Our team performed this story several years to international audiences with good success, averaging 11 performances per season with usually about 100 or more people in each audience. It is a story than renders itself well to mime. It is considered one of O. Henry’s best stories and is a classic of American literature almost as popular as Dickens’ Christmas Carol. It has the romantic element which enhances its reliability. The theme of this story is that love is the most aspect of Christmas giving. It infers that love is sacrificial in giving up what you love most, which is what the Lord did in giving Jesus to save us.
We performed this skit in mime with great Christmas music (mostly instrumental and more of an older feel with flutes and 1600’s style). You can plan the music to fit the various moods of the story and then rehearse with the soundtrack playing in real time. We painted the backdrops on canvas and put them on PVC stands. Each stand had 2 sides, so we could just turn them around to change the scene. We tried to make the style like the 20’s. Tomorrow I will post the source material and other related materials. It is a play that requires just a few people – 2 main characters and possibly one group for the Christmas tableaux. We kept the props to a minimum. This can also be done in a clown style by using oversized props and colorful costumes and exaggerated mannerisms and gestures.
Blocking of the action follows:
The Gift of the Magi – O Henry
Christmas Skit – could be done in mime or simple dialogue.
1. Establish Christmas spirit.
A man and woman clown are decorating a Christmas tree and hanging decorations around the room. There is Christmas music playing.
2. Establish that they love each other
They are holding hands. Each one offers the other a cookie and drink. They laugh.
3. Establish that the importance they put on watch and hair.
The woman flips and twists her hair playfully (colorful clown wig). The man pulls out a large (huge clown style) watch. It is on an old string or rope. String could break or get tangled. He realizes he is late for work. She looks at string condescendingly. He gets dressed. She gets his lunch for him and briefcase. She walks with him on way to work.
4. They see a tableaux of the wisemen giving gifts to baby Jesus.
On the way to work, they both get the idea to give the other a gift. He looks at gift of the wiseman. Maybe he picks up the gift. He goes to the side to think. She does the same. They both get an idea. They say goodbye to each other and go seperate ways. He goes to work.
5. She decides to sell her hair.
She looks at her wallet. It is empty. She thinks and looks at her hair and is contemplating whether to sell her hair or not. She finds a man who has a sign that says “BUY – SELL”. He is calling out to her. She is in dilema whether she should sell her hair or not. He persuades her. He pulls out large scissors. They go behind booth and she comes out bald (bald wig). Hair could go flying over the top of the screen. The shopkeeper comes out holding the wig in his hands and admires it. She points to something in the case. He hands her a watch band for her husband. She exits.
6. Husband decides to sell his watch.
He walks by same shop and looks in his pocket and sees that it is empty. He looks at his watch. He enters and comes out the other side holding a package.
7. Husband comes home from work. They embrace.
Christmas music is playing. They greet each other and exchange gifts. She is wearing a hat to hide her baldness. He opens his present and sees the large watch band. He is shocked. He motions that he has no more watch. She opens her present and sees large golden brushes. They both laugh and give each other a hug.
Narrator: The custom of giving gifts at Christmas time first originated with the wisemen who gave presents of gold, frankencense, and myhrr, to baby Jesus. And like these wisemen, the two clowns in our story wanted to show their love for each other by giving each other a special gift but to do so they had to give up the very thing they treasured most. They realized that it is not the gift that you give to someone that is important but the thought behind it. Love prefers the happiness of others to its own.
These can be useful if used in a school performance. Classes can cover these questions after the show or in class at a later date.
1. What are some gifts that we can give others?
possible answers: our time, attention, love, helping when we can, listening ear, a smile, a piece of fruit, or drink they like.
2. Do gifts to others always have to cost money?
possible answer: There are many ways you can show love and appreciation to someone that cost nothing but your time. Try a smile, taking time to help them to do some chore, or bring them something they like. You can write a note of appreciation. If you are looking, there are all kinds of ways to give to others.
3. If you want to give, it often involves a sacrifice? Talk about how giving up something you like to make someone else happy can make you happy, too.
4. What are some gifts that God gives us every day?
possible answers: food, house, family, security, learning new lessons, friends, clothing, etc.