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A long time ago, cricket fighting caught on in the imperial court, with the emperor leading the fad. A local magistrate in Huayin, who wanted to win the favor of the monarch, tried in every way to get him the best fighting crickets. He had a strategy for doing so: He managed to get a cricket that was very good at fighting. He then made his subordinates go to the heads of each village and force them to send in a constant supply of fighting crickets. He would send to the imperial court the crickets that could beat the one he was keeping. Theoretically, everything should have worked smoothly. However, as the magistrate was extremely zealous to please the emperor, he meted out harsh punishment on any village heads who failed to accomplish their tasks. The village heads in turn shifted the burden to the poor villagers, who had to search for the crickets. If they failed to catch them, they had to purchase them from someone else, or they had to pay a levy in cash. The small insects suddenly became a rare commodity. Speculators hoarded good crickets, buying them at a bargain and selling them for an exorbitant price. Many village heads worked hand in hand with the speculators to make profits. In so doing, they bankrupted many a family. Cheng Ming was one such villager. The head of his village delegated part of his duties to him because he found Cheng Ming easy to push around. Cheng Ming did not want to bully his fellow villagers as the village head did him, so he often had to pay cash out of his own pocket when he failed to collect any competent crickets. Soon the little proper ties he had were draining away, and he went into a severe depression. One day, he said to his wife that he wanted to die.“Death is easy, but what will our son do without you?” asked his wife, glancing at their only son, sleeping on the kang. “Why can’t we look for the crickets ourselves instead of buying them? Perhaps we’ll strike some goodluck.” Cheng Ming gave up the idea of suicide and went to search for crickets. Armed with a tiny basket of copper wires for catching crickets and a number of small bamboo tubes for holding them, he went about the tedious task. Each day he got up at dawn and did not return until late in the evening. He searched beneath brick debris, dike crevices, and in the weeds and bushes. Days went by, and he caught only a few mediocre crickets that did not measure up to the magistrate’s standards. His worries increased as the dead line drew closer and closer. The day for cricket delivery finally came, but Cheng Ming could not produce any good ones. He was clubbed a hundred times on the buttocks, a form of corporal punishment in the ancient Chinese judicial system. When he was released the next day, he could barely walk. The wound on his buttocks confined him to bed for days and further delayed his search for crickets. He thought of committing suicide again. His wife did not know what to do
Then they heard about a hunchbacked fortune teller who was visiting the village. Cheng Ming’s wife went to see him. The fortune teller gave her a piece of paper with a picture on it. It was a pavilion with a jiashan (rockgarden) behind it. On the bushes by the jiashan sat a fat male cricket. Beside it, however, lurked a large toad, ready to catch the insect with its long, elastic tongue. When the wife got home, she showed the paper to her husband. Cheng Ming sprang up and jumped to the floor, forgetting the pain in his buttocks.“This is the fortune teller’s hint at the location where I can find a perfect cricket to accomplish my task!” he exclaimed.“But we don’t have a pavilion in our village,” his wife re minded him.“Well, take a closer look and think. Doesn’t the temple on the east side of our village have a rock garden? That must be it.” So saying, Cheng Ming limped to the temple with the support of a make shift crutch. Sure enough, he saw the cricket, and the toad squatting nearby in the rock garden at the back of the temple. He caught the big, black male cricket just before the toad got hold of it. Back home, he carefully placed the cricket in a jar he had prepared for it and stowed the jar away in a safe place. “Everything will be over tomorrow,” he gave a sigh of relief and went to tell his best friends in the village the good news. Cheng Ming’s nine-year-old son was very curious. Seeing his father was gone, he took the jar and wanted to have a peek at the cricket. He was removing the lid carefully, when the big cricket jumped out and hopped away. Panicked, the boy tried to catch the fleeing cricket with his hands, but in a flurry, he accidentally squashed the insect when he finally got hold of it.“Good heavens! What’re you going to say to your father when he comes back?” the mother said in distress and dread. Without a word, the boy went out of the room, tears in his eyes.Cheng Ming became distraught when he saw the dead cricket. He couldn’t believe that all his hopes had been dashed in a second. He looked around for his son, vowing to teach the little scoundrel a good lesson. He searched inside and outside the house, only to locate him in a well at the corner of the court yard. When he fished him out, the boy was already dead. The father’s fury instantly gave way to sorrow. The grieved parents laid their son on the kang and lamented over his body the entire night. As Cheng Ming was dressing his son for burial the next morning, he felt the body still warm. Immediately he put the boy back on the kang, hoping that he would revive. Gradually the boy came back to life, but to his parents’dismay, he was unconscious, as if he were in a trance. The parents grieved again for the loss of their son. Suddenly they heard a cricket chirping. The couple traced the sound to a small cricket on the door step. The appearance of the cricket, however, dashed their hopes, for it was very small. “Well, it’s better than nothing,” Cheng Ming thought. He was about to catch it, when it jumped nimbly on to a wall, cheeping at him. He tip toed to ward it, but it showed no sign of fleeing. Instead, when Cheng Ming came a few steps closer, the little cricket jumped onto his chest.
Though small, the cricket looked smart and energetic. Cheng Ming planned to take it to the village head. Uncertain of its capabilities, ChengMing could not go to sleep. He wanted to put the little cricket to the test before sending it to the village head. The next morning, Cheng Ming went to a young man from a rich family in his neighborhood, having heard him boasting about an “invincible” cricket that he wanted to sell for a high price. When the young man showed his cricket, Cheng Ming hesitated, because his little cricket seemed no match for this gigantic insect. To fight this monster would be to condemn his dwarf to death.“There’s no way my little cricket could survive a confrontation with your big guy,” Cheng Ming said to the young man, holding his jar tight. The young man goaded and taunted him. At last, Cheng Ming decided to take a risk. “Well, it won’t hurt to give a try. If the little cricket is a good-for-nothing, what’s the use of keeping it anyway?” he thought. When they put the two crickets together in a jar, Cheng Ming’s small insect seemed transfixed. No matter how the young man prodded it to fight, it simply would not budge. The young man burst into a guffaw, to the great embarrassment of Cheng Ming. As the young man spurred the little cricket on, it suddenly seemed to have run out of patience. With great wrath, it charged the giant opponent head on. The sudden burst of action stunned both the young man and Cheng Ming. Before the little creature planted its small but sharp teeth into the neck of the big cricket, the terrified young man fished the big insect out of the jar just in time and called off the contest. The little cricket chirped victoriously, and Cheng Ming felt exceedingly happy and proud.Cheng Ming and the young man were commenting on the little cricket’s extraordinary prowess, when a big rooster rushed over to peck at the little cricket in the jar. The little cricket hopped out of the jar in time to dodge the attack. The rooster then went for it a second time, but suddenly began to shake its head violently, screaming in agony. This sudden turn of events baffled Cheng Ming and the onlookers. When they took a closer look, they could not believe their eyes: The little cricket was gnawing on the rooster’s bloody comb. The story of a cricket fighting a rooster soon spread throughout the village and beyond. The next day, Cheng Ming, along with the village head, sent the cricket to the magistrate and asked for a test fight with his master cricket, but the magistrate re fused on the ground that Cheng Ming’s cricket was too small.“I don’t think you have heard its rooster-fighting story,” Cheng Ming proclaimed with great pride. “You can’t judge it only by its appearance.”“Nonsense, how can a cricket fight a rooster?” asked the magistrate. He ordered a big rooster brought to his office, thinking that Cheng Ming would quit telling his tall tales when his cricket became the bird’s snack. The battle between the little cricket and the rooster ended with the same result: The rooster sped away in great pain, the little cricket chirping triumphantly on its heels.
The magistrate was first astonished and then pleased, thinking that he finally had the very insect that could win him the emperor’s favor. He had a golden cage manufactured for the little cricket. Placing it cautiously in the cage, he took it to the emperor. The emperor pitted the little cricket against all his veteran combat ant crickets, and it defeated them one by one. What amused the emperor most was that the little creature could even dance to the tune of his court music! Extremely pleased with the magic little creature, the emperor rewarded the magistrate liberally and promoted him to a higher position. The magistrate, now a governor, in turn exempted Cheng Ming from his levies in cash as well as crickets. A year later, Cheng Ming’s son came out of his stupor. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, to the great surprise and joy of his parents. The first word she uttered to his jubilant parents were, “I’m so tired and hungry.” After a hot meal, he told them, “I dreamed that I had become a cricket, and I fought a lot of other crickets. It was such fun! You know what? The greatest fun I had was my fight with a couple of roosters!”
(Taken from a website)
Usage Frequency: 1
Scene 2: An Angel Visits Mary
MARY enters from the side and stands near the BASKET OF CLOTHES.
MARY begins folding the clothes.
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee.
ANGEL begins sneakily tip-toeing from the side, making their way to stand behind MARY, who doesn’t notice.
He was sent to a girl named Mary. The angel greeted her and said...
(Jumps out from behind MARY)
MARY throws the piece of clothing she was folding in the air.
MARY takes a few steps away and hides behind the RECTANGULAR BOX.
The Lord has given you special favor. He is with you.
Mary was very upset because of his words. Mary wondered...
MARY stands up and scratches her head.
What kind of greeting this could be?
But the angel said to her...
(Holds out a hand out)
Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you.
Then the angel said...
The ANGEL reaches into their sash, pulls out the FOLDED LETTER, walks over to the NARRATOR, and hands it to them.
The NARRATOR unfolds the letter and glances over it, then looks at the ANGEL quizzically.
The ANGEL leans over and whispers in the NARRATOR’S ear.
The NARRATOR nods.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the angel has informed me that, after a long and tiring trip from heaven, they’d like a little help delivering their long message from God. Any volunteers? (Waits a second.) Ah, yes, you over there.
The ANGEL’S MOM OR DAD comes and stands next to the NARRATOR.
The NARRATOR hands the LETTER to the ANGEL’S MOM OR DAD.
The ANGEL returns to where they were onstage.
The angel continued...
You will become pregnant...
The ANGEL pats their belly a few times.
And give birth to a son. You must name him Jesus.
The ANGEL grabs the JESUS SIGN from the back of the stage, holds it up for the audience to see, and hands it to MARY, who holds it in one hand.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God.
The ANGEL flexes their muscles several times like a body builder.
The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago.
The ANGEL grabs the CROWN SIGN from the back of the stage, holds it up for the audience to see, and hands it to MARY, who holds it in her other hand.
He will rule forever over his people, who came from Jacob's family. His kingdom will never end.
Mary asked the angel...
How can this happen?
The angel answered...
The Holy Spirit will come to you.
The ANGEL reaches up to the sky and slowly lowers their hands to waist level while wiggling their fingers.
The power of the Most High God will cover you. So the holy one that is born will be called the Son of God.
Nothing is impossible with God.
I serve the Lord. May it happen to me just as you said it would.
Then the angel left her.
The ANGEL exits to the side of the stage.
MARY sets the SIGNS back on the back of the stage.
MARY puts the clothes in the basket and exits to the side of the stage.
Scene 3: An Angel Visits Joseph in a Dream
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
JOSEPH enters from the side of the stage, holding a BOUQUET OF FLOWERS.
His mother Mary and Joseph had promised to get married.
JOSEPH gestures over to the side of the stage for someone to come over.
MARY enters in slowly from the side of the stage with a noticeably pregnant belly, holding one hand against the small of her back.
But before they started to live together, it became clear that she was going to have a baby. She became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit.
JOSEPH stares with his mouth open, throws the FLOWERS in the air, and puts his head in his hands.
MARY covers her face, crying, and runs, exiting to the side of the stage.
Her husband Joseph was a godly man.
JOSEPH paces back and forth, pretending to talk to himself.
He did not want to put her to shame in public. So he planned to divorce her quietly.
But as Joseph was thinking about this...
JOSEPH sits down on the RECTANGULAR BOX and poses like the thinker. He slowly leans his head and lays down on the RECTANGULAR BOX to sleep.
...an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
The ANGEL runs in from the side, does a somersault, and jumps up with arms outstretched.
The angel said...
(Holding out one hand to Joseph)
Joseph, son of David...
JOSEPH sits up, startled. He hides behind the RECTANGULAR BOX.
Don't be afraid to take Mary home as your wife.
The baby inside her...
The ANGEL pats their belly a few times.
...is from the Holy Spirit.
The ANGEL holds out their hands up to the sky and wiggles his fingers while hopping from foot to foot.
She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus.
The ANGEL grabs the JESUS SIGN from the back of the stage, holds it up for the audience to see, and hands it to JOSEPH, who holds it in one hand.
That is because he will save his people from their sins.
The ANGEL grabs the SAVIOR SIGN from the back of the stage, holds it up for the audience to see, and hands it to JOSEPH, who holds it in one hand.
After a beat, the ANGEL takes the SIGNS back and sets the where they were before.
The ANGEL helps JOSEPH lay back down on the RECTANGULAR BOX. The ANGEL grabs the BLANKET from behind the RECTANGULAR BOX and lays it on JOSEPH.
The ANGEL then exits to the side of the stage, doing another somersault as they leave.
Joseph woke up.
JOSEPH sits up, pulls off the BLANKET, and sets it behind the RECTANGULAR BOX.
JOSEPH rubs his eyes with his palms, pinches himself, and stands up.
He did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do.
MARY does a pregnant-style run over to JOSEPH.
JOSEPH pats down his torso, as if feeling in his pockets. He then does a “COME ON” gesture towards the NARRATOR.
The NARRATOR walks over to JOSEPH and hands him a ring.
JOSEPH bows down on one knee. MARY holds a hand, and JOSEPH puts a ring on it.
He took Mary home as his wife.
JOSEPH and MARY hold hands and exit to the side of the stage.
Scene 4: Mary and Joseph Travel to Bethlehem
In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law.
CAESAR AUGUSTUS enters from the side holding a SCROLL and stands in the center of the stage.
CAESAR AUGUSTUS lets the SCROLL roll to the ground and pretends to read it.
Hear ye, hear ye! Let there be a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world.
CAESAR AUGUSTUS exits to the side of the stage.
All went to their own towns to be listed. So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea.
The INNKEEPERS enter from the side of stage, holding INNKEEPER SIGNS, with their heads poking out from the cutout of the sign. They stand, spread out in a long line.
That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was.
JOSEPH enters from the side, pulling a WAGON with MARY riding in it. MARY is looking very pregnant.
He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby.
JOSEPH pulls the wagon up to INNKEEPER 1 and knocks on their INNKEEPER SIGN.
JOSEPH pulls the wagon up to INNKEEPER 2 and knocks on their INNKEEPER SIGN.
JOSEPH pulls the wagon up to INNKEEPER 3 and knocks on their INNKEEPER SIGN.
There was no room for them in the inn.
The INNKEEPERS exit to the side of the stage.
The STABLEKEEPER enters from the side carrying the STABLEKEEPER SIGN and stands in the center of the stage, in front of the RECTANGULAR BOX.
JOSEPH pulls the wagon over to the STABLEKEEPER and KNOCKS on their STABLEKEEPER SIGN.
There’s room in the barn!
JOSEPH gives the STABLEKEEPER a bow of thanks.
The STABLEKEEPER exits to the side of the stage.
JOSEPH and MARY sit on the RECTANGULAR BOX.
The STAGE HANDS carry the MANGER and set it in the middle of the stage.
Scene 5: Jesus is Born in a Stable
While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born.
JOSEPH kneels next to MARY and grabs her hand. He rubs his hand once along her hair.
She gave birth to her first baby.
JOSEPH reaches behind the RECTANGULAR BOX and grabs the BABY.
(Holding the BABY up)
It’s a boy!
MARY grabs the BLANKET from behind the RECTANGULAR BOX .
JOSEPH hands the BABY to MARY.
She wrapped him in large strips of cloth.
MARY wraps the BABY in the BLANKET.
Then she placed him in a manger.
MARY places the BABY in the manger.
MARY and JOSEPH exit to the side of the stage, taking the WAGON with them.
Scene 6: The Angels Visit Shepherds
There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby.
A group of SHEPHERDS enter from the side of the stage.
They were looking after their sheep.
A group of children dressed as SHEEP enter from the side of the stage wearing SHEEP HATS and sit down, scattered near the center.
It was night.
The SHEEP yawn and stretch.
The SHEPHERDS run to the side of the stage and grab blankets and pillows.
The SHEPHERDS proceed to tuck each of the sheep in by laying then down on the floor, placing a pillow under their heads, and pulling a blanket over them.
When the SHEPHERDS are finished, they sit down on or near the RECTANGULAR BOX .
An angel of the Lord appeared to them.
ANGEL 3 jumps out from the side of the stage with their hands up and stands near the SHEPHERDS.
And the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified.
The SHEPHERDS kneel and cower in fear, hiding behind the RECTANGULAR BOX.
But the angel said to them...
(Holding out a hand)
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy.
It is for all the people.
The ANGEL gestures out toward the audience.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.
The ANGEL makes the baseball “Safe!” sign with their arms.
Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth...
The ANGEL grabs the BABY SIGN from the back of the stage, holds it up for the audience to see, and hands it to one of the SHEPHERDS, who holds it in their hand.
And lying in a manger.
The ANGEL grabs the MANGER SIGN from the back of the stage, holds it up for the audience to see, and hands it to one of the SHEPHERDS, who holds it in their hand.
Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared.
ANGEL 1 and ANGEL 2 run on stage and stand next to ANGEL 1.
They were praising God. They said...
ANGELS 1, 2 AND 3
(Raising their hands to the sky)
Glory to God in heaven!
And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!
The angels left and went into heaven.
The ANGELS exit to the side of the stage.
Then the shepherds said to one another...
Let's go to Bethlehem.
Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off...
The SHEPHERDS and all of the SHEEP exit to the right of the stage.
They found Mary and Joseph and the baby.
MARY and JOSEPH enter from the side of the stage and sit on the RECTANGULAR BOX.
The baby was lying in the manger.
The SHEPHERDS enter from the side of the stage and kneel around the manger.
After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child.
The SHEPHERDS run all over into the audience, going to various people, putting their hands on their shoulders and saying, “Jesus is born!” After 30 seconds of this, they run to the back of the auditorium and wait.
Everyone who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
I said, everyone who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
(Gestures to the congregation)
But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart.
MARY picks up the BABY and walks off the side of the stage, looking up contemplatively.
JOSEPH exits to the side of the stage after her.
She thought about them over and over.
The shepherds returned.
The SHEPHERDS run from the back on the auditorium and onto the stage.
They gave glory and praise to God.
The SHEPHERDS to a brief, silly dance of celebration.
Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told.
The SHEPHERDS exit to the side of the stage.
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