PALE MAN: Sickly pale man with a commanding presence.
DRUNK: A scrawny, dishevelled woman, early-twenties.
THIEF: A troubled and fidgety boy, mid-twenties.
PRIEST: An old, plump, callous and ornately dressed man.
SCENE: Four church pews are aligned one behind the other, all facing an altar on the stage left. The alter has a cross on its front and an unlit candle on top of it. The THIEF sits on the front Pew with prayer beads in hand and head bowed. The DRUNK sits in the third pew by the faint candlelight wearing many layers of ragged clothes. The PRIEST sits behind the pews at his small desk counting a pile of silver coins. The stage is dark, the only light being from the faint candlelight by which the THIEF is seated.
The PALE MAN enters from stage right, he is barefoot and wearing old, dirtied white robes, with notable bloodstains running down his back. He walks slowly past the pews, leaving bloodied footprints behind him, up towards the altar. He stands at the altar, first facing those in the pews, he lights the candle on the altar, then faces the audience.
PALE MAN: In this House of God three sinners sit. Three sinners from three walks of life, and with God as solemn witness, I accuse them all alike. (Spot light shines on the THIEF) I accuse the man in the front with prayer beads in hand and gun in coat, praying for a clear path ahead. (Spot light on THIEF turns off. Spot light shines on the DRUNK) I accuse the drunk sitting by the warming candlelight, with no thoughts for whose house she’s in. (Spot light on the DRUNK turns off. Spot light shines on PRIEST). I accuse the priest who sits in the dark, hiding from the one he serves. Counting his greed coin by coin, and befriending my seven seeds. (Spot lights for the DRUNK and the THIEF turn on) In this House of God three sinners sit. Three sinners from three walks of life, and with God as solemn witness, I accuse them all alike. (All three spot lights turn off at once. The PALE MAN walks away from the altar and sits in one of the empty pews. Silence. Stage lights turn on brightening the entire stage)
(The DRUNK gets up from the pew and walks up to the PRIEST.)
DRUNK: I…I was wondering father…if I could possibly rest here for the night…it’s absolutely baltic out there.
PRIEST: (still looking down and counting his coins) Dear child, I would be more than happy to offer you the warmth of the church. If you are willing to pay your penance. (The PRIEST looks up from his coins) I would say…Mortification of the flesh, would be the required penance…privately, of course.
DRUNK: (hesitant, understanding his meaning completely) Father…I…you. (The DRUNK takes a long deep swig from the bottle she’d been hiding in her coat, the THIEF glances towards the Priest but upon seeing the Drunk looks away. The DRUNK stands with a look of resignation upon her face and gently nods her head.)
PRIEST: (The PRIEST gives a faint smile and then returns his gaze to his coins.) Very good child, very good. You may go back to the pews and wait.
(The DRUNK walks back to the pews and the THIEF eager to see the Priest, is at the desk almost immediately after the Drunk has walked away. The THIEF stands over the Priest in silence. Just staring.)
PRIEST: (looking up at the Thief and sighs) Is there anything you wish to confess?
THIEF: (Pause.) Yes.
PRIEST: And what is it then you wish to confess?
THIEF: I’m going to rob you Father, as you robbed me. (The PRIEST looks at the Thief for the first time with any degree of interest.) The indulgences you received, robbed me and my family of our security. The indulgences you continued to demand, but we were unable to pay, robbed my son of a place in heaven. For supposed sins of lust, which I’m beginning to understand you had more part in than merely hearing his confession. I’m going to rob you, and I’m quite possibly going to kill you. Those are my sins to confess, do you wish to confess yours?
– R.K. Lightfoot
A work in progress, a snippet from the beginning scene of what will hopefully one day be a finished play. Any thoughts on how I can improve this opening scene? Also apologies for taking so long to post, I was on holiday and the wi-fi was terrible and it took longer than expected for me to get this scene to a standard that I was happy to post.
Photo via Pixabay CC0