The Northeastern - December 9, 2003

Volume 95, Issue 18 - Tuesday, December 9, 2003 

‘Eight Reindeer Monologues’ Brings Holiday Laughs

By Brian Ervin
TNE Writer
Cast members of "The Reindeer Monologues" take a moment to cut loose on stage. Photo by Melissa Cappa

“Eight Reindeer Monologues” was performed at the NSU Jazz Lab last Friday, December 5.
“Eight Reindeer Monologues” was written by Jeff Goode, and NSU’s presentation was directed by Carrie Clevenger-Gwartney and Andrea Foster.
Performers were Michael Deken, Alex Gamby, Brad Powers, Brandon Wall, Nicole Dickey, Jennie Phillips, Matt Gibbons and Darcy Talent.
“Eight Reindeer Monologues” is a dark comedy about a sex-scandal at the North Pole involving Santa Claus and his reindeer. Santa Claus is accused of sexually assaulting one of the reindeer, and the performance consists of each of the reindeer giving his or her testimony, either defending or condemning Santa.
“It’s about a sex-scandal breaking, and all fingers are pointing toward Santa. Basically, Vixen has been raped and accuses Santa, and all the reindeer are giving their testimony,” said Clevenger-Gwartney.
Michael Deken, who played Comet the reindeer, said, “There’s been these allegations that Santa Claus has sexually-assaulted some of the reindeer, and each reindeer gives a little brief story of themselves and how they feel about the allegations, whether they think they’re true. It kind of shows which side they’re on, because some of them are standing behind Santa and some of them want to see Santa arrested.”
In “Eight Reindeer Monologues,” each reindeer is developed as a distinctly-defined character within the context of contemporary society.
“Vixen is kind of a radical feminist. Cupid is openly-gay. He mentions that some other reindeer are gay, but they’re in the closet, but he’s openly gay. Rudolph is in a padded-cell. He’s kinda nuts. He’s not in the show, but they talk about him,” said Clevenger-Gwartney.
Santa’s actual guilt or innocence is never resolved in the performance. When asked if Santa was guilty or innocent, Deken said, “It’s kind of up to you to decide.”
Rather than resolving the issue of Santa’s culpability in the sex-scandal, “Eight Reindeer Monologues” deals with larger issues, relevant beyond the North Pole.
“It kind of talks about how sometimes the public image of a person can be ruined even if they didn’t do something, such as- and I’m not saying I’m either way on the Michael Jackson thing, but he would be a great example right now about how if the media is on one side, then chances are the people are going to follow. That, and it’s just a fun little show,” said Deken.
A fun little show about Santa Claus and his reindeer, on the surface, would immediately appeal to a younger audience, but Clevenger-Gwartney said this show is definitely not for children, given the adult subject matter.
“It’s not for children at all. It is not for anybody under 17. A government-issued ID, not just a school ID, but a government-issued ID is needed to get in, because IDs will be checked. [‘Eight Reindeer Monologues’] has got very adult language,” she said.
As some readers may already be aware from having seen them displayed on campus and elsewhere, the adult subject matter of “Eight Reindeer Monologues” is expressed on its advertising posters. Some who saw the posters took offense and commented accordingly.
“We had gotten a lot of comments on our posters. We seem to be offending people with our posters. Which is kind of nice because controversy breeds interest sometimes,” said Clevenger-Gwartney.
Although the interest is welcome and encouraged by Clevenger-Gwartney and her cast and crew, she said the controversy was not their intent.
“We’re not trying to poke fun at Christmas, we’re poking fun at the commercialization of Christmas, and that’s what the show is, basically. It kind of makes a statement about humanity and how we treat Christmas and the ideas surrounding Christmas. So, it’s that, and not so much making fun of the true meaning of Christmas,” she said.
Last Friday’s was their first and only presentation of “Eight Reindeer Monologues.” For those who did not get a chance to see it but want to, they may get their chance to see it next year.
“It is something we are going to try out and if it’s successful we’re going to bring it back again, maybe as a yearly thing, maybe every two years. It’s an experiment, definitely. We’ll see how people like it. If you missed it this year, you can see it next year if it works out for us,” said Clevenger-Gwartney.
Contact Brian Ervin at