Your Cart

Inclusive: the long and strange evolution of a script idea

My drama script Inclusive is not complex but I have been creating it, working on it, amending it, deleting it and starting from scratch, renaming it, changing the whole concept, changing the emphasis, changing the characters and so on and so on for SO many years! Why? Why has fifteen simple minutes of drama taken so long?

A Thing With Sheets

It is probably 20 years since I first had the germ of an idea for a sketch about Acts chapters 10 and 11. At that time the only dramas I had written were about six minutes long, based on humour but with a moral point at the end, and so that is how this script was going to be. The central idea was going to be St. Peter haplessly trying to explain to other very baffled apostles how God had done “a thing with sheets”, so that’s what I called it – A Thing With Sheets (if at this point you have no idea what I’m talking about I suggest you go and read the book of Acts chapter 10 and chapter 11:1-18 then come back here).

I never got as far as writing most of it down, but eventually I wrote that it was “Set on Peter’s roof as he tells the story to two investigating elders, in flashback with lots of gesticulation. He is wearing pyjamas throughout - very Arthur Dent. Could open with Peter snoring on his roof.” The problem was, although the humour flowed very nicely and made me laugh (and I still have a slight hankering to write that sketch!), I couldn’t find the point I was trying to make, and I finally abandoned that in about 2010.

High Noon!

I wasn’t ready to give up on this story though, so after some thought I hit upon a new concept, deciding that the important thing about this meeting was the dramatic confrontation, so I rewrote it with the stolen title High Noon. To emphasize the confrontation (and still stealing from the film of the same name) I set it in a saloon bar in the wild west! Despite St. Peter in the wild west being a bit of a crazy notion, I wrote the whole thing, and the only reason I didn’t publish it then was that it still seemed to lack a reason, a moral, a point of contact with churches today. So I waited.

And then in May 2019 I went to a the most appalling church meeting it has ever been my misfortune to be part of. It was advertised as a “gracious and respectful” evening of “listening, reflecting and sharing” about views on marriage and relationship. This was part of an ongoing Methodist consultation which churches had been asked to take part in. It turned out to be not so much a discussion as the venting of anger. A gay minister had been invited to speak for a while on the report the national church had produced. Then the meeting was opened up for questions. What followed I would later that evening describe to my wife as a lynching. There was question after question which asked, who gave you the right to ruin our church? Why are you going against God? Can’t you read what the Bible says? There was one man who had come prepared with a sermon on the subject which he was determined to read out even if it excluded others from participating, and he had a very big Bible to prove his points, and there was another older man who stood at the back and kept shouting “Repent! Repent brother!” “Just repent and you can be saved!” and other variations whenever there was a lull or he just reached boiling point. Before the end he had to be helped out of the building – I’m not sure if that was to save the meeting from him or him from exploding or collapsing. At the end of the meeting Sermon man refused to accept a handshake from the guest. I was gobsmacked.

In all my more than forty years around a whole range of types of churches I had never witnessed any meeting as appalling as this, where so many Christians modelled the exact opposite of the behaviours Christ should inspire in us – peace, patience, kindness, self-control, gentleness, love – all of these went missing that night.


The dramatic similarity of that meeting to my old script was immediately obvious to me. It struck me that, just as at the meeting I had attended, Peter is called before the apostles to explain something that they think is inexplicable, to describe God’s love in a way they don’t want to hear. Acts 11 tells us nothing about the views expressed (though you can get a taste of opinions from Acts 15) and I felt that the meeting I had been at gave some insight into what might have gone on. The apostles probably arrived tanked up on theology, but Peter wasn’t there for theology, he was there amazed by God’s love and he just told the story as it had happened. Furthermore, it seemed to me that the fundamental issue in Acts has a bearing on us today, and on what was being argued by many at my recent meeting. The basic question in Acts, superficially was, can you be a Christian if you are not a Jew? Can you be baptised if you are not circumcised? But more fundamentally the question is, just how many of God’s old testament laws must be followed by a believer? Who can be included in God’s tent, in our church? Just how accepting are we prepared to be? We know from history and from later chapters of Acts (Acts 15:1-31) that this question took many years to stop being divisive, and I would argue that it is currently more divisive than it has been for generations. 

I never want to go to a meeting like that again, which is why I weigh up very carefully what is likely to happen at meetings I am invited to, particularly on the topic of sexuality which is the Church’s current flashpoint. On the other hand, once I had that meeting in my mind writing the drama that is now called Inclusive became a much more satisfying endeavour. My only fear was getting it wrong, so I still rewrote it over and over for a long long period. But it’s published now and it and I are both free.

Incidentally, both of the previous titles, a thing with sheets and high noon are cunningly embedded in the script as it now stands. Look at the script preview (you can find a link to that on the script's page) and see if you can find them!

© Rod Belt 2024 

Inclusive - a drama script for and about your church today


My Mother Is - a drama script for Mother's Day


You See That Every Day - a drama script for Pentecost


The Trinity In Their Own Words - a drama script about the Trinity