The Peasant Queen
a play by Aruneshwar A. Singh and Mark Harris
A modern rendition of the story of Esther, Queen of Persia.
Esther's maid (goes everywhere with Esther once she is brought to the
Teresh, Bignatha (two guards)
Extras: 2 kids, 2 males, 2 females
(The King is sitting at the rear of the stage with his Courtiers (Haman,
2 males, Courtier) drinking and being merry. They are congratulating him
on his conquest of the provinces.)
Courtier: King Xerxes, now that we have enjoyed the favour of feasting
with you these past six months, is there any other reason why you summoned
King: My dear chamberlains, I have summoned you here to proclaim my
reign over the 125 provinces from India even unto Ethiopia. As far as my
eyes can see and even beyond, my reign is complete with the conquests that
my generals have won for me, and therefore I had thrown this feast. The
riches that surround you here have been brought before you to honour my
greatness. Now declare to the Kingdom, King Xerxes the Great proclaims
a feast for seven days for all of his people. Let every man drink as much
wine as he wishes, not allowing any to force another to drink anymore than
Hegai: As your highness wishes.
Courtier: Your Highness, you have surely shown your greatness these
past seven days...
King: You have not yet seen the greatest treasure of all of Persia
and Media. This treasure I speak of is of such beauty that a man would
eat his own heart to have it. Chamberlain, bring my wife the Queen.
(Chamberlain/Hegai acknowledges the King and exits. King socialises
waiting for the chamberlain to come back.Chamberlain returns and whispers
in the King ear. The King throws a tantrum.)
King: What!? The Queen would dare to ignore my command? (turning to
the others) Wise men, what shall we do unto Queen Vashti according to the
Courtier: The Queen has not only wronged the King but has wronged all
of the men of Persia and Media in refusing to come before the King this
day. Before the day is through, women from the provinces will hear of her
deeds and will stop respecting their husbands. Therefore she must be punished.
So if it please the King, let the King write a decree of the law of the
Persians and the Medes that can not be changed. It should order that Queen
Vashti no longer appear before the King and that another Queen be sought
to reign with him This will show the women of Persia and all other provinces
of his majesty's empire that every men should rule over his house.
King: Let it be as you say. Courtiers clear away the party.
(Mordecai and Esther are at front stage. Esther is cleaning when Mordecai
Mordecai: Cousin Esther, have you heard? King Xerxes seeks to replace
Queen Vasti and has declared that all the beautiful virgins throughout
the provinces present themselves to him. The one that pleases him the most
will be appointed Queen.
Esther: But cousin, I am a Jew. And we are exiles in this land. What
do you think they will do if they find an exile wanting to become their
Mordecai: Then we shall not declare you to be a Jew. And you must not
say that you are a Jew. In so doing we will hide your kindred and people.
(Mordecai exits and Hegai comes from backstage to the front.)
(Esther and Hegai, front stage)
Hegai: Does my lady require anymore special treatments?
Esther: Dear Hegai, that which I have received has been sufficient.
these past twelve months. It has been an overwhelming experience for me.
With all the special beauty treatments, I feel like a Queen already - not
that I am complaining, my dear Hegai. I am so blessed to be treated so
Hegai: You will soon be presented to his highness the King. Do you
require any adornments, my lady.
Esther: Whatever you choose, my dear Hegai, will be sufficient. And
I will do as you see fit, for you have a far greater knowledge of these
things than I do.
Hegai: As my lady wishes.
(lights up on back stage. The Courtier and the King enter. King sits
with Courtier standing by his side.)
Hegai: Your highness, may I bring my lady Esther before you.
(King whispers in Courtier's ear.)
Courtier: You may show her in.
(Hegai exits and enters with Esther in tow.)
Hegai: Your majesty, may I present Esther.
(He sweeps his hand across and Esther steps forth, walks up and down
front stage and does a twirl.)
Courtier: Is your highness pleased with this one?
King: Yes, this one will do perfectly. Her beauty is extraordinary
and her skin is so fair. Bring the royal crown and place it upon her head
and proclaim before the people that she is my favourite and will be Queen
instead of Vashti. And to celebrate the occasion we shall have a banquet
in honour of Queen Esther. Gifts will be given to the servants and princes.
Declare a public festival for all the provinces.
(Courtier exits and returns with a crown, places it on Esther's head
and then walks her to front stage.)
Courtier: People of the empire, I present to you Queen Esther. The
King in his great wisdom has declared a public holiday. May the King live
(All exit with the King first.)
(Bignatha and Teresh are standing at the gates at front stage, opening
and closing the gates for people as they pass through.)
Bignatha: I am so tired. Seems we have been standing at these
city gates forever. First we had the great feast. Then came the virgins.
Now this. When will this ever end?
(Mordecai walks in and hearing them speak hides behind backstage pillar.)
Teresh: I know what you mean. My physician reckons I'm developing a
bout of R.O.S.
Teresh: Yep. Repetitive Opening Syndrome.
Bignatha: Maybe we should go see our labor union and negotiate a pay
Teresh: But we don't have a union.
Bignatha: (looks round to see if anyone is listening) I have been giving
this a lot of thought, and I think we should kill the King.
Teresh: A bold stroke. But I am in agreement with you. Come, let us
talk further.... (they exit)
(Mordecai is still hiding behind pillar and Esther walks in.)
Mordecai: You would not believe what I just heard...
(Steps out from behind pillar - Esther jumps with fright.)
Esther: Cousin, you scared me. What are you doing here?
Mordecai: I was coming to see you when I overheard two of the King's
guards talking about assassinating the King.
Esther: Which guards?
Mordecai: Bignatha and Teresh. You had better warn the King. (The King
enters) Look, here he comes now. I will talk to you later.
(Esther goes to front of stage where the King is with the Courtier.)
Esther: Your majesty, I have been informed by your servant Mordecai
that two of guards are are planning to assassinate you.
King: Who are they, my Queen.
Esther: Mordecai says it is Bignatha and Teresh.
King: (Turns to Courtier) Go and find out if this is so.
(Courtier leaves and the King walks over and starts talking to Esther.
Courtier enters again.)
Courtier: Your Majesty, it is as her Majesty the Queen has said.
King: (Angrily) See that they are hung from the gallows.
(The King goes and sits on his thrown. Esther leaves and Hegai enters
and places some parchments before the King which he looks at.)
King: (To Courtier) Have Haman, son of Hammedatha the Agagite brought
Courtier: As you wish, my Majesty. (Bows and leaves. Enters with Haman.)
Your highness, may I present Haman, son of Hammadatha the Agagite. (Haman
King: It is good to see you Haman.
Haman: The Honour is all mine, your Highness. Tell me, what is it that
you require from your servant?
King: I have decided to make you Prime Minister. As you know, this
would mean that you will be second only to me in the Kingdom.
Haman: Thank you, your majesty. I don't know what to say. Is there
King: No that is all.
(Haman walks towards front stage and stops midway.)
Haman: (To himself) Prime Minister, me, Haman? This means every one
will bow before me and I will be honored all over the whole Kingdom.
(The Courtier approaches him and bows with his face to the ground.
Courtier: Congratulations, Your Lordship.
Haman: So you have heard?
Courtier: The whole Kingdom knows by now that you have been made Prime
Minister, second only to the King.
(Mordecai enters from backstage.)
Haman: I will see you later. I must tell my wife, if she has not already
heard the news. (Courtier bows respectfully. Haman goes to pillar backstage.)
Courtier: I noticed, Mordecai, that you did not bow to Haman, the new
Prime Minister over the 125 provinces of our King Xerxes the great. Why
are you disobeying the King's commandments?
Mordecai: It is because I am a Jew and I serve the one true God. He
is a jealous God. It is forbidden by law of my people to worship any other..
be it a person or god or an idol.
Courtier: But don't you know that Haman could have you hanged for not
bowing to him.
Mordecai: I would rather be hung than to disobey the law of my God.
(They leave together)
Haman's Wife: Calm down my love, you don't want the whole province
to hear you rave, do you?
Haman: For many day's now since the announcement, the filthy Jew still
will not bow to me. Everyone except the King bows to me. But he will not.
Wife: What are you going to do about it?
Haman: I have been thinking that it will not be enough just to kill
Mordecai alone. Because he is a Jew I must destroy all the Jews across
the entire empire of Xerxes. I want to wipe them off the face of the earth
till none is left. But I will need the King's permission.
Wife: Then I suggest we throw lots to determine when the best time
for such an event to take place. And then you can approach the King with
(The King is seated on his throne talking to Courtier. Hegai enters
Hegai: Your Majesty, the Prime Minister has asked to speak with you.
King: Come in Haman, my loyal subject. How are things with you?
Haman: I am well your majesty, except for a little issue which I would
like to bring to your attention.
King: Well then, proceed.
Haman: There is a certain race of people scattered through all the
provinces of your empire. Their laws are different from those of any other
nation, and they refuse to obey even the laws of the King. So it is not
in the King's best interest to let them live. If it please your majesty,
let a decree be issued that will have these people destroyed. I will give
375 tons of silver to the government administrators so they can put it
into the royal treasury.
King: Keep the money. Go ahead and do as you like with these people.
Take this ring and place it on the decree as a sign of my authority. But
before you go come, let us have some wine.
(Signals the Courtier to bring wine.)
(Mordecai is at the rear of stage. He reads the note and tears his
shirt, puts on sackcloth and rubs ashes on his face. He goes to front stage
and starts to wail with note in hand.)
Mordecai: My God, my God why have you forsaken us. Your chosen people.
Now come and save us again.
(A Jew enters front stage from the side.)
Jew: Mordecai my brother, why this sackcloth and ashes? Why are you
Mordecai: Have you not heard - we Jews are to be annihilated. The King
has decreed that all Jews throughout India to Ethiopia are to be killed.
There is to be none left.
Jew: When is this to happen?
Mordecai: Next year.
Jew: Oh, why has God forsaken us. How will I bear to see my daughters
and wife slaughtered before me.
(He starts crying. Hegai enters from back stage, walks past and pauses
seeing the two crying. He then goes and tells Esther.)
Hegai: (he bows) My Queen, I have just seen Mordecai at the palace
gates and he's wearing sackcloth and has ashes all over him.
Esther: What? (she is distressed. To maid) Find some clothes that will
fit him and take them to him. (Maid walks to front stage where Mordecai
is with the other Jew. She offers the clothes to him but he refuses. Maid
goes back to Esther at backstage.)
Maid: My Queen, he will not accept.
Esther: (to Hegai) Please go and find out what is wrong with him.
(Hegai goes back to front stage and speaks to Mordecai)
Hegai: The Queen wishes to know why you are wailing.
Mordecai: Prime Minister Haman has promised to pay into the royal treasury
375 tons of silver for the destruction of the Jews. Show this decree to
her majesty Queen Esther, that has been placed all over Susa, which calls
for the death of all Jews. Please explain the decree to her highness and
the implications of such a decree. Also urge her to go to the King to beg
for mercy and plead for her people.
(Hegai returns to backstage)
Esther: Hegai, what did Mordecai say?
Hegai: Your highness, his lordship Mordecai has asked me to give this
(Esther takes the decree and reads it)
Esther: The whole world knows that anyone who appears before the King
in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the King
holds out his scepter. And the King has not called for me to come to him
in more than a month. You may go tell him, Hegai.
Hegai: As you say your highness. (Hegai goes to front stage and speaks
Mordecai: Tell her majesty: Don't think for a moment that you will
escape by being in the palace when all other Jews around you are killed.
And if you keep silent at a time like this, then a deliverer for the Jews
will come forth from another place, but for your relatives and you, there
will only be death. Who knows that your being Queen at this moment was
not brought into effect for such a time as this.
(Hegai returns to Esther)
Esther: Tell Mordecai to gather all the Jews of Susa and fast for me.
Tell them not to eat or drink for three days and three nights. I will also
fast with my maids. And then even though it is against the law of the Persians
and the Medes I will go before the King. And if I am to die, than I am
willing to die.
(King and Courtier are at back of stage chatting. Queen Esther enters
centre front stage and waits)
King: I sent one of the generals to India to see if there was yet still
a land that was not under my empire. He returned to tell me that it already
was but that one of the princes there had tried to cause a revolt.
Courtier: What happened?
King: The general captured him and brought him to me in chains.
Courtier: What did you do, Majesty?
King: Why I impaled him with a spear. How else am I to keep order in
Courtier: Your majesty, you are quite magnificent.
King: (notices Queen Esther and points his scepter towards her) My
dear Esther, do come and join us. (Esther enters and touches the tip of
the scepter) What do you want, my dear Queen Esther? What would you like?
I will give it to you, even if you request half the Kingdom.
Esther: If it please your majesty, I would very much like the King
and his prime minister Haman to come to a banquet I have prepared for the
King: (to Courtier) Tell the prime minister to come quickly to the
banquet Queen Esther has prepared.
Courtier: (bows) as you request your highness.
(Esther, King, Haman are at the rear of stage lounging around eating
and drinking. Hegai is serving them.)
Haman: (to Esther) Your highness has put on a great banquet.
King: Yes, my dear, you have outdone yourself. Now tell me what is
it that you really want? What do you require? Whatever you request I will
give you, even to half the Kingdom.
Esther: This is my desire and deepest wish. If your majesty is indeed
pleased with me and wants to grant my wish, please come again to another
banquet that I will prepare for you and Prime Minister Haman. And then
at the banquet I will explain to you my desire.
King: I will be delighted to come. And what about you Haman, will you
be here as the Queen has requested?
Haman: Your highness, how could I decline such an invitation? Of course
I will be here.
(Haman rises, bows and walks to front stage where Mordecai is sitting
at the gate.)
Mordecai: Prime Minister Haman. (still sitting)
Haman: (furious but restrains himself)
(Haman's wife, 1 boy, 1 girl, two adults are stage rear)
Haman: (enters) Do you know from where I have just come? I have been
dining with the King at a banquet prepared by Queen Esther. Have you seen
how the King has favored me and he has placed me above all his princes
and servants. Indeed, tomorrow I will again dine with him. (he becomes
angry) Yet all this is utterly meaningless as long as that dog Mordecai
sits at the palace gates. I can't bear to see him every time I go to the
palace. He is always there - like a thorn in my side.
Haman's wife: Why don't you set up a gallows, my dear Haman.
Friend 1: Yes, a gallows.
Friend 2: Twenty five meters high.
Haman's wife: Tomorrow morning ask the King to hang Mordecai from it.
And when you have hung Mordecai from it, then you can go and eat with the
King and Queen Esther. And you will not be bothered by this Hebrew dog.
Haman: That is a wonderful idea, my dear (he walks over and cups her
cheek, then turns to the two adults) See that is done by morning.
(The King is lying on a couch stage rear trying to sleep. After awhile
he gets up)
Courtier: Yes, your majesty?
King: I can't sleep. Bring me the historical records of the Kingdom.
Courtier: (leaves and returns with parchments) I have them, your majesty.
King: Good, now read them to me.
Courtier: Yes, your majesty. (reads) A plot to kill the King by two
of his servants was exposed by one of the King's subjects. The servants
were executed according to the law of the Persians and the Medes.
King: What was the name of the subject who exposed the plot.
Courtier: Mordecai, your majesty.
King: And what was done for him.
Courtier: Nothing was done for Mordecai the Jew, your majesty.
King: (notices Haman at front of stage) Who is that in the outer courts?
Courtier: That is Prime Minister Haman, your majesty.
King: Bring him here. (Courtier goes and gets Haman) Tell me, Haman,
what should I do for a man that has truly pleased me.
Haman: Why your majesty, if you wish to honour such a man, than the
King should take one of his own robes and have one of the King's most noble
princes dress the man in it. Also let the man be paraded through the city
on one of the King's own horses with the Kings emblem on the horses head,
with the prince shouting as he goes, "This is what the King does for those
he wishes to honour".
King: Wonderful idea. Quickly go and do all you have said for Mordecai
the Jew. Make sure you do everything that you suggested. (King and Courtier
leave, leaving Haman to dwell upon what has just happened. He has a look
of disbelief on his face as he walks to front of stage.)
Haman: I felt so humiliated. Imagine me parading the very man I hate
around the city calling out, "This is what the King does for those he wishes
to honour". Me! of all people. Oh how I hate that Jew!
Haman's wife: Haman, my darling. Since this Jew Mordecai has humiliated
you, you can not succeed in you your plans to destroy him. You must stop
your plot to oppose him, for it will be fatal for you to continue. (Courtier
enters from backstage)
Courtier: Lord Haman, the Queen requests your presence for a banquet
she has prepared for the King and you.
Haman: All right then, lead the way.
(Esther and King are reclining on couch at rear of stage. Courtier
Courtier: Your highnesses, Prime Minister Haman.
King: It is good to see you again, Haman.
Haman: The privilege is all mine, your majesty.
Esther: Come join us, Prime Minister Haman. (Hegai serves drinks)
King: Now, my dear, what is it that you request. I will give you even
up to half the Kingdom.
Esther: Your majesty if you are pleased with me and want to grant my
request, then my petition is that my life and the lives of my people be
spared. My people and I have been sold to those who would destroy, slaughter
and annihilate us. I would not have said anything if I and my people had
been sold into slavery, for that would have been a matter too trivial to
bother your highness about.
King: Who would do such a thing? Who would dare lay their hands upon
Esther: (points to Haman) It is Haman that has advanced his hand towards
us. (The King, angry, rises and goes to the front of the stage.)
Haman: Queen Esther, please I beg you, save my life and the life of
my family (he throws himself at her on the couch. King enters and sees
King: What is this Haman? Will you even attack the Queen in my own
presence. Before my very eyes?!
(Hegai and Courtier enter and place a pillowcase over Haman's head
and the King takes his ring off Haman's finger. The servants lead him away
as Haman screams for mercy)
Courtier: (returns) Your majesty, Haman has set up a gallows that stands
seventy-five feet high in his own courtyard. One of the servants told me
that he was going to use it to hang Mordecai, the man who saved the King
King: Than hang Haman from it!
Esther: What?! He was planning to hang my uncle from the gallows?
Esther: Yes, Uncle.
King: Hegai, bring Mordecai before me. (thud in the background and
a gasp) My darling Esther, I give you the estate of Haman son of Hammedatha
the Agagite. (Hegai enters)
Hegai: Your majesty, Mordecai the Jew. (Mordecai enters with Hegai)
King: Mordecai, come near. Give me your hand. (he places the ring on
Mordecai's right finger)
Mordecai: I am honoured your majesty.
King: It is a fitting reward.
(Mordecai walks to front stage)
Esther: (crying) If I have found favour in your majesty's eyes, please
send a decree into all your majesty's provinces reversing Haman's orders
to kill the Jews. For how could I stand by to see my people and family
slaughtered and annihilated.
King: Harbona, come in here.
Courtier: Yes, your highness?
King: Bring Mordecai here. (Courtier goes to front stage and brings
Mordecai back with him) Mordecai come in. I have given Esther the estate
of Haman, who I had hung from his own gallows for trying to destroy the
Jews. Now I want you to go and send a message to the Jews in the King's
name, giving any instructions you wish, and seal it with the King's signet
ring. But remember, whatever is written in the King's name and is sealed
with the King's ring can never be changed.
(Mordecai and Esther are at front of stage.)
Esther: Uncle, what have you written?
Mordecai: I have written that the Jews have the authority to unite
together to defend their lives. They are allowed to kill, slaughter and
annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them
or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies.
Esther: And what day have you chosen for this to happen.
Mordecai: March 7th of next year. We must have this decree copied and
sent out through all the provinces so that all the Jews are aware of it.
Esther: I will have Hegai arrange it.
(The King, and Courtier are at stage rear)
King: Harbona call Queen Esther to me. (Courtier goes to front stage
and brings back Esther with him) My dear Queen Esther, today the Jews have
killed five hundred people in the fortress of Susa alone, and also the
ten sons of Haman. If they have done that here, what has happened in the
rest of the provinces? But now, what more do you want? It will be granted
to you, tell me and I will do it.
Esther: If it please your Majesty, give the Jews in Susa permission
to do again tomorrow as they have done today, and have the bodies of Haman's
ten sons hung from the gallows.
King: So be it. (Esther leaves for front stage) Tell Mordecai that
he is to replace Haman as Prime Minister.
Mordecai: What did his majesty say? (he is writing on some parchments)
Esther: He agrees. What are you doing?
Mordecai: I am documenting what is happening now, so that future generations
will have knowledge of the how the Lord came to the aid of his people by
placing a peasant girl upon the throne of the Persians and the Medes. My
dear niece, Esther daughter of Abihail, our people should celebrate what
has happened here today and every year. We will recognise this day as the
day of lots.
Esther: Or the day of Purim. Uncle do you remember it was you who told
me to go to the palace that day at our house.
Mordecai: Yes, but remember, my dear, what I said to you. It was for
such a time as this that you have come to the throne. The Lord saw the
plight that was about to befall our people and he chose to intervene to
help us. He is not a God far off, but a God who is near. He chose to use
a peasant orphaned girl to set as Queen over a great foreign Kingdom so
that he could deliver the oppressed. And God is still able to deliver people
from their addictions and situations. If they will only turn to him for
help. He is not willing that any should perish, but only that they would
turn to him and follow his way. A way that will be beneficial to them and
would give them a future and a hope. May the Lord be praised. Come, let
us go and join in the celebrations.
Copyright and all rights held by Aruneshwar A. Singh. Permission will be given
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