What’s New with Revels?

A post by Greg Lewis, Executive Director
March 1, 2018

2018 is an exciting year for Revelers in Washington—after all, 35 is a landmark birthday for any organization! Everyone who has been part of this special community has much to look back on, and to be proud of, as we celebrate Washington Revels’ 35th Anniversary.

And celebrate we will, with a fabulous gala in April and other events to come. We’re also strolling down memory lane on social media, sharing your treasured stories and photos from years past through the “Washington Revels at 35” Retrospective. And, of course, we’re looking forward to our Spring and Winter Revels with great anticipation, and already enjoying year-round Sings, Dances, ensemble performances, and education and crafting workshops.

However, 2018 is not only a year to reminisce and celebrate, but also a year to cast our collective gaze towards the future. In each of the nine Revels cities around the country, people dream of spreading the joy that comes from a greater sense of connection to an ever-widening circle. Here in Washington, we believe firmly that we have an obligation to share this unique way of being with the communities that need us the most. Reflecting that belief, we have moved our monthly Community Sings to Seekers Church by the Takoma Metro Station to make them more accessible by public transit; we’re exploring a partnership with Heritage Montgomery that would link Jubilee Voices with twelve historic African American communities in Montgomery County along a new Heritage Trail; and we are expanding our programs to retirement communities, part of Washington Revels’ broader effort to strengthen multigenerational ties between retirees, their children and grandchildren.

Though performance is obviously a central element at Revels, audience participation has always been a hallmark of what we do. In recent years we have focused on increasing the number of wholly participatory activities, such as monthly Community Sings and Dances, and in 2018 we are placing special emphasis on “spoken word” performance art. Dramatic readings are nothing new to Revels—our Ensembles have included historical texts and poetry in their performances for many years—but newer programs like World Story Time more directly engage families with young children in storytelling, and we are currently brainstorming book clubs with performance readings geared towards older children, teens and adults in our community.

We also have Revels Office news to report. You may not have met Ross Wixon yet, but there’s a strong possibility that you’ve received emails from him! Ross joined us as Marketing & Programs Coordinator in May 2017 and I’m pleased to announce that he has now stepped into the Marketing Director’s shoes. Ross’s new responsibilities have made possible another exciting transition—longtime staff-member Jo Rasi, freed from the yoke joy of marketing, will now focus exclusively on participation-based programming (a position so new that we don’t even have a title for it yet)! Appellation notwithstanding, Jo and I are confident that her transition will allow Revels to grow its family and community-service offerings over the course of this year and beyond—the recent “Revels Day of Service” on February 19th is just one example of the directions that our programs may take (and Jo and I thank everyone who volunteered to bring music to residents at Springvale Terrace that day). I hope you will join me in congratulating both Jo and Ross and wishing them well in their new roles.

Truly, 2018 is a year as full of promise as it is of poignancy. In this spirit, I encourage you to try something new at Washington Revels. If you haven’t volunteered with us before, consider attending a crafting workshop this summer; if you’ve never auditioned for The Christmas Revels, share your talent at our Adult Auditions in May or your children’s talents at our Children and Teen Auditions in September; if you’ve only experienced Revels at Lisner Auditorium, attend one of our year-round ensemble performances.

However you plan to revel in 2018, I hope that you will join hands with us as we form a line that stretches back to 1983 and, together, walk forward into a bright and joyful future.

Cheers – Greg

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