The annual school Christmas play is as traditional as brussel sprouts and the Queen’s Speech; what would the holidays be without seeing our little bundles of joy dressed up as one of the three wise men, hopefully taking their first steps towards becoming the next Day-Lewis or Dench.

Of course, the average school Christmas play has changed quite a bit over the past decade or so. Whereas putting together a performance of the traditional nativity in the past required little more than a student’s favourite doll for the starring role, a few robes and a bit of straw for the manger, ‘new’ Christmas plays require a lot more thought when it comes to staging.

Staging a school Christmas play obviously doesn’t require the meticulous thought required of a professional theatre production; it would set you back quite a lot for starters and part of the charm of the Christmas play is the amateur setting. But a bit of lighting here and there can help engage ‘tired’ parents (there’s always one) as well as making your little actors feel extra special during their big performance.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a short list of things to think about if you’ve been tasked with putting together the school play this year.


There’s something inherently charming about a bunch of five year old’s standing around in fancy dress on a small stage in a fully lit school hall, more focused on smiling and waving at their mum and dad than performing.

However, by switching off the big lights and using stage lighting, you can help your wee actors and actresses focus on the performance in hand a bit more. With different coloured lighting, you can teach your group on the significance of different colours and moods – red meaning angry, blue meaning sad and so on. It also adds to the overall effect of the performance, leaving a lasting impression on parents and relatives.

Oh, and don’t forget that stage lighting is for life and not just for Christmas – even if you don’t put on another performance all year, you can still hire out the space for local theatre groups and make a bit of extra money to put towards next year’s Christmas mega-production!


The tinkling of the ivories of the school piano is as synonymous with the average school nativity as nervous children so it would be a shame to lose that. However, integrating sound into your performance with a sound system for stage can add an educational – and fun – element to the process of putting together the play.

With quality sound, your group can learn how sound impacts on a performance. You can encourage them to pick sounds and songs they feel reflect the mood of a certain part,or choose yourself and explain why that sound works there. You obviously won’t need to go into too much depth, but it is a good way to introduce ideas that’ll serve children in later life at an early age.


A great deal of schools don’t have the benefit of a permanent stage,and installing one for the sake of one performance a year isn’t cost effective. A good stage engineering solution is to invest in some temporary staging that can be constructed and de-constructed as and when it is needed.  Having a stage will make your little actors feel important and special, as well as providing an incentive for local theatre companies and businesses to make use of your school hall.


Although you probably can’t start shopping around for full costumes if you haven’t decided what you’re going to be performing yet, costumes are still a really important part of the school Christmas play – how else are parents supposed to embarrass their children in front of prospective girlfriends or boyfriends in the future?

Costumes can be quite costly but they don’t need to be – shop around in charity shops, fancy dress shops and online for bits and bobs that you think will come in handy. If you’ve know of a particularly thrifty parent or teacher with a knack for tailoring, try and convince them to make costumes from cheap materials – they’ll be unique and cheaper than buying ready-made costumes!

If you’ve taken a look at this list and suddenly realised that – oops! – you’ve forgotten something important, or simply want to look into installing lighting or sound systems in your school hall, give PG Stage a call on 0161 830 0303 or email

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