Join us in the Merkle and Price Galleries when Thomas Brewster becomes Crumpet the Elf for a one night only performance of David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries.” An antidote to a merry Christmas, the script celebrates the desperation of unemployment, the insanity of Christmas shopping and the ieffable “cheer” of the holiday spirit. “The Santaland Diaries” is a sardonic, deliciously cynical way to celebrate the holidays.
SAAC celebrity cooks and decorators for the evening will be Beth Callaway, Anne James, Suzanne Phillips, W.L. Cook, Mary Pat Anthony, Susan Harper, Gae Hays, Carol Ellen, Lynn Dwight, Julia Slaughter, Carolane Hays, and Becky Choate. Tickets for dinner and the show are $75.
Brewster is a familiar face on the SAAC stage and has been seen in many holiday and summer productions over the years including “A Christmas Story,” “A 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol,” “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” and “Willy Wonka.”
You might not expect “Santa’s Helper” to be a career-altering gig, but for David Sedaris, it changed everything. The writer and humorist spent a season working at Macy’s as a department store elf. He described his short tenure as Crumpet the Elf in “The Santaland Diaries.” Sedaris first read the essay on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on December 23, 1992. Instantly, a classic was born. Sedaris’ reading has become an NPR holiday tradition.
The piece was well-received, and provided Sedaris with his first major break. Sedaris later published the essay in the collections “Barrel Fever” (1994) and “Holidays on Ice” (1997). A much longer version of the piece first aired on December 20, 1996 on the Public Radio International program “This American Life.” In 1996, Joe Mantello adapted Sedaris’ essay for the stage as a one-man, one-act play, which debuted (as “The Santaland Diaries”) at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York on November 7, 1996. Timothy Olyphant originated the role. Mantello’s adaptation has since become a seasonal staple of regional, college and high-school theatre. “The Santaland Diaries” drew David’s writing to the attention of America and the world.
David Sedaris wasn’t always an award-winning writer and satirist. For two consecutive Christmases in the early 1990s, he was a Christmas elf at Santaland in the famous New York department store, Macy’s. These are hilarious extracts from his diaries at the time. “My costume is green. I wear moss-colored velvet breeches, an emerald smock, and a stocking cap decorated with spangles. This is my work uniform. My elf name is Crumpet, and I was allowed to choose it myself, which is something.” Crumpet, the little elf in the perky green cap, is re-born – and you’ll never hear Billie Holiday in the same way ever again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Raymond Sedaris (born December 26, 1956) is an American humorist, comedian, author, and radio contributor. He was publicly recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay “SantaLand Diaries”. He published his first collection of essays and short stories, “Barrel Fever”, in 1994. His next five essay collections, “Naked” (1997), “Holidays on Ice” (1997), “Me Talk Pretty One Day” (2000), “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” (2004), and “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” (2008), became New York Times Best Sellers. In 2010, he released a collection of stories, “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary”. In 2013, Sedaris released his latest collection of essays, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls”.
Much of Sedaris’ humor is ostensibly autobiographical and self-deprecating, and often concerns his family life, his middle-class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina. Sedaris is also a playwright, having written with his sister, actress Amy Sedaris, several plays under the name “The Talent Family”. These include “Stump the Host” (1993), “Stitches” (1994), and “The Little Frieda Mysteries” (1997). All were produced and presented by Meryl Vladimer when she was the artistic director of “the CLUB” at La MaMa, E.T.C., and “The Book of Liz” (2002) was produced by Ania A. Shapiro.
Sedaris also co-authored “Incident at Cobbler’s Knob”, presented and produced by David Rockwell at the Lincoln Center Festival. Sedaris and his sister Amy shared “The Talent Family” credit on the latter’s short-lived sketch comedy show “Exit 57”, while David was a contributing writer.
Sedaris currently lives in the Horsham District of West Sussex, England, with his longtime partner Hugh Hamrick, whom Sedaris mentions in a number of his stories. Sedaris describes them as the “sort of couple who wouldn’t get married”. He enjoys collecting litter in the local area, where he is known as “Pig Pen”, and has a garbage truck named after him.