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WRITING2 5'1m*f RT: Daniel interprets the writing on the wall

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

BELSHAZZAR -- (enters wearing ornate robe, crown and sandals,
crosses to podium) Good Morning. I am Belshazzar, king of the
Babylonian Empire. The reason I called this press conference is
to announce that the mystery of the magical writing on the wall
has been solved. The name of the man who solved the message is
Daniel the Israelite, whom some of you remember as the religious
head of my father's government. I'd like to thank the members of
the press for publicizing this situation, because, as most of
you know, none of my religious leaders could translate the
writing on the wall.

REPORTER -- Your Majesty, if your father Nebuchadnezzar thought
enough of Daniel to make him the religious leader of the entire
empire, why isn't he the religious leader in your
administration?

BELSHAZZAR -- Well, as most of you know, it is common practice
for a new king to bring in fresh faces when he takes over the
throne. As a matter of fact, it is common for the new king to
KILL all the old administrators to assure loyalty from those
left alive. So, in a manner of speaking, Daniel is lucky to be
alive. And you might say I made the right decision in sparing
his life, since Daniel was the only one capable of solving the
mystery.

REPORTER -- What reward did you give to Daniel for translating
the writing on the wall?

BELSHAZZAR -- I put a purple robe on him and hung a gold chain
around his neck and I restored him to his former post. I'm sure
you all agree that Daniel has earned this honor.

REPORTER -- Is it true that the writing on the wall was put
there by a disembodied hand?

BELSHAZZAR -- Yes. I can confirm that. As a matter of fact,
everyone at the banquet saw the hand writing the message.

REPORTER -- Can you tell us what the message said?

BELSHAZZAR -- Yes. I wrote it down. It says, (reads scroll)
"MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN." These words have no meaning in our
language. Nor do they have any meaning in ANY language to my
knowledge, which is why none of my wise men or religious leaders
could translate them.

REPORTER -- But Daniel COULD translate them?

BELSHAZZAR -- Yes.

REPORTER -- Can you tell us what these four words mean?

BELSHAZZAR -- Yes. I wrote that down too. They mean, (reads)
"God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an
end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your
kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

REPORTER -- Your Majesty, it looks like this message was aimed
at you personally. No?

BELSHAZZAR -- Oh. Gee. Maybe. I hadn't really thought about it.
I was so amazed that someone could translate an untranslatable
language that I didn't pay much attention to the message itself.
Let's see. (reads)

"God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an
end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your
kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

By golly, this message must be for me personally! It looks like
I'm going to be kicked off the throne and replaced by a
foreigner.

REPORTER -- Your Majesty, this sounds like some kind of hoax.
How could anybody possibly know if you were going to be
dethroned? That would require a knowledge of the future.

BELSHAZZAR -- Well, according to Daniel, the message is from his
God.

REPORTER -- Your Majesty, there are three hundred and sixty
different gods in Babylon. Can you tell us which god it was who
can predict the future?

BELSHAZZAR -- Daniel says that this is not one of our Gods, but
the God of Israel, the God who created the entire universe out
of nothing. Only this God has the ability to predict the future.

REPORTER -- Why would this god of Israel predict that you would
be dethroned? Did you do something wrong?

BELSHAZZAR -- Actually, I may have made a teensy weensy little
error. During the banquet, I may have had a little too much wine
to drink. I had the palace guards go into the treasury building
and bring back the gold implements which my father brought back
from the temple in Jerusalem. These cups and goblets were used
by the Jews in the worship of the god of Israel. But we used
them to drink wine and get drunk and while we were drunk, we
toasted our gods with the implements created to worship their
God. I think I may have offended the God of Israel.

REPORTER -- So, what you're saying is that this writing on the
wall was more than a prediction of the future. It was actually
the hand of their god handing down judgement upon you?

BELSHAZZAR -- (searches scrolls) Gee, that's the way it looks.

REPORTER -- In the translation you just read, you said that the
person who replaces you on the throne will be from the Medes and
Persians. Are you aware of anyone from the Medes or Persians who
has been hostile to Babylon?

BELSHAZZAR -- Actually, yes, I do. His name is Darius the Mede.
But I didn't take him seriously. Now that I think of it, maybe I
should.

REPORTER -- According to the translation, your dethroning will
happen some time in the future. Can you be more specific?

BELSHAZZAR -- (looks offstage, gasps) Right now! He's here!
Darius is here! (backs away, turns, exits running)

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