The Elusive Revels Elevator Pitch

A post by Ross Wixon, Marketing & Development Director
March 28, 2019

One of the challenges that I find most fun to tackle is explaining to new audiences what Revels is. It’s not easy! I can’t just say, “Washington Revels produces theater.” Or, “Washington Revels is a community chorus.”

Certainly, there are elements of both disciplines present in what we do here, but our programs extend far beyond stage productions and concerts. We teach children in multidisciplinary classes. We offer workshops in traditional crafts that are both volunteer opportunities and social time. We preserve and practice traditional dance, and we present informal participatory programs like our monthly Community Sings and Dances, World Story Time, and Day of Service volunteer activities.

[Already this is too long a list for an elevator pitch, and I haven’t even gotten to the many genres/styles/traditions of performing arts that we draw from.]

May Revels at Strathmore in 2014. Photo by Kristen Adair

If you’ve experienced a Revels event before, you’ve probably noticed another feature of what we do — a spontaneity that distinguishes performances like May Revels from other concerts or plays you’ve seen. We often use the phrase “onstage village” to explain this effect. It’s created by our rehearsal method: our singers, dancers and actors prepare thoroughly enough to do justice to the material, while leaving room for the performance to “breathe,” flowing from natural, unrehearsed interactions between the people on stage.

We characterize Washington Revels as a “performing arts community” to distinguish it from arts organizations that have a clearly defined “Fourth Wall” separating audiences from performers, who themselves have more strictly defined roles (actors act, chorus members sing, instrumentalists play, and so on). Whereas at Revels, a member of our Christmas Revels chorus might find themselves learning a folk dance, knitting a piece of handcrafted merchandise, attending a concert in our Studio Space, and volunteering during a performance by one of our five year-round ensembles.

Sounds pretty magical, right? This space where an individual has so many avenues for self-expression! But just as the roles of our participants defy a single definition, so, too, does Revels itself. It has many facets derived from the same mission, offering opportunities for people throughout the DC region to participate in the arts in a variety of ways… but also making my job particularly difficult fulfilling!

So if you have an idea for a pithy one-liner that encapsulates all of the above —and more! — that we do here (or any other thoughts you’d like to share), I’d love to hear from you: drop me a line at And please come Revel with us soon!

More from the Directors’ Blog:

A Journey Paved with Songs of Freedom
A blog post by Andrea Jones Blackford, Director, Jubilee Voices & Co-Director, Heritage Voices

The Christmas Revels Journey, Part 2
A blog post by Roberta Gasbarre, Artistic Director

One Year with the Revels Directors’ Blog
Posted by Washington Revels

Rediscovering a Family Tradition
A blog post by Ross Wixon, Marketing Director

The Christmas Revels Journey, Part 1
A blog post by Roberta Gasbarre, Artistic Director

Revisiting an Article by Mary Swope: The Christmas Revels, 1997
Posted by Washington Revels

Ten Years of Maritime Music
A blog post by Mike Matheson, Director, Maritime Voices

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