A post by Jo Rasi, Marketing & Programs Director
Anyone who has reveled with us knows that we are all about circles here at Washington Revels. The members of Jubilee Voices, one of our year-round performing ensembles, hold hands in a circle to share a moment of peace and togetherness before a performance. We sing a goodnight song in three concentric circles at the end of many Community Sings. The very idea of circling is foundational to Revels—since the first Christmas Revels in 1983, every rehearsal and performance has begun with a circle. In more recent years, the cast has even been organized into many different overlapping circles: Stage Families, Children’s Chorus, Teen Chorus, Adult Chorus and the full ensemble. At the end of every show, our backstage and
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A post by Jo Rasi, Marketing & Programs Director
Posted by Washington Revels
In 2018, Washington Revels celebrates 35 years of reveling in the DC-area. This gala year will be marked by many special events, and we’re kicking things off right away with a brand-new series of blog posts for the New Year! Each month, you can look forward to hearing from one of Revels’ artistic or office staff directors, plus occasional guest posts from Revels cities around the country. These ruminations may take the form of a heartwarming letter, a thoughtful essay, or a brief note as our directors reflect on past productions, upcoming performances, inspiring rehearsals, and the magical, exuberant, and poignant intersection of Revels and modern life.
A guest post by Patrick Swanson (Artistic Director, Revels, Inc.) and Stephen D. Winick, Ph.D.
Folktales have a predictable, familiar structure: beginnings and endings are ritualized in order to give a clear signal that we are entering and leaving another world, while middles often contain important lessons that are part of a perceived “common sense.” The lessons in French-Canadian culture come from a fascinating mixture of English, Scottish, Irish, and French tradition shaped by the dominant religion, Catholicism. Many folktales feature the village priest and his enemy, the Devil. A favorite cautionary tale about the Loup-Garou, or Werewolf, includes important information about the reason for the beast’s condition: neglecting to go to confession for seven years.
A guest post by Stephen Winick, Ph.D.
This French-Canadian Revels includes a selection of ancienne musique and nouvelle musique Québécoise, blending old French tradition and New World ingenuity with a modern flair. On his first trip to the New World, in 1534, explorer Jacques Cartier found a rich land inhabited by Huron and Iroquois Indians. He promptly claimed it for France. After permanent settlement began in 1608, immigrants to Québec came from all over France, but especially from several provinces in the north and west: Normandy, Picardy, Anjou, Poitou, and Brittany. Not surprisingly, many of the traditional French songs we now find in Québec are common in those provinces as well. “Dans les prisons de Nantes,” for example, is set in Nantes, an important city that was historically the capital of Brittany. Located at the confluence of the Loire, the Sevre, and the Erdre, Nantes may be remembered fondly by many of our villagers as a model for their own Trois-Rivières.
A guest post by Pierre Chartrand
In Québec, step dancing is known as the gigue. The step dancing in this show is a style from the eastern part of Canada. It is one of a number of varieties of step dancing found throughout Canada. Step dancing originated in the British Isles. Its path to Canada began with the large Irish immigration between 1832 and 1847. As a port of entry, Québec City was first to feel the Irish influence. As French-speaking Canadians adopted the dance, colonists moving northward carried the gigue with them.
A reprint of “The Shortest Day” by Patrick Swanson (Artistic Director, Revels, Inc.)
In our own time the Winter Solstice is indissolubly linked with the festival of Christmas, though it was not always so. The myths of the festival are so deeply embedded within us that we no longer ask why we bring an evergreen into the house or decorate with candles or hang mistletoe. We take these things for granted as we plunge into the hectic preparations for Christmas and the New Year. Overall there is a heightened sense of something significant happening at a fixed point on the calendar. For some it is Christmas night, for others it is watching the ball drop in Times Square. The commercial frenzy of gift buying is fueled by references to holly and stars and carols and the streets are illuminated by strings of twinkling lights. Sometimes the blurring of images can distort the meaning of the event that is being celebrated.
A guest post by Katrina Van Duyn
Although I usually join in Revels’ Christmas productions as a specialty performer, in Québécois I am happy to play a more hybrid role, not exactly a chorus member (I was not hired for my soprano chops), but definitely a member of the village community onstage. So I have come to the chorus rehearsals as much as possible, and have enjoyed and learned so much from them.