One-man show stakes out ‘philosophical proof of Santa’

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DENMARK — Jamie Hook is a believer. He’s team Santa.

But not for the obvious reasons, and not without giving the big man a lot of thought.

On Dec. 19 and 20, the 43-year-old artistic director of the Denmark Arts Center will put on his one-man show, “Beyond Belief: A Philosophical Proof of Santa Claus,” at the center for the first time in Maine.

He’s performed it before in Seattle, Minneapolis and New York. He received a grant from the Maine Community Foundation’s Theater Fund for the performance here.

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It’s more a theatrical experiment than a traditional play, employing a “little bit of philosophical jujitsu,” Hook said. 

He’ll take the stage as a professor and talk through belief and myth, adults’ world view and kids’ world view. 

“(Children’s) world is different enough from (adult’s) that it can be logically consistent that there’s a man who comes down the chimney and gives you presents,” Hook said. Adults have more rules, more order. “Whereas children have this somewhat richer world.”

The show is broken up with two singing, dancing angels, lots of audience participation and video of Hook interviewing children about Santa.

“If you ask a kid, ‘Was Santa ever a child?’ The answer is usually yes,” Hook said. “I’ve even asked kids, ‘Could you become Santa?’ And I’d have kids tell me, ‘Well, of course. When I grow up, I could dress in a costume and give kids presents, and I would be Santa.’ In a sense — bingo — that’s the proof of Santa Claus.”

Hook, who doesn’t consider himself religious, said his 16-year-old daughter inspired him to write the performance.

Days after she was born, it suddenly hit him, “Oh my god, she’s going to ask someday if God exists,” Hook said. “Then I realized, I can’t tackle God, but I can kind of tackle Santa Claus.”

Hook, who directed the 2012 movie “Vacationland” and led a lecture series in New York City, where he splits his time, also uses his show to dig through Santa’s historical roots: How sliding down chimneys came to be, where the idea of hanging out stockings comes from, why Santa is red and white, and more.

He presents arguments both for and against the Jolly Ol’ Elf — and, fair warning: Hook says the stocking tradition traces back to the story of a poor man who was about to prostitute out his three daughters — but Hook still considers the show safe for all ages. Each performance ends with a Christmas party and food, drinks and a present for everyone in the audience.

Both shows are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.

“It’s very unskeptical,” Hook said. “I can stand on my two feet and say I firmly believe.”

kskelton@sunjournal.com

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