Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Wise men Melchior (Joey Martineck), left, and Balthasar (Bryan Lewis) contemplate the changes they need to make in their lives with the coming of the Christ Child. Martineck wrote the play entitled Wise Men, which he performs with Lewis at various churches and settings during the Christmas season.


One-Act ‘Wise Men’ Bring Story To Local Churches

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published December 23, 2010

What did the Wise Men talk about in the moments before they wandered into the stable to see the Holy Child?

That’s the question at the center of the quick moving, fast-talking one-act play “Wise Men.”

The play opens with two of the Magi, traditionally known as Balthasar and Melchior, although there is no mention of the names in Scriptures. They have crowns on their heads and wear green and purple vestments.

Balthasar paces nervously. He mocks his fellow traveler for getting all “milky-eyed” after seeing Jesus in the stable and complains Gaspar is taking too long.

“I’d like to practice my myrrh giving,” says Balthasar, who doesn’t grasp the significance of the moment.

The travelers from the East are a rich part of the Christmas story although only St. Matthew’s Gospel mentions them. The writer doesn’t even number the Wise Men, although custom has it that there were three.

According to the Gospel writer’s account of the Wise Men’s visit: “They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

The play works to fill in the gaps, imagining the Magi both as petty and insightful. The 45-minute play, with its evangelizing message, focuses on Balthasar’s conversion from his interest in befriending the future king of Israel for political gain to understanding Jesus’ title of priest, prophet and king.

“You will see the baby and everything will change,” says Melchior. “You will gaze at him awestruck.”

‘The Gospel Can Be Preached … Through Theater’

The two performers talk about the play as their Georgia Tech classes wind down. Joey Martineck has another exam, while Bryan Lewis is looking forward to heading home. Lewis is having a burger for lunch. He has on a sweater and wire-rimmed glasses.

The play was written by Martineck, 21, a fourth-year student who is studying computer engineering. The inspiration came from an unusual encounter at a worship service in 2008. A stranger prayed over him and said she had “a vision of a star” while praying.

“We came to the realization it was the star of Bethlehem,” he said. “That’s cool. I had no idea what that meant to my life,” said Martineck, who grew up in Johns Creek and attended St. Brigid Church. He is wearing a sweatshirt and has a beard. It was “kind of neat, kind of weird,” he said.

But during that Christmas break, he kicked around the idea of putting together a play with the star as his inspiration. “I was familiar with writing (short stories), but the play-writing came from my acting in high school and college,” he said.

He prayed as he wrote. He researched while writing, turning to the Bible for material, along with church doctrine. “Things would pop into my head that I wish I could tell people about,” he said.

Martineck said his goal is to use theater to worship God. “The Gospel can be preached in a different way through theater,” he said.

Later, he reached out to Lewis, a fellow Catholic involved with Drama Tech, the student theater club on campus. The two had performed in the club’s show of “Jekyll & Hyde,” with Lewis in the lead and Martineck in a small role.

The two shared the script and started to collaborate. Martineck plays Melchior and Lewis, Balthasar.

The play and its topic appealed to Lewis, 20, who is studying computational media. He grew up in Lilburn, attending St. John Neumann Church. He is also a member of a Christian fraternity, Theta Xi, along with singing at the Tech Catholic Center.

They opened the show last winter at the Catholic Center at Georgia Tech. They’ve put on the 45-minute show more than 20 times, performing at Life Teen gatherings and community theaters. They have bookings into 2011. They never ask for money at the performances, but any money raised contributes to the mission trip for Catholics at Georgia Tech.

“Every time I go through the script, the message still pops out at me,” said Lewis.

More information can be found on Facebook at