My class are preparing to hold a school assembly next week. We’re sharing what they have learnt about the parable of the talents. Part of it is a drama. Rehearsals aren’t going too well.
“And it came about,” pronounced Don, the narrator, “that a certain rich master was going on a journey. He called his servants and gave them money to look after. To one he gave 5 gold coins, to another 2, and to a third 1 gold coin. Then he left them.”
Jono, the master, shuffled along the line, shoving chocolate money into the eager hands of three of his classmates. “Here ya are,” he said casually. “OK then. See ya!” With a wiggle of the hips, he started to mince off stage, flapping his hand limply with more ‘bye bye’s as he went.
“Not like that!” yelled Don. “You’re supposed to be the MASTER. You’re s’posed to be… to be… well, not like that. You can’t just say ‘bye bye’. You’re the MASTER.”
Meanwhile, the three servants were testing the coins in the time honoured way to see if they were real gold. Biting them. At least they weren’t removing the foil wrapping.
“OK,” agreed Jono, mincing back to his original place, “I’ll do it again.”
Don rolled his eyes.
“I think,” said Steve, who had been standing to one side with a thoughtful frown on his face, “I think we servants should come up to the Master. He should call us.”
Jono marched over to the servants, snatching the coins out of their hands before wiping them fastidiously on his sleeve.
And it came about,” pronounced Don, slightly wearily this time, “that a certain rich master was going on a journey. He called his servants and gave them money to look after. To one he gave 5 gold coins… to one he gave 5 gold coins… TO ONE HE GAVE 5 GOLD COINS…”
“Oh, is it me?” asked Phil, as Steve gave a shove in the back to push him forward on stage. “Oh, OK then.” He shuffled forward in his best Uriah Heep fashion, rubbing his hands together and grinning in anticipation. "Thank you, thank you," he said, bowing so low his head almost hit Jono's knees.
"Oy, watch out!" yelled Jono, moving back nimbly. He dropped the other coins in his hand. Petey, the third servant, dived to the floor, grabbing every coin he could.
"Give those 'ere," snarled Jono, prising Petey's fists open and levering the coins out of his hands.
"Come on, come, on, get on with it," growled Don. "To one he gave TWO gold coins. TWO, not three. You're not supposed to give him ALL of them."
Jono scowled, snatching a coin back from Steve.
"OK I know this bit. Come here, servant, I'm giving you a coin. Make sure you look after it and don't lose it. I'll be back in a week - or a month - or maybe next year."
"You're not supposed to say that!" screamed Don, his face an alarming shade of pink, "that's MY bit. You just give him the coin."
"Why can't I say it?" asked Jono. "I wouldn't really just give him a coin without saying anythin', would I? I'm the Master an' all. Anyway, why do YOU get to say everything?"
"Yeah," chimed in Steve and Petey, "we want to say more stuff too. Why should we just stand there and not have anything to say?"
"Oh, OK," sighed Don. "Say what you like. I don't care." He stomped back to his chair and plonked himself down, folding his arms and scowling.
Steve took his coins, strolling off as Petey approached the master. Head down, one leg out at an awkward angle, Petey dragged his foot behind him, shoulders hunched and his body lurching almost drunkenly. He sniffed, then stuck out his hand, lower lip stuck truculently out.
It was too much for Don. Leaping to his feet, he yelled, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?"
Petey took it literally. "I'm a servant an' I'm poor," he said.
"Just because you're a servant doesn't mean that you have to walk like that," shouted Don in exasperation. "Just act normal!"
Normal? Petey, Steve, Phil and Jono exchanged glances. Normal? Of course they were acting normal. Couldn't he tell?