Lansing City Pulse - December 24, 2003


Hopefully, Hypocrites Theater keeps pushing limit

With Santa the most recent target, we eagerly await the next kiddie story turned inside out


Everyone knows that jolly old St. Nick can tell when someone is a good little boy or girl, but what about Santa Claus himself? How is anybody sure that Santa isn’t a drag king? How is anybody certain that Santa stays on his best behavior? It is always assumed that he/she/it can do no wrong, but maybe that is not always the truth.

Elaine Yaw/City Pulse
The naughty reindeer are J’esse Deardorff-Green (from left), Katie Bush, Ben Corr, JD De La Ossa and Jaralinn Patterson.
The Hypocrites Theater
This new theater group — started by Katie Bush and Ben Corr, alums of the praise-worthy theater program at DeWitt High School – is gaining momentum. They just did “The Eight Reindeer Monologues” at Old Town’s Creole Gallery last week. Next up is a production of “Children of a Lesser God” in May. The group wants to add members to the company. If you want to audition or just want a little more info, e-mail

A new-ish theater group – The Hypocrites Theater — explored the darker side of Santa in the Dec. 19 performance “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues” at the Creole Gallery in Old Town.

The story unfolds through a series of eight monologues, each presented by one of the eight reindeer that travel the world with that furry large guy in a red suit every Christmas Eve. Each reindeer presents a unique personality and displays his or her own view of Santa Claus and his behavior. (We’ll never get to the drag king thing because … well, we just wanted to put it out there.) They share personal experiences they’ve had with the old man — in and out of the workplace. And yep, those experiences are not always so positive.

Damn we wish we’d had a chance to preview this show. Here’s a little bit of what went on at the Creole Gallery last week:

— Santa Claus is being charged for the raping of his reindeer, Vixen. But did he do it? Each one of his special reindeer are coming forward to share their side of the story. There’s Cupid, a very flamboyant, openly homosexual reindeer, who admits that Santa Claus has a one track mind headed straight for sex. Why do you think he invites children all over the world to sit on his lap every Christmas? Certainly not to find out what presents they want. Even though Cupid has no interest in a sexual relationship with Santa, it certainly doesn’t stop him from being a complete tease.

— We meet Prancer, also known as Hollywood. Prancer is completely consumed by his fame and movie career. He provides a glimpse into his next film. The only concern he has with the rape charges is that the publicity from a trial will ruin his chances for a box-office hit.

— Dancer is completely naïve about the sex charges. She acts like a young girl who couldn’t even grasp the idea of delivering Christmas presents, let alone notice Santa’s inappropriate behavior. She doesn’t even realize that if it wasn’t for other reindeer looking out for her, she would have been a victim too.

— What about Rudolph? What is his stand on the charges? Unfortunately, Rudolph was unavailable to appear due to the fact that Santa’s abuse has turned into a blubbering idiot because of everything Santa had done to him. Santa found Rudolph at a young age and decided to give the little guy a chance, despite the abnormalities of his nose. However, the job and recognition came at a large price. Santa allegedly sexually abused Rudolph on a regular basis. But there was nothing Rudolph could do about it. Without this job, there was nothing out there for him because of his nose.

— Not all the reindeer had bad things to say about Santa Claus. Comet was once a reindeer on the streets caught up in drugs, alcohol and crime. It was Santa who gave him a second chance. Comet is convinced that due to all the good he does with keeping reindeer off the street, Santa can do no harm. As long as people keep questioning Santa for inappropriate sexual conduct, Comet will always stand by him.

— So did the beloved Santa Claus really commit this crime? According to Vixen, he is guilty. But then again, when questioned, Vixen admits to having sexual relations with many different partners, both male and female, and sometimes more than one at a time. So it is uncertain whether her testimony can be trusted. And unfortunately, the outcome of the trial is not presented in the play. So it is left to the audience to decide whether they want to keep trust in the Santa Claus they remember as a child, or to take the reindeer’s side and believe him to be a sex-charged criminal.

The Hypocrites Theater has only been in existence for a little over a year. The group was founded by Ben Corr and Katie Bush, both 2000 graduates of DeWitt High School. They lived in Chicago for a short time, then returned to the Lansing area. Juggling life, work and school, they put their love for theater was put on the back burner. Fortunately, they found a way to combine both work and their passion for the stage. Thus was born the Hypocrites Theater.

It started out as a small community theater. Last year the group put on a production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” at the Hannah Community Center. Unfortunately, the show was not the success they hoped it would be due to location and lack of publicity. (Things haven’t gotten much better, since this is a story that should have run last week.) Recently, however, they have filed as a non-profit organization. “Hopefully, come January we can start to apply for grants, which would allow us to do several productions a year,” Bush said.

Along with establishing the group as a no n profit organization, Bush and Corr are excited to hold auditions for a steady company. So far, they are the only two permanent members. They have been lucky to bring aboard fellow actors and friends from the area, who have helped them with past productions, including “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.” Each actor in the show was a current or past Lansing Community College theater student. Auditions for the company will be held early next year, just in time for their next show, “Children of a Lesser God,” to go onstage at Dart Auditorium in late May.

Above everything else, there is one main reason that the two wanted to start the Hypocrites Theater. “We want to do theater like it has never been done before. We want the people who hate theater to come to our shows,” said Bush. If that’s the case, maybe the word “theater” should be reconsidered for the title of the group. After the next show in May, they would like to start performing original scripts. “It’s one thing to do your interpretation of someone else’s art, but it’s quite another to do your own original art,” Bush said. “We want more people in the community to learn about the arts and get their chance to make some.” They will start out by producing some of their own work. But in the future they would like to encourage anyone in the area to submit original scripts. All entries will be considered.

The Hypocrites Theater could very well prove to be an alternative to alternatives on the Lansing-area theater scene. Hypocrites wants to offer a different perspective on the way theater can be viewed as well as performed. Not only is this organization here for entertainment purposes, but it is here to encourage people of all ages to become a part of the arts in the area. Look out Icarus Falling, there’s another new gig in town. But hey, there’s plenty of room … right?

(Elaine Yaw contributed her little ditties to this article.)

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