Keeping 26 children under control is no easy feat, but methods like â€œThe Quiet Gameâ€ and â€œNo Talking Egg Huntâ€ help â€” something Laura Estep learned while directing â€œThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever.â€
â€œI made sure that I had fun with them, and I was their friend, and they knew that first,â€ said Estep, a high school senior who directed the play for Salem United Methodist Church.
Despite her youth, Estep has become quite adept at dealing with theatrical children.
â€œThe Best Christmas Pageant Everâ€ was performed Wednesday night, and prior to that experience sheâ€™s directed three plays in drama camp, assistant directed one play for the Lincoln Theatre Guild and two others for her church â€” all of which involved casts of kids.
â€œIâ€™m able to just really get along with the kids,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™ve always kind of known how to direct them and teach them.â€
She says makes sure to be nice nearly all the time. That way when she does discipline them, they know its out of love.
Handling a cast of children took some patience this time around. Some rehearsals went off without a hitch. Others proved more difficult.
â€œIt depended on the day,â€ Estep said. â€œA lot of the little boys, they just had a lot of energy, but it went fairly well.â€
She says the same of the playâ€™s outcome.
â€œItâ€™s obviously an amateur play,â€ she said. â€œThe kids loved it, and their parents loved it, and that all I was going for.â€
With college in her future, she has no plans to direct another church play soon.
She does hope, however, that the children who participated in â€œThe Best Christmas Pageant Everâ€ will keep up their acting.
After directing three plays, sheâ€™s noticed changes in some of the children â€” many of whom have started to come out of their shells after time in the spotlight.
Others immediately took to acting and became very involved in their roles.
â€œEspecially my Herdmans, they really got into it,â€ Estep said. â€œThey loved being dirty and loved that the character could be mean.â€
by Sarah Grano