Reader’s Theater for Good Friday or Palm Sunday

Download the reading: Reader’s Theater Mark Passion Narrative

One Easter, I looked everywhere for a reader’s theater version of the Passion narrative found in Matthew’s gospel. I was unsuccessful, so I wrote my own script for each of the gospels, which you can access here. I post Mark’s version below in the hopes that if someone else is hunting online they might come across it and find it useful.

This reading has four parts, preferably two female (1, 2) and two male (3,4) readers. If the division of parts is confusing, it may help to think of this as a fast-paced narrative, almost as though the different readers are stumbling over one another and cutting each other off to tell the story.

The congregation plays the part of the crowd. In your bulletin, you will see your responses and the line that precedes them. Please join us for those responses. Also note that the congregation stands when the people come to Golgotha.

1:        Hear the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark:

3:        And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And Jesus said to his disciples,

4:        “Sit here, while I pray.”

2:        And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them,

4:        “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”

1:        And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that,

1&2:  If it were possible,

2:        The hour might pass from him. And he said,

4:        “Abba, Father,

1,2,4: All things are possible for you.

4:        Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but you will.”

3:        And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter,

4:        “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

1:        And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.

2:        And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.

3:        And he came the third time and said to them,

4:        “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

1:        And immediately,

1&2: while he was still speaking,

1:        Judas came, one of the twelve,

2:        And with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.

1:        Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,

3:        “The one I will kiss is the man.

1,2,3: Seize him

3:        And lead him away under guard.”

2:        And when he came, he went up to him at once and said,

1,2,3: “Rabbi!”

2:        And he kissed him.

PAUSE

1:        And they laid hands on him,

2:        Laid hands on him and seized him.

3:        But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and

1:        struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them,

4:        “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”

2:        And

1,2,3,: All the disciples

2:        left him and fled.

3:        And a young man followed him,

2:        With nothing but a linen cloth about his body.

3:        And they seized him,

2:        But he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

PAUSE

1:        And they led Jesus to the high priest.

3:        And all the chief priests and the

2,3:    elders

3:        And the

1,2,3: scribes

3:        came together.

4:        And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest.

2:        And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire.

1:        Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death,

1,2,3: but they found none.

3:        For many bore false witness against him,

1:        But their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying,

2:        “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands,

3:        Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build another,’

2:        Another temple – not made with hands!”

1:        Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.

2:        And the high priest stood up in their midst and asked Jesus,

3:        “Have you no answer to make?

1:        What is it that these men testify against you?”

2:        But he remained silent and made no answer.

PAUSE

2:        Again, the high priest asked him,

1,2,3: “Are you the Christ

2:        The Son of the Blessed?”

1:        And Jesus said,

1,2,3,4:“I AM

4:        And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

3:        And the high priest tore his garments, and said,

1:        “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy.

2:        Blasphemy!

3:        Blasphemy!

1,2,3: Blasphemy!”

2 looks at the audience to address them

2:        People, what is your decision?

1,3,4,C:         He deserves death.

PAUSE

2:        And some began to spit on him

3:        And to cover his face

1:        And to strike him,

2:        saying to him,

1,3:    “Prophesy!

2:        Prophesy!

1,2,3: Prophesy to us, you Christ!”

3:        And the guards received him with blows.

PAUSE

4:        And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came,

1:        And seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said

2:        “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”

1,2,3,4:But he denied it.

3:        “I neither know nor understand what you mean.”

4:        And he went out into the gateway,

3:        And the rooster crowed.

1:        And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders,

2:        “This man is one of them.”

1,2,3,4:Again, he denied it.

1:        And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter,

1,2,4: “Certainly, you are one of them,

2:        For you are a Galilean.”

1:        But he began to invoke a curse on himself.

1,2,3,4:”I swear to you

3:        I do not know this man of whom you speak.”

2:        And immediately the rooster crowed a second time.

1:        And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him,

4:        “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

2:        And he broke down and wept.

PAUSE

1:        And,

1,2,:   As soon as it was morning,

1:        The chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole Council.

3:        And they bound Jesus and

2,3,:   Led him away

3:        And

1,2,3: Delivered him over

3:        To Pilate.

1:        And Pilate asked him

2:        “Are you the King of the Jews?”

4:        “You have said so.”

3:        And the chief priests accused him of many things.

1:        And Pilate again asked him

2:        “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.”

3:        But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

1:        Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked.

3:        And among the rebels in prison,

2:        Who had committed murder in the insurrection,

3:        There was a man called Barabbas.

4:        And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them.

3:        And he answered them, saying

2:        “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”

1:        For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.

3:        But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them,

2:        “Then what shall I do with the man you call

1,2,3,4:The King of the Jews?”

1:        “Crucify him!

1,4:    Crucify him!

1,4,3: Crucify him!

2:        Crucify him.”

2 looks at audience to address them

2:        People, what will you do with Jesus who is called Christ?

1,3,4,C: Crucify him!

PAUSE

2:        “Why? What evil has he done?”

1:        “Crucify him!

1,4,:   Crucify him!

1,4,3: Crucify him!”

3:        So Pilate,

2:        Wishing to satisfy the crowd,

3:        Released for them Barabbas. And having scourged Jesus,

2:        He delivered him to be crucified.

PAUSE

4:        And the soldiers led him away inside the palace,

1:        That is the governor’s headquarters,

4:        And they called together the whole battalion.

2:        And they clothed him in a purple cloak,

1:        And twisting together a crown of thorns,

3:        They put it on him.

4:        And they began to salute him,

1:        “Hail!

1&3:  Hail!

1,3,4: Hail!

1,2,3,4:Hail, King of the Jews!”

2 looks at the audience to address them.

2:        People, hail your king.

1,2,3,C: Hail, King of the Jews!

PAUSE

2:        And they were striking his head with a reed,

3:        And spitting on him,

1:        And kneeling down in homage to him.

2:        And when they had mocked him,

3:        They stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him.

1:        And they led him out to crucify him.

PAUSE

4:        And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene,

3:        Who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus,

4:        They compelled this man, Simon, to carry his cross.

3:        And they brought him to the place called Golgotha, which means the Place of a Skull.

THE CROWD STANDS

3:        And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh,

2:        But he did not take it.

1:        And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.

3:        And it was the third hour when they crucified him.

2:        And the inscription of the charge against him read,

1,2,3,4:The King of the Jews.

3:        And with him they crucified two robbers,

1:        One on his right and one on his left.

2:        And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying

3:        “Aha! You who would destroy the temple,

1:        Who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,

1,3:    Save yourself!”

1,2,3,4:”If you are the Son of God,

2:        Come down from the cross!”

4:        So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another saying,

2:        “He saved others;

3:        He cannot save himself.

1:        Let this Christ!

2:        This Christ!

4:        The King of Israel!

1:        Let this King now come down from the cross

2,4:    And we will see and believe in him.”

1,2,4: Those who were crucified with him

3:        Also reviled him.

4:        And when the sixth hour had come,

1:        There was darkness

2&4:  Darkness

1&3:  Darkness

1:        over the whole land until the ninth hour.

2:        And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice,

1,2,:   “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

3,4:    Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

3:        And some of the bystanders hearing it said,

1:        “Behold, he is calling Elijah!”

4:        And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine,

3:        And put it on a reed,

4:        And gave it to him to drink, saying,

2,3:    “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down!”

4:        And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.

THERE IS A PERIOD OF SILENCE

2:        And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

1:        And the rocks were split

2:        And the curtain was torn

3:        And the earth shook

2:        And the curtain was torn

1:        And the rocks were split

3:        And the earth shook

2:        And the curtain was torn

4:        And the tombs were opened

1,2,3,4 All repeat their lines in a muddle and building noise until 2 interrupts

2:        And the curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

3:        And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said,

2:        “Truly

1,4:    Truly

3,4:    Truly

1,2,3,4:Truly, this man was the Son of God.”

PAUSE

2:        There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were

1:        Mary Magdalene,

2:        And Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses,

1:        And Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him.

2:        And there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

3:        And when evening had come on the day of Preparation,

4:        That is, the day before the Sabbath,

3:        Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council,

4:        Who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage.

3:        Joseph took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

2:        Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.

1:        And summoning the centurion,

2:        He asked him whether he was already dead.

3:        And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.

4:        And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and,

1:        taking him down,

4:        wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock.

3:        And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

2:        Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

PAUSE

1:        Here ends the reading.

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3 thoughts on “Reader’s Theater for Good Friday or Palm Sunday

  1. The Reverend Jones says:

    Can this be purchased? Thank you.

    • marissaburt says:

      Hi Rev. Jones –

      You’re welcome to use this at no cost. I’ll e-mail you a word attachment. Thanks!

  2. The Reverend Jones says:

    I cannot figure out how to get it. I wondered if you could send it tome on my email in word? Thank you and blessings. Rev. Jones

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