Hard Times

Acting to Heal a Broken World

Stephen M. Hudspeth

Nov/2013, 20 Pages, INSTANT DOWNLOAD

ISBN-13: 9781606741542

This play is about materialism and wanting to have more, in a world where there is disparity between the rich and poor, as well as the differences in health care in the developing world and western nations. Themes of bullying, peer pressure, and wanting to be cool are juxtaposed with stewardship, mission, and the needs of others around the world.

Abby is a lot poorer than some of her fellow classmates and is being teased and harassed by the in-group of mean girls at school as a result. Meanwhile, other students at this school, working through their church youth group, have developed a plan to do malaria-treatment awareness and fund-raising work at the same school. One of the girls at the edge of the mean girl’s group, Emily, is ambivalent about what this in-group is doing – very much wanting to be “in” but troubled by what she is seeing them do in general and to Abby in particular.

The two streams of action intersect around the youth group students’ school display on malaria, as Emily observes and is moved by Abby’s donation of her lunch money— all she has—to the anti-malaria work. Yetser Tov and Yetser Ha-ra (taken from the Jewish tradition)—the contrasting impulses within all of us appear and battle it out in Emily’s mind as all of this is happening. The sermon/play begins with juxtaposed humorous and poignant scenes of kids and their parents facing issues relating to their families’ wealth or poverty.

Cast Needed: 25 persons +/-

  Cast List

Narrators (6)
Pastor or Youth Group Leader (2)
Dad
Mom
Judy
Abby
Emily
Peter
Jay
Libby
Hari
Students (4+)
Youth Group Members (any number)
Speakers (any number)
Stagehands (as needed)

Time Length: 30-45 minutes
Age Level: Youth
Audience: All ages 

Stephen M. Hudspeth of Wilton, Connecticut, has taught church school for over twenty years, mostly to sixth and seventh graders, at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wilton, writing a new play script almost every year for his class in a church school which is conducted jointly with Wilton Presbyterian Church; he has also taught confirmation classes for six years. He has been the chief lay officer (Senior Warden) of two Episcopal parishes, one in New York City and the other St. Matthew’s in Wilton, the latter two times.

He also served for a decade as the Chair of the Stewardship Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and for two terms as a trustee of Union Theological Seminary in New York City (affiliated with Columbia University). In his current professional work, he teaches courses in law at the Yale Law School and in law and administration at Union Theological Seminary.

Until his retirement as a partner of a large international law firm at year-end 2004, he served for a dozen years as the chair of its global litigation department and of its pro bono committee. He has been married for over four decades to Rebecca Hudspeth whom he thanks profoundly for all of her help and support in this play writing and production process (and in all other things!) They have two children and two grandchildren.

A hamsa is an amulet shaped like a hand, with three extended fingers in the middle and a curved thumb or pinky finger on either side. It is thought to protect against the "evil eye" and is a popular motif in both Jewish and Middle Eastern jewelry. The name "hamsa" comes from the Hebrew word "hamesh," which means five. Hamsa refers to the fact that there are five fingers on the talisman, though some also believe it represents the five books of the Torah. Sometimes it is called the Hand of Miriam, after Moses' sister. In Islam, the hamsa is called the Hand of Fatima, in honor of one of the daughters of the Prophet Mohammed. Some say that in Islamic tradition the five fingers represent the Five Pillars of Islam.

In addition to being shaped like an oddly formed hand, many hamsas will have an eye displayed in the palm of the hand. The eye is thought to be a powerful talisman against the "evil eye." The evil eye is a certain "look" that can cause bad luck for the person at whom it is directed. This "look" often originates with a person, though not always intentionally. Legends about the evil eye give both regular people and those with certain powers the ability to cast the evil eye. In the case of the average Joe, envy is most often cited as the unintentional source of the evil eye.

We are using this symbol for the covers of the Skiturgies by Steve Hudspeth as his plays examine how this "evil" as well as "good" play out in our own lives and actions today.