This topic is for posting Drama, Puppets, and/or Storytelling lessons, ideas and resources for teaching the story of Esther.
A Drama Workshop Script
Other contestants (no lines)
Sashes for contestants
Mic on stand
The scene begins with the final round of the Miss Persia beauty contest. Esther has to answer questions before she is crowned the winner. Esther and three (or more) contestants stand behind the M.C. as the scene opens. Then Esther is called to center stage. The judges are sitting together to one side of the stage.
M.C.: All right, Provinces of Asia, we’re back from our commercial break! We’ve whittled down the competition and now we’re down to our last finalists for the Miss Persia 475 B.C.
(The finalist are standing together, hugging and looking nervous. They’re all wearing sashes, like in beauty pageants.)
M.C.: The ladies behind me have made it through the evening-wear and talent portions of the competition and most have survived the onstage questions. We only have one contestant who has not answered questions from our judges, and let’s bring her out: Esther!
(Esther hugs the other girls then walks to the front with the M.C.)
M.C.: Esther, these judges have some questions to ask you before they make their final decision about who should be named Miss Persia. Are you ready?
M.C.: Then judges, take it away!
Judge #1: My name is Shaashgaz. I work in the king’s palace. Here’s my question in the form of a hypothetical situation: Let’s say there’s a bad storm coming through Persia—a real soaker—and you see a young mother with a small child whose chariot has turned over. Do you stop and help them, possibly risking your own life in the process, or do you run to safety alone?
Esther: So, you’re asking if I would care enough for others that I would act—even if it’s not in my own best interest? That’s a tough one…hmmm…I would stop and help the woman and her child. And if I perish, I perish.
Judge #2: My name is Haman. I am the king’s right hand man—his VIP/BFF—the real brains behind the Persian Machine—and the most humble guy in Asia. Here’s my question: What do you think is the best approach when it comes to dealing with a problem?
Esther: I have found that the best way to deal with a problem is to fast and pray. Then the answer will come.
Judge #2: I usually just build a gallows and look for someone to get rid of, but, whatever…
Judge #3: Esther, I am Xerxes, king of Persia… (pulls out crown and places it on his head)
M.C.: Your majesty! We are so honored to have you as a judge!
Judge #3: Yes, I know.
(Contestants in the back sigh loudly and simultaneously.)
Judge #3: Esther, I actually came in here tonight because I thought there was a Rug Sale going on. I’m so glad I did because I have been looking for a new queen and I think I just found her. Can you believe I just happened to be in the right place at the right time?
Esther: Who knows but that you have come to this competition for such a time as this?
(King approaches Esther and audience applauds.)
M.C.: (sniffling and wiping away a tear) What a beautiful ending, folks! It looks like we’ve got a winner! Congratulations, Esther from Susa, you’re our Miss Persia.
NOTE: The story of Esther is often retold in comedic fashion as part of the Purim festival.
Posted by member Abby Rosser from: North Boulevard Church of Christ
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Warm Up Activity
Editor's Note: There are two parts to this very original activity: a mystery grab bag that begins to tell the story of Esther, and an incomplete rhyming poem about Esther that the children must figure out how to complete as you read it.
This activity can be used as review or a warm up. It should not be the first time the kids are hearing the story as it skims over a lot of details.
It can be used in a Drama or Storytelling Workshop, or perhaps as a STORY GAME in the Game Workshop.
Have a mystery bag or box that you say you found and you want the kids to help you figure out who it belonged to, where it came from etc.. Take out, or have kids take out, items one by one.
These items should give clues to the story.Examples: A crown for the king, a tiara or robe for Esther, a prayer shawl for Mordecai, hints as to location, like a persian rug or cat.
Kids guess what these items indicate, who would own these things, were they lived etc. It doesn't matter if the kids guess correctly-this is just to pique interest.
Have fun with this.
Getting to the Rhyming Activity...
As a final item in mystery bag or box have a beaten up scroll( made of brown bag or wrapping/butcher paper). Have persian style scribbles and have it appear to be missing parts. Say you had it translated and it is a poem, but parts are missing. Ask the kids to help you fill in the blanks on the translation. (see the blanks below in the poem)
You can either read the poem to the kids and have them shout out missing rhyme words or do an overhead and fill in blanks as you go. Have fun with words, suggest stupid rhymes that are clearly wrong to the kids for laughs and enjoy the hard word, spurious!
Please note that memory verse Prov. 3:5 is in the poem. Incorporate your verse if it is different.
Of course you could also skip the mystery bag intro and just go straight to poem.
Here is the poem described above that the kids will help you fill in.
Remember: the fill-in words have to rhyme to complete the poem!
The Ballad of Queen Esther
Five hundred years before Jesus came,
Lived a brave and beautiful queen. Esther was her _________ (name)
But in the beginning, she wasn’t a queen.
It was only later that she came on the royal ___________ (scene)
Before Esther became the King’s bride,
Cousin Mordecai adopted her because her parents had ___________ (died)
Mordecai worked at the palace gate
And had a hand in guiding Esther’s ____________ (fate)
Esther became Queen, and when Mordecai heard the news,
He told her don’t tell that you’re one of the ____________ (Jews)
Mordecai the discovered a plot,
To kill the King and so the suspects were ____________ (caught)
After the foiling of the plot most sinister,
The King appointed a man, named Haman, to be prime ______________ (minister)
Haman said I’m important now,
So to me everyone must _____________ (bow)
Mordecai said, “This is something I won’t do.
I only bow to God because I’m a ____________ (Jew)
This made Haman so furious
He charged the Jews with crimes that were _____________ (spurious)
Haman told the King what he willed,
And it was ordered that all Jews would be _____________ (killed)
When Mordecai heard, he was in distress
And said, “Esther, only you can get us out of this ______________ (mess)
Esther said, “I cannot accomplish this mission.
You cannot go before the King without ________________ (permission)
Esther was sad and started to cry.
“If I go uninvited to the King, I’ll ____________ (die)
But my God and my people I surely cherish.
So I will go, and if I perish, I _________ (perish)
Have all the Jews on my behalf
Pray for three days and call a _____________ (fast)
Then brave Esther went before the King though against the law.
But the King wasn’t angry when his beautiful Queen he ____________ (saw)
Now was the chance, but instead of her appeal,
She invited the King and Haman for a ___________ (meal)
After the supper, the King asked Esther her wish,
And she said, “Come back tomorrow for another ______________ (dish)
The King came to dinner again with Haman as his guest
And again asked Esther, “What is your _____________ (request)
Esther replied, “If it pleases the King,
I only request this one important _______________ (thing)
That you the lives of my people give
And that you allow your Queen to ______________ (live)
“Esther, my Queen, your wish I will fulfill you,
But tell me this one thing, who dares to ____________ (kill you)
A man sitting at this very table,
And he would kill me , said Esther if he were ______________ (able)
Haman would like to kill every Jew
so he would harm your Queen, for I am one____________(too).
The King ordered, “Take Haman away,
And he will loose everything this very __________ (day)
Give Haman’s house and his high position too
To Queen Esther’s cousin, Mordecai the____________(Jew).
Because Esther saved her people from their dismay,
The Jews still remember her by celebrating Purim ____________ (today)
Her story only goes to prove
That with God’s help, there’s nothing you can’t _____________ (do)
So remember this when life seems too demanding,
Put your trust in the Lord, and lean not on your own _______________ (understanding)
(Written by Lydia and Christian Erwig-Straughan)
An activity originally posted by member Engel...
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.
Drama or Puppets Workshop
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Following God may be scary or even risky. Puppets are used to retell the story of one woman's faith and action to save her people.
Book of Esther
At the end of the session, the students will...
- be able to find the book of Esther in the Old Testament, using the table of contents.
- be able to recount the story of Esther.
- understand how God protects His people.
- know that we can ask for help in our prayers. God protects us.
- understand that following God and doing His will may be scary or even risky.
Background comments on the story:
Take time to read the Book of Esther in one sitting. You will discover that Esther is like a romance novel with a beautiful heroine and a wicked villain. It is set in the time of Jewish exile in the Persian Empire. Emperor Xerxes ruled from 486-465 B.C. The Persian empire extended from the borders of India to Ethiopia, and consisted of a wide variety of peoples and ethnic groups.
God is not present by name in this book, but is implied in the fasting and in the providential occurrences (Esther chosen queen, Xerxes reading the court records instead of sleeping). Note the similarities to the stories of Joseph and Daniel in foreign courts.
Crawford writes that the theme of the book is ironic reversal. In chapter nine, verse one, "the reverse occurred." Something is always changing in this book, providing hope for the Jews in the diaspora (exile).
- Read the scripture ahead of time.
- Gather the materials.
- Bible time puppets,
- palace interior backdrop (with columns and richly colored walls),
- crowns for Xerxes and Esther (tinsel or garland work well),
- three-cornered hat for Haman (a paper hat pinned on the puppet head),
- a horse stick puppet (picture of a horse on posterboard taped to a paint stick);
- flipchart and markers;
- supplies for making noisemakers (shakers): paper plates, dried beans, stapler and staples, markers, and crepe paper streamers.
Books for sharing before and after class:
Look for books on Esther:
- Armstrong, Carole. Women of the Bible. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.
- Bach, Alice. Miriam's Well: Stories about Women in the Bible. New York: Delacorte, 1991.
- Chaikin, Miriam. Esther. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1987.
- Gelman, Rita. Queen Esther Saves Her People. New York: Scholastic, 1998.
- Gerstein, Mordicai. Queen Esther the Morning Star. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.
- Wolkstein, Diane. Esther's Story. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1996. (A master storyteller weaves Biblical Narrative and legend to tell Esther's story in her own words.)
- Also look for books on Purim for additional background and ideas, especially:
- Chaikin, Miriam. Make Noise, Make Merry: The Story and Meaning of Purim. New York: Clarion Books, 1994.
- Drucker, Malka. The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays. Boston: Little Brown, 1994.
Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Early arrival activity: Each child may make and decorate a grogger. (Groggers are traditional noisemakers used for the Purim celebration — listeners shake them to drown out Haman's name during the reading of the story.) Make a simple noisemaker by folding a paper plate in half. Put some dried beans in the center. Place a crepe paper streamer in the plate so it is hanging out, then staple the plate closed. Decorate with markers. (Have extras on hand for late arrivals.)
Open with prayer.
Tell the story of Esther (adaptation follows) or read it from a "Magillah" (traditional scroll read at Purim). Explain that it is a Jewish tradition at Purim (pronounced poor-im) to make noise to drown out Haman's name. Practice saying "Haman" and have the students shake their groggers (I recommend that you limit it to 3 shakes each time to keep control of the noise).
Read the scripture: Esther 9:20-28
Discuss the Characters:
King Xerxes, Queen Vashti (due to time limitations, not included in this lesson), Mordecai, Esther, Haman, servants, Jewish people
Where did the story take place?: Xerxes' palace in Susa (the capital of Persia)
How would you feel if you were Esther when chosen to be queen, Mordecai and Esther when they hear of plan to kill all Jewish people, Haman when invited to banquet given by queen, Esther when the King says he can't change a decree?
Outline the key scenes in order on the flipchart or chalkboard (the puppet drama should begin with the selection of Esther as queen and end with King Xerxes promising that the Jews may fight back). Discuss what happened in each scene. Put key words on the chart, also.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Warm-up exercises: Review puppet techniques and manipulation: puppets bowing, talking, pacing and looking worried, praying. (If time permits, consider doing this as a Simon Says-type game.)
Assign parts and act out the story using the key scenes outlined on the flipchart. Encourage the students to create dialog using the key words and plenty of imagination. Discuss other things that can be added to the performance, and if time permits, do it again.
Pulling it all together (closing discussion):
- Why do we pray to God? (Belonging to God: A First Catechism (PCUSA) question number 46.)
Because we were created to live with God, who desires the prayers of our hearts. Our hearts long for God, for we need God's help and guidance every day.
- Why do our prayers end with "Amen?" (Belonging to God: A First Catechism (PCUSA) question number 60.)
"Amen" means "so be it" or "let it be so." It expresses our complete confidence in God, who makes no promise that will not be kept and whose love endures forever.
- What did Esther do that was brave? Why?
- Sometimes we know that we should do something because it is the right thing to do, but we are afraid. I wonder what can we do to help keep fear under control?
- Talk about breathe prayers: when we are afraid or alone, God is still near. Practice praying a simple prayer quietly/silently while breathing in and out: God is near or God be with me are appropriate choices for this meditative spiritual practice.
- I wonder what thing God might have planned for me to do someday?
Thank you for helping us recognize injustice. Help us to act bravely, as Esther did, to do the right thing, even when it is hard or scary. Thank you for being with us when we feel alone or afraid.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, so that we do not miss your kingdom's goals.*
Adapted from "God of Grace and God of Glory" (The Presbyterian Hymnal, #420)
As an alternate closing, sing "God of Grace and God of Glory."
Queen Esther Saves Her People
Story adapted for retelling by Amy Crane from the book of Esther, Today's English Version
Long ago in Persia there was a king named Xerxes. He chose the most beautiful woman in the land to be his wife, a Jewish woman named Esther. She had grown up in the house of her Uncle Mordecai. However, on her uncle's advice, she told no one at the palace that she was Jewish.
One day Esther's Uncle Mordecai heard two of the king's guards plotting to kill the king! Mordecai told Esther, who told King Xerxes. An investigation took place, Mordecai was right, and the plotters were hanged. Mordecai's name was included in the King's official records of the Empire for that day.
The prime minister was a man named Haman. He was a vain and evil man. He wanted everyone to bow to him when he walked by. But Esther's Uncle Mordecai remembered the Ten Commandments, the law of God. He would bow to no one but the one true God. You can imagine how this made Haman feel. He was MAD! No amount of yelling or stomping about would change Mordecai. When Haman found out that Mordecai was a Jew, he had an idea.
Haman went to King Xerxes. "There are people in your land that do not follow your rules. They are different, and follow their own rules. I think we should get rid of them."
"Do whatever you think is best." And King Xerxes gave the ring that was used to stamp official proclamations to the enemy of the Jews.
So Haman cast pur, kind of like die, to find the best date to do the awful thing he planned. And then he sent out the announcement to all the lands ruled by King Xerxes:
On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, kill all the Jewish people.
When Mordecai heard the news, he sent a message to Queen Esther: "Please talk to the king. You must try to save your people."
Esther sent a message back to Mordecai. "You know I cannot go to see the king unless I am summoned. Anyone who goes to see the king without the king having called for them will be killed, unless the king holds out his scepter to them."
Mordecai sent back a message: "Don't think that you are safe. Remember, you too are a Jew. Just because you are Queen does not mean that you will not be killed. Perhaps God made you Queen for this reason!"
Esther was terrified. But she knew she must do the right thing. So she sent another message to Mordecai. "Please gather all the Jews in town together. Don't eat or drink anything for three days. Fast and pray. Pray that God will be with me and protect us all when I go to speak to King Xerxes in three days."
So for three days, all the Jews in town did nothing but pray. For three days, Queen Esther did nothing but pray.
On the third day, Queen Esther put on her best royal robes and her crown. Slowly she walked to the throne room as she prayed to God to be with her.
She reached the throne room. King Xerxes was frowning. He looked like he was in a terrible mood. But he saw that it was his lovely Queen approaching, and he smiled and held out his scepter. "My dear wife, what can I do for you?"
"Your Majesty, please come to a banquet I am preparing tonight. And bring Haman."
That night King Xerxes and Haman shared a fine meal with the Queen. "Now what can I do for you," asked the King.
"Please, both of you come again for dinner tomorrow night. I will tell you then what I wish."
My, how proud Haman was! He called his wife and friends together. "I had a private dinner with the King and Queen tonight, and will do the same tomorrow night. I am important. But that man Mordecai won't bow to me!"
His wife and friends had a suggestion: "Why don't you build a gallows and ask the king for permission to hang Mordecai tomorrow? Then you can go to the banquet tomorrow night happy."
Haman thought this was an excellent idea, so he had the gallows built.
That same night, King Xerxes could not sleep. So he called for an aide to read the official records to him (hoping that they would bore him to sleep). The part that was read included the story of Mordecai uncovering the plot to assassinate him. He asked, "I don't remember. How did we honor and reward this Mordecai?"
"I don't believe we did, sir."
By this time it was early morning and Haman had arrived at the palace and was anxiously waiting to see King Xerxes. "Bring him in," said the king.
Mordecai entered the throne room and bowed low. Before he had a chance to speak, the king began, "There is someone I wish very much to honor. What should I do?"
Haman thought, "Who would the king want to honor so much? Me, of course!" He replied, "I would have royal robes brought for m-- for this man. Ornament your finest horse. Then have one of your highest noblemen lead the horse with this man mounted on it through the city square. Have the nobleman announce, ‘See how the king rewards a man he wishes to honor!'"
"Great idea -- go get the robes and horse ready and then find Mordecai the Jew. It is he I wish to honor. Do everything you said."
So Haman got the king's finest robes and ornamented the king's horse and found Mordecai. Mordecai got on the horse and Haman led the horse, announcing, "See how the king rewards a man he wishes to honor!" And then Haman went home in embarrassment.
That evening, King Xerxes and Haman again shared a fine meal with the Queen. "Now, please tell me what can I do for you," asked the King.
"All my people will soon be killed," Esther told the king.
"Who would do such a thing!?"
"That man, Haman, your prime minister, has ordered that all the Jewish people be killed on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month."
King Xerxes was furious. He ordered that Haman be hung immediately on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. King Xerxes made Mordecai the Prime Minister in Haman's place.
But the Jew's problems were not over, for a proclamation in the king's name stamped with the royal seal cannot be undone. So King Xerxes granted the Jews the right to defend themselves. The good news soon spread throughout the land and on the thirteenth day of Adar the Jews triumphed over their enemies.
And so, to this day the Jewish people celebrate Queen Esther's bravery and remember God's faithfulness to those who ask for help every spring at a Festival called Purim.
Tips for Telling:
Read the story in several translations of the Bible and Bible storybooks to see other ways to tell it.
It is traditional at the Purim celebration during the reading of the story for listeners to shake noisemakers (groggers) to drown out Haman's name. Have your listeners practice before you begin; you may want to limit your listeners to three shakes (shake-shake-shake) each time his name is said.
Bring the story to life with your movement and emotions as well as the words. In particular, show Haman's disgust as he announces what a great man Mordecai is while leading the horse.
If you cannot learn this story by heart (to tell it in your own words), read and reread it until you are very comfortable with it. Then you will be able to look up and make eye contact and interact with your listeners, which will help bring the story to life for them as you read. (In fact, Esther is written literature, and is meant to be read, not told. Consider making your "cheat sheet" copy of the story into a scroll so that it looks like the Megillah: a scroll containing the book of Esther, traditionally read at Purim.)
For additional hints on Biblical Storytelling, see the article by Amy Crane in the Rotation Documents: Workshop Manuals section of the Idea Exchange.
A lesson written by Amy Crane (email@example.com) for Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church in Tampa, Florida.
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.