Confessions of a Holiday Elf: Daren Scott on “Santaland Diaries”

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“My first concern was, ‘Will people really buy me as an elf?’”

Daren Scott recounts the moment when he was first approached to do The Santaland Diaries, a play adapted from a 1992 essay by satirical writer David Sedaris that illuminates the darker side of Christmas through the eyes of a truth-telling writer turned seasonal Macy’s Christmas elf.

“David Sedaris a small guy and I’m a tall man,” says Daren with a laugh.

The play will be performed by Daren on Sunday evening as the finale to Intrepid’s 2015 Staged Reading Series, complete with an appetizer reception and holiday cocktails. Doors open at 5:30 pm (note earlier start time).

Daren Scott as Crumpet the Elf

Daren Scott as Crumpet the Elf

While Daren’s statuesque qualities might limit his traditional Christmas elven opportunities, his ability to spin a searingly wry story about high pressure holidays landed him the role of Sedaris’ Crumpet the Elf at New Village Arts in 2009, where he was directed to critical acclaim by Kristianne Kurner, NVA’s executive artistic director, for three consecutive seasons.

“I knew David Sedaris, but I wasn’t familiar with this piece,” remembers Daren. “I became more familiar with his style as I started to look further into his writing. I’m not playing him but I’m definitely playing his sarcasm and his way of looking at the world.That element of the character is important.”

San Diego agrees. When Daren first performed The Santaland Diaries at NVA, James Hebert of the San Diego Union-Tribune called Daren “an ebullient performer with a huge expressive vocabulary.”

“His wide eyes suggest a sense of innocence,” said Herbert, “but there’s an underlying tartness to his voice, a note of sugarcoated sarcasm heightened by his bemused bearing.”

But it is the unrelenting honesty of the writing that makes The Santaland Diaries a fitting piece for the holidays, according to Daren, and also what makes the piece so refreshing to perform.

“It’s about all of the holiday stuff that we don’t want to talk about,” he explains. “It’s every line that we’ve waited in with too many people and the stores that are jammed and the picture of your kid that doesn’t turn out. But it’s funny because we all go through it. We laugh because we can all relate to the pressure we feel to be smiley and happy for the holidays.”

But aside from the humor, Daren feels the message is also important.

“We are all striving for such perfection, but the truth is that it is okay if the holiday picture doesn’t come out right,” he says. “If we can laugh at ourselves, that’s the key to getting through the expectations of the holidays and just enjoying the time.”

The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris, performed by Daren Scott. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive. Sunday, December 13. 5:30 pm complimentary wine/appetizer reception. 6:00 pm reading. $15. Rsvp to boxoffice@intrepidtheatre.org and pay with cash/check at the door or purchase a ticket here.

Encinitas Library