Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

Arjunan Manuelpillai (Great Britain)

Santa's Last Christmas

Text Extract

It is the end of Christmas. Santa stumbles into a crowded room. This room is filled with randomness, rather like the greenroom for actors. His legs weak, his red robe battered as his attitude. He reaches into his coat and pulls from it a bottle of Cognac and a glass. He pours himself a drink. Settles himself in a chair and then suddenly notices the audience.

Santa: Have you ever woken up and thought what the hell is the point of all this? I think every man…at some point or other, will reach a moment where they have to stop and think, you know, reassess and consider, no, reconsider. (pause) Cos every man wants to be appreciated. A fucking pat on the back now and again, you know, a medal of some sort… i mean you know i do it for the love, i always have done…and i appreciate the cake and the mince pies, god knows i do but come on, Cake don’t feed me for the 9 months i’m off work. They think i’m just sat on a beach for six months of the year, perming my beard or something…. i live in the north pole, it’s frigging cold out here and there’s nothing to bloody do… i’m only here because if i set up in a hot country you’ll have a bunch of tourists clicking pictures all day long… ’santa can you take one with my baby… santa can you take one with my annoying beard-pulling adolescent..they want the pictures they just never bloody pay!

I’m sat in this tiny house, well you people call it ‘cosy’ all year round doing the marketing, the website, listening to kids all day, ‘oh can i have this, can i have that… can i have a bloody grand piano!’ oh yes, i’d love to stick a grand piano onto the back of a sleigh made of antique wood…. it’s ridiculous!
i had a letter from a kid last week asking for an indoor swimming pool and not just that…world bloody peace. I mean has he ever seen any stories about Santa… Santa ain’t rolling about in a fortlift truck you know… i ain’t got the starship bloody enterprise filled up here, i got a sleigh, and it ain’t big….
You see the kids don’t appreciate it. they just ask and ask, but i mean, i can’t tell how good they’ve been, there’s too many of them…i mean we ain’t had a naughty book for about 8 years, it was uploaded on this spreadsheet by some elf who said it’ll make my life easier… wrong… some reason excel won’t open it up. it says error 20455, what the bloody ell does that mean?.. My whole computer has been screwed up for years now, and i’ve more or less decided i can’t be arsed with dealing with it anymore…. i was talking to one of the elfs the other day and he was saying, ‘we gotta move with the times, we gotta change, switch our techniques’, well change the bloody sleigh then, fix the spreadsheet and while your at it find a couple flying reindeers a job… oh no, he disappears without an answer… because its easy to come up with an idea or poke a cliche out, it’s harder to actually see it through.
We all know what its like to work, but i don’t think u realise how hard it is, and this age, with this half battered sleigh and five reindeers. it’s like a circus on wheels, i mean they don’t get on, they got so many bloody insecurities i tell you… and it ain’t part time. 24 hours a day, i don’t see light for three days, i’m just chasing the darkness…listening to the banter of a bunch of flying hornheaded moaners. (shakes his head in disgust) It seems harsh, you think i’m being harsh don’t you… trust me, if you had to listen to the wining of that red nose twat for as long as i, you would be just the same as me… he don’t have no respect and he’s… it doesn’t matter anyhow. I’m packing it in.

(takes a sip of his drink and wipes clean his moustache)

I’m sick of it all, i’ve handed it over to my friends at Ebay… they do a much better job and tell you the truth i wouldn’t buy off me anymore, i mean i used to make simple things well. Wooden bikes, real toys, like those rocking horse things…now that was a real toy, you push it, it pushes back… nowadays they probably got a virtual hobby horse, or a horse you can shoot, gut and eat…turn its body into shoes or something. i ain’t no computer boff, i can’t tell the difference between xbox and playwii or whatever it bloody is…. it’s all changing and i’m sick of it… The thing that gets to me most is after christmas… they just forget about it… i’m here thinking to myself-

In walks the tooth fairy. She carries an empty bag and crashes down into the seat next to Santa.

Tooth Fairy: Woah! You look absolutely smashed. How you doing San?

Santa: I’m alright you know, getting there…

Tooth Fairy: I’ve been touring for the last two weeks, not even a baby tooth… empty…

Santa: Really.

(the tooth fairy plucks a plastic mug from her wings and nudges Santa into giving her some)

Tooth Fairy: It’s the dentists you know, too efficient.

Santa: we’re all feeling it.

Tooth Fairy: Changing times. Too many cooks.

Silence. The tooth fairy gulps down a sip.

I tell you what though, did i tell you about that kid?

Santa: Which kid?

Tooth Fairy: Was in a house in Canada somewhere, forget where… but i’m there in this house and this kids there, so i go in right, push up his pillow and there’s a note there right… wait, have a look at it….

She pulls out the crumpled note from his pocket and hands it to Santa

Santa: ‘I managed to punch this out of a bully at school, can you give me something for it… but don’t tell my mum’.

They laugh together.

Tooth Fairy: It’s a classic isn’t it?

santa: Sure is.

Tooth Fairy: I saw a couple chasers about three weeks ago.

Santa: They’re everywhere-

Tooth Fairy: They’d set up some elaborate trick…like a rabbit hutch with a pair of someone’s dentures in it… i mean an old man’s or something… It really does seem like the kids are getting crazier?

Santa: Oh man, i’ve stopped going through the chimney these days.

Tooth Fairy: why? what you mean?

Santa: Didn’t you hear about that crazy red haired woman?

Tooth Fairy: In Poland.

Santa: No not her! (laughs) She’s got a similar bloody attitude though. Anyway, this crazy red haired woman….have you ever seen those bear traps, like the metal ones that flip closed…she put those in the fireplace, 3 of the bloody things-

Tooth Fairy: How many kids?

Santa: Two.

Tooth Fairy: Ouch, did it get you?

Santa: No amazingly i threw my sack down first, but that could have killed me… i mean now-a-days i just do the old credit card in the door you know…

Tooth Fairy: Yeah, i’m all about the open window. It’s one of the bonuses of these wings.

Santa: I tell you there are some times i really wish i had a pair of those.

Tooth Fairy: But you got the beard! (they laugh together)


Tooth Fairy: So how’s Mrs. Santa doing?

Santa: She’s … well, we ain’t doing too well.

Tooth Fairy: Sorry to hear that.

Santa: I mean you know what it’s like… the workshop, the reindeer, the house-

Tooth Fairy: The strain is heavy-

Santa: It’s a losing battle. I’m so out of touch at the moment…and the worst thing is i don’t even care anymore. Feels like i reach some point and it’s all on the edge….

Tooth Fairy: You gotta hang in there, peaks and troughs and all that.

Santa: Yeah I know.

Tooth Fairy: You can’t forget all the good you’re doing-

Santa: Good?

Tooth Fairy: Oh come on Mr. Humble, you’re in the dreams of millions of kids, always will be.

Santa: Dreams?

Tooth Fairy: Think about it, no matter what happens, you’ll be there… i’m dying out. Some children are just throwing their teeth in the bin. I saw a child the other day putting his tooth in a glass of Coca-Cola for some school project.

Santa: What for?

Tooth Fairy: They were assessing the effect of coke on their teeth.

Santa: What happened?

Tooth Fairy: Well it didn’t last a night.

Santa: It’s crazy what they put in coca-cola these days.

Tooth Fairy: And it’s a waste of a perfectly good tooth.


Tooth Fairy: And if it ain’t that, then its these dentists and doctors making kids take better care of their teeth, so i don’t get the older ones no more… but do you see what i’m saying, you’re a hero… you’ll last forever-

Santa: It’s not about that.

Tooth Fairy: You bring hope to so many.

Santa: I just honestly don’t think its doing good anymore.

Tooth Fairy: How can you say-

Santa: I’m serious… they don’t care about me and what i do… all they care about are the presents.

Tooth Fairy: But that’s what Christmas is about-

Santa: That’s not Christmas at all… it’s about bringing people together, about love to fellow man… not the latest computer game or…whatever.


Santa: Everything i do is about WANT… kids want this, they want that, they want and want and that’s why this world is so messed up. Cos they’ll keep on wanting… ’cos Christmas comes every year… and it makes them want… it asks them to want-

Tooth Fairy: Yeah, but you remind them about being good.

Santa: That’s a lie, an age old lie. I don’t remind them about anything…. they forget for most of the year, most of them are off wanting from others… you, the easter bunny, their mum, their nan-

Tooth Fairy: i think you’re being unfair.

Santa: The kids only desire… i sometimes wish i could go to those kids with loads of toys, like some of those in America, the Bel Air houses… i wanna steal their toys and take them over to the kids with nothing, you know in some of those shanty towns that everyone hates to go.

Tooth Fairy: You’re not Robin Hood, you’re Santa.

They laugh. Santa laughs more politely than honestly.

Tooth Fairy: We don’t control the way poverty is in the world, we’re not politicians, god forbid. We don’t control any of that-

Santa: But we can-

Tooth Fairy: My father taught me to be a tooth fairy… taught me that that one pound under a child’s pillow is sometimes the only happiness he’s got… just like you. That one present under-

Santa: i’m not saying that’s not true… i’m saying that kids who are naughty shouldn’t be getting the same, think about it-

Tooth Fairy: Stop it… that’s the problem with you. You think too much.

Santa: No… i’ve been doing this for years, but when i stop now and then, take a deep breathe and i think to myself, well i reckon it’s over for me.

Tooth Fairy: Don’t say that. Remember your father, how many years did he slave away?

Santa: Yeah and i’ve given my best for a good 100 years you know-

Tooth Fairy: I know, but he built this reputation up. It was his duty, just like it’s your duty,

Santa: What? To blindly follow a path i don’t even agree with anymore.

Tooth Fairy: It’s your path… a damn important path!

Santa: I know, so what? I don’t question it?

Silence. They sip their cognac.

Tooth Fairy: This is lovely Cognac.

Santa: I know, a kid in England.

Tooth Fairy: And you say you’re not appreciated?

Pause. Santa shakes his head.

Santa: This red suit has gone a faded pink, the sleigh is creaking like nobody knows, i got a wife who’s ready to leave me… my reindeer are tired, one’s got a slipped disc from pulling that sleigh… and if i have to say ho ho ho one more time…. i swear i might throttle a kid.

(they laugh)

Tooth Fairy: You’ll miss it though, you’ll miss the children’s smiles.

Santa: I don’t think so. Not this time. When i see a child smile these days it’s because he wants something, it’s greed. He wants the new console or a new dog (that he’ll probably forget about in a month). They all want something and when they grow up, they become big kids and they still want something…. not this time. It’s about time they realised what it was to not have a tree lined with presents, it’s about time i live for me…. you know, go back to Mrs. Santa and spend some quality time with the reindeer. No, this time, i’m just going to enjoy life… i’m going to have a house in the middle of a huge city and get a job. Not a job with children, maybe work in an old people’s home or something, far away from children and all their desires. This time… i’m not coming back.. and the rest of my life… it’s just for me.



Short Play written for the PLATFORM 11+ Final Production FACE ME Time of Transition



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