Drama: Room at the Table
Written by Connie Epp for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. For a printer-friendly version, click here.
Staging: A round table that seats seven is set with a water-blue cloth. It sits centre stage. Seven plates of distinctly different colours/styles are set on the tabletop and seven very different types of chairs circle the table. The narrator will read his/her part on one side of the stage at a pulpit or music stand with mic (if mic is needed). There is also a standing mic (if mic is needed) on the other side of the stage. This is where the “guests” will speak, preferably without notes. No pulpit or music stand there.
Casting: Although casting these characters may be a concern in a North American context, it may be good to tell the congregation that while the actual characters cannot be present, their stories are based on true stories and they are being represented by local individuals.
Audience Response: The audience/congregation is an integral part of the drama. The audience has the opportunity to extend the invitation to each speaker. The congregation or “People” may need to be informed that they have a role, with the narrator’s question and their responses either appearing on a PPT screen or on paper.
Narrator: Do you see it . . . right here . . . a table set for guests?
It’s a round table,
A generously large table,
A table that represents not only physical nourishment but a table that invites an exchange of ideas and a place to brainstorm new approaches to growing concerns.
Embracing the tabletop is a watery-blue cloth, representing the globe.
Plates in a variety of colours and patterns circle the perimeter, waiting to be claimed.
Chairs – some contemporary, some ornate, some padded, some varnished, some well worn – all offer stable seating.
This table is not our personal table.
It is God’s table.
And God, graciously and in good faith
Has entrusted the hosting of this table to us:
To you and to me.
We decide who will sit here.
We determine who is welcome.
Our actions establish the guest list.
So…who will we invite?
People who can repay us?}
People who look like us? Believe like us? Think like us? Live like us?
Or can we make room at this table,
For those who see with other eyes?
Who have experiences unlike our own?
Who challenge our perspectives?
Who are just plain different?
Let’s meet some of them.
Guest #1: (young woman – late 20’s)
I am Yvette and I live in Haiti. My ancestors planted gardens and grew crops to feed themselves. However, with climate change affecting rainfall and creating unpredictable seasons, it is becoming more and more difficult to find ways to continue farming. The past few years have brought one disaster after another. It is very frustrating when we work so hard to support ourselves but we have little to show for it. I don’t ask for much. All I want is to be able to provide for my family.
Narrator: Is there room for Yvette at the table?
People: We welcome you to the table, Yvette.
Guest #2: (man in his late 30’s)
I am Adel and I am currently living with my wife and four children in Maashouk, a refugee settlement in southern Lebanon. We fled Syria when our home and dry cleaning business were bombed. This is our third refugee camp. As refugees, we are not able to get decent jobs here. Providing food for my wife and children is a daily challenge. Our 3-month-old son died in the last camp when my wife could no longer produce milk for him. We are still trying to recover from his passing. It’s hard for me to imagine living a basic normal life again. Where can I find hope?
Narrator: Is there room for Adel at the table?
People: We welcome you to the table, Adel.
Guest #3: (early teen or pre-teen)
I am Grace. I am 12 years old. When rebel soldiers attacked my village in South Sudan in the middle of the night, everyone ran for their lives. I lost track of my family. I followed a group of people from my village but we have not seen my parents since then. I’m terribly lonely, especially at night. I miss my Mom and Dad and brothers and sisters so very very much. I always wonder about my family. Will I ever see them again? Are they alive or dead?
Some of the other mothers that ran away from our village are taking care of me. But I can only eat after they have fed their own children. I am hungry and I feel dirty. This tattered clothing is all I have and it’s getting too small. I don’t know what will happen to me. I’m afraid and lonely.
Narrator: Is there room for Grace at the table?
People: We welcome you to the table, Grace.
Guest #4: (woman in her 50’s)
I am Adise. I come from the village of Kudo in Ethiopia. In my village culture, women are totally dependent on their husbands. We have little power and almost never handle money. Many of us cannot count on our husbands to meet the needs of the family. Together with the other women in my village, we want to find a way to sustain ourselves and to provide for our families.
Narrator: Is there room for Adise at the table?
People: We welcome you to the table, Adise.
Guest #5: (man in his 40’s)
I am Dagim. I live near the city of Lalibela in Northern Ethiopia. One of the great challenges we face is managing our water supply. There is either too little rain, which causes droughts, or too much, which sweeps the topsoil from the hills.
However, we are blessed with many rocks. The rocks can help redirect the water and slow down the erosion. But knowing how best to accomplish that takes vision, machinery, time and money. We need help dealing with these challenges.
Narrator: Is there room for Dagim at the table?
People: We welcome you to the table, Dagim.
Guest #6: (woman in her 40’s)
I am Tarij. In India, where I live, the daily temperature often exceeds 35 degrees Celsius. With the combined challenges of extreme heat and crop flooding from the monsoons, food is often scarce. It is also the custom here that men eat first and women and children receive what is left. With so little food to begin with, many children and women are severely malnourished. I want a better life for my family.
Narrator: Is there room at the table for Tarij?
People: We welcome you to the table Tarij.
Narrator: (looking at the table and reflecting)
There is still a vacant chair at this table. You and I are invited to commune at this table as well. Each one in this circle has a voice and each one is God’s guest . . . and host. We eat together and we are invited to join each other’s conversations, creatively brainstorming to ensure there is enough for all.
But if we think our seat at the table will fill the table, I suspect we would be wrong. For God always leaves space for one more at the table. There is always room at God’s table.
(addressing the guests at the table) To those of you already seated at the table, is there room for us to join the table as well?
Table People: Yes, we welcome you to the table. For this is God’s table. (someone from the table moves the chair so it angles open towards the audience)
(At this point a song like Carrie Newcomer’s Room at the Table come son immediately, while all the people remain seated at the table. The song is perfect. However, I don’t recommend playing the online video footage that accompanies the song since it has a definite North American slant and doesn’t work as well with the drama. However, it would be great to accompany the song with CFGB slides/video footage that relates to the ideas in the drama.)
Individuals and churches are welcome to use this script as they see fit. Please include the following acknowledgement: “Room at the Table” written by Connie Epp (2017) for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
For a printer-friendly version, click here.