Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Come a little closer...The Krampus is waiting for you

October is a spooky time of year. Ghouls and goblins come out to play. Cold winds blow in. Drunk football fans spill out of bars. And Strangeloop is deep into planning for our upcoming production, Krampus! But this devil isn't meant for Halloween. Oh no. This Christmas demon is as old as Saint Nick himself.

Strangeloop recently sat down with playwrights Jaclyn Jensen and Mike Wozniak to learn a little more about Krampus — the tradition and the script.

Who is Krampus?

Mike: Krampus is the bad cop to St. Nicholas' good cop. He began as an Austrian-German folk tale to frighten children into being good.

Jaclyn: As far as being Santa’s counterpart - You don’t get coal in your stocking if you’ve been naughty. Krampus comes for you if you’ve been naughty. From the lore, he would chain up the naughty children and beat them with reeds. Or put them in a burlap sack to toss in a river and drown them. It’s pretty dark.

Why Krampus and why now?

M: It started with the Christmas song It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. A few years ago I noticed the lyric: “There'll be scary ghost stories, and tales of the glories of the Christmases long, long ago”. Since we love ghost stories, I wanted to know where that came from, and how we could incorporate it into our holidays. Turns out it was a Victorian tradition to tell ghost stories. But when looking for that, I rediscovered Krampus.

J: I seriously didn’t know that until now. That’s awesome.

Where did you get the idea for this script?

J: Mike is the one who introduced me to Krampus. He’s a natural storyteller and always has ideas for great stories. He actually had several other possible Krampus plotlines in mind, including some really complicated period pieces. But we decided we wanted to explore the idea of Krampus terrorizing one family that could be just like ours.

M: We combined a lot of ideas. A story my third grade teacher Sister Clarissa told me, and a lot of campy horror movies, like the Evil Dead series.

Tell us about your love of horror?

J: Some of my earliest movie memories are horror movies. I was raised on it. And I actually find that the older I get, the more horror movies scare me. I love being scared. Haunted places, ghost stories, all of it.

M: I’ve always watched horror movies on Halloween as far back as I can remember. And much to my mother’s chagrin, my grandmother told me ghost stories growing up.

What was the most difficult part about writing this script?

M: For me, it was paring down ideas. I kept bombarding Jackie with ideas, and she’d have to edit me so that we could have a manageable number of things happening.

J: There were lots of difficult parts. But I would say writing actual scary moments was the hardest part. We had a lot of funny ideas, but we hope to actually scare people.

What other writing have you done? 

J: I had a few random projects from when I was a student in high school and college. And I did a bit of sketch writing when I first moved out to Chicago, to try to bring some of my own ideas in to a troupe I was performing with. But my writing projects prior to Krampus! were always “assignments”, and not something I wanted to do for me. I really enjoyed writing this, and Mike was a great writing partner. 

M: Other than helping out a bit on TV and web spots for work, I haven’t done much.

Is this a play that non-horror fans would enjoy?

J: I think so! There is a lot of humor as well, and I think everyone will be able to find characters and moments to identify with.

M: It has something from everyone. To paraphrase Bill Murray, it’s a meatloaf of a play.

What can people do to support this production?

J: So many things – We’ve got a fundraiser party coming up at Matilda’s on October 17th, and a Kickstarter campaign going on right now. Helping fund this project would be a huge help to make sure we can afford to give audiences a proper scare.

M: Come see it as many times as you can, and tell your friends.

What else would you like people to know about this play?

J: There is so much more to know about Krampus than can fit in one play. There is SO much lore that is very interesting. So learn more about Krampus. There are tons of Krampus stories, books, and movies – and every story will be unique.

M: It’s the dark side of Christmas, and we want you to discover it.

Help support Krampus! and all of the unique and original programming that will make up Strangeloop's 8th Season. Come party with us at our Seventh Anniversary Party and Fundraiser, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, October 17, at babyATLAS (Matilda’s downstairs room), located at 3101 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL 60657. Admission is $10. OR, consider a donation of any amount here, and take home some sweet or scary gifts.

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