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Christmas play:

What did the donkey and the sheep think?

This play is based on an entry received from Taiwan.


Donkey: Move over a bit to the side. I can’t stand it any longer how much space you take up here. And leave me some of your straw as well. You always take far too much anyway.
Sheep: What else do you want? You old donkey! Since these new ones have arrived, there isn’t as much space in the stable. We have to put up with what we’ve got.
Donkey: You’re right, always these new ones. They really get on my nerves. Since his highness the great emperor in far away Rome ordered this annoying population count, new people keep coming to the guesthouses. And where do they leave their horses and mules? Here, of course – in the stable. As if we don’t have too little hay as it is.
Sheep: That is what a population count is all about. Everyone has to back to the birth town before the count starts so that they aren’t counted twice. There is a lot going on in the streets and in the guesthouses as well.
Donkey: Yeah, yeah. That’s why there’s so much traffic. Simply awful. Emma said to me just yesterday – you know her, she’s the hen from farmer Levi – anyway, yesterday she said to me: „Donkey – the traffic here is a complete catastrophe. Why do they have to do the population count in winter? Typical bureaucrats. In summer the people could even sleep on the streets. And their animals wouldn’t overrun our stables.“
Sheep: Emma really seems to be suffering.
Donkey: You can say that again. It is very full in the stable. The last I heard, a camel stepped on her foot, since then she has had terrible corns. At least I said to Emma: „That is politics. It has always been that way, it is like that now and it always will be. A tax increase will be next – watch out.
Sheep: Stop moaning all the time, you aren’t a goat. You don’t pay any tax anyway.
Donkey: No, not yet, not yet. But since the Romans have captured our beautiful Israel, it is only a matter of time until we animals have to pay as well. We are now in year 1 before Christ. New Years Eve is in one week. Tax increases always come at the beginning of the year. And who knows what will come. If the Kaiser thinks up a tax increase on hay before then, we’ll look like proper Charlies.
Sheep: Hey donkey, we are now in year 1 before Christ. Last year was year 2 before Christ. That means that we are actually counting backwards, doesn’t it? Why do we count backwards? I mean, what are we waiting for? What will happen?
Donkey: How should I know? Do I look like a prophet? No. I look like a poor donkey with an acute lack of love, exercise and food.

[Short silence.]

Sheep: Donkey?
Donkey: Yes, sheep?
Sheep: What is a prophet then?
Donkey: A prophet is someone who God uses to communicate through, sheep. To tell you the truth, I haven’t got much idea about God, you know, and I haven’t got much of an idea about our calendar system, but if he really has plans about changing the ways of this world – I mean really change – then it would really be the best time possible to do something at new year, from the ways things look at the moment.
Sheep: Do you believe that he can change something?
Donkey: I just told you that I don’t know much about God. But I can tell you one thing: If there is someone in this world who can change something, then it is God. If he doesn’t change anything, I see no future.

2. Part

Sheep: It’s slowly becoming really cramped here. A few new ones have arrived again. I think it was two at once.
Donkey: What is it this time? Mules? Camels? Or dogs, perhaps? Dogs always take up less space but smell a bit stronger.
Sheep: Hey, I can hardly recognise it, donkey. The camel is standing right in the way.
Donkey: Yes, well, typical camel. He’s only a hump, but is always in the way.
Sheep: I think… it is …something with two legs…
Donkey: O no! Geese! If they talk as much as the last ones, we won’t get a wink of sleep tonight!
Sheep: They are much larger…
Donkey: God forbid, they are giant geese! That as well!
Sheep: No, no, they are humans!
Donkey: Humans!?
Sheep: Take a look yourself! Two humans! Over there in the hay! It’s a man and a woman.
Donkey: What is the meaning of that then? Are they totally mad? What are they doing in the stable?
Sheep: They probably didn’t get any accommodation. The guesthouse is full…
Donkey: Ach, ach, and what about us? We have lots space for everyone?
Sheep: Leave them alone, donkey. Look, they only need a little bit of space.

[Short silence.]

How strange. The woman seems to be injured. Or she’s suffering. Why?
Donkey: The tax increase is probably giving her headaches too.
Sheep: And the man makes a very nervous impression. I can see him quite clearly. He keeps running backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards…
Donkey: That’s enough. I can picture it myself.
Sheep: Now he’s whispering something to the woman. There seems to be something exciting going on over there.
Donkey: Will you stop staring? You are unbelievable.
Sheep: It’s interesting. When have we had strange humans among us animals in the stable?
Donkey: They are only humans, sheep; just ordinary humans. A human is nothing special. Humans are simply there, and the only thing they have different to us, is that they brush their teeth before bedtime. Just run of the mill, normal humans. Quite by chance, a pair of them is sitting in our stable and taking space up. I wouldn’t call that interesting, but downright cheeky.
Sheep: You won’t believe it, donkey.
Donkey: What?
Sheep: There are now 3 humans all of a sudden…

3. Part

Sheep: Look, donkey – they have cloned themselves! How amazing! Do you think that would work with sheep as well?
Donkey: That wasn’t a cloning, it was a birth. The woman was pregnant.
Sheep: Really? That’s what humans do. Hey, donkey! Look, the door is opening!
Donkey: I fear the worst.
Sheep: More people!
Donkey: I knew it.
Sheep: But hey, I recognise the clothing. That is the clothing of the shepherds. The poor ones, all of them practically still children and totally frozen. Yes, yes, we have landed in hard times. All of them probably have…
Donkey: another dozen hungry siblings to feed. But maybe they have come to take a few sheep. Then I would finally have a bit more leg room.
Sheep: I hope not. I can’t be bothered with the meadows in this weather. Oh look. They are taking off their coats and knelling down. They are bowing in front of him …what is that called by humans? Human lamb?
Donkey: No, of course not. It’s called a child.
Sheep: Well, I call it a human lamb. It is the lamb of a human.
Donkey: I ask myself what they find so interesting about this human lamb…

4. Part

[The shepherds are talking about angels.]

Sheep: Did you hear that, donkey? Those shepherds have seen angels.
Donkey: You don’t believe that, do you? Only little children believe in angels.
Sheep: I don’t know. What is an angel?
Donkey: Angels are God’s messengers. There are a good number of them and they are very strong. But to tell you the truth, I think it’s just a fairytale. I don’t believe in angels.
Sheep: Maybe the angels don’t believe that something like a donkey exists…
Donkey: What is that supposed to mean? You didn’t know what an angel is until a minute ago. And now you think that you know better than me if they exist or not.
Sheep: The shepherds are saying that they have seen angels.
Donkey: So what?
Sheep: I know that the shepherds only want the best for us sheep. They always do good. My shepherd grazes us on the greenest of meadows. He leads us down to the water. And even when my shaky old legs have to get through very dark gorges, I can trust him that he knows the way better than me – and that he will never leave me in the lurch. As long as a shepherd is guiding me, I have no reason to be scared. Why should a shepherd lie when he always wants the best for me? I trust the shepherds, even if you don’t. I have never seen an angel. But there are probably lots of things which I haven’t seen. Who is entitled to say what exists and what doesn’t?
Donkey: There aren’t any shepherds for donkeys.
Sheep: There are bound to be some. There is certainly a shepherd for you, donkey.

[Short silence.]
Donkey: So you think that angels really do exist? That would be … nice, somehow, wouldn’t it?

5. Part

Donkey: The cow has just looked out of the window and says that even more humans are coming. That means we’ll have to push together again.
Sheep: There seems to be a strangely large number of people who are interested in this human lamb
Donkey: I would like to know what’s going on. Are these people in the straw particularly rich or celebrities?
Sheep: I don’t know. What are „celebrities “?
Donkey: It means that someone is so well known that everyone wants to see him.
Sheep: If someone is already well known, why does everyone want to see him again?
Donkey: Maybe they hope to get something from him, how should I know? All celebrities I have seen up until now have only smiled, waved and reaped in the rewards of their famousness. Actually, most of them were showy pompous people.
Sheep: This human lamb doesn’t seem to be a celebrity. It isn’t waving. And he isn’t showing off.
Donkey: Well, it is only a child: a child which has an uncanny knack of stealing our manger. What is it thinking about!?
Sheep: The humans seem to like the child a lot. They have brought him presents. Hey, donkey, what do all of the people mean? They keep asking if the son of God has arrived.
Donkey: Sheep, I don’t know. I am only an animal. If I could read, I would take a look in the bible and read all about it, but I can’t.
Sheep: The son of God…that sounds enormous. I hope that I can shake his hoof, if he comes past.
Donkey: Well, if God sends his son into the world, there must be an important reason behind it. That would be great. He would finally bring us an economical upturn. He would make winters less cold and summer less hot. He could even find new flavours of ice-cream. And – Ha! He could throw the Romans out of Israel altogether! What do you think?
Sheep: Hmm. Something tells me that there are more important things than politics and ice-cream, if the son of God comes to Earth.
Donkey: And what is the reason, Mr super sheep?
Sheep: I think there are very important things. There must be something very wrong with the world if God has sent his son to us. But I am just a stupid sheep. Tell me donkey, what is a son then?
Donkey: Well you would say that it is a sort of lamb.
Sheep: So the lamb of God is coming to Earth?
Donkey: In certain words, yes.
Sheep: Funny.

[Short silence.]

Hey, donkey?
Donkey: Yes, sheep?
Sheep: Why can’t I get rid of this feeling that this little human lamb is really the lamb of God?
Donkey: That is probably because of the people around us who seem to be strangely happy that the child was born today. Look at how they are crying with tears of joy and they are singing. I have never seen the people so happy.

[Short silence.]
Sheep: Donkey?
Donkey: Yes, sheep?
Sheep: Shouldn’t we be happy as well? The lamb of God is here after all. I find it very nice.

[Short silence.]
Donkey: Yes, sheep.

Further Christmas ideas

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