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FRIENDS  9'0m2f Ruth and Naomi: an example of true friendship

NAOMI -- (enters from audience rear, carrying a large bag full 
of clothing over shoulder, walks slowly to corner of stage) 

RUTH --- (enters from audience rear, carrying a large bag full 
of clothing over shoulder, shouts) Naomi, wait.

NAOMI -- (turns) Ruth, dear, what are you doing here?

RUTH --- I want to go with you.

NAOMI -- But I'm going back to Israel. You don't know anyone 
there. Your people are here in Moab. What about your mother and 
father?

RUTH --- I said goodbye to them. I want to be with you.

(they reach the corner of the stage) 

NAOMI -- I have no more sons for you to marry and give you 
babies. You should stay here with your own people as Orpah did.

RUTH --- But you are more than just a mother-in-law to me, 
Naomi. You are my friend. Let me go with you.

NAOMI -- You don't know what you're getting into. In my country 
there are none of your idols to worship, no Ashera poles, no 
high places to pray to your gods. And the language will be a 
problem. Foreign women are often mistreated by the Jews.

RUTH --- It doesn't matter. I won't let you travel alone.

NAOMI -- (stops, pats her face) Ruth, you have been such a 
friend to me. When my husband died you were the only one in Moab 
who was there to cry with me. And you were also there for me 
when my two sons died.

RUTH --- One of your sons was my husband, Naomi. And you were 
there for me too. 

NAOMI -- There's no way I can change your mind?

RUTH --- Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. 
Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die 
I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with 
me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you 
and me.

NAOMI -- (hugs Ruth, then holds her shoulder, begins crossing) 
Come, then, my friend.

RUTH --- Where will we live when we get to Israel? Bethlehem?

NAOMI -- You soak up my words like a sponge. Yes, Bethlehem is 
my home and Bethlehem is where you and I shall make our home. 
And, fortunately, we will be arriving in there at the barley 
harvest.

RUTH --- Is that good?

NAOMI -- Well, we won't have trouble finding food to eat.

RUTH --- But you don't have any land there. How can we harvest 
what we have not planted?

NAOMI -- It is the custom of my people to let the poor people 
follow the harvesters.

RUTH --- The gleaning.

NAOMI -- Very good! You may fit in there after all. (stops near 
far end of stage, pats Ruth's face) And you're certainly pretty 
enough. Perhaps I can reward your loyal friendship by playing 
the matchmaker.

RUTH --- I don't understand.

NAOMI -- (points to rear corner of audience) Oh, look, there's 
Bethlehem and the harvest has begun. 

RUTH --- (points to audience) Shall I join the gleaners behind 
the harvesters in the fields? 

NAOMI -- (sly smile) Yes. Yes, you do that. But, not there. 
There. (points offstage)

RUTH --- I don't understand. This field (points) is larger.

NAOMI -- Yes, but this (points) is the field that belongs to 
Boaz. He is a relative of my husband. Be sure to tell him who 
you were married to. (takes Ruth's bag, smiles) Go, hurry. Boaz 
is coming out to the field. Go! (pushes Ruth out exit, exits 
opposite)

RUTH --- (reenters with a large flower pots in her arms) Naomi, 
look! You were right! We WILL have plenty to eat here!

NAOMI -- (reenters, wiping hands on apron, smiling) Well, good 
for you!

RUTH --- Good for us! We have almost of week's supply of grain 
here from just one day of gleaning!

NAOMI -- Did you meet Boaz?

RUTH --- Yes, but he didn't treat me like the other gleaners.

NAOMI -- How so?

RUTH --- Well, as you predicted, he seemed pleased that I was 
related in marriage to your husband, even though I am a... what 
did he call me?

NAOMI -- A gentile?

RUTH --- Yes. I assume that means that I am an outsider. He told 
me not to glean in any other fields but his, that there would be 
plenty to be gleaned in his fields.

NAOMI -- I think he likes you.

RUTH --- I think I know what a matchmaker is.

NAOMI -- (turns with a smile) What could you possibly mean?

RUTH --- (walks around to look her in the face) You talked to 
Boaz while I was in the fields, didn't you?

NAOMI -- Me?

RUTH --- Yes. When we sat down for lunch, Boaz knew all about 
the fact that I left my mother and father in Moab so you 
wouldn't have to travel alone.

NAOMI -- It doesn't hurt to prime the pump a little. So, tell 
me. What happened?

RUTH --- At first I thought his harvesters were just being 
careless, because after lunch they started missing a lot more 
grain. I mean, a lot more. But only the harvesters who were in 
front of me seemed to be missing a lot of grain. None of the 
other gleaners gleaned nearly as much as I did. And I'm no 
better at it than any of the others.

NAOMI -- That's a good sign! He likes you. He really likes you!

RUTH --- You think so? I mean, I AM a Gentile.

NAOMI -- (pats her face) You're a pretty gentile and you're my 
friend. You stayed with me when I needed you. And now you're 
reaping your reward for being faithful. (takes the pot, escorts 
her to far end of stage) Now, we close in for the kill.

RUTH --- The kill? What kill? 

NAOMI -- It's a figure of speech. (hands her a pretty scarf) 
Here, tie this in your hair.

RUTH --- But... (ties hair back with scarf)

NAOMI -- Go to the threshing floor and let him see how pretty 
you are until the sun goes down, then, when he lies down, you 
sleep at his feet.

RUTH --- At his feet?

NAOMI -- It's a custom here. It lets him know you're interested 
in more than just his grain.

RUTH --- Naomi!

NAOMI -- Go. (points)

RUTH --- Well, what do I do if he's interested, you know....

NAOMI -- ...Boaz is a gentleman. He'll treat you like a lady.

RUTH --- But, I'm a gentile...

NAOMI -- ...Go! 

RUTH --- But... (exits)

NAOMI -- ...Trust me. I'm your friend. (exits opposite)

RUTH --- (reenters, carrying a large flower pot) Naomi! I'm 
home!

NAOMI -- (reenters, with open arms) Well, I see he gave you some 
grain. What else happened?

RUTH --- Nothing.

NAOMI -- Nothing?

RUTH --- Well, nothing that I was expecting. I mean, you know 
what would have happened if I would have tried that stunt in 
back home in Moab.

NAOMI -- Boaz must have at least SAID something.

RUTH --- He called me "a woman of noble character". Is that 
good?

NAOMI -- (pumps arm in victory, whispers) Yes!

RUTH --- Back home, that's what they say about you if they think 
you're ugly. And grain is something they give to an ox.

NAOMI -- (grabs pot, dances with it, sings) I hear wedding bells.

RUTH --- Naomi, are you feeling alright?

NAOMI -- Ruth, my beautiful friend, Ruth. There is no greater 
compliment for a woman in all Israel than to be called "a woman 
of noble character".

RUTH --- But how do you know he's going to marry me? It was just 
one little compliment and some grain.

NAOMI -- Boaz is your GAWYAL.

RUTH --- My what?

NAOMI -- He's your GAWYAL, your kinsman-redeemer. 

RUTH --- Okay. (shrugs)

NAOMI -- It's a tradition that started a long time ago. When a 
man dies before having children, his relatives must marry the 
dead man's wife and have children with her, so the dead man's 
name will be passed on to future generations.

RUTH --- You Israelites have some strange customs. Are you 
saying that Boaz would marry me, but our children will bear the 
name of my first husband?

NAOMI -- That's exactly what I'm saying. 

RUTH --- That's not fair to Boaz. Our children would inherit his 
money but they would carry some other man's name?

NAOMI -- A man would have to see something very special in a 
woman to do that, wouldn't he? 

RUTH --- Do you really think so?

NAOMI -- Think so? I know so.

RUTH --- I'm still a little foggy about your customs, I....

NAOMI -- Boaz is second in line to redeem you as his wife. Boaz 
now has to go to the city gate to try to talk your first 
redeemer into waiving his right to marry you.

RUTH --- You're kidding! He would do that for me?

NAOMI -- Did he cover you with his blanket when you slept at his 
feet last night?

RUTH --- Yes.

NAOMI -- He would do that for you, my special friend. 
(escorts her to far end of stage) Go now!

RUTH --- Go where?

NAOMI -- To the city gates, to see if Boaz can win you from your 
first redeemer.

RUTH --- Why don't you go?

NAOMI -- I am going to stay here and pray.

RUTH --- Pray? For what?

NAOMI -- Your first redeemer is a very wealthy man. He knows... 
everybody in Bethlehem knows what a beautiful woman you are 
inside and out. Boaz will have to do some slick talking to win 
you away from him. Go! (pushes Ruth out exit, backs toward 
opposite exits) And stay out of sight. If he sees how beautiful 
you are, there's no way he'll let Boaz have you. Go!

RUTH --- (reenters) Naomi! I'm home!

NAOMI -- (reenters) Well? How did it go?

RUTH --- I don't know. I couldn't hear what they said.

NAOMI -- Well, then what did they do?

RUTH --- They each took off a sandal and exchanged them.

NAOMI -- (pumps arm in victory, whispers) Yes!

RUTH --- Is that good?

NAOMI -- Ruth, my friend, my beautiful, faithful friend, (hugs 
here) that is good, that is very good! 

RUTH --- You mean I can marry Boaz?

NAOMI -- (hands large white lace scarf to Ruth) Here, put this 
on.

RUTH --- (puts on scarf) Is this another of your traditions?

NAOMI -- Yes, it's your wedding veil. (exiting in slow lock step 
with Ruth as if in a wedding) I will now walk you down the aisle 
and give your hand in marriage to Boaz. I wish I could do more. 
If I were the Lord I would put you into the line of the messiah.


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