Here’s the script. The original adapter is listed at the top and I did a bit more tweaking to make it work for us. You'll notice various stage directions in red on the document. We had great props: a bundle of "bricks", using the cardboard ones from our Preschool room; a bundle of sticks; and a really impressive doghouse made out of cardboard boxes. This is a great skit. Our congregation really liked it. I cast the President of the Board of Trustees as the person who carried the big doghouse. At the end, where the script mentions a fireworks show, I had people planted throughout the congregation who had bubble wrap to simulate the fireworks sounds.
Story: What if Nobody Forgave The Story of Grudgeville by Barbara Marshman, adapted by Elea Kemler and further adapted by Barb Friedland, Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church, Louisville
NARRATOR: In a land very far away from here, there lived a wise old man. He was wise because he had spent most of his life traveling from place to place and had met lots of people and thought a lot about why people do the things they do, which are sometimes silly and sometimes wonderful.
NARRATOR: One day the wise old man travelled to a small village on the side of a tall mountain where he had never been before. The first thing he noticed was that all the people in this village were carrying what seemed to be great big bundles on their backs, even the children. [Enter people with pre-made bundles- Samuel, Rachel, 2 others]
NARRATOR: The bundles were of all different kinds — some had loads of sticks and logs on their backs, others had lumpy loads wrapped up in old blankets and tied on with rope and others had big backpacks that looked so heavy that they might be full of rocks. In fact all of the loads looked really heavy, so heavy that the people were bent over and couldn’t look around very well and could barely look up at all.
NARRATOR: The old man was both surprised and confused. In all of his travels he had never seen anything like this. He watched and looked for a while but he couldn’t figure it out.
[Exit all people with pre-made bundles except Samuel]
FRANK: “Young man, my good fellow, I am a stranger to your village and I am fascinated by the huge bundles you all seem to carry on your backs. You never seem to put them down and you never seem to look up from them. What are these bundles and what are you doing with them?”
SAMUEL: “Oh, These are our grudges. We never put them down.”
FRANK: “My, that’s a lot of grudges to collect at your age!”
SAMUEL: “Oh, they’re all not all mine. Most of them were handed down to me from my parents and grandparents and great grandparents and even further back than that.”
[Enter person with bundled of bricks.]
NARRATOR: The boy heaved a big sigh and tried to shift the bundle of branches to a more comfortable position so he could point to a man walking down the street who was carrying a big stack of bricks on his back and every time the man took a couple of steps down the road the bricks teetered around and one or two might fall off and the man had to stop and pick them up and start over.
SAMUEL: “See that man, with the bricks? A bunch of my grudges are against his family. His great great grandfather called my great great grandfather a horse thief when they both wanted to be elected mayor of this village. That was more than 100 years ago.”
NARRATOR: The wise man looked around again and shook his head sadly.
FRANK: “You all look so unhappy. Have you ever tried to get rid of these grudges?”
SAMUEL: “We don’t know how. My grandfather told me that when it first happened, everyone was proud of their grudges. When the bundles appeared on people’s backs, visitors came from miles around because no one had ever seen anything like it before. But after just a little while, everyone was tired and miserable and bent over all the time from having to carry so much, so nobody came to visit anymore. But now we don’t know how to stop it.”
FRANK: “Well, If you really want to get rid of the grudges, I think I know five magic words that will do the trick.”
SAMUEL: “You do?” the boy said hopefully. “I’ll go get the mayor! Wait right here!” he yelled and staggered off as fast as he possibly could, which wasn’t very fast, because of his bundle.
NARRATOR: Pretty soon the boy was back trying to pull the mayor along with him — the mayor by the way had what looked like a large doghouse strapped to his back. They were followed by a crowd of villagers of all ages carrying grudges of all kinds.
NARRATOR: The mayor and the wise man whispered together for a few moments. Then the mayor, with lots of help from the wise man, painfully climbed onto a large tree stump nearby, balancing the doghouse so he wouldn’t fall over.
MAYOR: “Good people of Grudgeville. This old man says he knows magic words to help us get rid of our horrible grudges.”
NARRATOR: Immediately the villagers started grumbling and muttering, “We have already tried everything, dynamite didn’t even get them off, how could words do it.” [BHF- perhaps a few villagers could mumble and grumble this?]
MAYOR: “Please, we are all so unhappy. Let’s just listen to what he has to say.”
NARRATOR: As the people quieted down, the wise man joined the mayor on the tree stump.
FRANK: [speaking to congregation] “The magic words are simple words but I have to warn you that people find them very hard to say. The trick to the magic is that you have to say the words to each other and you have to really mean them, even though it is hard.
Here are the first two words- I’m Sorry. Can you say that? Please let me hear you…”
FRANK: “That’s wonderful. Now say the magic words to each other.”
NARRATOR: And slowly, quietly at first and then louder, everyone did. When they had all said I’m Sorry to each other the wise man spoke again.
FRANK: “Now the last three words might be even harder. The last three words are these- I forgive you. Can you say that to one another?”
NARRATOR: And just as you have done, this time the villagers turned to each other and began saying I forgive you, I forgive you to all the people around them. And would you believe it - as soon as the last villager finished saying the words I forgive you, the grudges disappeared just like that.
[People with bundles take them off and set them down.]
NARRATOR: There was a moment of completely surprised silence, and then, people began standing up straight. They started stretching, and they kept feeling their backs with their hands, just to check that nothing was there. They felt so light, so different. Then they began to look around, and some of them even looked up and total joy broke out then. [People enact the words.]
NARRATOR: The kids all started jumping up and down, just because they could and everyone was laughing and the adults were walking around hugging and looking into each others’ faces and saying things like, “Is that you Jim, how good to see your face!” or “Bella, how beautiful you are — I had completely forgotten” and, everyone was pointing and saying things like Look at how tall those trees have grown and have you ever seen anything as beautiful as that sky. [People enact the words.]
NARRATOR: There was dancing in the streets that night in Grudgeville and a huge fireworks show and everyone could look up to see them. It wasn’t long before the villagers changed the name of their town from Grudgeville to Joytown and the wise old man liked it there so much, he settled right down and stayed.
[BHF moves congregation into question time.