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Saturday, May 12, 2012

I, Nephi

Hello, folks! So for those of you who don't know, I'm a Latter-Day Saint, or "mormon." We use in our religion a book alongside the Bible called The Book of Mormon. It begins around 600 B.C. in Jerusalem during the time of King Zedekiah, and tells the story of a family of Jews who fled Jerusalem before it was destroyed. Lately, in order to study these scriptures more, I've been adapting the book into a screenplay form. This has helped me picture it more from my culture's point of view, as I've been adding my own "modern" twist to it. It reminds me of the musical "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat."
Here is a sample of the screenplay as it stands, taken from 1 Nephi 3:9-14.

Act III scene i

<Cut to the four brothers, hiking along the pathway. It is around noonday>

SAM. Guys, we’re here!

<They all hurry up the path into the clearing. Jerusalem sits in the distance>

LAMAN. Man, have we really been gone only a week? It seems like it’s been a long time.
LEMUEL. It’s just how I remember it. (LAMAN glances back at him awkwardly)
NEPHI. It’s getting late. We should probably get this over with.
LAMAN. You know, we could just go back to the house. You know, spend the night, get all rested–--
NEPHI. No. We need to get those plates and then leave. People wanted to kill Dad. What if they want to kill his sons too? We can’t take any chances.
LAMAN. Alright, alright.
SAM. Are we all just going to go together? That might be too conspicuous.
NEPHI. Sam’s right. I say we cast lots to see who gets to go.
LAMAN. Fair enough.

<SAM takes a few straws of tall grass from the side of the road. He snaps one in half and lines them all up in his hand>

SAM. Short straw gets to go get the plates from Laban.

<They all draw straws. They all relax in relief but LAMAN, who draws the short straw>

LAMAN. (Angry) Oh, come on! Man!
SAM. Well, that settles it.
LAMAN. Dang it, you guys. Best two out of three?
NEPHI. I thought you said you weren’t afraid of Laban.
LAMAN. I’m not, but I just think it’s unfair to just go once. Lemuel? Don’t you want to take the honor of doing it instead?
SAM. (Cutting off LEMUEL’s response) No! Come on, big brother. You’re the eldest. You should feel honored to show us how it’s done.
LAMAN. (Pointing at SAM) You stuck mine out farther to make it look like it was longer, didn’t you?
NEPHI. Okay, you know what Laman? I’ll go. Give me the short straw.
LAMAN. No, I’ll do it. I just think you guys cheated, that’s all. Let’s at least find somewhere to meet up after I’m done.

<Cut to a grove of trees outside Jerusalem’s walls. The brothers are gathered together>

SAM. This doesn’t have to be that complicated. Maybe Laban’ll just hand over the plates.
NEPHI. That’s true. What use does he have of the plates anyway? All he does is sit in his house all day and eat. Maybe Sam has a point.
LAMAN. Yeah, right. Have you seen that guy’s house? He’ll keep anything shiny under lock and key. Gold or brass. (A brief pause) You guys sure you don’t want to come with me?
NEPHI. Just trust in the Lord that everything will be okay.

<Laman hesitates for a moment, then hurries off into Jerusalem>
<Cut to streets of Jerusalem. Laman is strolling down the streets, trying to look casual. Every time a person glances at him, he jolts, waving awkwardly at them. He whistles nervously to himself until he comes to Laban’s house>
<LABAN’s house is an immense mansion with fountains and hedge fences. A guard tower watches over the entrance gate>

LOUDSPEAKER. Who goes there? State your business.
LAMAN. Oh. I was just... My name is um, Laman. I’m here to do business with Laban.
LOUDSPEAKER. Laban’s brother Laman?
LAMAN. Uh... sure.
LOUDSPEAKER. You don’t look old enough to be his brother.
LAMAN. I’m his brother in... the faith.
LOUDSPEAKER. (Pause) All right, you may enter.

<LAMAN looks relieved. The gate clatters open. He enters>
<Cut to entrance of LABAN’s office. LABAN is wearing a black suit over a red shirt and black tie. He is also wearing a dark gray hood. He is sitting on a big chair behind a desk talking on the phone. He sets it down as LAMAN enters>

LABAN. Ah, you must be the young salesman I spoke with last week. About time you showed up.
LABAN. Where are the documents? Aren’t I supposed to sign something?
LAMAN. Look, I’m not a salesman. My name is Laman.
LABAN. Laman, eh? Never heard of you. (Leans over to press the reception button)
LAMAN. Wait, wait! I just came for a proposition. I understand you’ve been, um, snatching all of those pesky prophets, eh?
LABAN. What’s it to you?
LAMAN. Well, I heard that you had a set of brass plates that concerned the prophets.
LABAN. (Narrows his eyes) And how would you know that?
LAMAN. I have... sources...
LABAN. Who are you? Who’s your father?
LAMAN. I was wondering if you would mind parting with the plates. I have good, er, great need of them.
LABAN. (Pressing the reception button) Abya, could you get security up here please? There is a robber here trying to steal from me.
LAMAN. What? No! Here, I’ll just go! I was just wondering!

<Two bulky SECURITY GUARDS enter wearing earpieces, sunglasses, and dark suits, and hefting swords>

LABAN. Get this clown out of my sight.

<The SECURITY GUARDS try to grab LABAN, but he dodges out of their grasp and manages to run out the door>

LABAN. Kill him! (Laughs loudly for a time) <Phone rings> (Picking it up) This is Laban.

<Cut to the grove where the other brothers are waiting. LABAN arrives, panting and sweating uncontrollably>

NEPHI. What happened?
LABAN. We gotta get out of here! Run!
SAM. Where?
LABAN. Laban’s goons are after me. I just darted through an alley. They’re bound to have seen me!
SAM. Where can we go?
NEPHI. To the house!

<They run away. Cut to the gates of Jerusalem. The GUARDS run out of the doors and look wildly around. They make some signals above, and another GUARD is seen on the wall. He makes another signal to them>

GUARD. (Talking to his watch) This is Sheva and Sh’monah. We lost ’im. (Pause) Yeah, I don’t think that monkey’s coming back soon. (They both smirk)

<They leave>

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