Taylor Made Ministry
"Life Changing Journey" (excerpts)
Copyright 1996, Taylor Made Ministry
This play is about passengers traveling on a bus on Christmas Eve. To put it mildly, the majority of them have very bad attitudes with dispositions to match! However, the birth of a baby miraculously changes their lives that night, just as the birth of a certain baby boy more than 2000 years ago changes our lives still today. Makes you just go , "Hmmmmmmm," doesn't it?
Cast of Characters and Descriptions
This play is about people who are taking a bus trip on Christmas Eve traveling to Baltimore, Maryland. It seems like almost everyone wishes they were elsewhere and has the attitude to match - hateful, uncaring, self centered. That is, until a miracle happens to change their lives. They are truly on a "Life Changing Journey."
J.J.: Young Adult, early 20's or late teens
Mary Ellen: J.J.’s wife who is pregnant
Fred Anderson: Old bus driver with a bad attitude
Mr. Curry: Coach Lines Manager
Ticket Seller: Man selling tickets for Coach Lines
Telly: Passenger - waiting for bus to depart
Tim: Young man, tries but cannot seem to please Grandmother
Grandma: Tim’s grandmother, cranky, hateful
Beth: Helpful, laid-back, relaxed attitude
Sarah: Beth’s sister, nervous, pack-rat
Max: Young terminal employee, could also be a passenger, carries packages for Sarah
Brenda: Woman, Chuck’s wife, foster mother - very caring, concerned
Chuck: Brenda’s husband - foster father - caring, sensible
Angie: Foster teenager - former drug user, sarcastic attitude, feels sorry for herself, wants to make life miserable for all, bitter
Heather: Teenager, on her way with her siblings to a wedding in Baltimore, in charge
Ashley: Heather’s sister - a little younger, self centered
Amanda: Heather’s sister - any age, self centered
Todd: Heather’s younger brother, good heart, caring
Teresa: Mother traveling with her young pre-teen children, nervous, aggravated
Jason: Teresa’s son, spoiled, sassy
Jennifer: Teresa’s daughter, spoiled, sassy
Billy: Man on bus, complainer
Trish: Woman on bus, complainer
Al: Man on bus
Rev. Altman : Minister, passenger on bus, kind
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at . I am praying for you and your church to have a great program. As a director myself and the author of the play, I would like to offer this advice that I always tell my cast members. It is wonderful to be a great actor or actress, but the most important thing about a Christmas program is to present the story of Jesus and his love to the audience. If we have a perfect play where no one forgets a line, or misses a cue, it is all done in vain if Jesus is not lifted up.
I would very much like to know how everything is going and when you are having your play. As I am offering this play to you in good faith, please honor my copyright. The price you have paid allows you to present the play without a performance fee at your church only and to make minor changes to the script.
Thank you and God bless you!
How many do you have in your group? This was the first play I had directed that I had several adults, and not just teens or small children, but even the "adult" parts can be performed by teens. Our youth group usually does the Christmas play, but that year we asked if there were any adults that wanted to be in it. I was really surprised that we had so many volunteers.
I think that the roles of Mary Ellen and J.J. need to be played by teens with good strong speaking voices. Angie - the sarcastic teen - should be done by one that can show emotion thru her actions as well as her voice. She has to go from one who cares about nothing or no one, to one that is excited to be a part of the Christmas story. No esteem to great esteem! (That's what the Lord does for us, isn't it?) The bus driver has to be gruff and show his bad attitude. Now any of these roles - ticket seller, Mr. Curry, Fred-the driver, etc. - were written for the people I had at church, but you can easily change any of them to women's roles. In fact, a gruff woman driver might be even more funny than a man!
Rev. Altman's role, although not a big role - except when he reads from the Bible - is a serious one. He is the one who brings all the similarities together and sort of "solves the mystery." I wouldn't give this part to a young teen. I would choose an older teen or young adult.
If you have too many parts and not enough people, you can take out the parts of Heather and her family (most of their lines are before getting on the bus). If any of them say anything on the bus or in the barn, just give that line to someone else. This will reduce the cast by about 4 or 5 people.
I told the audience before the play that they would have to use their imagination as we didn't really have a bus on stage! The back of the bus (a large drawing) was the wall on the right side of the stage. The front of the bus was the altar, facing the audience. Because our stage has three different levels, it made it easy to see everyone on the bus. We also used some cinderblocks to set the back seats up a little higher. We just used regular folding chairs, two on each side of the bus, with an aisle about 2 feet wide. The bus was about 11 feet across I guess. The seats in the front were those wooden chairs from the kids SS classes. This helped the audience to see everyone on each level.
The bus driver was in front, right at the altar. For him, you could go into more detail by actually having a steering wheel mounted, or brake and gas pedals, etc. One church that bought this play used the round lights that you just tap to turn on. They were very creative with their bus. They also have several men in their church who work for Ford Motor Company, so on the front of the bus they hung a "Chevy" license plate. (You have to remember that the bus did break down! They thought this was really funny!)
We just pretended like there was a bus, which sometimes I think made it funnier than having actual equipment!
For the back of the bus, we just used a drawing of the things you would find in the back of the bus (see illustration). This, just like anything else can be as elaborate or as simple as you prefer. We used several sheets of white paper ( like butcher paper), taped them to the wall and then colored it in. You could work harder and cut out a scene out of cardboard ( a refrigerator box would probably work), or even a piece of plywood. This depends on how much work you want to put into it.
For the ticket booth we used an old puppet stage. For the barn scene, we just turned it around, covered it with an old blanket (that looked like it belonged in a barn!) and used it as a partition (the baby was born behind it.)
Two Thermos bottles
Signs - with a few bus schedules on it in the terminal, and a large one that says Taylor Bus lines. These must be removed for the 2nd scene when they are on their trip.
Bus - chairs set up in certain pattern
Barn accessories - horse saddle (if available), bridle,
old blanket, hay, etc.
Suit cases, duffel bags
"Wise Men Mechanics" on the back of shirt ( You can have someone make you an iron-on from their computer, write it on with a marker, or just pin a sign on a shirt to save time.)
About costumes - I think the only ones that were dressed differently were the bus driver and Mr. Curry, the bus boss. The bus driver wore a blue jacket, a bow tie, and a hat. It wasn't anything exceptional, though. Mr. Curry just wore a suit and tie. Everyone else just wore regular clothes with a light jacket. (A heavy coat on a hot stage might cause heat stroke for your bus passengers!)
Sound Effects -
At the end of the first scene when the bus was leaving, we played a tape of an engine starting (you might find one on a sound effects tape, or just record the sound of a large vehicle's motor). When the motor started everyone on the bus bounced up and down a little like they were actually in a moving vehicle. Then the curtain closed while they were doing this. My son still talks about how funny this was, and I remember the audience enjoying it. I don't think they expected it!
You can be as creative as you like as far as sound effects go. The only other sound effect that we used was a tape of a baby crying for the birth scene. A squeaky bus door would be effective, too.
We will be praying for you and your program. If possible, e-mail me the time and date of your program and I will include it on my web-site. Also write me if you have any questions or problems that I might help you with. Thanks again and God Bless!