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THE CHRISTMAS PLAY WRITE
By Marshall McClung
Many people know of Eloise Jenkins through her ministry of song and music. But this talented lady also writes Christmas plays. Down through the years she has written a dozen or more plays. Several of these plays have been revised from their original form to fit the available play cast or to change the story format to emphasize a particular idea or situation
Eloise began helping her mother Rena Phillips, and Vernell Carver put on Christmas plays when she was a young girl. When she began to direct the plays herself, she found that it was difficult to find a published play with enough individual parts for all who wanted to be in the play. Also, often the plays did not have the idea or story in mind that she wanted to present. This prompted Eloise to begin writing her own plays.
The first Christmas play Eloise wrote was "The Last Request" and was in memory of Janie Wilkey who died in 1962. Eloise's younger sister Pricilla Phillips (Cope), Irene Corbin (Carver), Ruby Carver (Lequire), and Linda Jenkins (McClincy) had a singing group then and had sung at the Wilkey funeral, and were friends of Janie. The play was also in part for them. Over the years Eloise has written Christmas plays in memory of others including Karen Phillips and Tommy Odom.
Most of Eloise five plays come from real life experiences. Some come from songs, sermons, books, or persons, such as her father, Wayne Phillips A lot of the parts in the play are natural, or actual events that has happened in the life of the person playing the part. Eloise usually spends up to a week writing a Christmas play. Preparations for putting on a play begin in October and continue until the play is presented in December. Eloise says she has a lot of help and support from others who help with costumes and props, etc., and that she could not put on a play without them. Many of the Christmas plays Eloise has written have been used in several churches in Graham County and also in surrounding counties.
The play Eloise has written this year is "In The Shadow of the Steeple". It is tentatively scheduled to be presented at New
Hope Baptist Church on Sunday, December 18 at 7:00 P.M. The play has over forty characters with thirty-five speaking parts. The cast is made up of twenty-five adults with the rest consisting of teenagers and young children. Eloise always includes a part in her play for anyone who wants to participate. She says the young people take a lot of pride in being in the play and count and compare how many lines they have in their speaking parts. Eloise stated that the Lord had blessed this work. several persons have been converted and several have rededicated their lives to the Lord after having attended on of the Christmas plays.
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