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I really appreciate Playscripts and their work toward creating better theater and theater experiences for all. Jay Muldoon Theater Teacher, Fairfield, OH
General Information
Is It Christmas Already?
Don Zolidis

Don Zolidis

In Texas, we have four seasons: Almost Summer, Summer, Late Summer, and Christmas. Christmas seems to begin earlier and earlier each year, and I’ve noticed that lately some stores are sneaking their Christmas stuff out before Halloween, which causes more than a few problems.

When you’re teaching theatre in Texas, there’s an unwritten expectation that you’re supposed to do a Christmas show. For some reason, parents want to see their kids perform in something. And although I’d spend at least a month or two happily playing improv games with my students, sooner or later I’d have to get down to figuring out what we were going to do in December.

Before I got to my middle school, the theatre classes had performed A Christmas Carol for ten years in a row. I think there’s a law that once you begin producing A Christmas Carol, you’re never allowed to stop. I don’t know what happens if you only perform it once and then try to do something the following year, perhaps a mob of Scrooge and Tiny Tim-lovers storm your theatre and perform it by memory anyway.

In any event, I wanted to do something different. And since I knew I’d have to do a Christmas show every year, I wanted to do something different every year. There was only one problem: I simply didn’t have enough ideas. So I came up with a plan: Make the kids come up with the ideas.

We ran the class like a television studio; I was the head writer, and I made all the students become the staff writers. They would come up with their best Christmas ideas, and then “pitch” them to me. I’d pepper them with questions, ask them how we could portray elf zombies or vampire reindeer, and then I’d either approve or deny their ideas. Once we had a good selection of possible ideas, the class would vote on which play they wanted to perform, and then I’d go home, drink a whole lot of caffeine and (hopefully) bring in a script the next day.

As you can imagine, I heard a lot of crazy ideas for Christmas plays. More than a few of them involved Santa going crazy and flying an F-22 into a skirmish with renegade reindeer who were building a nuclear bomb. (Remember: I was asking 7th grade boys for their ideas.) There were Santa zombies, Santa robots, Santa serial killers (don’t ask), and a whole lot of other things that would probably get me fired. But I did manage to work some of the more gruesome ideas in there, (my favorite is probably Frosty the Snowman dying a slow, horrible death due to global warming) which made the boys in class extremely happy.

What was great about those shows was not how ridiculous they all were (and most of them were ridiculous), but that the class owned the play. We came up with the ideas together, we debated their merits, and ultimately the class chose what they wanted to do. They were our plays.

And we never did A Christmas Carol (although we did make fun of it almost every year).

"Santa-Napped"

Hellestern Middle School’s production of Santa-Napped, in which Santa is kidnapped by the CIA for violating a no fly zone and various pyromaniac elves conspire to save him with the help of a killer robot, (one guess if a boy or a girl came up with this idea).

–by Don Zolidis

Visit Don’s website: http://www.donzolidis.com/

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For a complete listing of Playscripts’ Christmas/Holiday plays, visit playscripts.com/christmas

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