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Children and Christmas make best pageant ever

Keeping 26 children under control is no easy feat, but methods like “The Quiet Game” and “No Talking Egg Hunt” help — something Laura Estep learned while directing “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
“I made sure that I had fun with them, and I was their friend, and they knew that first,” 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.
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” was performed Wednesday night, and prior to that experience she’s directed three plays in drama camp, assistant directed one play for the Lincoln Theatre Guild and two others for her church — all of which involved casts of kids.
“I’m able to just really get along with the kids,” she said. “I’ve always kind of known how to direct them and teach them.”
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.
“It depended on the day,” Estep said. “A lot of the little boys, they just had a lot of energy, but it went fairly well.”
She says the same of the play’s outcome.
“It’s obviously an amateur play,” she said. “The kids loved it, and their parents loved it, and that all I was going for.”
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 “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will keep up their acting.
After directing three plays, she’s noticed changes in some of the children — 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.
“Especially my Herdmans, they really got into it,” Estep said. “They loved being dirty and loved that the character could be mean.”
by Sarah Grano

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