Entertainment: All about elves

A “bird’s eye view” of the Grand Prince Odeum stage. Actors rehearsing for the upcoming 10 Minute Holiday Play Festival (L-R) are Ana Kormos, Haley Carpenter and Bridget O’Flaherty. (Courtesy photo)

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By Germaine Hupe
Special to the Express

The adventures of Santa’s elves comprise the general theme of the Winters Theatre Company’s “10 Minute Holiday Play Festival.” The evening’s entertainment will consist of eight short plays, six of which feature elves as the characters.

Elves have been a part of folk tales since the early middle ages, especially in the culture of Western Europe. They are supernatural creatures with magical powers and are generally considered benevolent, but they can cause problems in the world of humans.

They are described as having large ears, but they are human in form, diminutive in size, and capricious in nature. Elfin activities have undergone changes in the hundreds of years since their appearance, and the mischief attributed to them is usually rather harmless in contrast to the anti-human cruelty of ogres and trolls, who are generally considered as ugly, misshapen creatures who dwell in caves and dark places. ( The Shrek movies have done much to rehabilitate ogres for modern audiences.)

Elves and their culture are very prominent in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and their authors J. R. R. Tolkien even invented a complete language called Elfish for them.

American Christmas traditions are responsible for the idea of elves as the hard-working helpers of Santa Claus in his North Pole Workshop. In the 19th century, Santa Claus — the American version of St. Nicholas — made his appearance and he was soon joined by Mrs. Claus. This tradition is still popular today, and department store Santas often have “elves” helping to deal with the toddlers who come to sit on Santa’s lap.

One of the elf-theme plays of the Holiday Festival is “Elftopia,” but the idea of a Utopia at the North Pole has problems. The boss, Dew Drop, is overly ambitious regarding toy production, and elf workers Ginger and Sugar Snap must use their skills to get the chief to relax and enjoy the season. “Elftopia” was written by Jodi Antemor.

Another play, “Vesper” by Nicholas Bompart concerns the arrival of Elf-in-chief Vulmer who has news for Christmas Eve dinner guests. Gildir, Jingle, Galhad and Trixie. It seems that Trixie has been promoted to the top job in Santa’s Workshop, and she must take over immediately. Trixie must deal not only with the honor of her new position but also with the responsibilities which the job entails.

The Christmas theme of joy is found in all the elf plays which, of course, have happy endings. The two “non-elf” plays feature human characters who have a few holiday problems which they confront and solve. “When the World Falls in Love,” by Donald Loftus, deals with Buddy and Elaine — a couple who have been married a long time and have lost the spark of romance. Elaine makes a special effort to look attractive and provide a romantic setting. Her set-in-his-ways husband doesn’t respond. They bicker, as couples do, but it’s the holiday season and they are reminded how much they love one another.

Another “non-elf” play by Donald Loftus is “Perhaps a Sidebar on Christmas.” A British gentleman is trying to buy a Christmas gift at the famous Harrods Department Store in London. The sales staff has a different understanding of his needs, but eventually all persons manage to communicate, evidence of other small Christmas miracles.

Please help us welcome in the holiday season along with the elves and actors for WTC’s 10 Minute Holiday Play Festival. The play festival will run for two weekend performances, opening Thursday, Dec. 8 through Saturday, Dec. 10 and the following weekend Thursday, Dec. 15 through Saturday, Dec. 17 (Note: there will not be a Sunday performance). The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Prince Odeum, 201 Main St. in Winters. For tickets and more information, go to www.winters

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