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“Herod stood in awe of John because he knew that he was an upright and holy man. He protected him and, on hearing him, was perplexed; yet he enjoyed listening to him.” Mark 6:20

Playing time: about 25 minutes

JOHN THE BAPTIST (Male, about 30 years old)
PRISON COOK (Either gender, any adult age)
HEROD ANTIPAS (Male. Historically, Antipas was probably in his upper 30’s when he ordered the execution of John the Baptist. He may be played at that age or older.)
HERODIAS (Female, upper 20’s to upper 30’s)

The action takes place in Palestine near the beginning of the 1st Century CE.
It is the evening of HEROD ANTIPAS’s birthday.

JOHN THE BAPTIST’S prison cell in the political wing of the palace prison. His cell contains a crude table with two chairs and a chamber pot on the floor nearby. A game that uses stones as markers sits on the table.

Action is continuous.

(Lights up on JOHN THE BAPTIST seated at the table in his cell.)


O God, your voice is fire in my belly. I’m useless here. No one listens. Only this everlasting game. Outside it’s breaking open, I can feel it. To be there, O God! Use me! Can’t you use me?

(PRISON COOK enters, approaches JOHN THE BAPTIST, tries not to look at the horrors of the political wing of the prison complex.)


(To himself.) Don’t look. Don’t look. Not looking. I’m not looking. Man with his hands chopped off, I’m not looking! Man with his eyes poked out, I’m not looking! A woman – oh dear – I’m not looking! There’s a child, is it alive? I’m not looking.


There he is! That’s him – the Baptizer. He’s in pretty good shape, considering.

[The play continues...]

"Baptizer" has been produced in Port Townsend, Washington in staged readings at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, as well as the Tyler Street Coffee House as part of the Port Townsend Playwrights Festival 2000.