Great Church Robbery
by Fred Passmore
Soundtrack: This presentation, whether done as a dramatic solo reading, in "Live Radio Style," as in a reading with different voices in the different parts, or even being acted out by others while being read, all benefits greatly from the specially-recorded music on the Soundtrack CD #3. To order it, go to the Soundtracks Page, and look for the Triple Feature Soundtrack CD #3. Or click here to add it to your cart. This CD also contains the complete recording of this script, as done for radio by Prime Example. This is for your reference and inspiration for your performance, or as a track for a puppet show or mime. The CD comes with a free MP3 download to use till the CD arrives.
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IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are playing the pre-recorded story and acting it out to the CD, play Track #1 on the Soundtrack CD. Do the actions according to the script and narration. The actors only lipsync to the recording.
If you are doing your own narration live, and using the music and effects, follow the track number instructions below. If you are having actors perform, besides the narration, they should perform according to the "Actions" instructions in the script and in the narrative. If the actors are doing their own lines, they must say them out loud. Otherwise they lip-sync as your live narrator says their lines.
Props: Newspaper. Dark Glasses and cane or walkingstick.
Great Church Robbery
by Fred Passmore
(Begin Track #2 of the Soundtrack CD)
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt enters and comes to the center of the stage. He picks up a newspaper and begins to read.)
Dr. Seuss, as you
know, once told a child's fable
about the Grinch, who was quite unable
to steal the cheer the holidays brought
and about the lesson that he was taught.
But if you'll lend
me an ear (or two)
I'll tell you similar story, that's new.
It's about a man who commits a crime
but discovers the Truth that's older than time.
It's a prime
example of intellectual snobbery
in what came to be known as "The Great Church Robbery."
(Intro music of Cut #2 ends and church bell sound effect begins, all under your voice.)
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt looks up, irritated by the church bells.)
church was known for its love and affection
and they invited folks in from every direction.
But to one neighbor, named Mr. Dewitt,
their invitations didn't matter one bit.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt crumples the paper in anger and throws it aside. He stands and walks to the "window" at the front of the stage and scowls out of it as he looks across the road at the church. he rubs his forehead as if getting a headache.)
hated them, and for their Christian religion
he held no love, not even a smidgen.
He considered their Pastor to be a big fake
and their clanging church bells made his head ache.
Though he felt that way, not because of his head,
but the fact that his soul was spiritually dead.
with a heart full of meanness and doubt
he watched Sunday morning as their service let out...
staring out of his window with a cold, ugly sneer
at their warm handshakes and smiles full of cheer.
all be returning," he said with a bark,
"for tonight's service, as soon as it's dark!
And then with their worship, they'll raise a commotion...
but what it's about, I haven't a notion!
set that big church bell to ringing,
then they'll all begin praying and singing!
They'll pound the piano and organ too,
but why they must do it, I haven't a clue!
for too many years I've put up with this stuff.
It's driving me crazy... I've had quite enough!"
As he got angry thinking of how they would do it,
he suddenly snapped:"I must put a stop to it!"
"Without all their church stuff," he went on with a growl,
"their bright, happy mood would quickly turn foul!"
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt's head snaps up, and he grins evilly as he gets an idea.)
a wicked idea hit his wicked old brain...
"I'll pretend I'm a blind man with dark glasses and cane!
I'll steal all their things,and if anyone spies me,
in my clever get-up, they won't recognise me!"
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt rubs his hands together gleefully and dons the sunglasses and picks up the stick. He pantomimes opening a truck door and getting the invisible "truck." He drives for a moment, then gets out.)
he felt quite proud and thought himself wise.
So armed with a plan and a tricky disguise,
he cranked up his pickup and took off with a lurch
and pulled it up to the back door of the church.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt takes out a screwdriver and pries open the door.)
that his entry nothing would block,
he used a screwdriver to jimmy the lock.
is too easy!" the fake blind man hissed,
as he tiptoed inside, cane clenched in his fist.
Then he lowered his glasses and peered all around
to make sure that no-one was there to be found.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt pantomimes picking up the various heavy items and tossing them into the back of the "truck.")
speakers," he said, "are the first things I'll
as he loaded them onto his truck, the old heel.
Then he ripped up and threw out the pads on the pews...
yes, he took every comfort, and the instruments, too!
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Little Mary Sue enters the stage area and stares at Mr. DeWitt.)
he carried the song books, all he could heft.
And even the Bible was not above theft!
When he had taken all he could rob,
he was turning to go when he heard a small sob.
Grabbing his cane, he spun round with a whirl,
and there stood by the altar a tiny young girl.
(Begin Track #3, "Little Girl's Theme," on the CD here.)
there?" he asked, while tapping the cane.
"You see, I'm quite blind, and I don't know your name."
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mary Sue comes closer to him.)
Daddy's the pastor, and I'm Mary Sue,"
Then with trembling voice she asked, "Who are you?"
a friend," he said, "no need to fear,"
as he motioned the little girl to draw near.
DeWitt faked a smile and kneeled down beside her
and when she smiled back the room--somehow--seemed brighter.
"You see," he lied, "God sent me indeed.
For even a blind man can see you're in need.
So I'm taking the old out and buying all new,
and as soon as I'm finished I'll send it to you."
pulled the wool over her eyes,
with his sightless act and clever lies.
And he condescendingly patted her head
But he was taken aback at the next thing she said.
kind sir, I wonder if I might
pray that the Lord would give you your sight."
And before he could answer or move out of the way,
she lay her small hands on his brow to pray.
"Dear Jesus, I thank You for being so kind
and I ask You to touch this man who is blind.
Bring the light to his eyes and help him to see.
So give him this gift, Lord, and do it for me."
when she had finished, his throat was all dry
and behind his dark glasses a tear dimmed his eye.
And conviction had fallen on him like a great weight,
but he croaked, "Thank you dearie, but now I will be late.
So go on back home now and don't say a word
or tell anybody what you have heard."
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt stands and watches her leave.)
as he watched the pastor's child depart,
he felt a strange tug down deep in his heart.
But he shook it off with a snort and a shrug
and as he was leaving he threw out the rug!
(Begin Track #4 on the CD, truck driving sound effects here.)
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt gets back in the "truck" and drives for a moment.)
was half past six, soon the church would be full.
So he cranked up the pickup and away he did pull.
Up the winding dirt road to the top of the hill,
he drove with their stuff, which then he would spill.
he came to the top it was getting quite dark
as he drove toward the cliff and put it in park.
He jumped out of the truck and strode to the ledge
and stood looking expectantly over the edge.
know by now," he said with grin,
"that their services there have all been done in!"
"They're wailing and moaning and they'll all shed a tear.
That's something" said DeWitt, "that I wish I could hear!"
(Begin Track #5, the conclusion, on the CD here, and let play through rest of reading.)
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt cups and ear and listens eagerly for the expected wailing.)
he could hear a sound, quiet and low,
rising up from the church in the valley below.
But, this sound wasn't tearful...
why, it sounded quite cheerful!
Everyone there, to the smallest fella,
was singing their favorite songs, acappella!
He hadn't stolen their joy...it remained!
In spite of their losses, they worshiped the same.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt's shock gives way to a wonder-filled smile.)
their joy doesn't come from what's done."
Perhaps," he smiled, "It comes from Someone!"
(Track #5 continues, singing ends and dramatic music kicks in here.)
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. DeWitt mimes seeing the truck roll, and jumps in front of it to try to stop it. He is facing the audience all this time on his knees as he struggles.)
suddenly his heart was clutched with cold fear
as he noticed the pickup had slipped out of gear!
It rolled toward the cliff edge, that rusty old clunker,
as he leaped in it's path and shoved hard on the bumper!
But it didn't slow down, though his feet plowed the sod,
and for the first time in his life, DeWitt prayed out to God.
I know I was wrong all these church things to take,
so save them, and me also, for Jesus' sake!"
(Coincides with the salvation scene music coming in strong here; listen to Cut #1 to see timing.)
then the Light of Heaven shone in,
as Mr. DeWitt was born again!
And he felt a strange power he'd not felt before,
as he found the strength of Samson, and more!
He stopped that old truck and turned it around,
then he hopped up inside and drove down to the town.
pulled up at the church and brought back what he'd took:
each musical instrument and every song book!
Then he went to the altar and beside it he knelt,
as he praised the Lord Jesus for the peace he now felt.
And he hugged Mary Sue as she climbed on his knee,
for her prayer had been answered and now he could see.
(Music fades and the bell tolls once, ending the presentation.)
copyright 1998 Fred Passmore
TIPS: As for suggestions for performing "The Great Church Robbery," it can be done a number of ways. Playing the complete recording from the CD, with people lip-syncing the dialog as they act it out in mime, is a common way. Others actually act out and deliver their lines as someone else reads the narrator's part, and the individual tracks of music and effects are played as called for.
If you are having an actor do the Mr. DeWitt part, whether he is delivering his lines or merely lip-sycing to the CD or the narrator, you can address his motions in a number of ways. Some churches have gone all out and have a set, even with a truck facade (see the Submissions Page), while most do it simply, and have the actor mime the motions. That is, he goes through the actions as if he is opening a door, breaking a window, moving items out, then driving the truck, chasing and holding the bumper, etc. The audience's imaginations fill in the action as the sound effects and narration tell the story.
If the part of the little girl is played by a little girl or female actress, they can do their own lines as they act, or lip-sych to the CD or narration. They should come back on at the end to interact with DeWitt when he is saved as well.
I have done it as a one-man performance, memorising the lines and acting out all the parts as I do it. Others have done it as a dramatic reading. It's really up to you, and since it was originally for radio and CD, your live performance of it has a lot of latitude for imagination and inventiveness.
As for involving others in your drama team, or if you have children you wish to involve, you might have them come into the church as Mr. Dewitt starts listening for the sound of their crying and have them lip-synch to the "Amazing Grace" song he hears. They are acting out the part of the choir. Really, there are no Whos and it's not Whoville, but it represents human characters and a real church. This is what sets it apart from the cartoon and source of inspiration. The others can come in singing the song if you wish, and that would work fine.
Others have involved children by having the story read from the script by a narrator who is sitting in front of a tree and telling the story to a group of childen. Their imaginations cause them to see the action as it happens and the actors come out and act out the parts as it is read to the kids. The music and effects go along with this and there is no lip-syncing, but all the voices and parts are done by the person reading the story.
Soundtrack note: All of the music and effects that the above script call for are on the soundtrack CD. NOT all of the minor effects that you hear on the fully-produced album version are on the soundtrack, since it would make it too complicated to perform in syncronization with. The necessary effects and music are on the soundtrack; but the album version can be layered with many subtle effects to benefit the recording, hence the difference. But all of the sounds and musical backgrounds listed in the above script are present in the soundtrack cuts.
In cases where the script is adapted from an album skit (the albums are available here), there are sometimes changes in the script or soundtrack to better accomodate a live performance. There are no limitations on what can be done on or added to an album, but there are limitations as to how much you can do live. The soundtracks are mixed with an eye toward making your performance shine, not necessarily to perfectly match the album version.
(Inform me of your intention to use this script, or tell me what you thought of it, by going to the Contact Fred page of this site.)
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