Christmas isn't what it used to be, and that's never been more apparent than it is in RoboClaus, a play by Nashville transplant George Wilkerson. In a time of increased automation, and when complex electronics replace old-fashioned toys at the top of children's Christmas lists, RoboClaus reflects on the effects this has on our season in a humorous way.
RoboClaus is the tale of an attempt to replace shopping mall Santas with a modern, efficient Santa android. When the android is adopted at one department store, the store's regular, authentic-looking Santa is informed that he's been made obsolete. Not to be outdone, the veteran Santa challenges the robot Santa to a Santa Claus match reminiscent of John Henry's legendary battle with the steam drill (Before that steam drill shall beat me down, I'll die with my hammer in my hand). The store Santa's challenge is accepted, but the RoboClaus's novelty allows it to wow the audiences, leading the human Santa to declare, "I'm a thing of the past. The end of Saint Nicholas has happened at last."
However, in the end, it is the inhumanity of the RoboClaus that reveals that efficiency doesn't trump everything. When the robot Santa is confronted by the love of a child, it suffers an inability to compute, so to speak, that leaves it a smoking lump of wreckage. This leads, of course, to the restoration of the human Santa. Ultimately, the play delivers the message that "there are some jobs not fit for machines."
All in all, RoboClaus promises a very different Christmas entertainment experience than your standard holiday fare. To hear the play, and meet the author, librettist, and cast, on Sunday, December 7, at 2;00 pm at OutCentral, 1709 Church Street, Nashville, Tennessee. Register to attend this family-friendly event (free) HERE.