Curtain call for “Klaus.” From left: Martha Boswell, Brian O’Sullivan, Kevin McAlexander, Blair Peyton, Will Coleman, Drew Dowdy and Ross Laguzza. Behind them, barely visible, is stage manager Melissa Kennedy who, for purposes of this reading, was on the stage to provide sound effects much like a radio play.
The Hollins Playwright’s Lab put on a staged reading of “Klaus,” my Christmas play about the origin of Santa Claus on December 16, 2012 at the June M. McBroom Theatre at Community High School.
Here are some photos. The one above is from producer Todd Ristau; the back-and-white ones below are from MFA student Chad Runyon:
Stage manager Melissa Kennedy introduces the three students at a failing British college in the 17040s: Kevin McAlexander, Blair Peyton and Will Coleman. All three are supporters of the ousted royal family, the House of Stuart.
The three spend much of their time drinking, with the character Percy (Blair) the most drunken of all.
Headmaster (Ross Laguzza, right) wants to stamp out treason at his school, and thereby curry favor with the king. His assistant, Grinchley (Drew Dowdy) tries to be helpful.
The college hires a German professor of natural philosophy, hoping that will make the German-born King George II more amenable to their requests for funding. But Professor Klaus (Brian O’Sulivan) turns out to be rather eccentric.
Professor Klaus’s landlady is Mary Holliday (played by Martha Boswell), who can’t cook worth a a darn – except for cookies.
Grinchley (Drew Dowdy) asks Professor Klaus (Brian O’Sullivan) to discover a comet, so the school can name it after the king. Klaus explains this is impractical, incurring suspicion.
Two of the students (Will Colaman and Blair Peyton) falsely tell the headmaster that Professor Klaus is advocating blasphemy, hoping to both discredit Klaus and, indirectly, all Germans. The headmaster (Ross Lagauzza) and Grinchley (Drew Dowdy) believe them.
Percy (Blair Peyton) gets rip-roaringly drunk in his room, missing the action in town where a fellow student incites a howling mob to go lynch Professor Klaus as a suspected witch. This sets up our exciting conclusion, in which a howling mob forces Klaus to flee. He uses his experiments in time travel to turn into what we now know as Santa Claus.
Todd Ristau, who runs the Hollins Playwright’s Lab, talks to the audience.
This is me, when I’m trying to figure out why the video camera isn’t working.
All smiles afterwards: Playwright Dwayne Yancey and director Cheryl Snodgrass.