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Meet Joanna, Herodias, and Salome

Think your family is dysfunctional?

Just wait till you meet the Herods, big players in the the latest musical project.


For writing the musical project,12, Marcus Thomas and I want to be sure that we're building realistic political tensions so the audience clearly sees how the disciples may have been pushed to their breaking points - both in their faith and their relationships among each other - during the three days after the crucifixion.


So, we've got to get to know the main players: the Jewish factions - the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots; an interesting priestly family led by Annas with nephew Caiaphas as high priest; and of course, ROME,


But in between Rome and the Jews, stands the Herod family.

Enter a few of the women of our play-...



Herodias came from a line of bold women.

Her grandmother, Salome, divorced her husband, and her mother, Berenice, had married her father in effort to unify the larger Herod family which, due to Herod the Great's five wives and reputation that "It was better to be Herod's pig than his son" (he had a bad habit of exiling and killing them off) was - you could say- toxic. Her efforts were unsuccessful.


Herod had Herodias' father (his son) killed, and it's possible her mom could have been involved. So, without a dad, Herodias was married off to Herod Philip I, but she later left him to marry his brother Antipas. *YIKES*

She and Antipas "ruled" the Galilean territory. Her first marriage produced a daughter...


Salome, famously danced for Herod and earned the thank-you gift of John the Baptist's head.

Salome was married to Herod Philip II, Antipas' half brother, tetrarch of the NE Judean territory. He died in his early 40's and they never had children. She later married Aristobulus, Herodias' brother, and they had three children together.


So what about Joanna?

Her husband, Chuza, worked as the household manager for Herod Antipas. Jesus healed her of either sickness or demon-possession, after which she followed him along with the other disciples. She, Mary Magdalene, and Susanna, helped support his ministry out of their own means. There is a possibility that she - and maybe her husband - moved to Rome later, taking the names Junia and Andronicus.


Now that you know the basics, here's the scene. Enjoy!



Exclusive excerpt from 12...we'll see if it ends up in the final script!


Herodias' quarters - Herodias, Salome, and Joanna

The whole household is packing to return to Galilee since Passover has concluded. Herodias knows Herod has fired Chuza, but Joanna does not know. Personally affronted that her heads of house had aligned themselves with the movement associated with the Baptist, who preached against her marriage, Herodias toys with Joanna while also attempting to secure the future of her daughter, who has already married Philip the Tetrarch.


Joanna is braiding Salome’s hair- Herodias looks through personal items deciding how to pack them- whether to take or give some of them away.




HERODIAS

What do you think of this cuff, Salome? I couldn’t look away from it yesterday, but now I think it clashes with my complexion. Do you want it?


SALOME

No thanks.


HERODIAS

Fine. Oh, perhaps Procla would like it. A little farewell gift before we return to Galilee. Yes, I think so. Her skin could use a pop of color.


SALOME

Ouch! Gentle!


JOANNA

Pardon me, Ma’am.


HERODIAS

Oh, let me. Salome’s mane requires a mother’s touch. Jo, dear. Wrap this up for Procla, and then pack the linens. To Salome Do you and Philip have any news for us yet, my love?


SALOME

Mother-


HERODIAS

I’m only saying, you’ve had plenty of time to give me a grandchild. Wouldn’t you agree, Joanna?


SALOME

I don’t think I’m the problem, Mother.


HERODIAS

Aren’t you dancing for him?


SALOME

Honestly! I’m getting enough of this from Ma Cleo, ok?


HERODIAS

It’s just that you’ve hardly spoken of dear cousin since you got here. I have to know he is taking care of you, my love. The Northeastern territory is well, I trust?


SALOME

He’s more capable than you give him credit for, you know.


HERODIAS

Capable, you say?


SALOME

Mom! The people seem to like him. He travels a lot.


HERODIAS

Has he taken you to Rome yet?


SALOME

He avoids it.


HERODIAS

But he was educated there.


SALOME

So Ma Cleo reminds me daily. Please, Mother. Another subject?


HERODIAS

Joanna, you’re quiet. Tell me, what do you think of a ruler who chooses to spend his time traveling his territory - which is a poor one, mind you - conceiving favor from his people but no child in the womb of his vibrant young wife and withholds from her the entertainments of the empire? Do you think him a worthy husband?


JOANNA

It’s hardly mine to say, ma’am.


HERODIAS

Really? Your teacher was a traveling man, was he not? Frequented the slums, kept around him the least desirable sort of company- beggars, prostitutes, demoniacs. Quite a lot to manage. He and the Baptist had such high and mighty things to say about marriage, but he didn’t have the space for a wife and children, did he?


JOANNA

He considered us his family, ma’am.


HERODIAS

And look what happened to him. To Salome You see, dear, If you are unhappy - there are ways a woman can circumvent her situation. Agency and power are your lineage - remember your namesake.


SALOME

I hardly think I require a divorce like Great Grandma, Mother, dear. Do you want me to relive what you did to dad?


HERODIAS

Such innocence. I want you to be happy and secure. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. But, you have no child, no third. Until you do, you are just a twist. And when Philip dies, or is overthrown or beheaded-


SALOME

Mother!


HERODIAS

- or done away with in any other manner this family may find suitable- what will become of you without his heir? She pulls out a strand of hair.


SALOME

Ow!


HERODIAS

A loose hair. I know you hate to think this way, but this is the Way. It is the women of this family who tie the knots and untangle them as we see fit.


SALOME

Are you finished now?


HERODIAS

She finishes the hair styling. Perfect. Even Jo here knows agency, my child. Her products are the finest in the empire, as far as I’m concerned, (she grabs a vial of perfume or cream and hands it to Salome to use) and she’s made enough money by far to pay off the loss of all those materials she destroyed during that unfortunate fit two years ago. Admirable, don’t you think? Now she could line her pockets, but what does she do with the coin? Throws it on the dirt at the feet of a vagabond holy man and his band of malcontents, to the complete disregard of her employer- her main benefactor- her advocate for professional medical help! How many doctors did we bring in, Joanna?


JOANNA

I don’t know, ma’am.


HERODIAS

I lost track after a dozen. We even obliged her fancy of taking time off to find the so-called healer because we believed she deserved the chance, and then we allowed her temporary leave - two years- leave, mind you-


JOANNA

Ma’am, you know I returned multiple-


HERODIAS

You dare interrupt?


JOANNA

I’m sorry.


HERODIAS

-We thought she was traveling for her health. No, she was paying to tend a sprouting new “king” of the Galileans, associated with the wildman who insulted our very right to the life Antipas and I have chosen together. And today I discover that since the man’s death, you and Chuza have hidden his criminal followers in our very house! Am I to understand this as spite or ingratitude or both?

Please do explain, Joanna.


JOANNA

My lady, I am grateful. You have helped me- and my husband- more than I can say.


HERODIAS

I made you.


JOANNA

And he healed me.


HERODIAS

And deluded you.


JOANNA

My lady, you saw me at my worst. I was a terror-


SALOME

That’s true. Her fits were worse than mine.


HERODIAS

I’ll be the judge of that.


JOANNA

But I am changed. No one else could. He gave me a chance, my lady. He saw me. I know he was from God- with difficulty I know that he was the Messiah.


HERODIAS

Then I pity you. I see he was important to you. Poor Joanna, traipsing around with Galileans hoping the healer would reopen her womb. He banished demons but couldn’t give you a child. Or did he not believe you worthy of one?


SALOME

Mother, perhaps we should send Joanna away for a moment?


HERODIAS

Oh, I’m sending her away permanently, my dear.

Joanna, life will be easier for you when you accept that your illness has weakened your mind. How could you think bringing those people here was a good idea? Obviously, you cannot perceive the pinch this could put us in if word spreads. Obviously, you don’t realize that our power is the most fragile of flowers (She adds a flower accessory to Salome’s hair)- not to be tossed at the feet of fishermen. I have no words for my disappointment. There is no room for betrayal in Galilee, Joanna. You and your husband will remain in Jerusalem and go your way. May your agency keep you alive; your king certainly won’t. Have the servants finish the packing and then go.


JOANNA

After a long moment. As you wish. Goodbye, Lady Herodias. Salome. She exits.


HERODIAS

I should have arranged for you to marry your uncle Aristobulus instead. He’d at least keep you active.


SALOME

When will my chariot be ready?


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