Here is the script for a stage play ‘extravaganza’ we did in Jordan for 2 seasons. It was well received and we performed at 24 venues for 3,000 people. Most of them were students at international schools, theatres, hotels, cultural centers, and Christmas events. A cultural center and a Circassian dance club were very gracious to lend us the fantastic costumes. As sound and language was a consideration, we used a track which we synchronized our actions to so that we could perform it in Arabic or English. If you are interested in the track let me know. I will follow this post with the source material – a short story I wrote.
Summary of the story follows:
Every Christmas, Count Helmut and his wife, the countess, invite the poor, the orphans and the handicapped to their castle in Southern Germany for a lively and fun-filled party with lots of dancing, gifts, and good food.The greedy accountant however, is not pleased with the count’s generosity. When Napoleon’s invading army marches into the village, the accountant sees his chance to take advantage of the situation, by revealing a fugitive spy that the count is harboring for protection.
Because of the accountant’s treachery, the spy is discovered and the count’s estate is burned down in retribution. Fire ravages everything and the count and countess try desperately to rebuild their lives. They must sell all that is left just to survive.
They are in abject despair until the count is visited in a vision by angelic dancers, who give a mystical sand clock to him as a symbol of hope. Their visit greatly encourages the count and countess to continue being kind to all in spite of their hardships.
The Christmas Sand Clock
This charming Christmas story unfolds nearly 200 years ago in southern Germany.
Each year for many years, the kind and generous Count Helmut has celebrated many joyful Christmas parties with his people until the day he loses everything to a fire set by Napoleon’s invading armies.
All seems lost until one magical Christmas when hope is reborn.
Peace returns to the land and through the loyalty and compassion of his faithful staff and people, the count begins to rebuild his life and kingdom.
The spy that he harbored many years ago, returns and her true identity and story is revealed. As favor returns to Count Helmut, so does the repentant accountant. In the true spirit of Christmas, the count forgives his treachery.
Christmas comes again to the count’s estate, when the children and all of the villagers rejoice once more in music and dance more joyous than any party they have ever had before.
Life is a sand clock of rich and poor;
The sand flows not in vain.
It is turned over and filled once more—
What you give returns again.
The Christmas Sand Clock Stage Play
By Curtis Peter van Gorder
Table of Contents
- Scene 1: Preparations
- Scene 2: The Christmas Party
- Scene 3: All to Ruins
- Scene 4: Living with Loss
- Scene 5: A New Kind of Christmas
- Assistant to Jester
- Extra guests
- Angel Dancers
- Gunter (wood carving set)
- Hans – limping (paintbox)
- Kurt (juggling balls)
- Karl – (instrument)
- Sand clock
- Juggling balls
- Collapsible telescope
- Money (coins or bills?)
- Brown coin
- Coin trick
- Money making trick
- List of needy in envelope
- Cakes and other food items – turkey, bowl of fruit, large trays with covered
- Cleaning supplies
- Cuttings in small bags
- Tools to put out fire
- Wood carving set
- Sewing set
- Horn – other musical instrument
- Decorated egg
- Ornate box
- Ornate Clock
- Ornate Key
The Christmas Sand Clock
Scene 1 – 7-8 minutes
Stage set up for palace interior
(Lively Christmas music) Jester and assistant come out do a routine (juggling, magic, etc.) to grab the audience and make them anticipate the exciting story to come.
Jester: (coming front stage – assistant acts out as Jester talks)
Gentle men, fair ladies, and kind children. It is Christmas, the time of giving. The wise men gave gifts to Jesus (motions hands together horizontally outstretched), the shepherds gave their love and praise (motions hugging motion and praise hands outstretched) , the innkeeper gave his stable (motioning to stable), and most of all … God gave Jesus to us (pointing up and down and out) .
And that is what the tale I am about to tell you is all about – giving (motions from the heart outwards). The story is known as “The Christmas Sand Clock.” (turns over sand clock for the first time.)
Scene 1: Preparations
Count Helmut lived with his wife the countess, some 200 years ago.
(Count and the Countess enter elegantly with nice music. They begin talking and laughing with each other. He gives her a kiss on the hand and she goes to attend to some business. Count goes to his table and works on some papers.)
Assistant: (Tugging on the jester’s sleeve)
Excuse me. What’s a count?
Jester: He is a nobleman. He is from a royal family.
Assitant: Oh….He is an important rich man!
Jester: Yes, well, they lived in a village in Southern Germany. The count had 20,000 villagers under his protection. The count often liked to look out the window of his castle upon his fruitful vineyard. (The count walks over to his window and looks out into the distance through his telescope.)
Assistant: What’s a vineyard?
Jester: (getting slightly impatient) It’s where they grow grapes.
Assistant: Oh, yeah. I knew that! Hey, I like grapes! I’m kind of hungry. Where are those grapes?
Jester: Over there! In the vineyard, of course! (exits as jester points) (Jester pauses and turns to audience again)
Back to our story,
It was December, a time when Count Helmut usually met with his accountant.
(Accountant comes out and counts money and then puts some of the money in his own pocket.)
Who was a greedy man, I might add.
(The accountant doesn’t know where the voice is coming from but looks offended and puts away the money back in his pocket. Accountant approaches worriedly to Count with papers in his hand. He hands the remaining money to the count.)
They were planning what they would do for the coming year. Many problems faced them—the biggest one was whether they would be able to avoid Napoleon’s army, which was destroying villages throughout Europe.
(Jester enters scene and begins interaction with characters and enters into the story as one of the actors.)
Accountant (Says nervously)
Sire, We need more money for an army! We need more money to improve our defenses. We need more money to…
(Jester comes in juggling and bumps into accountant. Count is busy watching and applauding his tricks and laughing loudly as the scene unfolds.)
Jester: (mimicking accountant in parrot like voice) More money. More money! Ahhwk! More money! (Accountant takes one of the balls and throws it to the side of the stage.)
Accountant: Get out! We are in the middle of an important business meeting!
Count: Come, come accountant, it’s Christmas time, cheer up! Our beloved court jester is just trying to lighten our spirits with a little entertainment!
Accountant: What a fool!
Jester: (Bowing low). Why, thank you very much!
Accountant: Why don’t you go find someone else to bother? (Pushing him out. Jester reacts and comes back in the scene.)
Jester: (imitating the count) Come, come accountant, it’s Christmas time, cheer up! Our beloved court jester is just trying to lighten our spirits with a little entertainment!
Accountant: (motioning to jester). Sire, this jester is nothing but a waste of space, (Jester squeezes and makes a funny squished face) a waste of time, (jester makes cuckoo clock motions and noises) a waste of food, (points to tummy and has hungry look and pulls out plastic banana.) a waste of clothes, (pulls on suspenders and pants fall down or snaps back or accountant pulls on his suspenders. Jester looks surprised.) And most importantly – he is a waste of money! (Jester takes out a brown coin and flips it in the air and the accountant steals it and puts it in his pocket. Jester looks offended but Accountant ignores him like nothing has happened.)
Jester: Ahhhh! Since you like money so much, I have a Christmas present for you. It’s called, “The MONEYMAKING MACHINE”. Just put a piece of paper in and out comes – money!
(He hands it to accountant inspects bill who is bewildered)
Like it? Here is another one! (Pulls out coin trick) Put one coin in and out comes 4. (Jester holds out coins in hand and accountant takes it.)
Accountant: This is all very amusing, but we are extremely busy here and have no time for such foolishness.
Count: Well, dear Jester. We do have business to attend to. Perhaps you can go and prepare the children’s entertainment for the Christmas party.
(Jester bows graciously —exits dramatically)
Accountant: Now, that is another point, sire—the children’s Christmas party. Our funds are getting dangerously low. We could save a lot of money by having a smaller party than we usually have or… (As if getting a revelation, somewhat excited) better yet, not having it at all.
Count: What? Of course we will have the Christmas party. The children look forward to it all year. Surely, you can think of a better way to make money.
Accountant: (pause – then gets an idea) Sire, …I know, we can raise taxes on the villagers.
(The count looks out of his window, deep in thought)
Count: (slightly impatient) That I will not do. The villagers have enough problems.
Accountant: But sire, you don’t realize how little money we really have.
Count: How much do we have?
Accountant: Only 200 bags of gold, sire.
Count: (very upbeat) Great! Then we have plenty to have a wonderful party this Christmas and to help the poor as well.
Accountant: What? (looking shocked and then he catches himself) But, sire if you will excuse me for saying so, we don’t need money to help them (disdainfully) and to…give away. We need to pay for an army to defend ourselves. We need money for my…I mean our treasury, sire.
Count: What is money good for if you don’t share it? God has blessed me with fertile vineyards that produce good grapes. God has given me riches to share—not to hoard.
Accountant: But Count Helmut, this is not good business sense!
Count: (as a reminder) As you know, my life’s philosophy is :
Together: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.
Accountant: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand, sire. But you really shouldn’t do that.
Count: (ignoring him and getting an idea.) By the way, has the mayor given you the guest list yet?
Accountant: Not yet, but I could give you a list of the wealthiest families in your realm. It would be wise policy to invite them, sire.
Count: My good accountant, try to understand. We will do as we have always done, and invite the orphans, the disabled, and the poor.
Accountant: If I may ask, sire, how would you benefit by inviting them?
Count: Jesus told us to invite not just our family or rich friends to our feasts, but the poor and handicapped.
Accountant: Yes, but…
Count: Then God Himself will reward us! So you see, it is good business sense after all.
(The count laughs and gives a friendly slap on the back to his accountant. The countess bursts into the room.)
Countess: (interrupting joyfully. Maid follows her wherever she goes.) Enough talk of business! We must begin our preparations for the Christmas party! Come dear, we need your advice.
Count: (affectionately) Right, Liebchen! I think we are finished here.
(To accountant) So, you will take care of the guest list?
Accountant: Yes, sire (Accountant leaves in a huff frustrated.)
Countess: Which color do you like better for the banners, dear? (Maid shows both colors to the count for his advice.) Red or green?
Count: I like them both.
Countess: Very well. (To maid) Have green and red banners draped all over the castle. (Maid goes off to get banners)
Butler: (Awkwardly carrying a large evergreen tree.) Where would you like this, sire?
Count: Set it up in the middle of the ballroom. (Butler goes to set up the tree)
Countess: Oh, don’t forget about the presents for the children.
Count: Of course! … but we don’t do that until Christmas Eve.
(Butler sets up tree. Maid comes back with banners and starts setting them up. Tree and banners become entangled. Banner falls on tree.)
Countess: Oh, that’s right. (Looking at brass) Oh, look at this brass! It needs polishing.
Count: (to Butler who is under the banner) (calls butler) Butler, butler. (Butler comes out of banner.) Butler what are you doing under there?
Butler: Oh, sorry sir.
Count: Please, make sure this brass is polished. (Butler nods. Count to the Countess) Oh, something smells very delicious coming from the kitchen. What is it?
Countess: Oh, I almost forgot! I hope they are not burned. (to maid) Quick, go check on the pies that are baking in the oven.
(Knock at the door. Butler goes to get it. Comes back and gives letter to Count.)
Butler: Sire, the mayor has sent the list of the children and villagers who need your assistance.
(The count looks up from the letter he is reading.)
Count: Thank you very much. See to it that the invitations are sent out by this evening.
Butler: As you wish, sire. (Butler goes back to his duties.)
Count: (to Countess) Are there any other preparations we need to make for the party, dear?
Countess: (The maid comes in.) Let me check the list I made. (Unrolls a long list.)
Oh my, there is much more to do than I thought. (Motions for them to come over maid and butler and they come near her.) Quickly, come here, please. (Looking over list) Let’s see now. We have to prepare the castle from the roof to the basement, which means: dust out the cobwebs, sweep the stairs, scrub the floors, clean the windows, wipe the banisters, dust all the furniture, beat the carpets clean, polish all the silverware, put up the Christmas decorations, trim the tree, put on the ornaments, (She walks off as she is still reading more instructions from the list. The servants look to each other and look tired thinking about it. The countess continues reading from the list and they follow her at a slight distance. They all exit stage left.)
Count: (smiles and to himself or audience) It is going to be a great Christmas!
(exit count stage right: Deck the Halls comes on.)
Scene 2: The Christmas Party
Reading: 6 minutes
The butler and maid come in preparing for party. All preparations are made for party at this time. Countess comes out and points out various tasks for them to do as the BMT of the music is playing. Music fades down. Jester comes on as his jester character. Jester is waiting for the children to arrive, and he does some juggling with something that is lying around. The butler is very polite and nods as he enjoys the distraction. The jester then pulls out of the action and takes on the role of a narrator.)
Jester: Scene 2 – The Christmas Party
It was Christmas morning, and the count and countess were anticipating the arrival of the children. (Exit maid and butler. Enter Count, Jester goes to the background and overhears count and countess talking.)
Countess: I could hardly sleep last night, thinking about the big party today! I hope everything goes well! How did you sleep, dear?
Count: Actually, come to think of it, I had the most unusual dream last night! (Jester perks up his ears as he hears this and decides to act out the dream.)
Countess: Oh, tell me about it!
Count: (Jester acts out as Count tells the dream.) I was standing on a sand dune. Then, the sand started to give way under my feet. I was being pulled under with the sand. Trying to stop my fall, I reached out and felt a glassy surface. It was then that I realized that I was actually inside of a huge sand clock. But then, before I knew it, I was outside of the sand clock holding that very same sand clock in my hand. (Jester picks up actual sand clock and acts it out)
In fact, it looked just like this one. (Count takes it from jester and holds it)
As I was watching the sand fall through, I noticed that it had almost run out of time.
Countess: What do you think it means?
Count: (deep in thought) I’m not sure… maybe …
(A trumpet SFX – Trumpet)
Butler: The children have arrived. (The stage is filled with the sound of excited children arriving. (Enter all children. Much noise and excitement)
(The count is a bit startled. The count gives the sand clock back to the jester who puts it back on the shelf. The countess is first to greet everyone and then the count joins her in welcoming the children. The children file in bowing to the count and countess as they enter. Then, seeing the Jester, they run over and immediately the Jester starts with some impromptu entertainment for the children who gather around him. At this point the “extra guests” arrive and are greeted by the Count and Countess.
Count: (After he finishes greeting the guests) Let the celebrations begin!
(The music brings the party to life.
He leads his wife by the hand onto the dance floor. Everyone lines up behind them for the toe-and-heel dance. They make a human tunnel and the dancers go through it. The boys dance in an outside circle surrounding the girls on the inside. They make a procession that weaves around the room.
The accountant comes in, hat in hand, very meekly and contritely. He doesn’t feel comfortable at all. The countess and count welcome him and the maid comes to take his hat and coat. He is reluctant to give his hat and coat but she eventually wrests it out of his hands. She puts the clothing away and then invites him to dance. He refuses. She insists. He complies and dances with the group dance. The jester sees the accountant dancing and smiles. At first the accountant dance but then gets dizzy and sits down. He wipes his brow. The maid tries to get him back up again and he flatly refuses this time. During the party he sometimes writes in his accounting book. The jester teases him and plays with him a bit. The accountant can pick up a few presents or items he finds and writes something in his book. The accountant picks up one of the juggling balls and writes in his book as if to record its worth. The jester takes the ball back from him. The dance finishes with the children dancing and everyone else is clapping.
Countess: Gather round; gather round children, our favorite jester will now perform for you.
(The Jester does his performance.)
Countess: Children, now it is time to open the presents.
(All the children are excited. The count climbs on the raised platform and taps on a triangle to get everyone’s attention. After the room quiets, he speaks.)
Count: Merry Christmas, everyone! (Picking up a present) Let’s see what do we have here.
(Gunter approaches the count, and tugs at his sleeve.)
Gunter: Do you have a present for me?
Count: Gunter? Oh yes, let’s see. Here it is.
(The count hands a package to Gunter.)
Count: But before you open it, can you guess what’s inside?
Gunter: Hmmm … I don’t know.
Count: On the card is a poem that will give you a hint of what ‘s inside.
(The boy reads in a loud, clear voice.)
Release the shape sleeping in the wood.
Use your talent only for the good.
Gunter: Hmm … a woodcarving set?
(Unable to wait a second longer, he tears open the paper. In the package is a fine set of tools.)
Gunter: Why thank you, sire!
Count: (The count calls out as he reads another label on a present.)
Is there a Hans Adams here?
(A boy comes forward, hobbling on crutches.)
Hans: I’m Hans, sire.
(His hands open to receive the large box.)
Count: It’s your turn. Can you guess from this riddle what’s inside your present?
We are the colors of a rainbow
To help others see all that you know.
(Hans is so eager to see what is inside that he tears at the wrapping paper without even trying to guess. He then exclaims.)
Hans: A paint set! Oh, thank you!
Count: Let’s see, who’s next? (Picking up a gift and reading the name tag on it.) Karl!
A small boy comes to the front to receive his present.)
If you have patience from the start,
You’ll soon play music from your heart.
(He discovers it is an instrument. When he first tries to blow it, though, no sound comes out. He tries again and a funny sound comes out and he laughs along with all the other children)
Karl: Wow this is great!
Count: (Picking up another present and reading out the name.) Kurt.
Kurt: (A boy comes forward. He is handed a gift and he reads his card slowly.)
What you toss up high will come back down
Always wear a smile, never a frown. Juggling balls!
(Kurt throws up the juggling balls and they all fall to the ground.)
Kurt: Oh, I’ll never be able to juggle!
Count: Don’t worry my young boy. I’ll have my jester teach you how to do it. In fact, I have prepared a teacher for each of you to help you improve in your skills. May these gifts I’ve given you, enable you to give happiness to others. Also, I would like to give you these cuttings from my famous vineyard. There is one for each of you. (The count motions to the butler, who begins distributing the vines to each of the children.)
Count: Plant them in good soil, water them, and soon you too will own a beautiful grapevine.
(One of the children then tugs on the butler’s coat and whispers in his ear.)
Butler: Ah, Yes! Excuse me sire, the children would like to perform for to show their appreciation.
Countess: This is one of my favorite events of the evening.
(Children’s Christmas Performance)
Count: (Applauding wildly) that was a wonderful performance. Now I would like to invite you all into the dinning room for Christmas dinner. All cheer and exit to the dining room with the count going in last. Accountant is hiding somewhat to the side and interrupts the count before he enters into the dinning room.)
Accountant: Um, excuse me sire. I’ve calculated how much this party is costing you. It comes to exactly…
Count: Please don’t trouble me with such matters at this joyous occasion. Come and dine with us. And for goodness sake, put away your accounting books for one evening.
Accountant: (reluctantly) Oh, if I must.
(Jester comes back with doughnut in hand as if he forgot that he was the Jester.)
Jester: And so they enjoyed that Christmas, and all was well with them until the tragic day that struck six months later. (remove tree)
Scene 3: All to Ruins
Jester: Scene 3 – All to Ruins
(Countess is reading a book as Butler enters. The count is working on some papers.)
Butler: (to the Countess) The children have arrived.
Countess: Please, show them in.
(Butler goes to get children.)
Count: It is wonderful to see you teaching the children to read.
Countess: It’s fun for me to see them learning.
(Children come in and Countess welcomes children and reads a book with them.) Welcome children! Please sit down. I’ve picked out one of my favorite stories to read to you today. (The Count looks on in pleasure as they start the story and then returns to his desk to continue working.)
Countess: (Reading from an actual book.)
Accountant: (coming in out of breath) They are coming. They’re …
Count: Who’s coming?
Count: Get a hold of yourself, man. Take a deep breath and tell me who is coming.
Accountant: The army! Napoleon’s army! There are fires everywhere! Oh, what will become of us?
(Girl in dark coat carrying a bag knocks on the door and the butler goes to open it. Girl comes stumbling in. She goes over to the count.)
Monique: My name is Monique. Please kind sire, hide me. The army is looking for me and they will kill me if they find me.
Accountant : We will do nothing of the kind. What would happen to us if we take you in and you are discovered?
Monique: Please gentle sire. I didn’t do anything wrong. Your kindness is known by all. Please, don’t turn me away.
Count: I don’t know why they are looking for you, but I will not turn anyone away who asks for my aid. I will help you.
Monique: ( On her knees in thankfulness .) Thank you kind sir. I am forever indebted to your hospitality.
Count: (to butler) Take her to the secret room in the tower.
Butler: Yes, sire as you wish. (taking girl to tower)
Jester: Hey, by the way, where’s the secret room?
Accountant: I know where it is but I will not tell you.
Jester: Ohh, yeah that’s right, it’s a secret.
(Countess runs to the count)
Countess: Are you sure that we are doing the right thing? Perhaps she is a criminal or…or…something worse.
(First slight knocking, then more violent knocking on the door. Butler comes back. Maid enters to see who is knocking.)
Who could that be?
Soldier : Open the door! Open the door, I say!
Countess: (To maid) Take the children.
(Maid takes children to side. Butler stalling and straightening his clothes before opening the door)
Captain: Count Helmut. We have information that has led us to your estate.
Count: (Answers as if nothing happened. Talks nonchalantly.) Ah…you have heard about my delicious grapes and come to taste them for yourself!
Captain: Not this time, I am afraid. We seek a woman who is fleeing justice. She has stolen some valuable documents from our army headquarters, which will give important information to the enemy.
Count: (amused) Oh my, a spy! How exciting! I would like to help you captain, but I am afraid I have not seen any woman fleeing justice… unless you mean my wife. But I hardly think she would find the time for such intrigue with all the household duties she attends to. (all laugh nervously)
Captain: This is not a laughing matter, good count! We have reliable information that she is hiding in your estate. I will give you the chance to give her up willingly. If you do, I will leave your estate in peace. But if I have to search for her, I will be forced to make you an example to all who harbor spies.
Jester: You’re kind of short to be making all these threats. You and who else?
Captain: I have 50 soldiers outside the door at this moment waiting for my orders. What should I tell them? (Everyone goes to look out the window. Startled reaction)
Countess: (Irrationally) How dare you threaten us! Leave our house at once!
Count: Now, now dear, I’ll handle this. I am sorry captain, that I cannot help you. I wish you all the best, though. Good night. (ushering him to the door. Captain breaks free.)
Captain: Perhaps some of your staff would be more helpful. (turning to staff and pulling out and lifting high a bag of gold) I have a bag of gold for anyone who can tell me where the spy is.
Jester: Oh, I can help you captain.
Captain: That is better. Well, where is she?
Jester: She went that a way! (Pointing to right. Captain goes in the direction he is pointing then pauses.) Or was it that a way? (Pointing to left. Captain follows) No, no, I am sure it was that a way . (Crossing fingers)(Captain become skeptical, crosses his arms and walks slowly back to Jester) I’ll tell you what, I can tell you where she might be. She might be in Hong Kong… or Moscow… or Paris… or London, or Cairo, or Pongo Pongo, or… the secret room. But I don’t know where that is because it’s a secret.
Accountant: What a fool!
Captain: (Approaching the butler) What about you? Do you know something that I don’t?
Butler: (First looking to the count for a cue, who nods) No, sir I cannot help you.
Captain: Isn’t there any of you who will take the reward?
(Uncomfortable pause then accountant slowly raises his hand and then comes forward slowly.)
Accountant: Perhaps, I could be of assistance to you.
Captain: Do you know where she is?
Accountant: Follow me. (Accountant exits with captain following him. They soon return with the Monique in chains. The accountant takes bag of gold and begins to exit with captain.)
Jester: (in funny voice) Uh, ohhh this is not good.
(Children crying as maid tries to comfort them.)
Countess: What will they do to her?
Butler: Should I get your sword sire?
Count : No, she is in God’s hands now.
Monique: Don’t let them take me. I am innocent, I tell you ! (several people go to help her and block his exit, but realize they are powerless to help.)
Captain: (to Monique) Be quiet! (to those blocking his exit) Out of my way.
Jester: (to accountant) Wait, I have a going away present for you!
Accountant: What? (Taken by surprise.)
Jester: (Walks over and puts his jester hat on the accountant.) I give this jester hat to you, because you are a bigger fool than I am.
Captain: (shouting to his men) Set the fires. (SFX: fire Soon the fires are raging. To the count.) It is a pity to burn such a beautiful vineyard, but I must do my duty.
Accountant: (to all) And this is my going away present to all of you! (Throws hat down and picks up a torch and throws it out the window and exits with soldiers.)
Count: (to the Butler) Quick, get the shovels! Clear the vines around the palace. Stop the fire from spreading!
(To countess) Take the children to a safe place…. (As she leaves with maid and children.) and pray for a miracle!
(Dramatic music. Butler comes running back with three shovels handing the first to the count, then the Jester. They all go running outside to clear an area)
Jester: The blaze caught quickly on the vines and spread like a fire-breathing dragon through the vineyard. The three of us worked tirelessly to keep the fire from reaching the castle.
After the fire had finally died out, we retreated back inside, exhausted from our efforts.
(Butler and count come in exhausted. Count collapses in a chair with his head in his hands.)
Butler: (to Count) Is there anything I can do to help you? (pause) Do you need something?
Jester: He needs to be alone now. (Butler and Jester exit)
Count: All that I have worked for—gone!
(Sad music comes on)
Jester: Then the Count saw a vision that gave him hope at the lowest point of his life.
(Dance around the sand clock with angelic beings. “We Three Kings”. At the end of the dance the sand clock is turned over)
Scene 4: Living with Loss
Jester: Scene 4 – Living with Loss
The next morning the count awoke to the reality of the destruction wrought by the fire. (Jester exits.)
(Maid comes in and sees the count slumped over with the sand clock on the floor near him. She picks it up and puts it back on the shelf. The Countess enters, feels his forehead and sees he has a fever.)
Countess: (To maid) He has a fever. Bring me a cup of cool water! (Maid exits the room and the Count starts to wake up. The countess has the count cradled in her lap.) Oh, darling, all the vineyards are burned. What are we going to do?
Count: I saw angels.
Count: Yes, they were right here and they were dancing around me and holding a … (he loses his words as he’s trying to remember. Maid enters with a cup of water and exits.)
Countess: Here, drink this dear, and you will feel better. (Count takes the cup, but is still deep in thought. Butler enters.)
Butler: Madame, I saw to it that the children made it home safely.
Countess: Oh, thank God! (pause, mopping brow. Butler steps back waiting for instructions.) But darling, what are we going to do? (Count sitting up and thinking. He is still weak.)
Count: We will sell all that we have.
Countess: (crying) But… but… our treasures? They have been in our family for many generations.
Count: It is the only way for us to keep the estate and survive. All will be well again, you will see. (To butler) Please collect what you can and sell it.
Butler: Right away, sire.
(Count slowly stands and countess accompanies him off stage. The butler pulls trunk open places items inside. Opens some of the boxes to look inside. Jester enters.)
What a beautiful necklace. What a shame that all these beautiful treasures have to be sold.
(Jester picks up the sand clock, turns it over a few times and stares at the sand falling. The butler taps him on the shoulder and points to the trunk and the Jester puts it in. Jester puts in a clown puppet to sell. Butler exits with trunk to sell. Jester helps him carry it.)
Jester: Later that day, the count summoned his staff. (Jester enters back into the scene and the butler and maid come in the room. They sit down and wait nervously for the Count to come. Count enters the room and all stand at attention in a line.)
Count: Good friends, You have been faithful for many years and I am grateful for your service to me and to this household. However, I sadly regret, that I will need to dismiss you. I am unable to afford your help any longer.
Butler: Please, sire, don’t worry about that! I’ll stay on anyway.
Maid: I’m with the butler! (She gives the butler a squeeze as if to imply that there is a romantic relationship developing between them.)
Jester: Me three!
Count: But why do you all want to stay and work for nothing?
Butler: I can’t just leave this beautiful place to ruin. Besides, it’s nice to know that I’m needed.
Maid: Who’s going to clean for you?
Jester: Sire, you need my jokes now more than ever! (Maid nods her head in agreement.)
Count: It is good to know I have friends who stick with me through good times and bad. Thank you all. (They all nod in agreement) Well, it seems like there is a lot to do then. (to Butler) Where should we start?
Butler: (pointing to ceiling) Sire, as you can see, the ballroom is in bad condition. The roof has holes in it.
Count: (looking up) Oh, it is bad.
Jester: Look on the bright side, the holes are great for the pigeons to nest in.
Count: Well, I appreciate your sense of humor, but seeing as there is no money for repairs, I suppose we will have to close it off.
Butler: I will see to it, sire.
(Jester bows and exits to become narrator. Count, maid, and butler exit. White backdrop is put up by butler and maid. Maid exits after putting up backdrop.)
Jester: And so the ballroom was closed. However, over the next few weeks the butler was busy carrying out his plan. (SFX- banging and hammering and sawing. Use shadows on covering. Count enters. Put back tree.)
Count: (To the butler offstage) What is going on, and who are these people?
Butler: Just fixing the leaks in the roof, good Count.
Count: But we don’t have any money to pay these workers.
Butler: Oh, but they have offered to help out of kindness.
Count: Perhaps I’ll come and take a look.
Butler: I wouldn’t recommend it, sire. It is much too… too…too dangerous!
(Countess walks in.)
Countess: Well, we have managed to survive these last few weeks, but I am afraid our money is almost finished.
Count: We just need to learn to live on less. I am sure that there will be a bright spot in our lives soon. God won’t fail us. He’ll even send angels to help us if he has to.
Countess: Didn’t you say something about angels right after the fire?
Count: Yes that’s right! And I remember now. They were holding a sand clock. (Searches the room looking for something)
Wasn’t the sand clock here? (pointing to shelf)
Countess: Everything was sold after the fire. Why do you ask?
Count: Oh, I was remembering… the sand clock turning over.
Scene 5: A New Kind of Christmas
Jester: Scene 5- A New Kind of Christmas. It was the beginning of December when one evening a mysterious letter arrived at the palace. (Enter butler with letter on a tray. Jester picks it up and looks at it.)
A letter, a letter! It looks really special – it has the royal seal! I wonder if it is for me?
Butler: I’ll take that!
Jester: (resisting giving the letter back. There is some struggling over the letter.) No, no I’m certain it is for me!
Butler: Delivering letters is my job!
Jester: Not now! (taking back the letter)
Butler: Yes, it is.
Jester: No, it is not. (enter Count and Countess and maid following.)
Butler: Yes, it is.
Jester: No, it is not.
Count: What is going on here? (arguing ensues in gibberish, with each trying to tell his story.)
(Picking up letter. Jester and butler look at each other.) Ahh, a letter from the royal household. I wonder what it is about. (Countess looks on in curiosity as count is reading from letter)
Dear Count and Countess,
Jester: (interrupting) That’s you! (butler shhh’s him)
Butler: Shhh. He’s trying to read!
Count: (continuing to read the letter)
Your deed done in kindness
Will at Yule time be repaid
I look forward to seeing your highness
Before this year doth fade.
Countess: But, this is strange. We don’t know any princesses. I wonder who it could be.
Jester: I kissed a frog last week, maybe it turned into a princess.
Maid: That’s just a fairy story.
Butler: Besides, as the story goes, the princess kisses the frog to turn it into a prince – not a princess, silly.
Jester: Oh, that’s right. I forgot.
Count: Hmmm…Your deed done in kindness will at Yule time be repaid…What deed of kindness have we done?
Countess: This is the strangest letter I have ever received.
Count: Any ideas of who it could be? Anyone?
Butler: Well, sire the whole mystery will be solved when she comes. The riddle said: I look forward to seeing you before the year doth fade.
Count: In deed! ‘Before the year!’ It seems as if the princess …will visit us this Christmas.
Jester: (excited and revelatory) At the children’s Christmas party!!
Countess: Princess or no princess, surely we will not be having the children’s Christmas party this year!
Count: Why not?
Countess: We have nothing to give to the children. We have nothing for them to eat, nothing to put on a tree, and no money to buy presents for them.
Count: True. But there were a few apple trees that escaped the fire. We could give some of our apples to the children—and singing doesn’t cost anything.
Countess: But, but, the ballroom has holes in it.
Jester: Yes, but we will have a wonderful view of the stars.
Count: (laughs at the Jester, turns to countess and speaks firmly) Come dear, of course we will have a party as we always have.
Countess: Well, I see there is no use in trying to change your mind. I best start cleaning and seeing what we can do to get ready.
Jester: And I better start practicing my juggling. (exits as Count gives him a pat on the back.)
Countess: (She begins giving orders to the maid of what to clean. The scene is somewhat reminiscent of the first preparations for the party) Let’s see now: dust all the furniture,
Maid: But, but madam, we sold all the furniture.
Countess: Oh, that’s right. Very well then, beat the carpets…
Maid: Those are gone too.
Countess: Then put up the Christmas decorations.
Maid: Excuse me…uhmmm
Countess: Don’t tell me,… sold.
Maid: Uhmm, yes madam.
Countess: (exasperated) Just clean the house! (maid and countess exit)
Count: (to butler) Take this down. (butler sits at table and writes on paper with feather to write.)
“Due to the great fire, we will have a very simple party this year. Still we can have a joyous celebration of Christ’s birth in song. Please come and celebrate it with us.”
Please make sure that all the children in the village are invited as usual.
Butler: (finishing writing and putting powder on the page and blowing it.)
As you wish, sire. (Butler exits with paper in hand.)
Count: (voicing a prayer) Lord, please send the angels to bring the spirit of Christmas into our home so that we can make the children happy one more time. (Exit Count yawning. The angels come and dance)
Jester: (Enter Count and Countess eating a bowl of porridge with their sleeping hats on and in pajamas.) As Christmas Day dawned bright and white, Count Helmut and his wife remained happy in spite of their misfortune. As they were making their meager breakfast, they heard a noise in the distance. The countess looked out of the window to see where it was coming from.
Countess: They are coming!
Count: Who is coming?
Countess: Don’t you remember? The children you invited!—And it looks like the whole village is with them!
Count: What? I know I invited them, but I did not expect many … or even any to come. There must be some mistake.
Countess: Come to the window and look for yourself! (Enter butler and maid carrying water in and a basin. All begin looking out the window)
Count: Yes, I see them! And hear them too—there is a band of musicians leading them, and they are all dancing to a rousing tune! We must change our clothes. (they give their nightcaps to the butler and maid exit and come back fully dressed.) Throw open the gate and let’s meet our guests!
(Music same as at beginning – We wish you a Merry Christmas. Come from back of theater and greet people as you go through to the front. This would be dependent on the venue and situation.)
All villagers and children: Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, everyone!
Count: (greetings as in beginning of scene 2)
Come in, my dears! I am glad to see you. I wasn’t expecting so many of you. I am afraid there is not much room for all of you. You see the ballroom is under repair.
Children: Please let us in, good Count!
Count: All right then, but don’t expect too much.
Children: (shouting) The ballroom! To the ballroom!
Count: You do not understand. I have not been able to repair the ballroom for lack of money.
Jester: Before he could say more, they had begun to push open the doors.
Count: Now stop that, children!
(children keep trying to open doors.) ( To his surprise, they lead him in by the hand- perhaps blindfolded)
Count: The presents! The tree. Everything is in perfect repair. Who is responsible for this?
Butler: Some of the boys that you gave tools to decided to return your favor.
(points to his apprentices who wear sheepish grins)
Count: So this is what you have been up to! How ever did you manage it?
Butler: We worked on it while you were away last week, visiting the poor in the nearby village.
Count: I am astounded! Thank you!
(He turns to the others)
Where did you get this tree?
Villagers and Children: The forest gave it to us, and we who love you, give it to you!
(The count looks around at all of the beaming faces and begins hugging as many as he can.
Count: My heart is too full of joy to speak.
(T he children lead him by the hand closer to the tree, the count is surprised to discover that all the packages are for him and his wife. Each time he opens a present, all the children clap and cheer.)
Jester: It took a long time to look at all the unusual presents. In the packages were each of the family treasures that the count and countess had had to sell in order to get by.
(The count and countess cry for joy. One boy puts a specially wrapped package in the count’s hand),
Hans: (reading from a note and prepared speech awkwardly)
From All the Villagers of Winkitz. We want to give you this sand clock for the years you have loved us and tried to help us, especially on Christmas Day.
(Everyone cheers and claps.)
Karl: Read the inscription on the bottom!
(The count reads out loud)
Life is a sand clock of rich and poor;
The sand flows not in vain.
It is turned over and filled once more—
What you give returns again.
Why thank you everyone for all of your gifts of love! The sand clock of my dream! This Christmas has been a dream come true!
(Just then a man dressed in ragged burlap clothes and wearing a hood enters. He approaches the count and all stand back and are curious who this man is. The jester sees who it is and tries to motion to the count but is so excited that he cannot communicate clearly.
Accountant: Please forgive me.
Count: Who are you?
(Accountant throws back his hood and all gasp in astonishment.)
Countess: No, no! Get out of here right now! (The butler goes to remove him but the count motions to wait.)
Count: I will have courtesy in my house. Let us hear his story.
Accountant: I am Wolfgang – once your accountant.
Soon after I had been given the bag of gold for betraying you, I lost it all by people who cheated me in business. I looked for a job but no one would hire me for they knew what treachery I had done to you.
I am desperate. Take me in again if you will.
Count: (Putting his hand on his shoulder in a friendly fashion) I forgive you, but, I cannot pay you wages.
Accountant: I would be thankful for a roof over my head to shelter me from the cold and a bite to eat to stave off hunger.
Countess: After what you did! How dare you show your face in this house again. Leave, you are not welcome.
Count: Jesus told us to forgive our enemies, how much more should we show love to others at Christmas time. You are welcome in my house.
(hugging and applause)
Accountant: (Turning to jester) Can you also forgive me?
Jester: Forgive you? Forgive you? Forgive you? Of course, I forgive you. I missed you. You were the brunt of some of my best jokes. But wait a minute, maybe I am letting you off too easily. For me to totally forgive you, you have to listen to one of my jokes. Is it a deal?
Jester: There were three accountants who were trying to decide how much money they should give to those in need. The first accountant said. I have a very good way to decide how much money to give away. I make a circle and throw the money up into the air. All the money that lands inside the circle I keep and all the money that lands outside the circle I give away. The second accountant said, “I have a better way. I also make a circle and throw the money up into the air. But I keep what falls outside the circle and give away what falls inside the circle. Then they asked the third accountant how he decided how much money to give away to charity. Oh, I don’t make a circle. I throw the money up into the air and only keep what falls down.
(laughing and back slapping etc.) (princess enters)
Butler: (taking the princess’s coat and announcing) Announcing, Princess Monique Etoile from the kingdom of Saxony. (Everyone is in awe and gives her room as she has the focus. The count and countess approach her and bend kissing her hand.)
Count: (showing surprise) I had no idea that you were the princess from the letter.
Monique: Dear Count, thank you and your household for the great kindness you have shown me by hiding me from my enemies.
Count: But they arrested you. Surely, we thought we would never see you again.
Countess: Shortly after I was arrested, the war ended and I was found innocent of all charges brought against me.
Count: That is wonderful!
Countess: In my riddle, I promised a reward, and so shall it be. Kneel good Count. (Count kneels and Countess places medal around his neck.) For your hospitality, which is known by all, I award thee the highest award of the land The Heart of Love.
Jester: (act out dancing, games, festive mood, singing around the tree) It turned out to be one of the most wonderful Christmases they ever had. As usual there was dancing and an abundance of games, and a fine feast from the food everyone had brought. There were splendid pies, great bowls of jelly, and tremendous fruit cakes for all to satisfy their appetites.
Count: My, my, what a happy Christmas this has been!
Countess: May you have many more, my dear!
Jester: And so they did.
(They turn the sand clock over)
Just as the sand clock turns over and is filled once more, what they’d given had come back again.
(Grand Finale dancing in ending song by all)
some shots after the performance