Live Bravely

Medieval-Renaissance Pastiche

Author: Robby Van Arsdale
Major Theme: You are worthwhile, so live bravely
Source: (Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go) Joshua 1:9
Cast: 9 Female, 8 Male, 2 Animals, and Poppy
Sample: First and final plays of Live Bravely

Fortemburg is just a small village, but they’ve just found out that they’re going to be visited by the king himself. Each play follows two small stories that intertwine with each other and reinforce the same lesson.
In the first play, Elanor has to face her fear of the family cow, and the young knight Sir Herbert has to face his fear of a scary visiting knight. Both characters have to learn that their parents have left them with the tools to handle scary situations without help.
In the second play, Catharine and Bette Joiner are having a fight. Bette wants her daughter, Catherine, to fit in. In fact, she’s afraid of anybody standing out, especially that shifty-looking foreigner who showed up and is now staying in their house. Catherine, on the other hand, wants to be a painter, not a carpenter, and is afraid of standing out too much. When Bette understands the story of the Good Samaritan and learns to love her neighbor—and when Catharine learns the story of the city on a hill and learns to let her light shine, both mother and daughter can be brave and learn to love differences.
In the third play, Brother Duncan, who runs the village church and has lots of back taxes to pay, has to learn to ask for help from the villagers he normally helps, and Harriet and Gerald, who work at the manor house for Sir Herbert’s mother, have to learn to forgive each other, despite their antagonism over whether plants or animals are better. Everybody has to learn to be brave and swallow their pride in order to learn how to make room for others’ charity.
In the fourth play, Perrin the blacksmith is trying to fix Duncan’s cup so Duncan can pay his taxes. Also, Harriet has lost a goat, Sir Herbert has lost a medallion, and Poppy has lost a sandwich! Through no fault of their own, Poppy is blamed for all the losses and problems, and everybody loses their trust in Poppy. And what’s more, Duncan’s blacksmith shop burns down and he flattens Duncan’s cup. Perrin has lost trust in his abilities, and Poppy has lost the trust of the town. Through the story of Saul trusting David to fight Goliath, everyone finds the bravery to trust even when their trust has been broken. But here, the play takes a turn. There’s still money missing, and maybe a thief on the loose. Dame Mathilda (Sir Herbert’s mom) isn’t taking any chances with the town being a mess when the king arrives, and she locks up nearly everyone she suspects of wrongdoing in the basement of the manor house!
In the fifth play, Rosalyn, the king’s emissary, struggles to convince Dame Mathilda that what the king really wants is to meet the whole town. Mathilda has tried to make things ready by locking away everyone who isn’t perfect, and as she finally invites everyone back to the feast, Rosalyn reveals the true message of the play by handing the crown she’s been hiding to the king—who has been visiting the whole time in disguise. Royce, the foreigner staying in the Joiners’ house.

Royce: “He loves everyone in Fortemburg. Why do you think he traveled all this way, why he chose to have every single one of you at the feast? So, don’t worry about whether you belong, or whether you’re worthy of seeing the king. He loves you and he wants you there.”

This play is somewhat silly; it’s not afraid to have some heartfelt moments.

Grapplejuice Gang

The Armor of God

Author: Naomi Dobyns-Tanatty
Major Theme: God’s guidance through hardship
Source: Ephesians 6:10-18
Main Cast: 3 Female, 3 Male

The Grapple Juice Gang is a group of kids who’ve decided to make their afternoon friend group into a formal club. There was no way they could have anticipated how much they would learn together.  In fact, the very first thing they did as a club was almost a disaster caused by a lie, and Thomas found out that the Belt of Truth would have kept his friends from really getting hurt while the gang played as pirates. The next day, all the kids are caught up in the mystery of Holly’s missing water gun. Marcus, in the guise of a private eye, is on the case: but the whole thing turns out to be a great big mix up, and the toy was missing because Holly’s parents didn’t want her squirting the cat. Holly would have been better off with the Breastplate of Righteousness helping her make good decisions. Not long after, the gang finds Gilbert has taken over the local park for a science experiment, and the gang goes to war–but not for long. Emily has learned about the Shoes of Peace, and she becomes friends with Gilbert before the gang has a chance to make a mistake. The next day, however, Emily can’t get anything right. Time and time again, she does the wrong thing and gets discouraged, until she learns about the Helmet of Salvation, a protection from Satan reminding you of all the mistakes you’ve made. The stakes get higher, and the armor starts having real-world consequences. The gang have to learn how to use the Shield of Faith to guard Gilbert as he suffers through a severe illness. The plays end with Thomas taking up arms against the sin that took his friend Gilbert, literally fighting Sin onstage with the Sword of the Spirit and the whole armor of God. He can’t win, though! Jesus has to help him, and Thomas learns that Jesus was the armor that protected him all along–Jesus was there in every moment of the play, helping and protecting the Grapple Juice Gang.

Author’s Note:
I had so much fun writing and directing the Grapple Juice Gang.  I was blessed with phenomenal actors and a great videographer and crew of people who all worked together to make these plays a success. My favorite part is seeing how much the adults at family camp enjoyed the plays as well. My intentions in writing these plays was to take a somewhat complicated concept (The Armor of God) and simplify it so that it was more relatable, especially to a more modern generation. I hope that you and your camp have as much fun with these plays as we had at my camp, and I hope that they touch your heart in the same way they did mine. Welcome to the Grapple Juice Gang! 

This play is somewhat silly; it’s not afraid to have some heartfelt moments.

Out of the Frying Pan

The Civil War

Author: Robby Van Arsdale
Major Theme: God’s guidance through hardship
Source: (Love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you) Matthew 5:43-48
Main Cast: 5 Female, 4 Male
Sample: First and final plays from Out of the Frying Pan

A group of Union spies are planning a secretive campaign south of the front, into enemy territory. The group nearly disintegrates over the inclusion of two unorthodox female spies from the Pinkerton Detective Agency, but eventually the uptight Army Lieutenant is able to accept the message of Peter’s sheet, that people who are different are still God’s people. Each group member is tasked with a specific task once they’re safely in Richmond, but each person runs into some sort of trouble. One is captured and nearly turned over to the Confederates until she risks telling the truth and discovers that one of her captors is working with the North. Another stumbles on a series of lies but is rescued by a woman he didn’t realize was working with him. Two are caught trying to blow up a railroad bridge and taken to prison. One, however, is let free because the confederates weren’t expecting a woman spy. Things are looking worse and worse. Despite almost miraculously escaping their consequences every time, the group’s mistakes are catching up to them, and now it looks like there might be a traitor. Thursday sees the last two members of the group devising a plan to stop the Confederate reaction, now that they know there are spies. However, surrounded in the woods and with no options, it looks like even prayer won’t be enough to get the spies out this time. Judah turns on the Lieutenant and becomes a double-agent.
By Friday, it becomes obvious to the whole group that there’s a traitor in the mix. All eyes turn to Judah, the Southerner who joined the North, but as it turns out, he’s the one willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the group, even if they don’t accept him.

This play doesn’t need to make you laugh or cry (though it will); it’s just really really good.

As Sheep Among Wolves

The Seventy-two Disciples

Author: Robby Van Arsdale
Major Theme: Faith
Source: Matthew 10 and Luke 10
Main Cast: 5 Female, 8 Male
Sample: First and final plays from As Sheep Among Wolves

Jesus’ ministry is drawing to an end, and he needs the word to spread more quickly, to reach into all of Israel. He calls the seventy-two disciples to go out and spread his message, heal the sick, and cast out demons. We follow their adventures and struggles as they learn to rely fully on God. Time and time again, these unknown disciples use prayer and faith to show God’s glory. Monday’s group discovers that their faith can heal even leprosy. Tuesday’s disciples are faced with a town that rejects their message, and they must shake the dust of it off their feet. Wednesday, a pair of disciples are thrown in jail and must rely on God to give them the right words to say. Thursday’s group faces off against a demon, and the Lord gives them the strength and faith to stand against it and save the possessed person.
On Friday, the disciples lose Jesus in the crucifixion, and they have to draw together to deal with the consequences. Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, and Thomas attempt to deal with the loss of their best friend while taking care of a few of the seventy two. Then, the next morning, Mary, Peter, and John find the empty tomb. The disciples see Jesus, and he gives them the incredible news of his resurrection. Thomas, however, wasn’t there, and won’t be convinced. He refuses, growls, yells back as Peter, John, and Mary all exhort him to believe, to have faith. It’s then that Jesus returns and reminds Thomas what it really means to believe.

This play is serious, so you know it’s designed to get you thinking.

Verloren: Lost No More

Desert Island

Author: Josue Feliciano
Major Theme: Calling the Lost to follow Jesus
Source: The Rich Young Ruler, the Prodigal Son, and the Thief on the Cross
Main Cast: 1 Female, 4 Male, two gender-neutral

Rich, Doris, Thomas, and Jack are out for a spin on Rich’s new boat when out of nowhere, the boat malfunctions, crashing into the shore. The group are trapped, and Thomas is badly injured. Doris trusts God and turns to him time and time again, while Rich is cynical about religion and makes fun of her for her faith. Jack, caught in the middle and worried about Thomas, is pulled back and forth between faith and skepticism time and time again.
Thomas is taken by a strange man who seems to live on the island. Then, a new person washes up on the beach, complicating the group’s dynamic. A storm forces the motley band to work together. And just when things are hardest, Jack is struck on the head, and the audience are catapulted into his inner struggle where he meets Michael and Lucian, the light and the dark. He chooses Michael and the light.
Things start to settle. Jack’s interest in the Bible grows. As he listens to Doris tell stories about the rich young ruler and the prodigal son, the audience is shown the parallels between the characters in the Biblical stories and those on the island. The group escape the island, led by the man who took Thomas in the first place. It turns out they’ve been on a peninsula the whole time, free to be lost no more, but too narrow-sighted to know it.
On Friday, Jack is back in his own life, back to his old struggles, and the world of the island is far away. His inner struggle between Michael and Lucian reappears, and the audience learns his Biblical parallel–the thief on the cross. Their stories align, closer and closer, until Jack is shown by the thief how ready God is to forgive, to welcome a sinner into salvation. Jack turns to Michael and chooses to be lost no more.

This play is somewhat serious; it’s not afraid to make a few jokes.

God has Put You Here

Esther and Daniel

Author: Robby Van Arsdale
Major Theme: The Salt of the Earth (be different from the world around you)
Source: Esther; Daniel 1-3
Main Cast: 7 Female, 9 Male
Sample: First and final plays of God Has Put You Here

Esther doesn’t want to be Hebrew anymore; it’s too complicated, and it isn’t any fun. She endures her cousin Mordecai telling the old stories about Daniel, but what she really wants is to fit in. When she’s chosen to live in the palace, all those old stories are the last thing on her mind.
Daniel and his friends were forced to choose, time and again, between God and fitting in. It’s true that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were skeptical at first. But Daniel keeps dragging them along. First the bet with the vegetable meals, then this business with the dream about the statue . . . but they’re forced to admit it keeps working out. God must be on their side.
Esther just wants to fit in, but it’s hard when the king notices you and invites you to dinner. It’s even harder when Mordecai shows up to reveal a murder plot against the king’s life. She tries to do the right thing and just hopes no one will notice that she’s actually a Hebrew. But Mordecai keeps bringing up those old stories and keeps saying troublesome things like “maybe you were put here for such a time as this.”
By Friday,  Esther, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are really forced to choose. For the Babylonian captives, the choice is obvious. But for Esther, it turns out, the choice is much harder. She’s been trying to choose two different things all along, and this business with Haman has gotten too big to ignore. With the story of the fiery furnace ringing in her ears, she has to reveal her origin to Xerxes and hope he doesn’t get angry.

These plays flip back and forth between the stories of Esther and Daniel until Friday, when both stories play out on the stage at the same time, arriving at the choice to be different and stand with God simultaneously.

This play is somewhat serious; it’s not afraid to make a few jokes.

The Lost Sheep

Mission to Save Doomed Planets

Author: Robby Van Arsdale
Major Theme: God’s Lost Sheep
Source: Joseph, Sampson, Solomon, Esther, and Luke 15:3-7
Main Cast: 5 Female, 5 Male
Sample: First and final plays of The Lost Sheep

The captain and his crew have been trashed by a mysterious disease that has left them floating, useless, in space. The only way to fix it is for the captain to risk his brain to save the crew. The risk pays off just in time for the ship to float through a wormhole.
The crew are stranded on separated planets in the stellar system they’ve come to save. Now they need saving. From Monday to Thursday, we see as they work together to complete the mission of saving the people on the alien planets while waiting for the captain to save them. The alien stories find their basis in Joseph, Sampson, Solomon, and Esther.
On Friday, the audience finally sees what’s been happening with the captain all along. Working with the ship’s onboard computer, he is increasingly frustrated by his failures to get in contact with the crew, to get the ship running, and to find an option for saving them. Finally, he hits on a very bad option. The computer is adamant: he might die. It’s the only option, though, so he takes it. The computer disintegrates his body to use as a map to read and teleport the crew back onto the ship without the appropriate safety measures. The crew are back, but the captain is nowhere to be found. They struggle to fix the ship and find the captain, only to reboot the computer and hear that the captain really is gone. There’s only one option left to them: continue the mission, save the people on the alien planets, and carry them to safety. They make a teleport jump, and then the captain is back among them. Because they were able to fix the ship and bring the computer back online, the computer was able to reconstruct the captain from its memory banks. The crew is saved. The captain is saved. The mission can continue.

This play doesn’t need to make you laugh or cry (though it will); it’s just really really good.

From That Time to This

The First and Last Passovers

Author: Robby Van Arsdale
Major Theme: Relying on God
Source: Exodus 2 – 12
Main Cast: 5 Female, 5 Male

Moses is afraid of making trouble. He can’t stand up to his father-in-law, and he certainly doesn’t want to make God mad. But he’s just terrified of going back to Egypt. For Zipporah, the question is easier. When God calls, you follow. With Zipporah and Aaron, Moses is ready to face the pharaoh.
What he didn’t suspect was the trouble he would make for the everyday Israelites. From Monday to Thursday, we see the trouble he makes for an extended family. First, it’s no straw for the bricks. Then, the plagues start hitting Egypt. We see the water become blood, the attack of the biting flies, and the effects of the darkness. Through it all, these everyday Israelites have to hold together and trust in God. Still, pharaoh hasn’t let them go.
On Friday, the play starts with Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper. Judas is revealed as a traitor, and Jesus prepares his disciples to understand: he is about to take the place of the lamb.
We pick up with Moses doing the same thing: trying to prepare pharaoh for the coming sorrow. Pharaoh hardens his heart and throws Moses from the palace. Our everyday Israelites are given instructions to sacrifice a lamb, spread the blood on their doorframes, and eat standing up. The time has come to escape. Jesus enters with a cross, and the oldest brother enters with a bowl. As Jesus dies on the cross, the brother spreads blood on a doorframe.
Pharaoh kicks the Israelites out of Egypt, and the symbol of the sacrificed lamb is revealed to the family. It wasn’t the blood that saved them, it was the Lord.

This play is somewhat serious; it’s not afraid to make a few jokes.