The No-Rehearsal Nativity

A church nativity resource with a difference

Janine Gillion

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Content

Bring everyone together in a no-fuss, pure enjoyment retelling of the Christmas story!

The No-Rehearsal Nativity makes it possible for churches to put on a nativity play that families in their congregation and local community can simply join in with on the day. Ideal for service leaders who lack the time or confidence to organise a rehearsed nativity play, it also provides a way to involve families who do not normally attend church or are visiting over Christmas.

Includes full script, advice on preparation, publicity and staging, and options to set the play within a Christingle or crib service. A 'no-sew nativity' appendix provides instructions and templates for making simple costumes on a budget.

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Author info

Janine Gillion is a professional actor and teacher. Since the birth of Intermission Theatre Company, based in London, Janine has worked alongside her husband Revd Rob Gillion as a Missioner to the Arts, supporting the ministry and combining her love of theatre with her love of God. She now lives in the Diocese of Riverina in NSW Australia where Rob is the Diocesan Bishop.

Reviews

The Door, November 2016

This is a manageable practical guide for those who are hesitant about putting on a nativity play to support worship in a church, school or community setting. The book is divided into short, easily readable and digestible sections to support the whole process of putting on a nativity.

The sections include: Setting the scene; A note about directed drama; Nothing can go wrong; Let's get the show on the road; Including Christingle; Encouraging everyone to join in; The no-rehearsal script; and The (almost) no-sew nativity.

This is a great guidebook for both those new to putting on a nativity plays and those who want to revitalise their approach. Janine Gillion has a background in drama and this underpins the whole event. Her enthusiasm drives the guide but it has the recurrent theme of respect for God and sensitivity to all those involved or participating.

The No Rehearsal Nativity can be a stand-alone Christmas event or incorporated in a Christingle or similar service. But organisation is the key. Janine makes the point that this is not going to happen without planning and organisation and, I feel, commitment from a team of people.

The book deals with how to cope with parental anxieties, so 'Nothing can go wrong' gives the organisers and all participants the opportunity to relax. Children are unpredictable and sometimes we have to deal with their unplanned interjections with care.

The book gives instances of practical diplomacy with the parents of crying babies. I am going to try out the techniques in church as see if they work.

The storyteller has a key role in the play. I am unsure how many church members would be able to tick 100 per cent of the criteria. I know many who would manage 75-80 per cent, but this person needs to be committed and willing, supported by their team and not prone to stage fright.

Incorporating key adults in supporting roles, both in the staging and encouraging others to participate as suggested, really works well. Last year I was greeted by the churchwarden at our Crib service dressed as a shepherd. He was ready to welcome people to the event but also ready to lead a group of younger shepherds.

This is a great practical guide that encourages all into a 'can-do' place that supports the organisation and the thinking needed to stage a nativity successfully.

Pam Cosh - deputy head teacher in a special needs school and member of St Thomas's Church, Colnbrook


STAR News - Diocese of Peterborough September 2016

This book really does explain how to put on an effective nativity with no rehearsal. You are taken through ideas for costumes, advertising, carols, having too few or too many children and how to get everyone to join in. The author is a professional actor and teacher - and it shows! She really knows how to 'let's stage the show right here!'
Staging a nativity play is great outreach - you could a lot worse than start with this helpful book.

Rona Orme - Children's Missioner Diocese of Peterborough


I've never orchestrated a Nativity play myself, but I've watched Love Actually enough times to know they can be total chaos. Even without lobsters!

The thought of organising the annual nativity play is enough to make me strategically avoid the Children's Minister every Sunday within six months of Christmas, for fear they might try to conscript me.That is, before I read this book, The No-Rehearsal Nativity!

Janine Gillion, as a professional actor, teacher and ministry partner with her husband Bishop Rob Gillion, has a wealth of experience with the nativity play.

This is obvious in the opening sections of the book, in which she discusses the variety of fears that one might bring to the organisation of a nativity play; Gillion asks, 'Do you feel you aren't confident enough to stage a performance? Do you lack time to organise everything? Are you worried about asking your children to learn lines? Are you afraid you'll have too many children, or not enough? Does it all seem like simply too big a task? If you have never attempted a nativity, or if you do one each year but they are not working... I hope to encourage you.'

Gillion goes on to share her methods for navigating the various factors involved in organising a nativity play: the children (from the anxious to the beligerent) the parents (from the anxious to the beligerent!) the script, the props, the costumes, and the audience.

The most precious gem in this book, for me personally, was the No-Rehearsal Nativity script.

Nativity plays are a wonderful opportunity to share in the Christmas story.

Gillion's approach to presenting a nativity play is called Directed Drama, a method in which, 'The director or storyteller tells the story while the children react to what he or she is saying... in the No-Rehearsal Nativity, the storyteller is in control.'

This technique, and the script she provides for its performance, was particularly appealing to me, as it remedies many of the difficulties I would anticipate when organising a nativity play: it takes the pressure off children to learn lines and rehearse, reducing their nerves, and leading them to enjoy the experience of dressing up and being part of a group performance. As well as this, it doesn't depend on hours of work being put into the construction of elaborate costumes or props.

The book also includes costume tips, make-your-own Christingle instructions, and an example of a service booklet for a Christmas event involving the No-Rehearsal Nativity scene.

The No-Rehearsal Nativity by Janine Gillion is a thoughtful, user-friendly resource with decades of experience gone into its making. If the thought of organising your church's nativity play strikes fear into your heart (like it did mine), this book is for you.

From Lara Sweeney; Canberra and Goulburn Anglican Communion. November 2015


Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857463661
  • Published: 18 September 2015
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 64
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