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DAGON2   5'1m*f RT: The Ark of the Covenant destroys Dagon

(RT == Readers' Theater: requires little or no memorization,
little or no rehearsal. An indefinite number of reporters are
salted throughout the audience.)

PRIEST -- (enters wearing ornate robe, headdress and sandals,
crosses to podium) I am the high priest of Dagon. As many of you
already know, we Philistines recently captured the Ark of the
Covenant from Israel. The reason I called this press conference
is to announce that we are now moving the Ark of the Covenant
here to the city of Ekron...

REPORTER -- No disrespect, your eminence, but the people of
Ekron will be outraged!

PRIEST -- I don't know why.

REPORTER -- I think you do.

REPORTER -- Isn't this the third time you have moved the Ark of
the Covenant since we Philistines captured it from Israel eight
months ago?

PRIEST -- That's true. But...

REPORTER -- According to my sources the Ark of the Covenant has
been moved to Ashdod, then from Ashdod to Gath and now from Gath
to Eckron. Why all the moves?

PRIEST -- We want everyone to have an opportunity to see what
has become a national treasure here in Philistia.

REPORTER -- Then, why are you negotiating the return of the Ark
to Israel?

PRIEST -- Who told you that?!

REPORTER -- It's true, isn't it? You are trying to get rid of
the Ark of the Covenant, aren't you?

PRIEST -- Well, we only captured the Ark of the Covenant to
embarrass the Jews. We've had our fun and now it's time to...

REPORTER -- So, you're denying that the Ark has magical powers?

PRIEST -- Magical powers.

REPORTER -- According to eye witness reports, when the Ark of
the Covenant was being stored in the temple of Dagon in the city
of Ashdod, the Ark caused the statue of our God dagon to topple.

PRIEST -- That's highly speculative.

REPORTER -- I have eye witness testimony that the statue of
Dagon was found face down in front of the Ark of the Covenant
the morning after the Ark was moved into the temple.

PRIEST -- Well, that's true. But many of us thought it might
have been caused by an earthquake.

REPORTER -- Nobody reported an earthquake.

REPORTER -- But it happened again.

REPORTER -- What happened again?

REPORTER -- The day after the statue of Dagon was lifted off the
temple floor, it was found face down on the floor again, wasn't
it?

REPORTER -- My sources tell me that the head and hands of Dagon
were broken off in the second fall. Is that true?

PRIEST -- Well, yes, but....

REPORTER -- Another earthquake, your eminence?

REPORTER -- Nobody reported an earthquake.

PRIEST -- Alright, I'll admit it. The statue of Dagon was
damaged during the two days that the Ark of the Covenant was in
the temple of Dagon. But the cause was never confirmed.

REPORTER -- What about the diseases?

REPORTER -- What diseases are we talking about?

PRIEST -- I wouldn't call them diseases. Just a skin rash.

REPORTER -- Eye witnesses reported that the entire population of
the city of Ashdod was infected with large disfiguring tumors.

REPORTER -- That's a bit more serious than a skin rash.

PRIEST -- Yes, well, just to be on the safe side, we moved the
Ark out of the temple, but when the skin... diseases persisted,
we moved the Ark of the Covenant from Ashdod to Gath.

REPORTER -- I have eye witness reports of an outbreak of tumors
in the city of Gath also.

PRIEST -- People tend to be alarmists, so the Ark of the
Covenant is now on its way here to Ekron.

REPORTER -- Is it true that the people of Ekron are trying to
have you removed as high priest of Dagon?

PRIEST -- They are?!

REPORTER -- Not just Ekron, but Gath and Ashdod as well.

PRIEST -- Well, Ekron is not the final resting place for the Ark
of the Covenant.

REPORTER -- Then the rumor is true. You ARE negotiating the
return of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel where it belongs?

PRIEST -- We're not NEGOTIATING with Israel. We conquered Israel
and stole their most sacred artifact. You don't negotiate with
people you conquer.

REPORTER -- But you ARE going to return it?

PRIEST -- Well, let me put it this way. When the Ark of the
Covenant arrives here in Ekron, we will immediately load it onto
an ox cart behind two oxen and point the oxen toward Jerusalem.
What happens to the Ark after it crosses over into Israel is not
our problem. That's all I have. (turns)

REPORTER -- Is it true that you're going to send a bribe with
the Ark of the Covenant?

PRIEST -- (turns) A bribe? I wouldn't call it a bribe. We're
going to send five solid gold models of the tumors and five
solid gold rats. But that's just for decoration.

REPORTER -- Sounds like a bribe to me.

REPORTER -- Me too.

REPORTER -- Can you tell us why you chose to send five of each
item?

PRIEST -- Yes. It's to let the Jews know that the bribes.... the
decorations are a gift from the priests of Philistia. There are
five of us. We want to let them know that we appreciate the Ark
of the Covenant as a serious religious artifact.

REPORTER -- Sounds like a bribe to me.

PRIEST -- (exiting) I'm not going to stand here and be insulted!

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