All-Age Service Sketches

I'm occasionally asked to throw together a sketch to be used in a church service. These two give a good idea of the whole spectrum - the first (Dragon’s Den) is very silly, the second (Mary Magdalene) much more serious. Coincidentally, both sketches were written to be performed on Easter Day.


Dragons' Den

I was on my way back from work on the bus and our minister texted me to ask if I could come up with some ideas for a sketch in which Jesus pitches the Easter story on Dragon's Den (aka Shark Tank in the USA). I've always found Dragon's Den faintly hilarious anyway, so was able to write this before I got home.

The script relies on have a microphone set up either outside or at the back of the hall for Evan Davis' voiceover, and a screen onto which you can project images and video but most churches are set up with this sort of thing nowadays. If you do use it in your church, I'd love it if you dropped me a line and let me know how it went!

 

THREE CHAIRS set up in a row angles to the audience. As the opening video plays, DUNCAN BANNATYNE, DEBORAH MEADEN and PETER JONES enter and sit in the chairs.

On screen the DRAGONS DEN OPENING TITLES play. When it has finished the screen should be blank or have an appropriate STILL IMAGE.

Enter EVAN DAVIS.

EVAN DAVIS: First to pitch this week to Dragons Duncan Bannatyne, Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones is former property developer Hovis McAllister, who thinks she might have spotted a lucrative gap in the market with her improvement to something we all eat every day.

Exit EVAN DAVIS.

Enter HOVIS MCALLISTER.

HOVIS MCALLISTER: Hello Dragons. We've all been there: you want to have a sandwich but all your knives are dirty. You can't be bothered to wash up because you’ve had a busy day of former property developing, so you end up listlessly pawing at the bread, eating it in great handfuls and licking the butter straight from the tub. That's why I invented this: sliced bread.

IMAGE OF SLICED BREAD appears on the screen.

DUNCAN BANNATYNE: This is outrageous. Why is it sliced? If I want to eat some bread, I'll just eat it. You're solving a problem that simply isn't there. I have to say I don't like it, I don't understand it, so I'm out.

EVAN DAVIS (v/o): Hovis’ idea of an over-processed, bread-adjacent, food-like consumable is given short shrift by Duncan Bannatyne who neither likes nor understands it so he's out. But does Deborah Meaden want to jump in at this point, because she thinks she's spotted something which Duncan may have missed?

Deborah Meaden: I want to jump in at this point, because I think I’ve spotted something which Duncan may have missed. I actually like this idea quite a lot. Frankly, is the best idea I've heard since...do you know? I literally can't think of an analogy. I'm going to make you an offer for half the money for 25% of your business. But that only works if Peter is prepared to come in with me.

EVAN DAVIS (v/o): Deborah Meaden had made an offer for half the money for 25% of Hovis’ business. But that only works if Peter is prepared to come in with her. Peter Jones hasn't said anything yet, so does he still have some reservations, just not about the business?

Peter Jones: Hi, I'm Peter. I haven't said anything yet, but still have some reservations, just not about the business. Frankly, your tie doesn't match your shoes, and your haircut is an insult to thinking persons everywhere.

NB: If HOVIS MCALLISTER is not wearing a tie, this line could be changed to ‘your handbag doesn’t match your shoes' or something else appropriate.

EVAN DAVIS (v/o): Peter has reservations about how Hovis presents herself. Is it possible that this entrepreneur’s dream of a bread empire could fail to rise?

PETER JONES: Hi, I’m Peter. Having said all that, I like the product and would be very happy to invest in this business with Deborah.

HOVIS MCALLISTER, DEBORAH MEADEN and PETER JONES act out what EVAN DAVIS says:

EVAN DAVIS (v/o): Having accepted the offer, Hovis smiles and shakes hands first with Deborah and then with Peter. She punches the air in victory, leaving the Den with an offer having used her loaf to make some bread, despite both dragons taking a healthy slice of the business.

Exit HOVIS MCALLISTER.

The screen goes back to the STILL IMAGE.

EVAN DAVIS (v/o): Our next budding entrepreneur hoping to be the toast of the Den is former undertaker Pamela Croissant with another food based innovation she thinks could be a best seller.

Enter PAMELA CROISSANT.

PAMELA CROISSANT: Picture the scene: you go to the corner shop to buy some lunch. You buy a cake as a bit of a treat to reward yourself for a great morning of former undertaking, but when you bite into it: disaster! It’s stone cold. My innovative new product solves this by warming the cakes up to make them Hot Cakes!

Hot Cakes.jpg

IMAGE OF HOT CAKES appears on the screen.

DUNCAN BANNATYNE: Wait, wait, wait. I like cold cakes. I’ve always eaten cold cakes. You’re solving a problem that simply isn’t there so I’m going to go ahead and say I don’t like it, I don’t understand it, so I’m out.

EVAN DAVIS (v/o): After a lively, confident, self-assured, professional, slick and innovative pitch, Pamela’s idea has met with a cold reception from Duncan Bannatyne who neither likes nor understands it, so he’s out. But will Deborah Meaden want to jump in at this point, because she thinks she's spotted something which Duncan may have missed?

DEBORAH MEADEN: I want to jump in at this point, because I think I’ve spotted something which Duncan may have missed. I actually like this idea quite a lot. Frankly, I think these things could sell like...do you know? I literally can't think of an analogy. I'm going to make you an offer for half the money for 25% of your business. But that only works if Peter is prepared to come in with me.

EVAN DAVIS (v/o): Deborah Meaden has once again made an offer for half the money for 25% of Pamela’s business, because that’s what she literally always does. However it only works if Peter Jones is prepared to come in with her. But he seems to think that Pamela is missing some fundamentals for her business to be a success.

PETER JONES: Hi I’m Peter. I think you’re missing some fundamentals for your business to be a success. You don’t have a website, you don’t have a patent, and from what I’ve seen you don’t even have an oven. That said, I think your cakes sound delicious and would be very happy to invest in this business with Deborah.

PAMELA CROISSANT, DEBORAH MEADEN and PETER JONES act out what EVAN DAVIS says:

EVAN DAVIS (v/o): Deborah goes to shake Pamela by the hand, but Pamela misinterprets the situation and goes in for a hug. The whole thing is very awkward so Pamela runs away waving her arms in the air. But she got her investment - if she hadn’t made a deal she would have been a hot, cross bundertaker, but she made her dough and walks away with two dragons who are cherry bake-well positioned to take her idea to market.

Exit PAMELA CROISSANT

The screen goes back to the STILL IMAGE.

EVAN DAVIS (v/o): Last to face the Dragons is former carpenter Jesus Christ with an innovative soteriological idea he thinks could be very good news for the right Dragon investor.

Enter JESUS CHRIST.

JESUS CHRIST: I’ve got some news for you Dragons. Some good news.

DUNCAN BANNATYNE: I like the sound of this…

JESUS CHRIST: My idea is to take away the sin of the whole world…

DUNCAN BANNATYNE: Brilliant. Right up my street…

JESUS CHRIST: And offering eternal life to those who believe in me…

DUNCAN BANNATYNE: Love it. Love everything about it...

JESUS CHRIST: By dying on a cross and returning to life after three days.

Easter.jpg

IMAGE OF THREE CROSSES appears on the screen.

DUNCAN BANNATYNE: WHAT? I don’t like it, I don’t understand it so I’m out.

DEBORAH MEADEN: Let me tell you where I’m at. For once I actually agree with Duncan. I can’t see this getting any return from now until the very end of the age. So I think, unfortunately, I’m out too.

PETER JONES: Hi I’m Peter. Hang on guys. I think we must have missed something here. You don’t really die do you? You only pretend for a few days.

JESUS CHRIST: No. The plan is to actually die so that when I come back to life it breaks the bondage of sin and death on a permanent basis.

PETER JONES: Hi I’m Peter. I’m not sure about this at all. The whole idea seems like a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles if you ask me. Don’t know why I put it like that but the point is, I’m out.

Enter EVAN DAVIS.

EVAN DAVIS: So despite foxes having holes, and birds having nests the Son of Man leaves the den without any money and without a dragon investor. But perhaps the Dragons missed something important. For though it might seem like foolishness to those who are perishing, to those who are saved by his idea it could very well be the power of God. Next week on Dragons’ Den more entrepreneurs will seek investment from our dragons but only one near the beginning, and the one at the end have any chance of finding it. Good night.

Exeunt ALL.


Mary Magdalene

This was one of a few pieces I wrote over Easter 2018 about Mary Magdalene - the other was an entry in the Writing The Bible series.

The commission was to link the end of a video telling the story of Good Friday to the beginning of an Easter service by dramatising Mary's meeting with the risen Jesus in the garden. I decided that having the actors perform from their seats would be easiest, especially as there was to be minimal rehearsal time, so the script is designed more as a 'play for voices' in the style of Under Milk Wood. In performance, the dialogue moves quickly with Mary's inner monologue and outer speech spilling over each other.

 

Voices in darkness…

MARY (INNER VOICE): I watched them take the body down and lay it in a borrowed tomb. By the time it was done, the Sabbath had fallen and so the dignity of a proper burial had to wait. All through that day and into the night we mourned, but I rose early on the next morning - before the sunrise - and took the spices to anoint the body. But the tomb was empty.

The speakers, especially, the two Mary voices, should feel free to overlap one another. The effect is to have thoughts spilling over one another.

MARY (OUTER VOICE): Come quickly.

MARY (INNER VOICE): Where have they taken him?

MARY (OUTER VOICE): They’ve taken the body.

JESUS: Mary...

MARY (OUTER VOICE): Who’s there?

MARY (INNER VOICE): It’s the gardener.

MARY (OUTER VOICE): What have you done with him?

JESUS: Why are you crying?

MARY (OUTER VOICE): They killed him.

MARY (INNER VOICE): They murdered him.

MARY (OUTER VOICE): Tell me where he is.

JESUS: [Cutting across her thoughts] Mary! Why do you seek the living among the dead?

MARY (INNER VOICE): I don’t understand.

MARY (OUTER VOICE): I don’t understand.

MARY (INNER VOICE): I saw him die.

MARY (OUTER VOICE): Who are you?

JESUS: Who do you say I am?

MARY (TOGETHER): [beat] Rabboni!

JESUS: I have come back to you, just as I said I would.

MARY (OUTER VOICE): Teacher...

JESUS: But do not cling to me.

MARY (INNER VOICE): Don’t leave me.

JESUS: You must go and tell the others.

MARY (INNER VOICE): I don’t want to go.

MARY (OUTER VOICE): What should I tell them?

JESUS: Tell them what you saw.

MARY (INNER VOICE): He is risen.

MARY (OUTER VOICE): [Calling] Peter...

MARY (INNER VOICE): He is risen.

MARY (OUTER VOICE): [Calling] Everyone…

MARY (INNER VOICE): He is risen.

MARY (TOGETHER): He is risen indeed.