Star Ford

Essays on lots of things since 1989.

Mary Dyer, a quaker sunday school play

on 2009 April 24

A play in 6 scenes, suitable for Middle School age kids.

SCENE 1, in which Puritans show two sides and set the background of Mary’s struggle

  • Jeremiah, the committtee chair, is played by Marco
  • Candice, his assistant, is played by Meghan
  • Faith is played by Masha

Others are assembled at the meeting as Faith enters

FAITH: Is this the Unpuritan Affairs Committee? OTHERS: Yes, come in.

CANDICE: Faith, come hear what I heard. Word is, Henry Selters was seen in a drinking establishment and he was playing “Seven card Worcester”.

FAITH: surprised. Henry? Is that the one where you deal two down and aces are wild?

CANDICE: No, you deal all seven down and you trade twice.

JEREMIAH: Well, it is the first offense. So we’ll make a record of it. But we should go there next Saturday night to make sure he doesn’t keep up with this immoral behavior. Anyway, time to get to business. Candice, do you have the list of the un-puritan act ivies for this week?

CANDICE: Yes sir, first there is the matter of Hamish Thomson, of course. I say we put an end to this nonsense.

FAITH: But we can’t execute him. He owes me a cow. Besides we spent the whole last meeting talking about him.

JEREMIAH: Well who else is on the list?

CANDICE: There’s Shirley Kondo, Anne Hutchinson, various wayward teenagers, …

JEREMIAH: Society is breaking down! Remember we are here to bring these people into conformity with a pure life. (ring) Just a minute, I have to answer my phone. Hello. Listens in phone. I already have a family! If you keep calling me, you’ll find out what happened to your cousin Justice! Hangs up. Ugh, it was that other mistress of mine. She won’t leave me alone about that baby. Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, MORALS.

FAITH: Let’s start with Anne Hutchinson. The report is that she – along with little Mary Dyer and Miriam Bennet were seen reading the Bible outside of meeting.

ALL: Gasp. Oh my!

JEREMIAH: Women reading the Bible! If God had wanted women to read the Bible, HE would have written in plain English so they could understand it. Look here… “Let the women learn in silence with all sub… sub… sub..” Here YOU read it.

CANDICE: Stands. “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” First Timothy 2:11. What this passage means is that women…

JEREMIAH: My point exactly. Women shouldn’t be reading the Bible.

FAITH: What is it with these people – thinking they find their way without the church! They are as bad as the Quakers.

CANDICE: Quakers? What do they believe?

FAITH: I don’t know. Every time I ask one, I get a different answer.

SCENE 2, in which Mary’s friends plant the seeds of dissent

  • Mary is played by Aria
  • Lucas and John are friends
  • others are confomists


opera, chant

scupture, human machine


put on the rope as a gift

Go away, I don’t like you

Stupid to change yourself to fit in

You can always find friends like you

SCENE 3, in which Mary shows her higher authority

  • Eli, the playground bully, is played by Eli
  • Mary is wearing the rope, and is played by Ana
  • Ruth, a friend of Mary’s, is played by Hannah
  • others are in Eli’s gang

MARY: Hi Ruth! Are you OK? I didn’t see you this morning.

RUTH: I was late to school. I wanted to be with you to protect you from that bully Eli. I’m so sorry! I should have been here earlier. Why are they so mean? You just let them. Mary, why are you doing this to yourself?

MARY: Ruth, you know every person has to find her own way. You helped me so much; you have always been there.

RUTH: But Mary, are we still best friends forever? Why do you have to find your own way? You’re changing. Remember when we hid out in the tree? Why won’t you come any more?


MARY: I’m not hiding any more.


RUTH: Watch out, here comes Eli! Let’s go. Mary won’t go.

ELI: Mary, Mary, quite contrary! My dad told me you’re in big trouble. He’s got a high position in the order, and that’s where I’m going to be too. I think I might have to knock some sense into you myself. Gang circles.

RUTH: Leave her alone! Holds Mary.

MARY: Eli, I can’t stop you from hurting me any more than I can stop your own fears from hurting you.

ELI: Fears!? Listen to her! I’m not afraid of anything!

RUTH: My gosh Mary, you are making him angry. Have you lost your mind?

ELI: You’re not following our ways and we don’t want you here. Isn’t that right, guys? Gang agrees. Do you know who’s the boss on this playground?

MARY: Yes, I know who the leader is. Hands on heart. The holy spirit lives in each one of us.

ELI: Hey! What are you doing? I’M the boss here. Not THAT boss, I mean. Well I mean I’m the faithful one, and YOU are making us look like, well I was going to give you a whipping, but I think I’ll just throw you in the mud.

MARY: Eli, your grandfather is nearly passed on from pneumonia and your father has been by his side for the last two days. Does your father tell grandpa that you have to get your friends to throw girls in the mud because you can’t do it yourself?

ELI: Stop! Gang starts to disperse. I don’t want to hear a girl talking about my family that way. Hey guys, didn’t you hear her insulting me? Where are you going? Follows others away.

RUTH: Mary, how did you do that? Silence.

SCENE 4, in which Mary is tested by inner conflict

  • Mary is holding the rope, and is played by Megan
  • The gentle pull of the spirit is played by John
  • others are the community


tug of war

what do you believe?

what would you die for? ask audience

SCENE 5, in which Mary surprises the governor

  • The governor, who acts as bailiff and attorney, is played by Lucas
  • The judge is played by Marco
  • Mary is played by Aria
  • Ruth is played by Hannah
  • Margaret and William are old-timers watching at a distance

GOVERNOR: All rise.

JUDGE: Enters. Be seated. Gavel. The matter on this first of June, 1660 is one Mary Dyer. Governor Endicott, please tell the court the accusation.

GOVERNOR: Mary Dyer was raised by a good family in Massachusetts but was corrupted by Anne Hutchinson who has since been banished to Rhode Island. Dyer herself was banished but she returned twice and was imprisoned twice. We have executed others for their transgresses, but they were men. I let her go after forcing her to witness the hanging of two of her friends. Even that did not correct her ways. I fear she is uncurable.

JUDGE: And what are the charges, exactly?

GOVERNOR: It’s because she keeps coming back. She’s admitted to being a Quaker. She says the spirit lives in her. If people started believing that, the whole church would crumble. She threatens the very offices we hold, even yours and mine, by questioning the established order. Last year the governor of Connecticut came here to speak for her.

JUDGE: I don’t understand how one woman can have so much power to tear down our whole colony, Governor. Mary Dyer, what have you to say?

MARY: I did all the things stated by the governor, and will continue doing so in joyful obedience to the spirit which I have been shown. If you continue to banish true servants of god on pain of death, then more servants will come after me.

JUDGE: Mary, let me put this to you in plainly. If you don’t stay out of Massachusetts, the governor has no choice but to hang you. There are no more second chances. Do you understand?

MARY: I am not asking for my life. I’m only asking you to repeal your laws of intolerance.

RUTH: Mary, don’t talk like that. They are going to hang you! Mary, don’t leave us!

GOVERNOR: Mary Dyer, you leave me no choices at all. There is nothing I can do now but I must save my dignity. Judge, I need to talk with you. Governor and judge are cornered and surrounded by all others, while Mary and Ruth sit quietly. They argue in a rumble escalating to stamps and pushing and yelling.

ALL: There is nothing to be done! Just kill her right now! The devil’s work! But the people will rise up! How can we kill a woman? The devil set her on us! etc.

GOVERNOR: Stop! Take your places. All return. You, Mary Dyer, YOU! I’m going to give you ONE last chance to save your life. You just have to admit your guilt.

MARY: But it is you who are guilty, Governor. I am sent here to show you that by taking away your unjust laws, you can be free from your guilt. If you cannot, then my blood will be on your hands.


WILLIAM: Margaret dear, I believe they can’t get rid of her no matter what they do. The idea of the spirit taking a hold of women and men – crazy as that sounds – is like a candle that won’t blow out. I say, either she will come back or someone else will.

MARGARET. Yes William, they are in quite a muddle. I believe you are right. The judge probably doesn’t realize that when he condemns that one person, he is also sentencing the whole Puritan chuch.

JUDGE: I sentence you to death. Gavel.

SCENE 6, in which Mary celebrates victory

  • Mary is played by Hannah
  • (Ana, Masha)

music – Ceremony for Peace

Sing, break into song


lift Mary with rope held up

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