHARAOH           King of Egypt
     PRINCESS          Pharaoh's Daughter
     MOSES             A Hebrew Boy
     HEBREW WOMAN      Mother of Moses
     MIRIAM            Sister of Moses
     AARON             Brother of Moses
     WISE MEN          Advisers of Pharaoh
     Soldiers, Attendants to the Princess, Servants


     Act I. Pharaoh orders the killing of Hebrew boys.

     Act II, Scene 1. In the home of a Hebrew family.

             Scene 2. A Hebrew mother hides her child
                      among the bulrushes.

             Scene 3. The child is found by Pharaoh's

     Act III. Moses is brought to Pharaoh's court.

The following is the play as it was given:


     ACT I

          CHARACTERS: King, Wise Man, Chief Adviser, Queen,
          Maids, and Soldiers.

     _King:_ Behold, the people of the children of Israel are
     more and mightier than we. Come, let us do wisely with them
     lest they rise up and make war against us.

     _Chief Adviser:_ What more can we do than we have already
     done? We have made their lives bitter with hard service, and
     we have made them carry our brick and mortar and work in our

     _Wise Man:_ O King Pharaoh, I beg thee to let me speak.

     _King:_ Speak, Wise Man.

     _Wise Man:_ O King, I pray thee to be kind to these people.
     When these Hebrews first came down from the land of Canaan,
     a young man named Joseph saved our land from great famine.
     These Israelites are his children's children and we should
     treat them kindly.

     _King:_ Treat them kindly! We have been kind to them long
     enough; we must destroy them. I will command that every
     Hebrew boy baby be killed!

          [_Exeunt_ KING _and courtiers followed by soldiers._]

     _Princess:_ O most gracious father, have mercy upon them.

     ACT II

     SCENE I

          PLACE: The home of a Hebrew family.

          CHARACTERS: Moses, Mother of Moses, Miriam, Aaron.

          [_The mother is singing to the baby in her lap._ AARON
          _is playing on the floor._ MIRIAM _runs in._]

     _Miriam:_ O mother! The king has commanded that all the boy
     babies be thrown in the river! How can we save our baby?

     _Mother:_ Where shall we take him? I have hidden him for
     these three months, but he is so big now and his cries are
     so loud that they will be sure to find him wherever we go.

     _Miriam:_ Come quickly, mother; we will go to the river and
     hide him nearby. Pharaoh cannot find him there, for he will
     think that he has been thrown in the water.

     _Mother:_ O my poor baby!

          [_The three run out._]


          PLACE: The river bank.

          CHARACTERS: Moses, Mother of Moses, Miriam.

          [_The mother appears with the baby in her arms._ MIRIAM

     _Miriam:_ O mother! We can hide him in these tall grasses!

     _Mother:_ But I must have something to put him in. Gather
     these rushes and I will weave a little cradle for him.

          [_They both pick bulrushes and the mother weaves the

     _Mother:_ How can I leave him here alone? My little
     daughter, will you stay and watch and bring me word quickly
     if anything happens? We will hide the baby in this basket
     among the flags, here at the edge of the water.

     _Miriam:_ Good! Mother, I will hide nearby and see that no
     harm comes to our baby.

          [_The mother kisses the baby and puts him in the basket,
          then rises and turns away._]

     _Mother:_ Keep watch until I return.

          [_Exit mother;_ MIRIAM _hides._]


          PLACE: The river bank.

          CHARACTERS: The Princess, Her Maidens, Soldiers, Moses,
          Mother of Moses, and Miriam.

          [_Several soldiers walk across the stage. Enter_
          PRINCESS _and her maids._]

     PRINCESS [_looking around_]: What beautiful clear water for
     my bath!

     _First Maid:_ Yea, Princess. Will you bathe here?

          [_A baby's cry is heard._]

     _Princess:_ What is it I hear? It sounds like a baby crying!
     Look about, maidens! Is there something here?

          [_All look about._]

     _Second Maid_ [_finds baby; all come running up to her_]:
     See what is here!

     _Princess:_ A baby hidden in a basket! Bring him to me!

          [_Third maid hands basket to_ PRINCESS, _who takes the
          baby out._]

     _Princess:_ Oh, what a beautiful baby! He is mine, for I
     have found him! A Hebrew baby! His mother has hidden him in
     the bulrushes to save his life.

          [MIRIAM _runs out._]

     _Miriam:_ Lady, would you like a nurse for that baby?

     _Princess:_ A nurse for him? Yes, I do need a nurse.

     _Miriam:_ I can get you one very quickly.

     _Princess:_ Go bring her, child; I will wait here.

          [MIRIAM _goes away running._]

     _Princess:_ He is my boy, and I will call him Moses, for I
     drew him out of the water.

          [_Enter the mother and_ MIRIAM.]

     _Miriam:_ Here is the nurse, lady.

     _Princess:_ Will you take good care of this baby for me
     until he becomes a youth? I will pay you wages. I am the
     Princess, King Pharaoh's daughter. I will see that he is
     educated as a prince in my father's court.

          [PRINCESS _and her maids go out._]

     _Mother:_ My boy is saved! My boy is saved!

     ACT III

     SCENE I

          PLACE: Pharaoh's palace.

          CHARACTERS: King Pharaoh, Princess, Maids, Soldiers,
          Wise Men, Mother of Moses, Moses, Miriam, Aaron.

          [_King sits on his throne, wise men and soldiers around.
          Enter messenger._]

     _Messenger:_ O King, the Princess awaits without and would
     have speech with thee.

     _King:_ Bid her enter.

          [_Enter_ PRINCESS _and a few attendants._]

     _Princess:_ O gracious King and father, I have a request,
     and I beg that you grant it.

     _King:_ Speak, my Princess; do I not always grant what you

     _Princess:_ Yes, father, and I know that you will grant me
     this. Several years ago I adopted a son and I ask that you
     allow him to be educated in your palace.

     _King:_ Adopted a son! What can be the meaning of this? I
     never heard of this! Where did you get the boy?

     _Princess:_ I found him, a little baby, hidden among the
     rushes by the river bank.

     _King:_ Why was he hidden? That is strange!

     _Princess:_ He is a Hebrew boy, O father.

     _King:_ A Hebrew boy! Did I not command that every Hebrew
     boy should be killed?

     _Princess:_ I must take the blame; I had his life spared.
     Will you not let him be brought here?

     _King:_ No, I will not! No Hebrew boy shall be brought here!

     _Princess:_ If you would only see him, he is so beautiful,
     you would love him as I do. He is without; permit me to show
     him to you.

     _King:_ Bring him in.

          [_Maid goes to get_ MOSES. MOSES _enters with his
          mother_, MIRIAM, _and_ AARON. PRINCESS _leads him to
          the_ KING.]

     _Princess:_ This is my son. Is he not a wonderful boy?

     _King:_ He is fair to look upon, but yet he is a Hebrew.

     _Princess:_ O my father, forget that he is a Hebrew and
     remember only that he is my son.

     _King:_ O my Princess, for your sake, I accept this boy. I
     leave his training to you. May he grow up to be a prince
     worthy of the house of Pharaoh.




_Ruth_ was dramatized by the club during the fall of the year because
it is a story of the Hebrew harvest time. In order fully to interpret
the life of Ruth it was necessary for the children to secure
information concerning the barley harvest in ancient Palestine, and
also to become familiar with the old customs involved in the story.
Many children brought pictures which illustrated the points under
discussion, and some of them contributed by telling what they had been
able to read at home. Independence on the part of the children in
looking up data was always encouraged by the leader; the information
which she had to give enriched and supplemented that which was brought
in by them.

During the process of this dramatization constant comparisons were made
with our own harvest time, and the study of the Hebrew harvest feasts
and festivals served to increase the understanding and appreciation of
our one harvest festival at Thanksgiving.

The method of procedure in presenting this story for dramatization
follows closely that described in connection with _Joseph._ The Bible
version of _Ruth_ is so simply and beautifully told that it needed
very little adapting. When it was first given to the children parts of
it were read and parts were told by the leader. Many scenes were then
planned, but these were soon cut down to the three necessary scenes.
From the first the children used much of the Bible language as they
acted the story. The beauty and the poetry of it caused them to
remember readily the exact wording in many cases.

Seven meetings were required before the group was satisfied with the
play as a product of their best effort. As was the case with the other
plays given by the club, the children who were to take the parts in the
final presentation were selected by the group and not by the leader in
charge. Every child knew each part and could represent any character,
but children were chosen for specific parts because they seemed to
represent certain characters unusually well.

The dramatization of this story called for much construction work. The
reapers made their sickles of cardboard and covered them with gold or
silver paper or painted them. They found pictures which gave the shape,
and from these they cut the patterns (Fig. 15). One little girl brought
a real sickle which had once belonged to a Filipino. It gave her
happiness to reap with it, but the others were just as content to use
the sickles from cardboard.

The need for a harvest song was felt, and in consequence a little song
that most of the children knew was decided upon. The reapers sang it as
they reaped and while Boaz was walking through his grain field. There
was no real grain nor anything to represent it, the children deciding
to leave this to the imagination. The action of the reapers and the
words that were spoken gave evidence enough that grain was growing

There was very little stage setting used in the play. The stage was
bare in the first scene in order to represent the road from Moab to
Bethlehem. In the second scene a big earthenware jar was needed from
which the reapers could drink. The third scene required a box which
represented a seat by the city gate; the door which led off the stage
at the side was used for the gate.

The action and the grouping of people in the third scene required
careful planning by the children. Women came through the gate and
passed down the street with water jugs on their shoulders; men gathered
in groups to discuss bits of news; Boaz walked toward the gate and sat
waiting for his kinsman. Finally, when the cousin appeared, Boaz hailed
him and had him sit down. The citizens who were standing near were
asked to be witnesses in this business transaction. That one man should
take off his shoe and hand it to another was a custom that created much
interest among the children. They began to examine pictures for the
kinds of shoes that were worn, and this led many of them to wear their
own sandals, which approached most nearly to those seen in the
pictures. The children who did not own sandals tried to make them with
cardboard and strips of cloth (see Fig. 26).

The costuming was very simple. The reapers wore the same little brown
slips which had been worn in every play that had been given. Boaz
enriched his costume by wearing brighter colors in his headdress and
girdle and by wearing a slip that was longer than the others.

The play follows as it was finally given.


     SCENE I

          PLACE: In Moab, on the road to Judah.

          CHARACTERS: Naomi, Ruth, Orpah.

          SETTING: Naomi, Ruth, Orpah, are on the road going
          toward Judah.

          [NAOMI _stops and faces about._]

     _Naomi:_ Turn back, my daughters-in-law; return each of you
     to your mother's house. You have come with me far enough. I
     must take the rest of my journey alone.

     _Orpah and Ruth:_ Oh, do not send us back! We will not leave

     _Naomi:_ Yea, you must leave me now. I am going home to my
     own country and my own people, to Bethlehem, Judah! It is
     ten long years since I left there to come to dwell in your
     land of Moab. But now that the famine is over I must

     _Orpah:_ But, Naomi, our mother-in-law, we love thee. Do not
     thou leave us!

     _Naomi:_ I must go. I came to this country happy--with my
     husband and two sons--but misfortune has dealt bitterly with
     me. My husband first died, and now my two sons, your
     husbands, are taken from me. I am old and sad. I have no one
     left to comfort me. I must go back to mine own people. Leave
     me, my daughters, and God bless you!

          [_Both daughters weep._]

     _Orpah_ [_weeping and kissing_ NAOMI]: If thou wilt be
     happier, then thou must leave us. I will return to my
     mother's house as thou sayest. [_She goes off slowly,

          [RUTH _still stands by weeping. Takes hold of_ NAOMI'S

     _Naomi:_ Behold, Orpah, thy sister-in-law, has gone back to
     her people and unto her gods; return thou after thy

     _Ruth:_ Intreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from
     following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and
     where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my
     people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die,
     and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more
     also, if aught but death part thee and me.

     _Naomi:_ Since thou art so steadfastly minded to go with me,
     Ruth, I will cease urging thee. Come, thou mayest go with me
     to Bethlehem.


          PLACE: In the barley fields of Boaz.

          TIME: The harvest season.

          CHARACTERS: Boaz, Ruth, Head Reaper, Reapers, Gleaners.

          [_The reapers come in with their sickles, followed by
          the gleaners._]

     _Head Reaper:_ Truly we have a wonderful harvest this year!

     _First Reaper:_ Yea, we will have food enough for ourselves
     and for all the poor in our city of Bethlehem.

     _Head Reaper:_ It is the great God that hath given us this

          [_All sing harvest song as they reap. While they are
          singing_ RUTH _comes in and begins to pick up the

     _Second Reaper_ [_looking toward the entrance to the
     field_]: The master is coming, the great Boaz!

          [_All reapers look in that direction as they stand,
          resting their sickles on the ground._ BOAZ _enters._]

     _Boaz:_ The Lord be with you!

     _Reapers:_ The Lord bless thee!

          [_All go to work again, singing as before._ BOAZ _walks
          among them; he sees_ RUTH _and watches her._]

     _Boaz_ [_to the_ HEAD REAPER]: My good man, I would speak a
     word with thee; come hither.

     _Head Reaper:_ Speak, O master!

     _Boaz:_ Whose damsel is this that gathereth grain after the

     _Head Reaper:_ My master, she is Ruth, the Moabitish damsel
     that came back with Naomi, thy kinswoman. She hath been
     gleaning here since early morning.

     _Boaz:_ Go, bid the reapers not to harm her, and bid them
     let fall purposely some of the handfuls of grain for her.

          [_The_ HEAD REAPER _bows low and goes back among the

     _Boaz_ [_to_ RUTH]: Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to
     glean in another field, but stay here by my reapers. Let
     thine eyes be on the reapers, and do thou glean that which
     they leave behind. When thou art athirst, go unto the
     vessels and drink that which the young men have drawn.

     _Ruth_ [_bows to the ground_]: Why have I found such favor
     in thine eyes, seeing that I am a stranger in the land?

     _Boaz:_ It has been told me of thy great kindness to thy
     mother-in-law, Naomi; how thou didst leave thine own people
     to come with her and be among strangers; and how thou didst
     leave thy gods to take the God of the children of Israel.
     The Lord will bless thee for this.

     _Ruth:_ I thank thee, O great Boaz, for thou hast comforted
     me and thou hast spoken friendly words unto me.

     _Boaz:_ Come hither at meal times and eat of the bread and
     dip thy morsel in the vinegar with my reapers.

          [_The reapers have departed._ BOAZ _goes off._]

     _Ruth:_ The Lord God is truly good unto me!


          PLACE: At the gate of the city.

          CHARACTERS: Boaz, a Cousin of Naomi, Ten Citizens, Ruth,

          [_Several citizens stand in groups, talking._ BOAZ

     _Boaz_ [_speaks to one of the group_]: Hast thou seen my
     cousin pass this way? I am seeking him.

     _First Citizen:_ Nay, good sir, I have not seen him.

     _Boaz:_ I must speak with him; I will wait here by the city
     gate; perchance he will come soon.

          [_One or two citizens pass by and speak to_ BOAZ,
          _saying, "Good-day, sir." Enter_ KINSMAN.]

     _Boaz:_ Ho, Kinsman, turn aside! I would have a word with
     thee. Sit thee down.

          [KINSMAN _sits down._]

     _Kinsman:_ What wilt thou, Cousin?

     _Boaz:_ I would speak about a matter of importance; wait
     thou here until I can bring witnesses. [_He turns to
     citizens._] A piece of land is about to be sold; will ten
     citizens witness this deed?

     _Citizens:_ Aye, indeed. [_They come forward._]

     _Boaz:_ Sit ye down here. [_They sit down._] [_To_ KINSMAN]:
     Dost thou remember Naomi, our kinswoman, who went with her
     husband and two sons to the land of Moab?

     _Kinsman:_ Yea, I do know Naomi.

     _Boaz:_ She selleth a parcel of land which was her
     husband's. Now, thou art nearest of kin to Naomi, so I
     thought to advise thee that thou mayest have the first
     chance to redeem the land in the presence of the elders of
     the city. If thou dost not care to redeem it, then the right
     to redeem it cometh to me, for I am next of kin. What wilt
     thou do?

     _Kinsman:_ I will buy the land from our kinswoman, Naomi.

     _Boaz:_ On the day that thou buyest the field from the hand
     of Naomi, thou also takest Ruth, the Moabitess, for thy
     wife, according to our custom and law.

     _Kinsman:_ Then I will not redeem the land, for I cannot
     take Ruth for my wife. Take thou my right to redeem it and
     buy it for thyself.

     _Boaz_ [_taking off his shoe and giving it to the_ KINSMAN,
     _he says to the witnesses_]: Ye are witnesses this day that
     I have bought this parcel of land from Naomi and that I buy
     also, as my wife, Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Of all
     this ye are witnesses.

     _Citizens:_ We are witnesses. [_Bow._]

          [KINSMAN _returns shoe to_ BOAZ _and walks off._ RUTH
          _and_ NAOMI _come through the street._]

     _Boaz:_ Ye are well met, Naomi, my kinswoman, and Ruth. I
     have good news for you; I have bought your land and I can
     now take Ruth for my wife. Come, all ye fellow-citizens, for
     the wedding feast is prepared at my house!

          [_Takes_ RUTH _by the hand._]

     _Naomi:_ Blessed am I that I should live to see this good
     thing come to pass! The Lord hath been most gracious unto




The story of Esther involves a much more complicated situation than any
of the others here described. It is not too difficult for
dramatization, however, if it is taken after such stories have been
worked out as _David and Goliath_ and _Joseph._

In the case of this dramatic club the story of Esther was told to the
children after they had had much experience with other plays. The
interesting plot and the beauty and richness of the court made so great
an appeal to them that they were eager to begin the dramatization. The
story was first simplified and adapted by the leader, and then told in
such a manner as to emphasize the main events. The method of procedure
followed that described in chapter iii in connection with the story of
Joseph. After the telling of the story the scenes were selected. These
were acted out very freely at first, little thought being given to the
words. Many pictures were brought in, and descriptions of the court of
King Ahasuerus were read by the children from the Bible and from books
of Bible stories.

In the second scene the children decided to have the maidens dance
before the King. Several little girls who were trying out the part of
Esther made up dances for themselves. This feature made this scene
especially attractive.

This play was longer than those that had previously been dramatized,
and it therefore took a longer period of time to bring it into final
shape. There is no reason to hurry a dramatization. If the aim of this
kind of work is kept in mind, there will be growth on the part of the
children at each meeting. The value lies, not in how many stories can
be dramatized during a year, but in how thoroughly the children are
reliving a few good stories.

The play of _Queen Esther_ made it necessary to construct several
articles. Gold dishes of various kinds were made by covering cardboard
with gold paper. These were used at the Queen's banquet. From the many
scepters that were submitted the King chose the one for final use.
Elaborate gowns and headdresses were gathered; beads and jewels of all
descriptions were made from brilliantly colored papers.

The children took the responsibility of the costuming. The majority of
them planned their own garments and either brought things from home or
selected some suitable costume from those which the club had on hand.
Two of the older girls took entire charge of the younger ones and saw
to it that each had some simple slip to wear in the play.

The play follows as it was finally worked out by the children.


     SCENE I

          PLACE: The King's palace--Shushan.

          CHARACTERS: King Ahasuerus (king of Media and Persia),
          Haman (chief counselor), Persian Princes, Servants.

          [_The_ KING _is seated on his throne, princes seated
          before the_ KING, _and_ HAMAN _is seated by the_ KING'S
          _side. Servants are bringing drinks in golden vessels._]

     _King:_ The seventh day of this feast hath come, and on this
     day will I bring my beautiful Queen, Vashti, before you. The
     princes of my land must depart, bearing a good report of my
     fair Queen as well as of the great riches of my court.
     Chamberlains, come forth! [_The servants come before the_
     KING _and bow._] I command you to bring Vashti, the Queen,
     before my presence. [_Servants withdraw._]

     _First Prince:_ O King, this is a great honor that thou
     bestowest upon us!

     _Second Prince:_ Yea, Vashti, the Queen, is already known
     over the land for her wondrous beauty. We are most happy
     that thou wilt allow thy servants to behold her.

     _Third Prince:_ What wonderful tidings we will spread over
     thy provinces, O King. Thy people do not know the half of
     thy riches and thy wonderful greatness and generosity.

          [_Enter servants. They bow low._]

     _King:_ Rise; what is thy message?

          [_They do not rise._]

     _First Servant:_ O King, be merciful unto us!

          [_They bow lower._]

     _King:_ What meaneth this? Speak! [_in astonishment_] I
     command thee. Where is the Queen?

     _Second Servant:_ O great King, we delivered thy message as
     thou didst command, but the Queen has refused to come before
     thy presence.

          [_All the princes and the_ KING _show surprise and

     _King:_ Refused to obey me? This is impossible! Are ye
     certain that she understood the meaning of my command?

     _Servants:_ We are, O King.

     _King:_ She hath refused! It cannot be! [_He looks absently
     away._] She must be punished.

     _Haman:_ What shall we do to Queen Vashti according to the
     law, because she hath not performed the commandment of King

     _First Prince:_ She hath not done wrong to the King only,
     but also to all the princes of the land, for this deed of
     the Queen shall become known unto all the women of Media and
     Persia and they shall despise the command of their husbands:
     "Because," they shall say, "King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti,
     the Queen, to be brought before him and she came not."

     _Second Prince:_ What shall we do? This will cause great
     trouble and disobedience.

     _King:_ What thinkest thou, Haman, my chief counselor?

     _Haman:_ If it please the King, let there go forth a royal
     commandment and let it be written among the laws of the
     Medes and Persians that Vashti come no more before
     Ahasuerus, and let the King give her royal estate to
     another that is better than she. Then when this decree
     shall become known all wives shall give honor unto their

     _King:_ This saying pleaseth me greatly. I shall do
     accordingly. [_To servants_]: Send letters unto every
     province to every people, which shall state this decree, so
     that every man shall know it.

     _Haman:_ O King, I pray thee, let there be fair maidens
     brought before thee from which thou shalt choose another
     which shall be thy Queen.

     _King:_ So be it! See that fair maidens from every province
     be brought here to my palace; and the one that pleaseth me
     best, I will take her for my Queen.

          [_All bow._]


          PLACE: At Shushan, the palace.

          CHARACTERS: King Ahasuerus, Mordecai, Maidens, Haman,
          Servants, Courtiers.

          [_Two servants are standing in the court room of  the
          palace. Enter a messenger followed by_ ESTHER _and_

     _Messenger_ [_announces to the servants in the room_]: This
     maiden has come to see the King.

          [_He goes out._]

     _First Servant:_ This is the place. Wait thou here. [_To_
     MORDECAI]: What art thou here for? Thou wilt have to depart.

     _Mordecai:_ I only brought this maiden. I beg of thee let me
     have a few words with her; then I will withdraw.

     _First Servant:_ Speak then quickly, before the King cometh.

          [_Servants withdraw to another part of the room._]

     [Illustration: FIG. 3.--Esther and Mordecai]

     _Mordecai_ [_taking_ ESTHER'S _hand_]: Esther, my child,
     thou art like my very child, for although I am but thy uncle
     I have been as a father to thee. I bid thee farewell now,
     for it seemeth to me that the King will surely choose thee
     to be his Queen--thou art so fair. This one thing remember,
     tell him not that thou art a Jewess. Fare thee well, Esther!
     May the Lord bless thee!

     _Esther:_ Farewell to thee, Mordecai!

          [MORDECAI _goes out. Other maidens come in announced by
          the messenger._]

     _Messenger:_ These maidens would see the King.

          [_The servants show them where to sit. Enter second

     _Second Messenger:_ The King! The King!

          [_Enter_ KING _and_ HAMAN. KING _sits on his throne._]

     Second Servant [_bowing before the_ KING]: O King, the
     maidens from all parts of the country have arrived and await
     thy pleasure.

     _King:_ Let them come before my presence one at a time, and
     I will choose from among them the one that seemeth most

          [_The musicians begin playing and, one by one, the
          maidens come out. They bow and dance._ ESTHER _comes
          last of all. As_ ESTHER _dances the_ KING _speaks._]

     _King:_ What marvelous beauty! Surely this maiden is fair
     enough to be my Queen.

     _Haman:_ Yea, O King, thou art right; she should be thy

     _King_ [_takes_ ESTHER'S _hand_]: What is thy name, fair

     _Esther:_ My name is Esther, O King.

     _King:_ Esther, I do here take thee to be my Queen. Bring
     the royal crown and the Queen's robes!

          [_Servants come immediately and put them on her._]

     [Illustration: FIG. 4.--Esther dances before the king]

     _King_ [_leading_ ESTHER _out_]: Come unto the wedding feast
     which is now prepared. All are welcome!


          PLACE: The palace gate.

          CHARACTERS: Haman, Mordecai, Servants, Esther.

          [_Servants are standing and walking by the gate. Women
          come by carrying water jars._ MORDECAI _stands apart
          from the crowd._ HERALD _comes in._]

     _Herald:_ Bow the knee, bow the knee. The chief counselor,
     Haman, approacheth! Thus saith the King.

          [HAMAN _comes in. All bow to him except_ MORDECAI.]

     _Haman_ [_pointing to_ MORDECAI]: Who is this man who doth
     not bow the knee to me?

     _First Servant:_ He is Mordecai, the Jew, my lord. [_To_
     MORDECAI]: Why dost thou break the King's commandment?

     _Haman:_ Thou Jew! Dost thou think that thou art mightier
     than I, whom the King hath set above all the princes of the
     land? Thou shalt suffer for this. [_Turns to servant._] Send
     letters unto all the King's provinces, to destroy, to kill,
     and to cause to perish all Jews, both young and old, little
     children and women, in one day--even upon the thirteenth day
     of the twelfth month, and to take the spoil of them for

          [_Servant bows and goes away._ HAMAN _passes on,
          leaving_ MORDECAI _with two servants._ MORDECAI, _in
          deep thought, walks anxiously up and down._]

     _Mordecai:_ I must see Queen Esther. Canst thou not take me
     to the Queen?

     _Second Servant_ [_laughing scornfully_]: Thinkest thou that
     the Queen will see thee?

     _Mordecai:_ Give the Queen this paper and say to her that I,
     Mordecai, the Jew, bid her come to me.

          [_Servant withdraws._]

     _Mordecai_ [_walking, talks to himself_]: Israel, O Israel,
     my people! You shall not perish. Esther, your Queen, will
     save you.

          [_Enter_ ESTHER.]

     _Esther:_ Mordecai, my uncle, why art thou here? Thou
     lookest unhappy. Hath aught happened to thee?

     _Mordecai:_ Yea, Esther, I am unhappy. I have sorrowful news
     to tell thee.

     _Esther:_ Chamberlains, withdraw! Speak, Mordecai; tell me
     quickly. It may be that I can help thee.

     _Mordecai:_ Esther, thou canst help me, and thou art the
     only one who can. Haman, the King's counselor, hateth the
     Jews--thy people and mine. He hath sent a decree over all
     the country commanding that every Jew, both old and young,
     little children and women, be killed on the thirteenth day
     of the twelfth month. Esther, thou must save thy people and
     thyself? Thou must go before the King and beg of him that he
     spare thy people.

          [ESTHER _shows great distress._]

     _Esther:_ Oh, what shall I do? Dost thou not know that for
     one who dareth to go before the presence of the King, if the
     King hath not called him, there is certain death; except to
     whom the King shall hold out the golden scepter--he may
     live? I have not been called to come in unto the King these
     thirty days. He will surely put me to death for such

     _Mordecai:_ Thou must go unto the King even so. Think not
     that thou wilt escape death from Haman because thou art in
     the King's house. Who knoweth but that thou hast been made
     Queen for such a time as this!

     _Esther_ [_after thinking deeply_]: Go, gather together all
     the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me,
     and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day, I
     also and my maidens will fast likewise--and so I will go in
     unto the King, which is not according to the law, and if I
     perish, I perish.

     _Mordecai:_ May the Lord go with thee!


          PLACE: In the court of the King's palace.

          CHARACTERS: King Ahasuerus, Esther, Haman, Courtiers,

          [_The King sits on his throne._ QUEEN ESTHER _enters
          and bows before the_ KING. _The_ KING _looks at her in

     _Courtiers_ [_in loud whispers_]: The Queen! It is the

     _King:_ Esther, hast thou dared to come before my presence
     when I have not called thee? Thou surely dost not know what
     thou art doing! This act of boldness can mean thy death! But
     thou art so beautiful, Esther, I cannot be hard with thee.
     Rise! [_He holds out the golden scepter._] What is the
     request that has brought thee here? It shall be given thee,
     even though it be half of my kingdom.

          [ESTHER _touches the scepter and rises._]

     _Esther:_ If it seemeth good unto the King, let the King and
     Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared
     for them.

          [_She turns and goes out._]

     _King:_ Hearest thou, Haman? Make haste and let us do as
     Esther hath said. Come, we will prepare for this banquet.

          [HAMAN _bows. The_ KING _and_ HAMAN _go out. Others

     [Illustration: FIG. 5.--The king holds out the scepter to

     SCENE V

          PLACE: The Queen's apartment.

          CHARACTERS: Queen Esther, King Ahasuerus, Haman,
          Servants, Mordecai.

          [_The servants are preparing the feast. Enter_ ESTHER.]

     _Esther:_ See ye that the feast is in readiness, for the
     King will soon arrive.

          [_Servants bow._]

     _Servant:_ The King cometh!

     _Esther_ [_going to meet the_ KING _as he enters_]: Welcome,
     my lord!

          [_The_ KING _sits upon a throne prepared for him._]

     _King:_ I am happy to be with thee, my fair Queen. Thou must
     have a request which thou desirest to make--speak, be not
     afraid. I will grant it though it be half of my kingdom.

     _Esther:_ If I have found favor in thy sight, O King, and if
     it please the King, let my life be saved and the lives of my
     people--the Hebrew people. We are to be destroyed, to be
     slain and to perish.

     _King:_ Thy people? The Hebrew people? Who is this and where
     is he that dareth in his heart to do this thing to thy

     _Esther:_ The enemy is thy chief counselor, this wicked

     _King:_ Did Haman do this deed? How didst thou know of his

     _Esther:_ O King, Mordecai, the Jew, my uncle, hath shown me
     the letter which Haman hath sent over the country. The Jews
     are to be killed on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month.
     I am begging thee for my life and for the lives of my

     [Illustration: FIG. 6.--Queen Esther pleads for her people]

     _King:_ Fear not, Esther; thy people shall be saved.
     Mordecai, the Jew, hath once done me a great service. He
     hath not been rewarded for this. He shall have honor, for he
     deserveth it.

     _Servant:_ The great Haman hath come, O Queen.

          [HAMAN _enters; they seat themselves, and the feast is

     _King:_ Haman, what shall be done unto the man whom the King
     delighteth to honor?

     _Haman_ [_aside_]: Whom would the King like to honor more
     than myself? [_To the_ KING]: For the man whom the King
     delighteth to honor, let the royal apparel be brought which
     the King useth to wear, and the horse which the King rideth
     upon, and the royal crown which is set upon his head; and
     let these be given the man whom the King delighteth to
     honor; and let him ride on horseback through the streets of
     the city; and proclaim before him, "Thus it shall be done
     unto the man whom the King delighteth to honor!"

     _King:_ Make haste and take the royal apparel and the horse
     as thou hast said and do even so unto Mordecai, the Jew,
     that sitteth at the King's gate. Let nothing fail of all
     that thou hast spoken.

          [HAMAN _bows his head low and goes out to_ MORDECAI.]

     _Servant:_ O King, Haman hath built a gallows upon which to
     hang Mordecai, the Jew, this day.

          [HAMAN _returns with_ MORDECAI _and puts on the crown,

     _King:_ Let him who hath made the gallows hang upon it!

          [_Servant takes_ HAMAN _out._]

     _King:_ Come near, Mordecai. Thou hast found great favor in
     mine eyes. From henceforth thou shalt be my chief counselor,
     and thou shalt rule the land in Haman's place. Thy people
     shall be spared, and letters shall be sent over all the
     land and into every province which shall state that the
     Hebrew people shall not be destroyed, but instead they shall
     be honored and have joy and feasting.

     _Mordecai:_ I thank thee, O King and Esther, my Queen, for
     the great deliverance and for this great honor to me. May
     the Lord give me strength to deal wisely with these peoples.

     _Esther:_ This is a great happiness which thou hast bestowed
     upon me, O King.



This incident should be simplified and adapted before it is told to
children. The dramatization is best worked out in the form of a short,
free play which involves only one act. It is unnecessary to carry it to
the point of fixed words and actions. The emphasis should be placed
upon the customs of the times which are so well brought out in the
story; for example, the hospitality of Abraham to the strangers
represents the feeling toward strangers among the nomad peoples, and
the manner in which he showed his hospitality makes children acquainted
with customs peculiar to those people. There is excellent opportunity
here for enriching the children's understanding of the life of a
shepherd people, of which the Israelites are an example.

Descriptions and pictures of the kind of tent the people lived in are
necessary. It is important that children should get the idea of the
correct shape of the Arab tent and not confuse it with the Indian
wigwam. No stage scenery need be used; it is best to leave that to the
imagination. A curtain may be put up to represent the front of the
tent, but nothing more.

There is much of this incident that should be left out in the telling;
by no means should it be read directly from the Bible to children. The
story may be told so that the following points are emphasized:

Abraham is sitting at the door of his tent. Three men appear; he runs
to meet them and bows to the ground. He invites them to rest under the
shade of the tree and offers to get food and to have their feet washed.
The strangers sit and talk together, then Abraham comes with the food.
They all eat and are rested, and as they rise to depart they ask for
Sarah, Abraham's wife. The strangers tell Sarah and Abraham that they
are to have a son whose name shall be Isaac and whom God shall bless
and who shall be the father of many people. Abraham and Sarah are
greatly astonished and pleased. They fall upon their knees to thank
God, and when they arise they find that the strangers have departed.
The scene closes with their exclamation, "Surely these were angels from
the Lord who have visited us!"

This story was dramatized by the children of the dramatic club after
they had had experience with many other dramatizations. During the
first hour after the story was told the children succeeded in getting
the play into very nearly its final form. Two of the older girls,
undertaking to write out the scenes as they thought they should be,
brought in their versions at the second meeting. Each one was read
aloud, the other children being asked to remember the parts that seemed
especially good. Then by combining, adding to, or taking from, a
composite result was obtained. Several children wrote down the final
decisions at the dictation of the group.

Below is given the version which one child worked out by herself, and
following that is the final form of the play which the group as a whole
decided upon. The leader purposely left this play entirely in the hands
of the children; the product is wholly their own.


     _Abraham:_ The day is hot and I am weary. I will rest myself
     from the heat of the day. [_He seats himself in the shade of
     the tent._]

     _Sarah:_ It is indeed hot, and I will bring thee food and
     drink that thou mayest refresh thyself. [SARAH _retires into
     the tent._]

     _Abraham_ [_rises to his feet and shades his eyes with his
     hands_]: Sarah, come hither! Yonder are strangers who are in
     need of rest. [SARAH _comes out, and she and_ ABRAHAM _kneel
     before them._] Welcome, strangers, seat yourselves that ye
     may rest. My wife, Sarah, will bring you food, and water
     that you may wash your feet.

     _First Stranger:_ The Lord bless thee, Abraham. [_Sarah_
     _and the servants withdraw, and_ ABRAHAM _and the three men
     seat themselves before the tent._ SARAH _returns with water
     and food. The strangers wash their feet and eat._]

     _Sarah_ [_offering them food_]: Drink thou this fresh milk,
     and refresh thyself with this fruit, for ye look weary.
     [_They finish eating and_ SARAH _and the servants retire._]

     _Second Stranger:_ We bring thee good tidings and would
     speak with thee and thy wife. [SARAH _comes from within the

     _Third Stranger:_ We are messengers from the Lord to tell
     thee that thou wilt have a son.

     _First Stranger:_ He will be the father of many men and
     thousands will respect him. Ye shall name him ISAAC.

     _Sarah:_ That cannot come to pass! For many years I have
     been childless, and the Lord will not give me a son.

     _Abraham_ [_falling on his knees_]: Thanks be to the Lord! A
     son at last!

     _Sarah:_ Can it be that these tidings are true? If so, it is
     indeed a message from the Lord! [_She too falls on her knees
     before them. The three men quietly leave, and when_ SARAH
     _and_ ABRAHAM _rise to their feet they are out of sight._]

     _Abraham:_ They were angels from heaven! Our wish has been
     granted at last!


The following is the play as it was finally presented:


          PLACE: In front of the tent of Abraham.

          CHARACTERS: Abraham, a Shepherd; Sarah, His Wife; Three
          Strangers; Four Servants.

          [ABRAHAM _and_ SARAH _come out of the tent._]

     _Abraham:_ The day is hot, and I am weary; I will sit down
     and rest in the shade of this tree.

     _Sarah:_ Yea, it is hot. I will bring thee drink and food
     that thou mayest refresh thyself, my good husband.

          [SARAH _goes into the tent._ ABRAHAM _sees three
          strangers approaching. He stands up, shades his eyes
          with his hands, and looks out over the desert. He calls
          to_ SARAH.]

     [Illustration: FIG. 7.--The three guests bless Abraham and

     _Abraham:_ Sarah, my wife, come hither! Lo, I see three
     strangers approaching over the desert.

          [SARAH _comes out of the tent and looks also._]

     SARAH: They will be weary and in need of rest. I will hasten
     and prepare food and drink for them also.

          [SARAH _goes away._ ABRAHAM _rises to meet the strangers:
          he falls on the ground before them._]

     _Abraham:_ Welcome, strangers, to the tent of Abraham! If I
     have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee!
     Let now a little water be fetched and wash your feet, and
     rest yourselves under the tree; and I will fetch a morsel of
     bread, and this will strengthen your hearts; after that ye
     shall pass on.

     _The Three Strangers:_ So do as thou hast said, good

          [ABRAHAM _turns to the servants who are standing near._]

     _Abraham:_ Haste ye, bring water; fetch a calf, tender and
     good. [_Servants hasten away._] [_To the strangers_]: Sarah,
     my wife, will make ready three measures of fine meal and
     knead it into cakes.

     _First Stranger:_ Our host, Abraham, is a true servant of
     the Lord.

     _Second Stranger:_ We are indeed weary; we have journeyed
     far across the desert.

          [_Servants appear with water and food._ SARAH _also
          brings food to them._]

     _Sarah:_ Drink thou this fresh milk, and refresh thyself
     with these dates, for ye look weary.

     _Third Stranger:_ This is indeed a rest.

          [SARAH _goes into the tent and the strangers finish
          eating. The strangers rise to go._]

     _Abraham:_ Tarry yet awhile with us.

     _First Stranger:_ We thank thee, good Abraham, but we must
     be on our way.

     _Second Stranger:_ We would speak with thee and thy wife,
     Sarah. Where is thy wife?

     _Abraham:_ Sarah, come hither.

          [SARAH _appears._]

     _Third Stranger:_ We bring you a message from the Lord. You
     shall have a son, and his name shall be Isaac. He shall be
     the father of many men, and thousands shall respect him.

     _Sarah:_ Surely, this cannot come to pass!

     _Abraham:_ Thanks be to God for this great gift!

          [SARAH _and_ ABRAHAM _fall down on their knees before
          the strangers. The strangers stretch out their hands to
          bless them._]

     _Three Strangers:_ The Lord will bless you, Sarah and

          [_The strangers depart._ ABRAHAM _and_ SARAH _arise._]

     _Abraham and Sarah:_ Surely these were angels from the Lord!


As this play was very short, the suggestion was made that we might
lengthen the program, as well as make it more interesting, by having
some of the children tell the audience just how we worked up the
dramatization. The two older girls undertook this and decided entirely
by themselves just what they would say. One of them wrote with great
care a description of the method of procedure. She read it to the club
for approval, then she learned it by heart and gave it in an
interesting manner to the audience on the day the play was given. The
other girl wrote a poem about it, and recited it just before the play
was given. The description and poem are as follows:



     The play which the children are now going to give--_Abraham
     and the Three Guests_--has been worked out and practiced at
     the dramatic club. This club meets every Sunday afternoon
     from three until four o'clock, and is composed of any of the
     children of the Sunday school who wish to belong.

     The first Sunday Miss Miller told the story to the members,
     and then they, knowing it, acted it out, making up the parts
     as they went along. This they did several times until they
     knew the story perfectly.

     The two oldest girls did not take part in the acting of the
     play, but became assistants and helped Miss Miller direct
     it. During the next week the assistants wrote out the
     speeches very much as the children had made them up. These
     were read before the club and discussed, and after a number
     of suggestions had been added by all the children present
     the scene was finally written as it now is.

     The children each took home a part to learn, and the
     following Sunday they all tried the different speeches.
     Before the final characters were chosen each child was able
     to represent any one of them. The final characters were
     decided upon by the group and were chosen according to their
     preferences and their ability to enact the different parts.

     Unfortunately, most of the costumes which the club had on
     hand were much too small for the children this year. We
     therefore held a sewing-bee during the week, and lengthened
     the old ones or made new ones where we found it necessary.

     We have worked on this play for five meetings, which
     represents altogether five hours, except for a little work
     that the assistants did outside.

     We have had much fun with this play, and we are hoping that
     you will enjoy it too.



     Before you soon you shall see
     The story of _Abraham and the Strangers Three._
     The partakers, they have worked;
     The assistants, they have shirked--
     But not as much as you would think,
     For they have helped to join each link.
     As day by day passed quickly away
     We read the Bible and wrote the play.
     Each child helped as best he could,
     And thus we worked in brotherhood.
     Word with word we did neatly join,
     Then home we went, our parts to learn,
     Next to the box where the costumes lay,
     And straight to sewing and not to play.
     And 'tis our happy aim, you see,
     To make you joyous as can be!



The story of _Daniel in the Lions' Den_ was dramatized by the members
of the club according to the same methods as those which were used in
connection with the story of _Abraham and the Three Guests._

This play is given here in order to show how a story which deals with a
miraculous event may be treated. When Daniel was thrust into the den of
lions, he was in reality put out of the door which opens at the side of
the stage. The children readily came to the decision that it was
unnecessary to show Daniel actually in the den of lions on the stage.
In telling the story no explanation was made or asked for concerning
the miracle which happened. The children accepted it and enjoyed it as
they would any other good story.

The final play which follows represents entirely the children's
interpretation; the product is their own.


     SCENE I

          PLACE: The court room of King Darius.

          CHARACTERS: King Darius, Daniel, Four Conspirators,
          Soldiers, Servants.

          [KING DARIUS _is seated on his throne. Soldiers and
          attendants stand nearby. The conspirators are talking
          together at one side._ DANIEL, _followed by two
          soldiers, comes in and kneels before the_ KING.]

     _Daniel:_ King Darius, live forever!

     _King Darius:_ Good Daniel, I have sent for thee that thou
     mayest know my will. It has pleased me to set over my
     kingdom one hundred and twenty princes, and over these
     princes have I set three rulers. Thou hast been so faithful
     and true that I wish to make thee the first of these three
     rulers. Thou shalt have great responsibility, and thou shalt
     report to me when thou thinkest it well to do so.

     _Daniel:_ Thou art kind and gracious unto me, O King! May
     the Lord, Jehovah, help me to do this.

     _King Darius:_ Come unto the feast, Daniel, and have the
     royal robe placed on thee.

          [DANIEL _bows to the_ KING _and they both go out,
          followed by the soldiers and servants._]

          [_The conspirators are left alone in the room. They
          show great anger and begin talking to each other._]

     _First Conspirator:_ See how this Daniel has found favor in
     the King's sight! He is not of our country, he belongs to
     the Hebrew people; but the King has appointed him over us
     all! We must destroy this Daniel.

     _Second Conspirator:_ Yea, thou art right. What can we do?

          [_They all walk back and forth in deep thought._]

     _Third Conspirator:_ I can think of nothing against him!

     _Fourth Conspirator:_ Thou sayest the truth; he hath no
     fault. He is faithful and doth nothing wrong.

     _First Conspirator:_ I can think of nothing, save that we
     find it against him concerning his God.

     _Fourth Conspirator:_ Ah, that is true; Daniel worshipeth a
     different God; I have seen him praying thrice in one day.

     _Second Conspirator:_ Let us influence the King to make a
     firm decree that whosoever shall worship any God or man,
     save the King, for thirty days, he shall be cast into the
     den of lions.

     _Third Conspirator:_ That soundeth well! If Daniel be
     faithful to his God, he will surely disobey this decree; and
     if the King once signeth it, the law of the Medes and the
     Persians saith that it cannot be altered.

     _First Conspirator:_ Ah, this will surely be Daniel's ruin

     _Fourth Conspirator:_ Come, let us hasten to the King and
     have him establish and sign this decree. He will be pleased;
     he will not think of Daniel.

     _Third Conspirator:_ Yea, we will hasten before the setting
     of the sun.


          PLACE: The same as in scene i.

          CHARACTERS: The same as in scene i.

          TIME: Several days after the events in scene i.

          [_The_ KING _is seated on his throne. The four
          conspirators come before the_ KING _and kneel._]

     _The Conspirators:_ Great King Darius, live forever!

     _King Darius:_ Arise, my friends!

     _First Conspirator:_ O King, hast thou not signed a decree
     that he who shall pray to any God or man within thirty days,
     save to thee, shall be cast into the den of lions?

     _King Darius:_ This thing is true, according to the law of
     the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

     _Second Conspirator:_ A man in thy kingdom regardeth not
     this law, and doth pray to his God three times a day--we
     have seen him!

     _King_ [_with anger_]: Who is this man that breaketh my

     _First Conspirator:_ He is Daniel, whom thou hast favored
     and made ruler!

     _King Darius_ [_with surprise and sadness_]: Daniel! It
     cannot be! Daniel must not die, for I love him.

     _Third Conspirator:_ Thou knowest, O King, that the law of
     the Medes and Persians is that no decree which the King
     establisheth may be changed.

     _King_ [_sadly_]: Thou sayest truly; the King's word may not
     be broken. Bring Daniel hither.

          [_Soldiers go for_ DANIEL. _The_ KING _walks back and
          forth in great distress._]

     _King_ [_talking to himself_]: Oh, I would that this had not

          [DANIEL _appears and bows before the_ KING.]

     _King:_ Why hast thou disobeyed my law, Daniel? Wherefore
     didst thou pray to thy God when thou knewest of my decree?

     _Daniel:_ Great King Darius, my God, the God to whom I pray,
     is the true God, and I shall worship no other. Do with me
     what thou wilt.

     _King:_ Daniel, I would that thou hadst not done this thing,
     for I love thee. Thou art a brave and bold man! Thy God whom
     thou servest continually, he will deliver thee! [_To the
     soldiers_]: Take this man from me; cast him into the den of

          [_Soldiers take_ DANIEL _and thrust him into the den.
          The door is closed, and the_ KING _seals it with his
          signet. The_ KING _and attendants withdraw. The
          conspirators are alone._]

     _First Conspirator:_ Daniel has fallen at last! No longer
     will he be the King's favorite!

     _Fourth Conspirator:_ We, instead, will be the favored ones!

          [_They leave the room in high spirits._]


          PLACE: The same as in scene i.

          CHARACTERS: The same as in scene i.

          TIME: The next morning after the events in scene ii.

          [_The_ KING _hastens to the door of the lions' den._]

     _King_ [_calling eagerly_]: O Daniel, servant of the living
     God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to
     deliver thee from the lions?

     _Daniel_ [_from within_]: O King, live forever! My God hath
     sent his angel and hath shut the lions' mouths, and they
     have not hurt me, for the Lord knoweth that I have done no
     wrong, either before him or thee, O King!

     _King_ [_to servants who have followed him into the room_]:
     Come hither, servants! Quickly bring Daniel out that I may
     see him!

          [_The door is opened, and_ DANIEL _comes out. The_ KING
          _shows great joy in greeting him._]

     _King:_ Thy God is truly the living God! Bring forth the men
     that have done Daniel this wrong. Cast them into the lions'

          [_The conspirators are standing in the room, looking
          at_ DANIEL _in astonishment. The soldiers seize them
          and push them down into the den. As they go they cry
          to the_ KING.]

     _Conspirators:_ O King, spare us!

     _King:_ I will now sign a decree that in every dominion of
     my kingdom men shall bow before the God of Daniel, for he is
     the only true God. He delivereth and rescueth and worketh
     great wonders; he hath saved Daniel from the power of the

     _Daniel:_ The Lord God will surely bless thee for this good




Many of the New Testament parables present interesting problems for
dramatization. The selection should be limited to those which involve
dramatic situations and unity of structure. The simplicity and
conciseness of words and actions in many of the parables are qualities
which call forth a ready and free response from children.

Among the parables which have been worked out by the dramatic club are
_The Good Samaritan_, _The Wise and Foolish Virgins_, _The Great
Supper_, _The Talents_, _The Prodigal Son._

In the case of these short parables the story was not told first, but
the parable was read to the children directly from the Bible. There was
no discussion as to the truths supposed to be taught, the emphasis
being placed entirely upon the story element involved. The customs of
the times and the division of the story into scenes were discussed as
fully as was done with other stories. Usually one or two meetings were
all that were necessary for working one of these parables into dramatic
form. When it was completed, the result was not a finished product, as
the words and action had been interpreted with slight variations each
time. The children learned the story by heart, as it is given in the
Bible. This influenced their words when they were dramatizing.

Several parables were given together at the meeting when parents and
friends were invited. One child recited the Bible version just before
the play was given. This feature added interest and dignity to the

The parables were given in the following order:


          [_Ten virgins with their lamps are waiting for the

     _First Virgin:_ The bridegroom tarries; let us rest here

     _Other Virgins:_ Yea, let us rest.

          [_They all sit down and go to sleep._]

     _A Cry Without:_ Behold, the bridegroom cometh! Go ye out to
     meet him!

          [_All the virgins get up hurriedly. The five wise ones,
          with oil in their lamps, stand in readiness. The five
          foolish ones are in great confusion._]

     _First Foolish Virgin:_ We have no oil! Our lamps are gone

     _Second Foolish Virgin_ [_speaking to the five wise
     virgins_]: Give us of your oil--we have none.

     _First Wise Virgin:_ Not so, lest there be not enough for
     ourselves and for you. But go ye rather to them that sell,
     and buy for yourselves.

          [_The foolish virgins hasten away._]

     _A Cry Without:_ Behold, the bridegroom cometh! Go ye out to
     meet him!

          [_The_ BRIDEGROOM _comes in, followed by a few
          attendants. He walks by, and the five wise virgins
          follow him. They go in a door which is closed after
          them. The foolish virgins come hurriedly back and rush
          to the door. They beat on it and call out several

     _Foolish Virgins:_ Lord, Lord, open unto us!

          [_The door opens and the_ BRIDEGROOM _stands there._]

     _Bridegroom:_ Depart, I know you not!


During the work on this play the question arose as to the kind of lamps
that were used at the time of the story. The children looked up
pictures and descriptions, and from these they made themselves lamps
out of plasticene or clay. Fig. 8 is a photograph of one of the scenes
taken out of doors. The lamps can be seen, also the simple costumes
which the children worked out.


          [_The_ MASTER _of the feast stands in his door and
          speaks to his servant._]

     _The Master:_ Go, bid my friends come to the supper, for all
     things are now ready!

          [_The servant bows; the_ MASTER _goes into the house.
          The servant walks down the street, and as he meets
          people he delivers his_ MASTER'S _message._]

     _Servant_ [_to the men as they come by_]: My Master bids
     thee come to his feast, for all things are now ready!

     [Illustration: FIG. 8.--The wise and foolish virgins]

     _First Man:_ Say to thy Master that I have bought a piece of
     land and must needs go and see it. I pray thee have me

          [_The servant bows and the man passes on. The servant
          delivers the message to the second man._]

     _Second Man:_ I have bought five yoke of oxen; I must go to
     prove them. I pray thee have me excused.

     _Third Man:_ I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot

          [_The servant goes back to his_ MASTER'S _house; the_
          MASTER _comes out to meet him._]

     _Servant_ [_falls on his knees before his_ MASTER]: O sir, I
     did as thou commandedst, but one by one they made excuse,
     and would not come to thy supper. One man had just bought a
     piece of land and must go to see it; another had bought five
     yoke of oxen, and was on his way to prove them; and another
     had just married a wife. All begged that thou excuse them.

     _Master_ [_shows great anger_]: What! They that are bidden
     refuse to come to my feast! Go out quickly into the streets
     and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the maimed, and
     the halt, and the blind!

          [_The_ MASTER _goes into his house, and the servant
     again walks down the street._]

     _Servant_ [_as he meets the lame, the halt, and the blind_]:
     Come! My Master invites you to a great supper, which is now
     prepared at his house!

          [_Each person, or group of persons, bows and thanks him
          with such remarks as_]--

     _Maimed, Halt, Blind:_ We thank thee; we will be there. We
     gladly accept this invitation.

          [_The_ MASTER _stands in the door to receive his guests
          as they come. When they are all in, the servant comes
          back to his_ MASTER.]

     _Servant:_ Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet
     there is room.

     _Master:_ Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel
     them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto
     you that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of
     my supper!

          [_The servant bows_; _the_ MASTER _goes in._]



     SCENE I

          PLACE: The road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

          CHARACTERS: A Traveler, Thieves, a Priest, a Levite, a

          [_A man comes along the road carrying his bundle over
          his back. Many thieves rush out from ambush and attack
          him. Some knock him down and rob him, while others are
          looking anxiously up and down the road. After beating
          and cutting the man they go off, thinking that he is

          _As the traveler lies groaning and begging for water, a
          priest comes along the road, but when he sees the man he
          passes by on the other side of the road. Also a Levite
          comes along, and after looking at the man passes by on
          the other side of the road._

          _Then a Samaritan comes along, and as soon as he hears
          the groans he hastens over to the man. He kneels down
          and looks at him and speaks._]

     _Good Samaritan:_ What is this--a man! Hast thou been hurt,
     my friend?

     _Man:_ Oh, help me! Thieves fell upon me and took all I had,
     and have left me here to die.

     [Illustration: FIG. 9.--The Good Samaritan]

     _Good Samaritan:_ I will help thee, my good friend; thy
     wounds shall be bound. Drink this wine. It may help thee.
     Art thou able to get on this beast of mine? I will take thee
     to the inn where thou wilt be cared for. [_He helps the man
     to rise and supports him as he hobbles off. They both go


          PLACE: The Inn.

          CHARACTERS: The Samaritan, the Traveler, the Innkeeper.

          [_The_ GOOD SAMARITAN _brings the man to the door of
          the inn and knocks. The_ INNKEEPER, _appears._]

     _Innkeeper:_ Good day, sir.

     _Good Samaritan:_ Here is a wounded man. Take care of him.
     Here is money, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I
     come again I will repay thee. [_He gives the_ INNKEEPER
     _some money. The_ INNKEEPER _takes the man._]

     _Traveler_ [_to_ GOOD SAMARITAN]: God bless you, my friend!



     ACT I

          PLACE: In the father's home.

          CHARACTERS: The Younger Brother, the Father, the Elder
          Brother, Servants.

          [_The_ FATHER _and_ ELDER SON _come into the room
          together. The_ YOUNGER SON _comes in from another door._]

     _Younger Son:_ Father, give me the portion of goods that
     falleth unto me. I am weary of living at home. I will go
     into some far country and make my fortune.

     _Father:_ My son, why is it that thou desirest this? Hast
     thou not everything at home?

     _Younger Son:_ Yea, father, but I beg of thee to divide thy
     living between us. I must have my share.

     _Father:_ Thou art very foolish; nevertheless I will do as
     thou askest. [_To servant_]: Bring my money bags. [_To_
     ELDER SON]: And dost thou intend to take thy living also,
     and leave thy father?

     _Elder Son:_ Nay, father, I am fully content to live with
     thee; I do not want my portion.

          [_Servant returns with money bags._ FATHER _gives money
          to his younger son._]

     _Father:_ This is thy share--use it wisely.

     _Younger Son:_ I thank thee, father. I shall become a rich
     man with this; but now I must leave thee; I can stay here no

     _Father:_ This grieves me, my son, for I know that thou art
     foolish--but go and learn thy lesson.

          [_He stretches out his hands toward his son as if
          blessing him._]

     ACT II

     SCENE I

          PLACE: Along the roadside in a distant country.

          CHARACTERS: The Prodigal Son, a Farmer.

          [_The_ PRODIGAL SON _comes down the road, tired and
          hungry. He sits on a rock and talks._]

     _Prodigal Son:_ Would that I had something to eat! My money
     is all spent, and there is famine in the land. What shall I
     do? I am sick, and feel that I may soon die. If I could but
     find something to do that I might get a little food.

          [_A man comes along. The_ PRODIGAL SON _goes toward him
          and falls down before him._]

     _Prodigal Son:_ O sir, I am starving unto death. Wilt thou
     give me any task to do that I may make enough to keep me

     _Man:_ I have no work to be done--unless it be to take care
     of my swine. Thou wilt find them in yon field; they need a

     _Prodigal Son:_ I will gladly do this.

          [_He goes off joyfully._]


          PLACE: In the field with the swine.

          CHARACTER: The Prodigal Son.

          [_The_ PRODIGAL SON _comes in driving the pigs. He sits

     _Prodigal Son:_ How horrible is this life; I am dying of
     hunger. No man will give me anything--all I get to eat is
     the food that I give the pigs. Oh, I wish that I had never
     left home! How many hired servants of my father's have bread
     enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise
     and go to my father, and will say unto him, "Father, I have
     sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy
     to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants."

          [_He rises and goes away hurriedly._]

     ACT III

     SCENE I

          PLACE: In front of the father's home.

          CHARACTERS: The Father, the Prodigal Son, the Servants.

          [_The_ FATHER _stands looking for his son._]

     _Father:_ It seemeth to me that I see my son coming home! I
     knew that he would come! I will go to meet him! [_He meets
     him._] It is my son! [_The_ FATHER _shows great joy. The_
     SON _falls on his knees before his father._]

     _Prodigal Son:_ Father, I have sinned against heaven and
     before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

     _Father:_ Bring forth the best robe and put it on him; and
     put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring
     hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be
     merry, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was
     lost and is found!


          PLACE: In the field, near the father's house.

          CHARACTERS: Elder Son, Servant, the Father.

          [_The_ ELDER SON _is hoeing in the field. A servant
          comes out. The_ ELDER SON _calls to him._]

     _Elder Son:_ I hear music and dancing in the house; what do
     these things mean?

     _Servant:_ Thy brother is come; thy father hath killed the
     fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
     Thy father sendeth for thee to come in. [_The_ ELDER BROTHER
     _shows anger._]

     _Elder Brother:_ I will not go in. Why should he make merry
     over my brother who has wasted his living?

          [_The_ FATHER _comes out._]

     _Father:_ My son, wilt thou come unto the feast? Thy lost
     brother hath returned!

     _Elder Son:_ Lo, these many years do I serve thee; neither
     have I at any time disobeyed thee, yet thou never gavest me
     a kid that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon
     as thy son was come, which hath wasted thy living, thou hast
     killed for him the fatted calf.

     _Father:_ Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is
     thine. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad,
     for this thy brother was dead and is alive again; he was
     lost and is found. Come thou in to greet thy brother!

          [_They both go in._]




The stories in the Bible, if taken just as they are given, present a
body of material which is complicated by a historical background and a
religious symbolism that is remote from the young child's experience.
They embody the historical incidents as well as the myths and folklore
of ancient Hebrew life, and for the most part they express the highest
idealism of the Hebrew people. There is no reason, however, why good
stories and appropriate incidents may not be given to children from
this body of material through selecting from and simplifying the
biblical version. A great deal of what is in the Bible should not be
used, but there is much that is highly dramatic and becomes valuable
for dramatization.

It is possible to adapt an incident by simplifying, and in a measure
reorganizing, the parts, and yet to keep the dignity and integrity of
the story as it is given in the Bible. The attitude of the children,
created by contact with this type of story, should be one of reverence
and dignity, coupled with a consciousness of the high ideals of the
people they are impersonating.

Before any attempt is made to select parts of the Bible narrative for
dramatization the leader, or director of the children, should have well
in mind standards which will help in making the part that is chosen a
well-organized story. When any good story is analyzed it is found to be
built upon an underlying basic structure. There is always a beginning
or setting; a middle part, where the incidents rise to a climax; and an
end, where the events of the story are satisfactorily worked out. There
should be a feeling of movement straight through the story; the
incidents should develop; there should be action that leads to some
end. A unity must underlie the whole story--there must be no part which
is not essential to the working out of the plan. The end of the story
should give a sense of completeness, of satisfaction.

It is often the case that the three essential parts of the story call
for three acts when the story is dramatized. In some of our modern
dramas five acts, but in many only three acts, are required in order to
complete the structure. Sometimes, however, all three parts of a story
may be given in a one-act dramatization. Before a story is dramatized
it is very necessary that it be told so clearly that the children are
conscious of these parts; otherwise the resulting drama will lack in
organization. No matter how elaborate or simple the story, the children
should have a feeling for the basic structure, which should guide the
form of the dramatization.

The leader in charge of a dramatic club in which Bible stories are used
must take the responsibility of changing the Bible version so as to
make an organic unit of the story and yet keep the spirit and big
meaning. There are many parts of the Bible narrative which already
embody this simple organization--or division into related elements--if
all of the heavy, unnecessary incidents are omitted.[1]

Although the main purpose of these dramatizations is not that an
artistic result be secured, yet that is an important factor, and should
be recognized by both the leader and the children. The product many
times will be necessarily crude and lacking in the aesthetic element,
but nevertheless there should be an attempt, even though gradually, to
train the children toward a recognition and an appreciation of the
artistic qualities of the literary production they put forth, as well
as of the stage groupings and effects.

Care must be taken that the stories chosen are ethically sound. The
story of Jacob is one that may well be omitted. Jacob deceives, and yet
all the good things in life come to him--he takes them away from those
who rightfully have earned them. This injustice in the story always
raises a question in the minds of the children, and for this reason it
is not a good story. The stories of Samson, Jephthah, Jael, and others
on this order should be eliminated for similar reasons. They are each
based upon attitudes toward society and standards of friendship which
are now outgrown. There are so many simple episodes in the Bible that
can easily be readjusted into well-constructed stories, about which
there can be no question of the moral value, that no time need be
wasted in considering any story about which there is the least
suggestion of an unethical quality when judged by our present-day


[Footnote 1: As a matter of fact, it is often the later editorial
additions to the simple old stories that have produced the cumbrous
effect. When the original story is recovered, it lends itself much
better to the purpose here discussed. Such a reorganization of the
stories with a preservation of the biblical language has been made in
Soares' _Heroes of Israel_ (The University of Chicago Press), where
also there is much illustrative material interpretative of the



The stories which have been taken for dramatization in the previous
chapters were not chosen because they are the best ones for that
purpose, but because they represent different kinds of stories and
illustrate the opportunity for various methods of presentation. There
are many other stories and incidents in the Bible which are equal to,
or better than, those described.

A list of some of these stories is given below, together with a few of
the most essential points which should be considered in dramatizing
each. No attempt is made to give the story in full or to elaborate the
dramatization; the plan for each is merely suggestive.



The story of Samuel may be worked into a short play of one or two
scenes. The most interesting and dramatic incident is the familiar one
of the Voice Calling Samuel at Night. The first part of the story,
however, is beautiful, and may be used along with this incident.

In scene i Hannah brings little Samuel to the temple and dedicates him
to the Lord. Eli, the old priest, takes the child to live with him in
the temple so that he may train him to serve the Lord.

Scene ii takes place several years later. It is night time, and the
child Samuel is sleeping near the old priest, Eli. He thinks he hears a
voice calling him, and he runs to Eli to ask what he wants. Eli has not
called him and tells him to lie down again. Three times he runs to Eli,
thinking that he hears him calling. Then the priest tells him that it
must be the Lord who has spoken and tells Samuel what to say the next
time he is called. Samuel hears the message from the Lord and, upon
Eli's request, tells him what he has heard. Eli realizes that the Lord
has spoken truly, and accepts his fate as just. He praises Samuel and
tells him that he will soon leave the care of the temple and of the
people of Israel to him.

Neither in this play, nor in any other play, should there be an attempt
to represent the Lord's voice. The child may listen as if he were
hearing someone speaking, and from what he says and does the audience
will be aware of what is happening. For the sake of the result, from an
artistic point of view, such parts as this should always be left to the
imagination, no attempt being made to interpret them literally.



The visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon furnishes a unit of work for
a short one-act dramatization. There is no plot or complicated
situation involved and there is very little activity suggested. The
attention of the children may well be directed, however, to the
description of Solomon's court and of the rich gifts which were
exchanged. This is an excellent opportunity to have the children do
construction work. They should make many things which will help to give
the impression of richness to the court. They may also make their own
costumes richer by adding jewels and bright-colored sashes and

This little dramatization will include many children. A number will be
needed to come in with the Queen of Sheba, and there should be many
attendants upon King Solomon. The conversation will be for the most
part between Solomon and the Queen, heralds and servants making

The play opens with the Queen of Sheba's arrival at the court of
Solomon. Messengers announce her to the King. Solomon talks with the
Queen and she tells him that she admires his great wisdom and his
wealth. Then Solomon commands that the feast be served, and while they
eat the Queen presents her gifts to Solomon. When the Queen takes her
leave Solomon gives her wonderful presents. The play will end with the
exit of the Queen and her attendants.

Unless the children put much thought upon the stage setting and the
conversation, this incident may prove uninteresting. It has, however,
great possibilities for the working out of a beautiful picture.



The story of Joshua and the Gibeonites is so simply told in the Bible
that children of nine or ten years of age can read it as it is given
and dramatize it directly from that version.

The dramatization of this narrative calls for many characters. The
older children may take the parts of Joshua and the leaders of the
Gibeonites, while the younger ones are needed for Israelite soldiers
and citizens of Gibeon. All the characters in the play will need to do
much acting even though they do not enter into the conversation.

Although the dramatization should be a product of the children's work,
yet the leader should have well in mind the three main divisions of the
story that she may guide the children by her questions. This story may
be worked into one of the more elaborate productions. The Bible
language should Be used and the result should be full of dignity and
spirit. For detail in the method of presentation compare that employed
in the story of Joseph (chapter iii).

The story may be given so that the following divisions or scenes are

     SCENE I

          PLACE: At Gibeon. Street scene.

     The inhabitants are discussing the victories of the
     Israelites. They are afraid of Joshua, the leader.
     Messengers report that he is advancing toward Gibeon. The
     Gibeonites plan to make a league with him so that he will
     not destroy their city. They decide to deceive Joshua by
     dressing as strangers from a far country, wearing old
     garments and taking moldy bread and wine.


          PLACE: Joshua's tent at the camp of Gilgal.

     The men from Gibeon come to Joshua and tell him that they
     are from a far country. They say that they have heard of his
     great victories and wish to make a league with him. The
     conversation between Joshua and these strangers is
     interestingly given in the Bible and may be quoted almost
     exactly. Joshua makes the treaty with them.


          PLACE: At Gibeon.

     The Israelite soldiers rush into Gibeon to take it, but find
     that the inhabitants are the same ragged strangers with whom
     they made the league. The Israelites reproach them, but
     cannot go back on their word, so spare their lives. In
     order to punish the Gibeonites for their deception, Joshua
     makes them slaves of the Israelites.

There is much opportunity for construction work in the dramatizing of
this story. Costumes, pieces of armor, and weapons may be made in a
simple manner by the children.



The story of Isaac and Rebekah is unusually valuable for dramatization.
It involves a well-worked-out plot which is beautifully and simply told
in the Bible, and which brings the children in contact with many
interesting customs among the shepherd people. The story needs little
changing; it may be given almost as it is written.

The following outline for the divisions of the story is merely

     ACT I

     SCENE I

          PLACE: Abraham's tent in Canaan.

     Abraham is lying down in his tent. He is talking to Isaac,
     his son, about the wife he wishes him to have. He calls a
     servant and bids him go to Mesopotamia, his old home, and
     bring a wife for Isaac from his own kinsfolk. Abraham makes
     the servant swear that he will do as he has been told.
     Perhaps Abraham has his hand on Isaac while he is talking,
     and Isaac will take some small part in the conversation.

     ACT II

     SCENE I

          PLACE: Mesopotamia.

     The messenger, with his servants, comes to the well just
     outside of the city walls, where the women draw water. There
     should be no attempt to represent the camels. These may be
     indicated by the conversation and left to the imagination.
     The messenger, through praying to God, decides how he shall
     know which young woman to choose for Isaac. When Rebekah
     comes with her pitcher she offers to give water to him and
     to his camels also. The man is sure then that Rebekah is
     sent by God, and therefore he arranges to go to her father's
     house for the night.

This scene should be made very picturesque as well as interesting. The
children may look up pictures of the wells of those times and then
construct something that will serve the purpose. Pieces of pottery may
be brought in on the shoulders of the women to represent water jugs.
(Compare with the street scene described in the story of Ruth, chapter


          PLACE: Rebekah's home.

     In this scene comes the discussion of Rebekah's leaving home
     to become the wife of Isaac. The messenger makes known to
     the family that it is Abraham, their kinsman, who is sending
     for Rebekah. He gives Rebekah the gifts which his master has
     sent--earrings, bracelets, and the like. The family finally
     decide that Rebekah may go back to Canaan, but they ask the
     servant to let her stay with them for ten days longer. He
     is unwilling to wait, and the question is therefore put to
     Rebekah. She answers that she will go with him now.

     ACT III

     SCENE I

          PLACE: Canaan. A field near Isaac's home.

     Isaac walks alone in the field at sunset. He is constantly
     looking into the distance, and he is wondering when the
     messenger will return with a wife for him. At length he sees
     the camels approaching and hastens to meet them. This is all
     indicated by his soliloquy--no camels must be shown. The
     servant and Rebekah have dismounted and come to meet Isaac.
     The servant gives Rebekah to Isaac who embraces her and
     shows his joy at receiving such a beautiful wife. The play
     should end where Isaac turns toward his father's tent with

While the children are playing this story there should be much detailed
discussion which will give them an adequate background for
understanding the customs upon which the story is based; and there
should be shown many illustrations which will insure correct mental



This may be used as a very simple incident of two scenes, or it may be
elaborated into a longer play.

The first scene is placed by the gate of the city of Zarephath. As
Elijah comes toward the gate he asks a woman, who is gathering sticks,
for a drink of water. She gives him the water and he asks for bread.
The conversation between them brings out the facts that there is famine
in the land, and that the widow has hardly enough meal left in the
house to make bread for herself and for her son. She agrees to divide
with Elijah, however, and takes him into her house. The wording for
this scene may be taken almost directly as it is given in the Bible.

The second scene is placed in the house of the widow. The woman and her
son are eating with Elijah. From what they say to each other it is
apparent that the meal and oil have lasted for many days, and the three
people have had plenty to eat during the famine. The widow is convinced
that a miracle has been wrought by her guest. She begs him to tell her
who he is. The stranger answers that he is Elijah, the prophet of the
Lord, and that it is through the Lord's care of them that they have had
food enough. The play may well end here with the final speech from the
widow as it is given in the Bible: "Now by this I know that thou art a
man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth."

In case the part of the story which gives the raising of the widow's
son is used, a third scene may be added, and the widow's speech would
come at the end of that scene.



This incident is similar to the story of Elijah and the widow's meal,
and may be dealt with in the same manner. It should be simplified by
selecting certain parts for dramatization. The emphasis throughout
falls upon the generous qualities of the two characters--Elisha, ever
ready to help others, and the woman, who always kept a room for the
prophet because she admired his goodness.



The stories about Daniel have unusually interesting possibilities for
dramatization. They need very little explanation. They are so vividly
and beautifully told in the Bible that the children will understand
them readily and have no difficulty in interpreting them. A few
historical facts may be given to make the setting clear. The following
divisions are suggested for the first story:

     SCENE I

     King Nebuchadnezzar brings four Israelites into his court in
     order to have them trained as councilors. He appoints them a
     daily provision of the king's meat and wine.


     The King dreams a dream and forgets it. He calls all of his
     wise men and demands that they tell him what his dream was
     and also interpret it. The wise men declare that this is an
     impossibility and refuse to obey. Nebuchadnezzar is furious
     and orders that they all be put to death.

     Daniel then comes before the King and asks that the King
     give him time that he may interpret the dream. The King
     grants this.


     Daniel appears before the King again. The King asks if he is
     able to tell what the dream was and to interpret it. Daniel
     answers that he is able to tell him, not, however, by his
     own power, but by the power of God in heaven who revealeth
     secrets. Then Daniel gives in detail the dream and tells
     King Nebuchadnezzar the meaning thereof. The King is so
     affected that he falls on his face and worships Daniel. He
     recognizes the God of Daniel, and commands that Daniel be
     made governor of Babylon. At Daniel's request he also makes
     the three other Israelites rulers of certain provinces.

This story may be treated in the same manner as the story of Joseph
(chapter iii).



This story may be read to children directly from the Bible. After they
have worked it over several times the final product will include three
scenes of the following character:

     SCENE I

     The heralds come through the streets crying aloud that King
     Nebuchadnezzar commands all people to bow down when they
     shall hear the musical instruments and worship the image of
     gold which he has set up. Those who do not obey will be put
     into a burning fiery furnace. The instruments of music sound
     and all the people fall to the ground to worship except the
     three Israelites, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Some of
     the men notice that the Jews do not obey, and go off
     immediately to tell the King.


     The men come before the King and begin their story by
     saying, "O King, live forever!" The Bible language may be
     used directly here in the conversation which follows. The
     King is very angry at what these men tell him. He orders
     that the three Jews be brought before him. They are brought
     in and the King tells them that they will have to be put
     into the fiery furnace if they do not obey. The Jews are not
     afraid and reply that their God will take care of them. The
     King then orders them to be bound and to be taken out to the
     furnace, which has been heated seven times hotter than
     usual. Men come running back to the King to tell him that
     the servants which thrust the Jews into the furnace were
     burnt up by the heat, but that the Jews were not harmed.
     Another man runs in and tells the King that a fourth person
     is in the furnace, and that he resembles the Son of God.
     Nebuchadnezzar commands that the three men be brought out
     from the furnace. They come before him, with no mark of the
     fire on them. The King is so greatly impressed that he makes
     a decree that no one shall speak against the God of
     Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. He then appoints these
     three men to positions of greater trust than ever before.



This story, like the others from Daniel, is so dramatically told in the
Bible that it may be taken almost exactly as it is given. It should be
worked into a one-act play. Much attention should be given to the
setting, and the children may make many things which will give some
idea of the richness of the banquet hall.

The play opens with the feast of Belshazzar. The people are making
merry in the midst of all the pomp and luxury of the court. Suddenly
the handwriting appears on the wall. The King and the people see it and
are terrified. The children should not attempt to show the handwriting,
but from the words and actions of the King and the people the audience
must be made aware of what is happening. None of the wise men present
is able to interpret the handwriting. The Queen comes before the King
and begs that he send for Daniel, the Jew. Daniel is brought in, and
after a little thought gives the interpretation. The scene should end
with the recognition of Daniel's power. The scarlet robe is placed on
him and the golden chain is put around his neck, and the King
proclaims that Daniel shall be the third ruler in the land.



The most majestic piece of literature in the Bible, and one of the
world's masterpieces, is the Book of Job. The Prologue and Epilogue are
in the prose epic style, which characterizes the best narrative
portions of the Bible. The main part of the book is actually dramatic
in form, and the deep problem of human suffering is discussed in the
loftiest poetic language. The theme is so profound and the imagery so
elevated that it is quite beyond the ability of small children.
High-school students might well present the drama. Many of the speeches
may be abbreviated, while the Prologue can easily be dramatized. Job
has been so presented with great success by children of high-school age
at All Souls' Church, Chicago. It may be noted that the voice of the
Lord was given in an elevated monotone by a person unseen.


For the older children many of the Prophets make interesting characters
for dramatization. The great value of a study of the Prophets lies in
their appeal as beautiful pieces of literature and expressions of the
deepest spiritual feeling, rather than in the dramatic situations
presented. If a study is made of the life of the Prophets, and of the
times in which they lived, ample material will be discovered which may
serve as a background for the dramatization of these characters. This
material is not entirely available from the Bible, but should be
reinforced by outside references, such as _The Prophets of Israel_ by
C. H. Cornill, _The Modern Reader's Bible_ by R. G. Moulton, _The
Hebrew Prophets_ by Chamberlin.

The prophet Amos may be taken as an example of what can be done with
this material. The Children of Israel are celebrating their autumn
festival with great joy and abandon. As the mirth is at its highest an
unknown man makes his way through the crowd. He silences the festivity
by chanting his dirgelike reproof to the merrymakers. The astonishment
of the people at this sensational interruption is great. The high
priest hurries toward him and demands an explanation for this unusual
disturbance. He orders Amos to cease speaking and to go back to the
hills and mind his sheep. Amos answers that he is sent by the Lord to
reprove the people of Israel, and he continues to intone his
lamentations. The most beautiful and vivid selections for use in
dramatization are found in chapters 8 and 9. While the final beautiful
words of the prophecy are regarded as an editorial appendix, there can
be no impropriety in using them as a dramatic climax. The people may
then be represented as subdued in spirit, accepting the upbraiding as
being the word of God.

Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other Prophets may be worked out in like manner.
The result in each case, however, should insure the utmost dignity and
beauty; otherwise the dramatization should never be attempted.

The many Prophets with their various messages suggest the possibility
of their use in a pageant. This form of dramatization may be given to
advantage by a group of children as a climax to their detailed study of
the Prophets.

       *       *       *       *       *

From each of the following subjects several dramatizations may be
taken. They suggest many short one-act plays, and also some excellent
long ones.

     Saul Chosen and Anointed King of Israel. I Sam., chaps. 9
     and 10.

     Samuel Anoints David. I Sam., chap. 16.

     David and Jonathan. I Sam., chaps. 18-20.

     David Spares Saul's Life. I Sam., chap. 24.

     Moses Begs Pharaoh to Allow the Children of Israel to Leave
     Egypt. Exod., chaps. 5-13.

It may be well to state, in connection with the selection of stories
from the Bible for dramatization, that other stories outside of the
Bible may be dramatized by these same methods and will accomplish the
same results. It is not best to allow children to dramatize in
succession too many of the heavier type of stories, such as the Bible
stories represent. They may become tired if they work too long at the
same kind of dramatization. Children need stories which will lighten
and relieve the extreme seriousness and dignity which they necessarily
have to express in playing the Bible stories. There is a host of fairy
tales, folk-tales, and historical incidents that may well be adapted
for this purpose.

_The Children's Educational Theatre_, by Alice Minnie Herts, describes
dramatic work with children older than those who made the plays in this
book. It is an interesting experiment in education which uses
dramatization as a means for accomplishing certain aims.



The point has been emphasized in the preceding chapters that very
little stage setting and only a few properties are used in connection
with these dramatizations. It is always best that as much as possible
should be left to the imagination, and that only such setting and
properties be used as the children themselves can construct and as are
needed to produce the atmosphere of the play. This point of view
influences any consideration of these matters.

It is frequently true that, after the children have made the articles
they find a need for, the results are very crude, and there is yet much
opportunity for free play of the imagination. Great benefit is derived,
however, through the construction of these objects. The children gain a
clearer understanding and a keener appreciation of them after they have
had the experience of trying to express the shape or form through some
medium, such as clay-modeling, paper-cutting, drawing.

Care should be taken that children make nothing in the nature of stage
scenery, such as trees, grass, bulrushes, and other bits of landscape.
The only stage setting which seems at all necessary for them to make
involves very simple designs which show the characteristic
ornamentation of the times, for example, the lotus and papyrus designs
in Pharaoh's court.

Drawings and descriptions of a few of the most essential stage
properties and settings are given below, with suggestions as to where
and how each may be used.

_Water jugs and dishes._--In the earlier stages of Hebrew history--as
is found to be the case with all primitive shepherd people--skins and
wooden bowls were used for holding water, milk, and food. Clay vessels
were probably not in general use during the nomadic period. When
dramatizing the stories of Abraham and Isaac, and others of that
period, this fact should be taken into account, and only vessels of
wood and skin should be used.

Most of the clay utensils, which are mentioned in the stories of a
later time, were shaped like those shown in Fig. 10. Many of the water
jugs had small handles, though some were without handles. Fig. 11 shows
the position in which a Hebrew woman usually carried her water jug.

The Hebrews had little interest in the aesthetic except in the realm of
literature, and the lack is very evident in their pottery. The water
jugs are far from having the beauty of line and proportion which is
found in Greek pottery. Whenever any of these vessels are needed for
use in a dramatization, it is well to have the children bring jars and
bowls from home which conform as nearly as possible to the shapes here
given. Earthenware bowls and jars may be used effectively.


_Wells._--The importance of wells in the life of the early Hebrews
cannot be overemphasized. The scarcity of water in the desert made the
digging of wells a necessity for the survival of people and of flocks.
As much of the land was rocky, wells could be dug only at certain
places. These favorable places were the means of determining where the
tents were to be pitched. In most of the stories of the nomadic life
wells play a conspicuous part.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--WOMAN CARRYING WATER JUG]

Children should have correct mental pictures of those ancient wells, so
that they do not confuse them with the modern wells. The wells of
Palestine usually had low stone walls around them, and often big flat
stones for covers. The rocks were piled high enough to keep animals
from falling in. In some of the wells the water was so low in the
ground that people had to go down steps on the inside in order to get
it. In other wells the vessels were let down by means of ropes. The
women of the land were always required to draw and carry the water.

The simplest way for children to represent a well on the stage is by
piling up rocks to resemble the outside or by using something that will
look like a great stone. Fig. 12 shows two kinds of wells in Palestine.


_Staff and rod._--The shepherd boy always had with him a rod and a
staff (Fig. 13). The rod was about two and a half feet long and was
used for protection. The thick knob at the end was cut out of the tree
from which the limb came, and was frequently covered with knots or
nails to make it more terrible as a weapon. The children may find
pieces of wood which will serve the purpose, or if they live near a
forest they may make their own rods.

The staff was usually about five feet long. The shepherd used it to
help him climb hills and mountains and also to keep the sheep from
straying. Some staffs were nothing more than the straight limbs of
trees; others had a fork or crook at the end so that they could more
easily catch into the wool of the sheep when they needed guiding.
Children may use long sticks or branches from trees when they represent


_Sling._--The sling which was used in David's time was frequently woven
of rushes, hair, or sinews; sometimes it was made from soft leather.
From Fig. 14 it will be seen that the shape of the woven part is wider
in the middle and comes to a point at the end. A string was tied to
each end and the stone was placed in the wide part. The sling was
whirled around over the head, and as one string was let loose the stone
flew out. When the sling is used in a dramatization, the stone may be
left to the imagination.


Children take great pleasure in trying to weave this sling. A diagram
of a simple cardboard loom is given in Fig. 14. The shape should be
drawn on the cardboard, then holes made for the thread which strings up
the loom. Coarse woolen yarn may be used for the weaving.

_Shepherd bag._--The shepherd bag which was used by David was carried
by every shepherd boy along with the staff, rod, and sling. It was
made from a piece of skin with a cord at each end. The cords were
fastened to the girdle so that the skin formed a kind of bag. Pebbles
for the sling were carried in it, and often supplies of food. A piece
of leather or of brown cloth may be easily made into one of these bags
for the children to use.

_Sickles._--Sickles were of two kinds--those made of metal and those
made of wood. The wooden ones were toothed with sharp pieces of flint.
Fig. 15 gives the characteristic shapes.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--SICKLES]

Children may represent these sickles by cutting the shapes from stiff
cardboard and coloring them some dark color to make them look as if
they were wood or metal. Some of the boys may be interested in cutting
sickles directly out of wood.

_Scepter._--The scepter was used by kings in the later history of the
Hebrews. It was nothing more than a development of the rod used in the
shepherd period. As a rod it was a means of protection and power over
enemies, and as a scepter it was a symbol of the same power. Scepters
were sometimes short, with much ornamentation; others were long,
probably five feet in length. They were all characterized by a ball at
the end, and in many cases the kings had them made from gold, or
richly ornamented with gold. The Persian kings used the long scepter,
which therefore is the kind most appropriate for the play of Esther
(see Fig. 16).

_Tents._--The ancient Hebrew tent was much like the modern Bedouin
tent. It was low and spread out over the ground, and was made of black
goat's hair cloth. This cloth was usually stretched over nine poles,
arranged in rows of three and from six to seven feet in height. The
inside of the tent was divided into two parts by a long curtain which
hung across the middle.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.--SCEPTER]

A tent may be represented on the stage by placing a big thick cloth (a
blanket or canvas or dark curtain) over poles or screens.

_Shields._--There were two kinds of shields found among the Hebrews.
One was very large and covered a man from head to foot; it was usually
carried by a shield-bearer. The other was small and was sometimes
called a buckler. Many different shapes were found in both kinds of
shields; some were like the Egyptian--long, broad, and straight at the
bottom; others were round and oblong. All shields were convex with
handles on the inside to hold them by. The kings had shields covered
with gold, or decorated with gold and precious stones; but the common
soldier had a shield of wood or stiff leather. Leather formed the basis
of the shields that were decorated. Fig. 17 will show drawings of some
of the typical shapes. Children can easily make shields out of
cardboard; some may be covered with gold paper or with dark-brown
paper. A handle may be glued or sewed in the inside so that the shield
may be held without trouble.


_Swords._--The sword was always hung from the left side of the
sword-belt. It was made from bronze or iron, and was about seventeen
inches long. Fig. 13 shows some of the usual shapes. Many swords were
two-edged and had leather sheaths in which they were carried. Children
may make these out of stiff cardboard, or out of thin wood. They should
be colored a dark color, and the hilts may be decorated with bright
colors to represent jewels.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.--TRUMPETS]

_Spears._--Spears averaged about five feet in length. The javelin was a
long, heavy spear used for casting; the lance was a lighter spear used
for defense. All spears had a shaft of wood and a metal or stone point.
Fig. 13 gives several of the characteristic shapes of spear-points.
Spears may be made by fastening cardboard points to long sticks, or by
cutting the point directly out of the wood.

_Bows and arrows._--The bows and arrows of the Hebrews were very much
like those of all other primitive peoples. The bows were often four or
five feet long and the arrows were pointed with sharp flint or metal.
Illustrations of the shapes are found in Fig. 13. Children need little
direction in the making of these weapons, a string and some pliable
wood being all that is necessary.

_Trumpets._--Fig. 18 illustrates the kinds of trumpets used. The small
ram's-horn trumpet was associated with the feasts and other public
celebrations, while the long metal horn was used for the most part by
the priests. These metal trumpets were frequently made from hammered
silver. Children can make them out of stiff paper or thin cardboard and
cover them with silver paper.

[Illustration: FIG. 19.--SIGNET RING]

[Illustration: FIG. 20.--LAMP]

_Signet ring._--A signet ring is something that the kings were never
without. In the earlier times it was worn on a chain which hung from
the neck; later it was worn on the finger. Fig. 19 gives a drawing of a
signet ring. The design was raised so that it left an imprint. The king
used this imprint as his royal signature instead of signing his name.
When a signet ring is needed in a dramatization, as is the case in
_Daniel in the Lions' Den_, any large ring may be used, or the
children may be interested in making a ring from paper or cardboard.

_Lamps._--Fig. 20 shows one of the simpler types of lamps used at the
time of Christ. This was probably the kind referred to in the parable
of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. The lamps were terra cotta and held a
very little oil. Children will be interested in making these lamps out
of clay or plasticene. They are almost in the shape of a shallow bowl
with a handle.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.--EGYPTIAN DESIGN]

_Egyptian design._--In the scenes placed in Pharaoh's court a few
decorations suggestive of the Egyptian will add interest. Fig. 21 gives
some of the simpler designs which the children may use for
ornamentation. The servants may carry the large fan-shaped designs,
which they make on stiff paper. These designs were made from the lotus
and the papyrus plants; the leaves were usually a blue-green, and red,
blue, yellow, white, and black were used in many designs. Fig. 21 shows
some of these designs that were made by the children and used in
representing Pharaoh's court.


As it may be of interest to those who have access to a library to know
where more definite and detailed information may be secured concerning
the articles that are but briefly described here, the following works
are recommended: The _New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious
Knowledge_; Hastings' _Dictionary of the Bible_; the _Jewish
Encyclopedia_; Kitto, _Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature_; three books
by W. M. Thomson--_Central Palestine and Phoenicia_, _Southern
Palestine and Jerusalem_, _Lebanon, Damascus, and beyond Jordan_;
Elmendorf, _A Camera Crusade through the Holy Land._



The question of costuming may be dealt with in much the same manner as
that of stage setting and properties. Costumes are unnecessary in many
of the simpler plays, and even where they are used they should be so
treated that they are of minor importance in the minds of the children.
It is nearly always the case that the very smallest suggestion of a
costume--a sash or a cloth around the head--is satisfying and
sufficient to produce the proper atmosphere of the play. There is
danger of placing so much emphasis upon this phase of the work that the
children attach undue importance to it and thus lose the real spirit of
the dramatization.

If costumes are used they should not be saved for the final
performance, but the children should have the pleasure of wearing them
at each practice where they are actually living over and over the lives
of other people. Children should get their ideas of the dress of the
times from pictures and descriptions and then in very simple ways try
to represent what they have observed. The simplicity of the costumes
among the Hebrew people makes the problem comparatively simple.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.--A group of children, showing costumes and a

There is very little definite knowledge about the exact costume of the
ancient Israelites, for they have left no records. The only sources of
information on the subject are the few references to dress in the Old
Testament and the few Jewish figures found among the Egyptian,
Assyro-Babylonian, and Persian carvings. The conclusion has been
reached, however, that the ancient Hebrew costume was in general
similar to that of the modern Arab.

It is fairly certain that among the earliest tribes a simple slip or
short tunic, with close-fitting sleeves, was worn. Later a big loose
mantle was usually thrown over this slip. The little under-garment was
white, woven from wool, or sometimes made out of skins; the outer
garment was frequently striped, a bright color with white. Among the
old patriarchs the outside cloak reached to the ground. It was often in
the shape of a blanket, and was draped by throwing one end over the
left shoulder, then passing it across the front of the body and under
the right arm, then across the back, and to the left shoulder again.

At a still later period there was the long gown, which reached to the
ankles and was belted in at the waist by a girdle. This was sometimes
covered by an outside robe which was like a cape. Frequently these
garments were brought over the heads in order to protect their wearers
from the sun.

As a rule the servants and lower class of people wore only the one
garment--a short tunic, with or without a girdle. The richer men wore
the outside cloaks. Kings and nobles had many kinds of cloaks which
were very elaborately decorated. They had silk girdles, while the
poorer men wore leather girdles. See Figs. 23-27 for costumes made by
the children.

[Illustration: FIG. 24.--The costume of Abraham]

The women's dress was very much the same as that worn by the men. All
garments may have been a little longer, but the draping and the kinds
of garments were the same. Great ladies had beautiful veils and shawls.

[Illustration: FIG. 25.--Two kinds of costumes--the Rich Shepherd and
the Servant.]

Both men and women wore sandals. The soles were made of leather or
thick woven cords. They were fastened to the feet by means of strings
of leather, linen, or of papyrus. Two straps were usually attached to
the back of the sandal, then crossing from the back over the instep
they were tied to a third strap which was fastened at the front and
came between the great and second toe. Fig. 26 shows sandals which were
made by the children.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.--Costumes, showing sandals made by the

The headdress in the earlier days was nothing more than a piece of
square cloth, folded diagonally and placed over the head with the long
point at the back; the two ends were then crossed under the chin and
thrown back over the shoulders. A cord was tied around the head to keep
the cloth on. Later a kind of turban was worn which had no loose ends,
but which projected over the face enough to protect one from the sun.
Figs. 23-25 give examples of different kinds of headdress made by the

[Illustration: FIG. 27.--Costumes]

The crowns which the kings wore were frequently of gold, studded with
jewels, although the Persian king had a stiff cap of felt or cloth,
encircled by a blue and white band. Fig. 22 gives a few of the typical
shapes for crowns.

The helmets which were worn by the soldiers were varied. The shapes
employed by the Assyrians and the Egyptians were probably used among
the Hebrews. See Fig. 22 for drawings of some of the best-known
helmets. Children may make these easily by using cardboard and gilt

The Hebrew men and women had many personal ornaments, such as
necklaces, armlets, bracelets, rings. Children delight in making all
kinds of bracelets and chains from gold and silver paper. They may
bring all the bright-colored beads that they can get for the enrichment
of the costume.



The kind of dramatics described in this book may be undertaken with
success in connection with any Sunday school. The most necessary
element is a leader in charge who is wide awake to the aims and
purposes of such work and who has the ability to deal with little
children. A trained teacher is preferable.

This dramatization can be most effectively presented to children
between the ages of six and thirteen. In case the Sunday school is very
large and more children join than can be easily managed by one leader,
it would be best to divide the members into two or three smaller
groups, each with a competent leader in charge. One person should be
able to handle well from twenty to twenty-five children.[2]

This training ought not to stop with younger children, but may well be
carried on with pupils of high-school age. This would involve problems
slightly different from those here presented, but on the whole the
same aims may be achieved.

It is sometimes the case that a few of the children outgrow the club.
They begin to realize that they are much larger than the others, and
they decide that they do not care to take part in the acting, yet they
are still interested enough to come to the meetings. If there is no
other dramatic club into which they may go, then they may be used as
assistants in the younger club and made to feel that they are a
necessary part of it. There are many ways in which they can be of
valuable help to the leader, at the same time experiencing a
development through the training.

During one year in the history of the dramatic club here described
three girls of fourteen came regularly to the meetings. They could not
be persuaded to take part in the dramatizations, but they expressed an
eagerness to help in the direction. They entered into the discussion
and criticism of the plays that were being acted each Sunday, and their
suggestions were always very much to the point. They had the ability of
explaining what they meant to the children so that it was easily
understood. These girls would write out the scenes, sometimes while the
children were actually giving them; or, again, they would write them at
home and bring them for discussion at the next meeting. They took
entire charge of the costuming, and would meet outside at sewing-bees,
where they mended, pieced, or made over the costumes on hand. Then at
the plays they always took the responsibility of dressing the little
children, putting on their headdresses, tying their sashes, and seeing
that their costumes were draped in the right way.

When a dramatic club is first started, it is advisable to dignify the
organization by electing a president and secretary from among the
children. The president may take charge of the meetings and then turn
them over to the director, and may help in many ways to keep the club
together. The secretary may call the roll and be responsible for
sending notices to the members. Children always delight in this amount
of formality, and through it each one becomes a much more vital part of
the group; the responsibility as far as possible is placed upon the
children, and they usually rise to meet it.

It is hardly practical in most cases to attempt to hold more than one
meeting a week. The time should be set according to the convenience of
the majority of the members. Sunday afternoon was found to be the best
time for this little club to meet, but any week day will do as well.
Occasionally, just before a play is to be given, a few call meetings
may be necessary.

It is desirable that the club own the simple costumes which the members
wear. A costume box is a convenient place for keeping them. The same
garments may be used over and over again, and should be kept where they
may be easily obtained at each meeting. The older girls in the group
will be glad to take charge of the costume box, and they should see
that all of the garments are kept in order. The supply of costumes will
grow, for children will be constantly bringing new things to add to it.

There are various methods of getting a number of costumes on hand. The
children may bring from home old sheets and bright-colored shawls and
ribbons, which may be used to advantage. Often the Sunday school will
appropriate a small sum in order to help buy materials. A very small
amount of money need be spent, for the costumes must be extremely
simple and they should be planned and made by the children.

The construction work which the children do in connection with the
dramatization is an important part in the working out of a play. As
already noted, the greatest value of it lies in the fact that it
represents the efforts of the children. There is hardly time at one of
the regular meetings to have the construction work done. A discussion
of the articles needed may be necessary, after which the children
should be encouraged to make them at home. The older ones are able to
look up pictures and descriptions which will help, while the younger
ones need to have the matter frequently talked over in order to give
them the correct mental pictures of what they are to make. It is always
surprising to see how readily children take hold of this kind of work.
They bring in very many interesting things which they have made--often
things which they have thought out for themselves and which they had
not been asked to make. There are times when all the members are
working on the same problem, such as lamps for the Wise and Foolish
Virgins. It may be best under these circumstances to have a meeting
outside where they all work together. (Descriptions of these
constructed articles may be found in a previous chapter.)

A word of warning may be in place at this point. Parents of the
children are usually anxious and eager to help in making costumes and
the constructed objects. The very best aid that they can give is to see
that the children have the opportunity for making these things
themselves; they may encourage and guide wisely, but the finished
product must be the child's, not the mother's. Some mothers have
thought that they were doing the right thing to have a carpenter make
the spears and other weapons for the soldier. The boy derives more
benefit if he looks around for some sticks which will serve his
purpose, no matter how crude they may be.

The order in which plays are given in this book should not be taken as
the proper sequence for a dramatic club. The story of _Joseph_ is
described in detail first because the method used there may be followed
with any of the shorter or longer stories. This particular story,
however, should not be the first one presented to children who have
never had such work before. Such stories as _David and Goliath_,
_Abraham and the Three Guests_, or any of the parables should come
first. _Joseph_, _Ruth_, and _Esther_ are well worked out by children
after they have had a little experience with dramatization.

As a final summary, let it be ever kept in mind that this dramatization
functions as a factor in religious education only when the highest
development of the children is the aim. It should be so conducted that
it forms an essential part of the religious training of the Sunday
school, and also one of the valuable activities of the church.


[Footnote 2: In church schools which are organizing on the most
approved methods of the correlation of all educational activities the
dramatic club may be a regular part of the junior department, similar
clubs being integral parts of the other departments.]



Aaron, 55

_Abraham_, the dramatization of, 84-92, 118

Ahasuerus, king of Media and Persia, 70-83

Aims of dramatization, 5, 9-10

Amos, the prophet, 127

Angels, 85, 90

Armor and weapons, 50, 138-140, 151

Bag, shepherd, 136

Banquet, Queen Esther's, 69, 80

Belshazzar, 125

Boaz, 64-66

Bow and arrow, 140

Cardboard, use of, 45, 60, 151

Citizens of Bethlehem, 65

Clay, use of, 100, 131, 142

Cloak, outer garment, 146

Conspirators, 94-97

Construction work, 45, 60, 130-143

Costumes, 45;
  the making of, 144-151;
  the method of obtaining, 155

Crowns, 150

_Daniel_, the dramatization of, 93-97, 122, 125

Darius, 93-95

_David_, 44;
  the dramatization of, 46-51, 128

Design, Egyptian, 142

Diagram of loom, 45, 136

Dishes, 131

Education, religious, 6-8, 157

Elijah, 120-121

Elisha, 122

_Esther_, the dramatization of, 68-83

Feast, 80, 115-116

Fiery furnace, 123-124

Gibeonites, 116-117

Girdle, 146

Gleaners, 63

Goliath, 44, 48, 51

Haman, 71-74

Harvest, 59, 61

Headdress, 69, 144, 150

Helmet, 143, 151

Innkeeper, 105

Isaac, 118-120

Isaiah, 128

Jacob, 18, 112

Jael, 112

Jephthah, 112

Jeremiah, 128

Jericho, 103

Jerusalem, 103

Job, 126

Jonathan, 128

_Joseph_, the story of, 17-25;
  the dramatization of, 34-43

Joshua, 116

Lamps, 99-100, 142

Lions, den of, 93, 96-97

Loom, 45, 136

Method of presenting dramatization, formal, 9;
  informal, 10-16

Miriam, 55

Moab, the land of, 63

Mordecai, 72-74

_Moses_, the dramatization of, 52-56, 128

Naomi, 62-63, 66-67

Nebuchadnezzar, 122-123

Organization, of dramatic club, 7, 8, 152-157;
  of stories, 110-111

Ornaments, personal, 151

Papyrus, 142, 149

Parables, the dramatization of, 98-108

Performance, public, 14, 33, 90

Pharaoh, 21, 39, 54, 57-58

Pharaoh's daughter, 55-58

Pictures, the use of, 45, 84

Plasticene, 100, 142

President of the club, 154

_Prodigal Son, The_, dramatization of, 105-108

Prophets, the, 126-127

Queen of Sheba, 115-116

Reapers, 63-64

Rebekah, 118-120

Ring, signet, 141

_Ruth_, the dramatization of, 59-67

_Samaritan, The Good_, the dramatization of, 103-104

Samson, 112

Samuel, 113-114, 128

Sandals, 62, 148-149

Sarah, 85

Saul, 48, 128

Scepter, 69, 78, 137

Secretary of the club, 154

Servant, 100, 108

Shepherd customs, 84

Shield, 45, 138

Sickles, 60, 137

Sling, 45, 51, 135-136

Soldier, 49, 96

Solomon, 115-116

Spears, 45, 140

Staff, 45, 134

Stage setting, 84, 130

Supper, The Great, 100

Swords, 45, 139

Tents, 84, 138

Trumpets, 141

Tunic, 146-147

Turban, 150

_Virgins, The Wise and Foolish_, the dramatization of, 99-100

Water jugs, 131-132

Wells, 133



_Edited by_ W. C. BOWER, EDWIN E. AUBREY, and W. C. GRAHAM

_A Survey of Religious Education in the Local Church._ By William C.

_The Junior: Life-Situations of Children Nine to Eleven Years of Age._
(Revised edition, 1932.) By Ernest J. Chave.

_Out of Doors with Youth._ By J. W. F. Davies.

_The Sunday-School Building and Its Equipment._ By Herbert F. Evans.

_Recreation and the Church._ By Herbert W. Gates.

_Character Building through Recreation._ By Kenneth L. Heaton.

_Graded Social Service for the Sunday School._ By William N. Hutchins.

_A Summer Program for the Church School._ By Miles H. Krumbine.

_World-Friendship through the Church School._ By John Leslie Lobingier.

_Projects in World-Friendship._ By John Leslie Lobingier.

_The Dramatization of Bible Stories._ By Elizabeth Erwin Miller
(Elizabeth Miller Lobingier).

_Dramatization in the Church School._ By Elizabeth Erwin Miller
(Elizabeth Miller Lobingier).

_Far Peoples._ By Grace D. Phillips.

_Church School Projects._ By Erwin L. Shaver.

_The Project Principle in Religious Education._ By Erwin L. Shaver.

_A Project Curriculum for Young People._ By Erwin L. Shaver.

_Handwork in Religious Education._ By Addie Grace Wardle.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Made minor punctuation and formatting changes, e.g., indentations.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dramatization of Bible Stories - An experiment in the religious education of children" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.