Christmas Claws

or What Would Christmas Be Without Krampus?

Henricus Gielis as Krampus, 2021: "I eat children!"

The most recent in a long-line of creative collaborations with Alderney Landing – including a number of plays for young audiences: The Pirate Show; Happy Birthday, Princess Plum!; The Hungry Ghost; as well as a triad of original Dinner Theatre shows –, DaPoPo Theatre was commissioned in 2019 to populate the Christkindl-Market with interactive characters drawn with traditional German Christmas market lore: Krampus, Sankt Nikolaus, Knecht Ruprecht, the Christmas Witch, and of course the Christkindl.

We the help of costume consultant Noella Murphy, DaPoPo unleashed the holiday brood on the Dartmouth waterfront.

Our favourite character to let loose upon the unsuspecting visitors to the Market, by far, was Krampus. Krampus, a hellish, terrifying creature – furry, horned, of cloven hoof – threatens to carry bad children off in a basket and drown them. You thought the Grinch was scary? Well, think again!

Actors Dorian Lang and Madeleine Tench terrify children as Krampus at Alderney Landing, 2019.

But there are also well loved characters such as the Christkindl and Sankt Nikolaus, bringing cheer and a stash of candy canes to children.

Ivy Charles (who also played the Christmas Witch) as Christkindl, 2021. (Kiana DacDonnell also played the angelic Market spirit.)

Kristi Anderson as Sankt Nikolaus, 2021.

In the Fall of 2020, DaPoPo began workshop on a Krampus script. The premise: due to a recent COVID outbreak at the North Pole, Santa must comply with the travel ban. Sankt Nikolaus, a near Santa look-alike, seems to be a shoo-in as the new face of Niko-Cola, but Krampus is just too… terrifying! Will Knecht Ruprecht and Christkindl stand up to the Christmas Witch Lou C. Fur, or choose money over morals?

From left to right: Krampus (Henri Gielis), Christkindl (Kiana MacDonnell), Christmas Witch (Ivy Charles), Sankt Nikolaus (Kristi Anderson), and Knecht Ruprecht (Garry Williams).

With readers Madeleine Tench, Raeesa Lalani, James Thornton, Kristi Anderson, Garry Williams, and dramaturg Karen Bassett (thanks to the support of Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre!), DaPoPo gathered at 1313 Hollis to read a first draft. That evening, the Christkindl-Market, like so many other social cultural events, were cancelled.

With the help of the Department Communities, Culture, and Heritage, DaPoPo was able to return to these characters in the hope that crowds will be able to safely gather, and actors may tread the boards once more in the not so distant future.