The Santaland Diaries (2012)

November 27 — December 30, 2012
In the Ellyn Bye Studio

By David Sedaris
Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
Directed by Wendy Knox

Based on the true chronicles of David Sedaris’ experience as Crumpet the Elf in Macy’s Santaland display, this cult classic riffs on a few of Sedaris’ truly odd encounters with his fellow man during the height of the holiday crunch. NPR humorist and best-selling author of When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers, and this production has become a Portland holiday tradition.

Adding a new chapter to the story of The Santaland Diaries at PCS, we are thrilled to announce that Darius Pierce (The 39 Steps, A Christmas Story, The Beard of Avon) will play Crumpet the Elf in 2012.

This production is not available as part of a subscription package.

Performance times:
Tuesday - Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Thursday matinees at noon

A full list of performances and dates will appear when you enter the ticketing section of the website.

The Santaland Diaries runs approximately 70 minutes with no intermission.

View the cast and creative team bios.

View the playbill for The Santaland Diaries.

Learn more about accessibility options at PCS.

Reviews and Features

Marty Hughley | The Oregonian [Review 03 Dec 2012]

In these uncertain times, the mere fact of employment often is supposed to be a blessing beyond reproach, a good fortune that outweighs any associated difficulty or idignity. But “The Santaland Diaries,” based on the memoir by humorist David Sedaris about a stint as a department store Christmas elf, puts that premise to the test.
The work environment that Crumpet the elf—as this show’s solo narrator is known once he dons his candy-cane leggings and forest-green velvet coat—must endure includes not just the humiliation of mandatory cheerfulness but insults, panic attacks, fistfights, bribery and public urination. It’s a dyspeptic, if also realistic, view of how holiday-season stress can bring out the ugly sides of human nature.
This is the fourth consecutive season that Portland Center Stage has staged the show, but a first time for local stalwart Darius Pierce in the role of Crumpet. Previous stars Wade McCollum and Jim Lichtscheidl were bright, skillful mimics, offering vivid sketches of the many other characters Crumpet recounts along his path from job search to Christmas Eve frenzy. Pierce, by contrast, is Crumpet as a grumpy everyman—nervous, desperate, bitter. His sardonic commentary comes not with the twinkly charm of irony but the dark edge of exasperation.
The laughs might not bubble up with the same ease in Pierce’s version, but the absurdity of Crumpet’s predicament hits even closer to home, and the eventual arrival of traditional holiday sentiment feels more meaningful yet.

Anne Adams | Oregon Arts Watch [Review 03 Dec 2012]

Review from the 2012 production of The Santaland Diaries starring Darius Pierce:

“David Sedaris’s “Santaland Diaries” (both the play and the essay) are surely best recognized as a cynic’s take on Christmas tradition. A thirtysomething man with dashed entertainment-industry dreams, Sedaris uses his day job as a Macy’s Christmas elf to launch a grand expansion both of his career and of the “there is no Santa Claus” revelation: Not only is there no Santa Claus, but there are no elves. Yes, Virginia, “elves” are actually seasonal day-laborers consigned to clean up child vomit, withstand humiliating training regimens, and perpetuate the lie for not one but several idiosyncratic fake Santas. Merry Humbug. Ho ho ho.

“Mercifully, though, there are a few more facets to this story: It’s also the tale of an intelligent person humbled by a brutal job market. It’s an unmasking of retail disingenuousness. It’s a kinky cosplay sexualization of erstwhile-presumed-asexual creatures (elves, Santa, customer servants). And—if you want it to be—it’s a reluctant admission that wonder, beauty and optimism repeatedly (if briefly) overturn our more jaded presumptions.

“With its multiplicity of narratives, the script becomes as flexible as taffy in the hands of its elfin elocutioner, Crumpet. And the star of this year’s production at Portland Center Stage, Darius Pierce (who’s spent prior seasons narrating another PCS holiday play, “A Christmas Story”), jingled in on the heels of two distinct predecessors.”

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Art and photos for The Santaland Diaries. View on Flickr »

Production blog

Christmas at Macy’s

Christmas at Macy’s

05 December 2012 & Posted by KellyC

From Santa’s arrival at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the festive Macy’s Santaland, this department store knows how to do Christmas right. In The Santaland Diaries, Crumpet the Elf gives audiences a little bit of (hilarious) insight into Macy’s Santaland. But what is it about the words “Christmas at Macy’s” that instantly puts us in the holiday spirit?


Favorite Holiday Stories

28 November 2012 & Posted by Natalie Gilmore

As much as eggnog, mistletoe and caroling, storytelling is a central part of the holiday season. Whether you have warm fuzzy memories of sitting on Grandma’s lap while she read to you or you acted out your favorite story in a church pageant, most of us have stories at the heart of our holiday memories.


From Cleaning Out Fridges to April in Paris

27 November 2012 & Posted by Kinsley Suer

David Sedaris, the man behind The Santland Diaries, has made a career out of chronicling his true – and usually hilarious – life experiences. But did you know that his short story “Santaland Diaries,” first read on NPR’s Morning Edition in December 1992, was actually his first real break? In this interview with NPR’s Michael Taylor, Sedaris reflects on his career, the suddenness of fame, and the continued success of his holiday tale about Crumpet the Elf.


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