We are in the control room of Santa’s Elves on Christmas Eve—our view is exactly what Santa sees on his sleigh monitors. Santa is about to take off, and we are getting an inside look at how that happens from the control room monitors. Papa Elf is retiring next year after 108 years in charge. Spark is in the lead this year, and if all goes well, he/she will be the next Chief Elf. But a disaster awaits that just might cancel Christmas...
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With Mollie Ottenhoff
What inspired you to write this play?
Every time I’m on a Zoom call, I feel like I’m on a team of people getting ready to launch a rocket. Since people might need remote plays for theaters and schools this year, I imagined a control room as a way to make the multiple screen view feel natural and intentional. And what could be more fun than a bunch of really character-y elves on the most exciting night of the year? In this show, we see what Santa sees as 12 elves get ready for Santa’s launch.
What's your favorite part or line in the play? Why?
I find Winky, Blinky, and Bob (the trainees) to be super fun—when my kids read the show and started quoting Bob the next day, it made my writing dreams come true. My favorite line is when, after the Trainees surprise everyone, Handy says, “You all understand technology? And you can speak longer than three-word sentences?” Even though I wrote it, it cracks me up every time.
Where did the characters come from? Are they based on people you know?
I actually started with the characters. I imagined a team of elves who might all bring different talents to the launch room. I tried to offer distinctive characters that would be super easy to create in a square from the shoulders up. This makes for an easy read, with lots of opportunity for personality, and if you want, one or two costume pieces or accessories that bring the characters to life. My kids love the name “Bob” and find it so funny, so that’s how that worked its way in. Don’t tell him, but I believe Papa was heavily inspired by my dad. When Papa thinks he loses his glasses, but they are on his face—that’s very much my dad.
What did you try to achieve with this play?
To start, I love Christmas so I tried to go Christmas spirit-forward. That’s why it includes cocoa, cookies, and figgy pudding; that’s why Harp is always throwing in snippets of carols; that’s why Santa wraps the whole thing up. I tried to create a beautiful, believable magical world that explained how things usually go—so that people could understand what happens when things start to go wrong. And mostly I tried to acheive action and drama within the limits of a Zoom call. Most importantly, I tried to keep it funny and give all the actors a significant role and characters they would love to play.
Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
This play would be fun to do as a full remote play for a theater or school group—lots of characters, and your audience will love it. It also would be fun for families who want to do a virtual holiday party but are tired of the usual zoom gatherings—download, assign parts, and read! And teachers in classes that are remote could download for their classes to read through together for a holiday party or a December project. It’s a great alternative way to enhance your virtual holiday party.