King Solomon and the Baker

script by Leo Heska
based on a traditional Jewish folk tale

Summary

Greedy baker gets what he/she deserves.

Characters

Narrator/Announcer (male or female)
Baker (male or female)
King Solomon
Old Woman

This play is meant to contain humor.  For comic effect, or for other reasons, you may choose a female to play King Solomon, or a male to play the old woman.

Run time

4 to 5 minutes - the dialogue should move quickly.  This play is basically a setup and a punch line.

Setting

2 locations - at the bakery and in King Solomon's court.  But you don't need any set; a bare stage will do fine.

Props

(optional)  A cue card or scroll for the announcer to read from.
1 bread roll (or bagel, or flat bread)
1 small loaf of bread
4 coins.  Ideally they should be copper.  Pennies are fine, but if you can get larger "coins" made of real metal, so that they clink loudly, that's even better.
1 Agora One Agora Motif: Ancient Galley

Origin of Motif: Coin issued by Herod Archelaus (4 B.C.E. - 6 C.E.).
1 Shekel
One Shekel Motif: Lily; "Yehud" in ancient Hebrew

Origin of Motif: A Judean coin during the Persian period (6th-4th century B.C.E.).

Notes

Depending on your own political leanings, or those of your audience, you may want to omit or change the last 2 lines.  Especially if one of your benefactors happens to be a greedy, humorless baker!

Script

Announcer:

(pops onstage)
(speaking quickly)
(may read this from a cue card or scroll)
Ancient Israel.  Generosity and Justice.  Scene 1 - at the baker's.
(pops offstage)

Alternatively: 

Announcer:

(formally)
(may read this from a cue card or scroll)
King Solomon And The Baker.  A story of Generosity and Justice from ancient Israel.  Scene 1 - at the baker's.

Baker:

I love my life.  (chews bread) Plenty of bread to eat; (stretches) a nice warm place to work; and everyone comes to see me. (Scowls) Everyone except those miserable poor folk, that is.  (Scornful laugh) They don't bother me because they don't have enough money to buy my bread!

Old Woman: 

Please sir, may I buy some of your bread?

Baker :

(loudly) 2 shekels for a loaf of bread, Old Woman!

Old Woman:

 (counting her few miserable coins)  Please, kind sir, I have only 4 agoras...

Baker:

 (shouting) Get out with your miserable 4 agoras!  I have nothing for you here!

Old Woman:

You are rude and unkind, young man.  Since you insist, I will pay you nothing.  But I will also stand here just outside your door, and enjoy the smell of your wonderful bread...

Baker:

(enraged, interrupting)  You may not enjoy the smell of my bread, you miserable old hag!  Thief!  Police!  Take this old crone away!  Take her to the king!

Announcer

(quickly):  Scene 2 - at King Solomon's court

Baker:

King Solomon, the law says that what is enjoyed must be paid for.  This woman enjoyed the delicious, wonderful smell of my fine bread, yet paid me nothing.  I demand payment!

King Solomon

 (to old woman)  Did you enjoy the smell of his bread?

Old Woman:

Yes, King Solomon, I did.  The smell was so delicious!  And I was so hungry I could not resist.

King Solomon

(to baker)  It is true that we are a people of the law.  And you quote the law correctly; this poor old woman must pay.  But we are also a people of compassion and generosity.  Cannot you find it in your heart to forgive this payment?

Baker:

No!  I demand my payment under the law!  Enforce the law, as you must!

King Solomon

(to baker)  As you insist.
(Imperiously, to old woman)  The baker is right.  The law is the law, and I must enforce it.  I desire to be generous, but I must be just.  How much money have you, old woman?

Old Woman:

Only these 4 agoras, King Solomon!

King Solomon:

Count them out!

(Old Woman starts to move to baker)

King Solomon:

No, not to him.  Count them out to me.  Here, in my hand.  Baker, listen well!

Old Woman

(counting the coins into King Solomon's hand, clinking them loudly):  One, Two, Three, Four!

King Solomon:

Baker, did you listen well?

Baker:

I did, King Solomon!

King Solomon:

Did you hear the clinking of the miserable old crone's miserable old coins?  4 puny agoras?

Baker:

I did, King Solomon!

King Solomon:

(sternly, resoundingly) Then, baker, that shall be your payment!  For the smell of your bread, this old woman has paid you the sound of her coins!

(pauses)

(commanding) And now, leave here and bother me no more, miserable greedy baker!

(hands old woman a loaf of bread)  Old woman, this bread is for you. Compliments of the baker.  (clearly and distinctly, to audience)  I taxed him this morning.


Author:  Leo Heska (adapted from a traditional folk tale)
Distributor/Publisher:  http://www.freeplays.org

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