David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries
The Santaland Diaries
by David Sedaris
Directed by Wayne Paquette
Technical Director / Production Managed by Christopher Hicks
Blarney Productions is proud to present
a new annual Christmas production to Edmonton audiences
CATCH US AGAIN NEXT DECEMBER
Playing at the
Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts
9225 118 Ave
Now in its second year, Blarney presents The Santaland Diaries, a humorous one man play reflecting upon David Sedaris’ stint working as a Christmas Elf in “Santaland” at Macy’s department store.
David Sedaris first read his story in 1992, on the National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. In 1996, Joe Mantello adapted Sedaris’ work into the Santaland Diaries, which debuted at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York.
In 2001, David Sedaris became the third recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He was named by Time magazine as “Humorist of the Year” in 2001. David Sedaris was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album (“Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim”) and Best Comedy Album (“David Sedaris: Live at Carnegie Hall”). In 2008 the audio version of When You Are Engulfed in Flames was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Spoken Word category.
Biting humorist David Sedaris’s one-man show about Crumpet the disgruntled department store elf. Anything but sentimental or saccharine–this ADULT piece of theatre is the antidote to the holidays.
The Santaland Diaries is here once again David Sedaris’ play takes a snarky look at the holidays
If you feel cranky about the holiday spirit, join others who feel the same by attending David Sedaris’ play The Santaland Diaries at this year’s Yule Ave.
This is the second year people have an opportunity to watch the play for the price of a donation. While The Santaland Diaries isn’t recommended for children, coordinator Frank Zotter explained he included the play as an offering for adults. Last year, it was such a success that he had to turn people away, and so he’s including the play again this year. Zotter, an actor, will also star in the play, which runs from Dec. 15-23 at Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts.
The play is about an unemployed actor who takes a job as a Christmas elf in order to pay the bills. But this story isn’t your usual warm-hearted view of the holiday season. Instead, The Santaland Diaries explores holiday consumerism with a cynical, satirical, and acerbic style of humour.
“It’s such a great, sardonic take on the season,” said Zotter. “There’s not a heck of a lot of Christmas plays out there. Most are sentimental. This is the alternative. It’s not your typical Christmas-themed story.”
The Santaland Diaries is told through the eyes of a disgruntled, middle-aged actor known as Crumpet the Elf while he’s working at Santaland. During the play, Crumpet explains how Christmas brings out the worst in people, with highlights like deplorable customers, dubious parental behaviour, terrible children, and drunken Santas.
Zotter said he’s looking forward to playing the role of Crumpet again. “I loved doing it and can’t wait to do it again. It’s such a pleasure to perform off-colour moments,” he said. “I love to see people squirm in their seats and then laugh at an uncomfortable truth.”
Sedaris wrote The Santaland Diaries as an essay based on his experience working as a Christmas elf at Macy’s Department Store. Sedaris’ essay became popular after he read it over the radio in 1992. Four years later, Joe Mantello adapted the essay into a one-person, one-act play.
“Sedaris has got a real biting sense of humour. The reveals and satire of what he discovers is smart. He knows how to get under the skin of things and reveal the ugly truth,” said Zotter.
The setting of the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts adds to the play’s appeal. Wayne Paquette is directing and staging the play, and Zotter explained Paquette uses the art as part of the set.
“The whole room is my space. [Wayne] converts the space into Santa’s village while keeping the Nina’s holiday artwork. It’s very festive in that room,” Zotter said.
It remains to be seen if the play will become a Yule Ave tradition. Zotter said Edmonton has some die-hard fans of Sedaris’ work and those fans came from across the city to see the play last year.
“We’ll see how it goes this year,” said Zotter. Then he joked, “It could take the place of A Christmas Carol, give it a run for its money.”
by Talea Medynski
Rebellious Joy to the World
For kids, Christmas is a mysterious and magical day filled with twinkling lights and a big-bottomed man barreling down the chimney. For adults, December 25th has become a deadline for gift-buying and Santa pictures, and the lines for both are just getting longer.
Without getting too bah humbug about the bogusness of Christmas, it’s hard to deny that the holidays get more and more commercial with every passing year. This is something Edmonton actor Frank Zotter aims to change with the festival, Yule Ave. Five years in the running, the festivity features a snow village, a decoration-creation station, and wagon rides with Santa. In the midst of all the fuss and flash of the season, Zotter says it’s an opportunity for people to spend time with the ones they love the most.
“It’s so much about consumerism; there’s just so much that’s stealing the limelight from the real values of the season,” he says. “What it really comes down to is family time, charity, and giving. So why not create a festival that celebrates creating those kinds of memories—that creates Christmas. You don’t have to buy it.”
Sounds like one of those events that are sickeningly sweet and a tad too family-friendly? Wrong. After a sold-out run last year, Zotter is bringing back The Santaland Diaries—a sardonic one-man show that reveals the darker side of humanity during the holidays.
American humorist David Sedaris, who wrote the story based on his job as a Christmas elf at Macy’s department store, pens his experience with little sentiment but a lot of sarcasm. With the rest of Yule Ave’s activities focusing on the children, Santaland Diaries is a gift to the adults. It lets them take a break from a sugar-coated Christmas and see it from a sassier (and more truthful) perspective.
“There’s a real phony, fake sparkle to the season that happens every year, and it just gets worse with decorations, with ornaments, with toys, everything,” observes Zotter. “I’m not even aware of a show that has this kind of anti-sparkle take on things. But what a relief for the adults—to finally have something that takes them out of the sacredness of this time of year.”
Even Zotter, who frequents the festival as a cheerful elf during the day, finds it liberating to switch to his ironic persona at night. Both roles are rewarding, but seeing the contrast between a child’s innocent amazement at a wholesome St. Nick versus the parents’ reaction to the play’s drunken Santa is a hoot. Bringing youngsters to see the show is not recommended, but loosening up and laughing at some holiday-inspired bad behaviour is strongly encouraged.
“There’s such a sanctity to this season; it’s so refreshing to rebel against that. And then to be able to laugh at it is liberating, so I think people will leave feeling like they got away with breaking the rules,” predicts Zotter. “There’s a bit of rebellious joy to it, without having discounted the values of Christmas—without giving up on Christmas.”
by Jacquelin Gregoire (firstname.lastname@example.org)
10 Things to Do in Edmonton – Santaland Diaries
A disgruntled elf named Crumpet who works in a department store reveals the tug and pull of the retail world as it collides with Christmas. Blarney Productions presents this one-man comedy as part of Alberta Ave’s Yule Ave Festival. The show is free but donations are appreciated. Presented nightly Dec 15 to 19 at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts, 9225 – 118 Avenue.
by Justin Havre
Santaland Diaries Comes to Yule Ave
Has your seasonal demeanour taken a downturn? Do your fa-la-las put the tin back in tinsel? Has enforced jollity darkened your personal palette?
Well, you, my mall-sated friend, are perfectly positioned to savour a spiky, hilariously bleak holiday entertainment — like the one especially (well, exclusively) designed for adult consumption at this year’s upcoming Yule Ave festivities. The Santaland Diaries are by David Sedaris, an award-winning National Public Radio humorist of the sardonic stripe. It’s one of the riotous essays from his Holiday On Ice collection, first published in The New Yorker, and adapted as stage monologues by Broadway director Joe Mantello.
What you’ll see, in a Blarney production directed by Wayne Paquette and starring Frank Zotter, is based on Sedaris’s true-life experience in Yuletide retail. David, a 33-year-old out-of-work actor in New York, is struggling to pay his rent, so he takes a job as a department-store elf at Macy’s. From the jaundiced perspective of Crumpet, the morose guy wearing green with the candy-stripe leggings, Santa might as well be an anagram for Satan.
“He’s watching chaos,” says Paquette sympathetically, of a guy whose job is to be in the ensemble that directs kids and their cranky/desperate parents toward a selection of store Santas. “He’s in a position of no power. People yell in his face and he can’t do anything …”
“He’s travelled to New York to make it big,” Paquette says. And it’s not happening — not that his showbiz dreams are grandiose. “We’re not talking co-starring with Leonardo di Caprio,” he laughs. “His dream is to be a soap actor. … He’s alone, he feels like an outsider and he’s not where he wants to be. … He’s thinking ‘geez, look at me’ … I think we can all relate to that moment.”
It’s the dimensionality of the character that makes The Santaland Diaries “feel like a real play, not standup, not sketch,” Paquette thinks. “It’s NOT a sentimental play. But it’s not a cynical play either. It’s not trying to say that Christmas is bad or people are evil … Its heart is in a good place.”
Paquette hopes the five-performance run at Yule Ave, an annual festival in the Alberta Avenue ‘hood, is a trial for “a longer run, in a bigger place.”
by Liz Nicholls
At play with the seasonal sentiment, Sterling-winning Blarney Productions is offering up a limited-run take on David Sedaris’s Santaland Diaries, a one-man show about the author’s time spent working as an elf named Crumpet in a Macy’s department store. Expect a somewhat more disgruntled look at the holidays than usual. (Nina Taggerty Centre [Stollery Gallery])