Krampusfest is over for 2014 and we are left with some devilish memories and delightful pictures like these by Paul Koudounaris from our the 19th-century Nicholas play presented as part of “St. Nicholas 1888: A Kinder-Horror Holiday” (12/13/14)
He’s certainly not jolly, and you sure as hell had better not call him “Nick.” The St. Nicholas you’ll meet tonight is the genuine old-world artifact – the stern judge who oversaw a creaky old style of child-rearing the Germans call “gingerbread and whip.”
Of course Nicholas himself didn’t dirty his hands with whips. For that he had the Krampus. Today, every self-respecting hipster loves Krampus. But while your friends rhapsodize about the ersatz bubblegum Krampus of American comic books, TV, and monster fandom, tonight you’ll get a glimpse of the old devil in his original form – the Krampus of the ancient alpine “Nikolausspiel” or NICHOLAS PLAY, a folk theater production somewhat resembling England’s old Christmas mummers’ plays.
Tonight’s play is the premier presentation of an original English translation provided by Krampus Los Angeles. Never before performed in English or even outside the Alps, these plays, date back to the 16th century, and annual performances only survive in a few Alpine towns. Many scholars believe them to be the source of the later Krampus traditions. The Nicholas Play now stands on UNESCO’s World Heritage list as part of Austria’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage.”
While all this cultural import may sound too serious for fun, we’ve not forgotten our audience. Our Los Angeles production combines only the most attractive and amusing scenes involving the Krampus, Lucifer, butchered children, and the inexorable power of Death, all represented in bouncy rhyme. Whether speaking of eternal salvation or the merciless tortures of Hell, the dialogue of the Nikolausspiel is inevitably delivered in cheery couplets worthy of Dr. Seuss.
Even more grimly campy is our film feature DER STRUWWELPETER by noted fairy-tale film director Fritz Genschow, This exceedingly rare 1955 German film never before screened in the US or even released for home media, debuts tonight with subtitles translated especially for Krampusfest.
The children’s book upon which the film is based was penned in 1845 by an asylum medic, Dr. Heinrich Hoffman, and has ever since remained horrifically etched on the German consciousness. Der Struwwelpeter lays out the strictures of 19th-century parenting and — even more deliciously — grisly fantasy-punishments for the errant youngster. American and UK hipsters may be familiar with the book through its interpretation by the punk cabaret artists The Tiger Lillies in their late ‘90s “junk opera” Shockheaded Peter.
Guests for this double bill are invited to come in themed wardrobe, period clothing, or holiday attire, kinder-style or adult, festive or grim. On hand will also be Bay Area artist Kimric Smythe’s KRAMPUS-DRIVEN STEAMCAR as well as our international guests: members of the Salzburg-area ALT GNIGLER KRAMPUS UND PERCHTEN PASS.
The setting for tonight’s excursion to the 1880s has also been carefully selected to further transport you to a distant time and place: Pasadena’s historic Anglican Church of the Angels, a Gothic Revival edifice dating back to 1889.
St. Nicholas 1888: A Kinder-Horror Holiday
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Early show: 6pm. Late show: 9pm
1100 Avenue 64, Pasadena, CA 91105
Tickets $20. Advance ticket strongly recommended!
To purchase TICKETS FOR EARLY SHOW: 6PM
To purchase TICKETS FOR LATE SHOW: 9PM
Further info — email us.
Online sales have ended for the December 6 Krampus Ball, however a limited number of walk-up tickets to be released at the venue.Please arrive before 7pm doors (between 6-7pm) for best shot at obtaining tickets. Purchase price is the same as pre-sale, $20.
Today in Boing Boing, a story we provided about Krampusfest and the upcoming mingling of Los Angeles and Salzburg Krampus troupes.
A little quote from one of our overseas guests:
“…Zehentner is a member of one of Salzburg area’s oldest troupes, the Alt Gnigler. Mindful of traditionalist concerns, Zehentner says that with first online contact, he had misgiving about any transatlantic endeavors, wondering if Americans would “really understand our traditions—or will the Krampus be reduced to a Halloween horror figure?” Most Austrians, he says, are generally unaware of America’s love affair with the Krampus, or if they are, might expect it to result in something closer to “slasher movies than anything genuinely linked to our customs.” When he mentioned our efforts to bring the tradition to the US, most in Alt Gnigler regarded it as “madness—but in a positive way.”… More
Photo of Alt Gnigler troupe members © Foto Sulzer, Salzburg.
Krampus, the dark companion to St. Nicholas once known only in German-speaking Europe, is quickly going global. Increasingly turning up in American books, comics, television shows, and films, the creature also now parades down American streets as part of costumed “Krampus runs.”
As LA emerges as a leading hotbed of Krampusmania, Krampus Los Angeles will be bringing it all back home with tonight’s presentation on Krampus folklore at the Goethe-Institut, Germany’s cultural embassy with offices locally and throughout the world. Assisted by costumed walk-ons by friends, Krampus LA Co-director, Al Ridenour will illustrate the talk with a festive stream of rare images and the occasional l film clip. Special emphasis will be placed on the Krampus’ lesser known cousins, diverse historic and regional folkoric figures often in danger of being swept away in the global swell of Krampusmania.
Topics in this whirlwind tour will include the magic and mummery of the “Twelve Days,” straw bears, murderous saints, ghost horses, phantom goats, and other figures that haunt the winter folklore of German-speaking lands.
Modeled upon European source images, costumes used in this presentation were individually crafted by members of Krampus LA. Most are being shown for the first time.
(Please note: $1 subterranean parking is available with Goethe Institut validation.)