Posts Tagged santa claus

Video: Staged reading of “Klaus” by Hollins Playwright’s Lab

“Klaus” is my Christmas play about the origin of Santa Claus. There’s no standard myth on where the Jolly Old Elf came from, so I invented one. In my telling, his origin dates to Great Britain in the 1740s, at a time of political unrest. The German-born Hanoverian kings (George II, in this case) were on the throne, and many Germans were coming into the country to seek their fortune. This kindled talk of rebellion among those who still believed the ousted House of Stuart was the rightful royal family.

In “Klaus,” a debt-ridden English college imports a German professor of natural philosophy (physics, we call it now) in hopes of currying favor with the king, and perhaps getting a royal bequest or two. Professor Klaus turns out to be an eccentric sort, dabbling in strange experiments with time travel.

By the show’s end, he has turned into the Santa Claus we know today, and everything about him is explained — the red suit, the reindeer, the love of milk and cookies, his residence at the North Pole, even Mrs. Claus.

“Klaus” was supposed to be the Christmas show at Studio Roanoke, a black box theatre in Roanoke, Va., specializing in new works. Alas, it closed in mid-summer. Fortunately, the Hollins Playwright’s Lab picked up the show — not for a full production but at least for a very well-rehearsed staged reading. Director Cheryl Snodgrass came in from Chicago to oversee things and we had an all-star cast for the reading on December 16. We also had a fantastic crowd; program director Todd Ristau said it was four times larger than had shown up for any previous reading in the series.

I had some trouble with the video camera. The video of act 1 (above) cuts off the introductory remarks and the first few lines. The video of act 2 (below) didn’t start until after the first scene had concluded. And the audio is poor. But you’ll get the idea. I hope to make a few changes to the script based on this reading and then send it out to publishers and theatres.

Klaus: Brian O’Sullivan
Robert, a college student: Kevin McAlexander
Percy, a college student: Blair Peyton
James, a college student: Will Coleman
Mary the landlady: Martha Boswell
Headmaster: Ross Laguzza
Grinchley, the headmaster’s assistant: Drew Dowdy

Director: Cheryl Snodgrass
Stage manager: Melissa Kennedy

* Background on the show
* Photos from first day of rehearsal
* Photos from second day of rehearsal
* Photos from third day of rehearsal
* Photos from the staged reading of “Klaus”

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Scripts accepted for productions in New York and Roanoke

My show on the Moscow theatre siege  — “57 Hours in the House of Culture” — is off to a fantastic start at Studio Roanoke. And now I have other production news to report:

* Studio Roanoke has announced its new season, and my Christmas show about the origin of Santa Claus, is among of the offerings. “Klaus” isn’t something for the children. It attempts to explain where Santa Claus came from. Here’s the description I wrote for Studio Roanoke’s calendar:

A holiday play for a mature audience, it is a dark and humorous tale of the origin of Santa Claus. Where did he come from? Set in the early 1700s when the Jacobite movement to overthrow the German-born Hanoverian kings of England and restore the ousted Stuart family to the throne was still very much alive, and involves physics, philosophy, treason against the king, a love story, and some cooking.

Studio Roanoke is also extending the shows in its next season from two weeks to three, reflecting a popular demand for more weekend shows (and fewer weekday ones.)

You can find the entire season on the Studio Roanoke website.

* Meanwhile, I’ve also had two pieces accepted into the annual “Gone in 60 Seconds” festival in New York City. This is a festival dedicated to one-minute plays. This year it runs June 8-9 at Brooklyn College. Both of my scripts accepted this year deal with baseball: “The Uniform” and “Sunset in North Dakota.” The latter is a one-minute version of a five-minute piece that I had done at No Shame Theatre in Roanoke, Va. last summer.

These upcoming productions join ones previously announced for other scripts in Maryland and Oregon.

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