21 October 2023

Krampus set to cast a sinister shadow over Wagga

| Chris Roe
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The 'Krampuslauf' in Germany celebrates the traditional fright figure who accompanies St. Nicholas to punish the naughty kids

The ‘Krampuslauf’ in Germany celebrates the traditional fright figure who accompanies St. Nicholas to punish the naughty kids. Photo: File.

We all know Santa Claus, but do you know about his evil twin?

With Christmas just more than two months away, the jolly, plus-sized gentlemen in inappropriate warm clothes is already everywhere, but here in Australia we don’t often see St Nicholas’s demonic sidekick, Krampus.

“Santa’s sinister shadow is coming to town!” warned Dr Sam Bowker explaining the story behind the upcoming ‘Evening with Krampus’ cabaret at The Curious Rabbit.

“For those who are not familiar with Krampus, he’s a central European mythological figure that accompanies St Nicholas.

“If Santa Claus is the carrot, then Krampus is the stick.”

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In folklore, Krampus is a hairy, horned figure used to scare children who misbehave and visits homes on the night of 6 December with Saint Nick.

While the benevolent saint dishes out treats to the good kids, the naughty ones will be whipped with birch rods by the terrifying demon.

“The traditional Krampusnacht [Krampus Night], which is a celebration in Europe, is about a month later, but we’re bringing Krampus to town early because he wants to collect scary stories to inspire fear in people,” said Dr Bowker.

“We’ll be bringing together some of the best performers and storytellers in Wagga to share music and song and some very scary stories.

“Krampus will be our host and he is a terrifying shadow puppet who will engage with the audience and the performers as the evening goes on.”

Krampus is coming to town!

Krampus is coming to town! Photo: Supplied.

This new show at the Curious Rabbit is part of Dr Bowker’s efforts to revive traditional Egyptian medieval shadow puppetry and follows the performance of locally written show The Alchemist’s Jar at the Civic Theatre.

He said the artform lent itself perfectly to the creation of a spooky character and he hoped the community would get behind the event and bring along their own ghost tales for the open mic.

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“Dr Howard Gretton of the Riverina Conservatorium will be performing the terrifying instrumental piece The Prince’s Toys on classical guitar.

“This will be followed by Melinda Bowker and Erin Brown singing ghost songs. Then, we will have a new emerging artist, Jebediah Jackson, who is performing a science lesson for us with muppets.”

Some of Sam Bowker's spectacular shadow puppets for an Evening with Krampus.

Some of Sam Bowker’s spectacular shadow puppets for an Evening with Krampus. Photo: Supplied.

With Halloween and Christmas currently overlapping in the stores, Dr Bowker said Evening with Krampus was a unique fusion of the scary and the festive.

“My wife and I travelled to the United States in October a few years ago and loved the extensive Halloween displays when everyone really gets into it,” he said.

“But in Australia, it’s a bit of a strange celebration partway between Christmas and the slightly odd Halloween, where they all appear in the same shops at the same time.

“Krampus is a point where they come together logically and it continues in the vein of European themed dinners we’ve been having at The Curious Rabbit combining food and opera.”

Sam Bowker's Krampus

Sam Bowker’s Krampus, whose eyes will glow red, his ears will wiggle, and he will gesture with clawed fingers. Photo: Supplied.

While the event is open to all, Dr Bowker warned that it was not for the fainthearted!

“Krampus is an intimidating character so I recommend parental guidance for young children and the easily scared!”

An Evening with Krampus is on Saturday 28 October and you can buy tickets here.

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