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For Dasher, silence is golden and Santa’s accuser needs to shut up and take one for the team


Scandal erupts at the North Pole after one of Santa’s reindeers accuses him of sexual assault. Now, it’s all about to come out, including all those rumors you’ve heard about him and the elves, not to mention Rudolph’s dirty little secret!

As the media descends upon Christmas Town, the other members of the sleigh team demand to share their perspectives – and believe you me, they don’t hold back. But the elite eight are sharply divided on the propriety of the allegations. Not whether or not they’re true  – but whether the victim should just keep her mouth shut and fly quietly into the night rather than tarnish the reputation of Kris Kringle, given all the good he has done for so many children and reindeer throughout the ages.

It is Dasher who gives voice to those who feel it is incumbent on victims to keep mum for the greater good.

“It’s what we do,” maintains Dasher, played by Kevin Hendricks, who typically plays hard cases. In addition to Brick Pollitt in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, he’s played Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire and Pale in Burn This.

“It’s what we do,” repeats Hendricks in the guise of Santa’s lead reindeer, who drives home his point by recounting the story of how blinded by a blizzard, he once flew head first into the side of a skyscraper that wasn’t there the year before. After falling out of his harness and plummeting 60 stories to the ground, he got back up, dusted himself off and rejoined the team for the good of Christmas and all the children who were expecting to find gifts under the tree in the morning.

“[Dasher] is very passionate about his mission as the lead reindeer,” remarks Director Brett Marston, who sees the character as something of a bad ass. “Underneath his tough exterior is this really hard-driven, passionate guy that wants to ensure that every child on the planet experiences Christmas. So his whole thing is that yeah, it might have happened, but what’s more important to Dasher is that their work continue no matter what.”

But it’s this closing of quarters that gives every groper, grabber, harasser and rapist the opportunity to do it again. Sexual harassment and assault are rarely a one-off. Most are repeat offenders. And thanks to the #metoo movement, now we know their names. And so it is that Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Roger Ailes, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose have joined the ilk of Jerry Sandusky, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey and Michael Jackson.

And common to each is the presence of dyed-in-the-wool enablers like Dasher.

Uberconnected British heiress Ghislaine Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein’s lead enabler. But she did far more than merely impose a cone of silence on the rest of Epstein’s organization. She took an active role in Epstein’s misdeeds, allegedly finding and supplying Epstein with a constant stream of underage victims.

“She went to places like Central Park,” Maria Farmer told CBS This Morning. “I was with her a couple of times in the car… She would say, ‘Stop the car.’ And she would dash out and get a child.” But Epstein also had a coterie of other enablers whose job it was to make sure that neither his victims nor employees ever went public with what they knew.

Charlie Rose had Yvette Vega. The show’s producer, Vega brushed aside complaints made by Rose’s assistants with the off-hand response, “That’s just Charlie being Charlie.”

In the case of Jerry Sandusky, the entire Penn State Athletic Department kept mum for the good of the football program and in a misguided effort to protect and preserve the reputation of legendary coach Joe Paterno.

The part played by enablers was especially egregious where Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was concerned. To date, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault. Innumerable others have yet to come forward.

“The enablers were of all sorts,” New York Times columnist Bret L. Stephens wrote in an op-ed decrying the pervasiveness of the problem. “Corporate board members who declined to investigate allegations of his sexual behavior and now claim the news comes as ‘an utter surprise.’ Assistants who acted as ‘honeypots,’ joining meetings between Mr. Weinstein and his intended victims to give them a sense of security — and then leaving the predator to his prey. Reporters who paid him tribute with awards, did his bidding with fawning coverage, or went after his enemies with hit pieces. A lavishly paid Italian studio executive whose real job, according to former Times reporter Sharon Waxman, was ‘to take care of Weinstein’s women needs.’”

The prevailing culture of cover-ups and complicity is not confined to Hollywood and corporate board rooms. It extends to the halls of Congress and the White House. For example, it’s impossible to imagine that Bill Clinton could have conducted an inappropriate affair with a vulnerable intern without the knowledge and complicity of the Secret Service if not other staffers.

Goode developed The Eight in 1994, some 15 years before Tarana Burke started the Me Too campaign and nearly a quarter of a century before actor Alyssa Milano helped kick off the current phase of the movement in 2017.

Clearly, he was prescient.

But even he could not have anticipated the development of a particularly odious tool for keeping victims and witnesses of sexual harassment and assault silent, namely the proliferation of nondisclosure agreements or NDAs.

NDAs have allowed wealthy and powerful people to essentially buy victims’ silence, preventing anyone from finding out about sexual misconduct allegations that have been leveled against them — and potentially putting others at risk. And so it is that an army of lawyers have joined the ranks of other enablers of the rich and powerful like Weinstein and Ailes.

But recently, several states, including California, New York and New Jersey, have acted to ban NDAs.

A bill (the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act) was even introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to ban such agreements in the federal workplace.

Of course, none of this legislation applies at the North Pole , but Santa’s accuser is apparently not restrained by an NDA in any case.

While attitudes about sexual harassment, assault and other misconduct are changing in the wake of #metoo and #timesup, Dasher is unpersuaded. To Dasher’s way of thinking, silence is golden and Santa’s accuser needs to ferme ta bouche and take one for the team.

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues represents Kevin Hendricks’ Lab Theater debut. “I enjoyed getting to know Annette better,” says Hendricks of Lab Artistic Director Annette Trossbach. “She is very passionate about what she does and she knows her stuff.”

The role also provided Hendricks with the opportunity to work with Director Brett Marston.

“He’s one of the best around, if not the best,” says Kevin.

The role also provided Hendricks with a chance to venture into the realm of film. “I love film and I want to do more film,” says Kevin, who is a student of the genre and credits film-watching with much of his mercurial development as an actor.

Playing Dasher also furnished Hendricks with that rare opportunity to place his imprint on the role.

“From the first time I read the ‘Dasher’ monologue, I read it in an accent,” Kevin shares. “I also wanted to challenge myself a bit, so I worked my ass off on a cockney/east London accent and they loved it… well maybe they didn’t love it, but they let me do it … and I like the idea of not having every reindeer be your typical ‘American’ reindeer.”

“I love Kevin’s approach as an actor,” says Marston. “He’s so exploratory. He’ll come to you and say, ‘I have an idea. Can I try it?’ In this case, he saw Dasher as having an accent. I never thought of the characters as having an accent, but as I thought about it, you know what, Santa is worldwide, international. Of course one of the reindeer would have an accent.”

“That definitely made it more challenging, which made it more fun,” says Kevin.

“I totally loved it,” adds Marston. “[Kevin’s] ability to explore and try new things and just keep doing it until he feels he’s gotten it right is impressive.”

You can judge for yourself when you view The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. Go here for play dates, times and digital pass purchasing information.

December 3, 2020.

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