Category Archives: community

Portland Revels Founder – Dick Lewis …19 Years of Bringing Back the Light…

In this year’s Christmas Revels, we’ll be singing “Bogoroditse Deva.”  Say, what?  Ain’t that Russian?  It sure is.  And we’ll also be singing in Bulgarian, Czech, Georgian, Serbian, Croatian, Romanian, Polish, Latin, and, oh yes, English.  It will be beautiful, like no Revels yet and maybe the best. 

The Christmas Revels began in a kind of English solstice variety hour spirit, a professionally staged performance of time-honored winter solstice and Christmas songs, stories, dances, and laughs.  It was pretty much in the best English medieval tradition.  And we might have continued with that each year.  But we didn’t.  As appealing as all that medieval stuff was (and we’ve gone back to it from time to time over the past 19 years), what appealed even more was to find the seasonal song, dance, and theater from many different cultures.

Why?  Because the deep, human hope for and confidence in the renewal of life at the turning of the year has mattered to many different kinds of people.  And many different cultures have sung about it, composed about it, danced about it, laughed about it.  And in all those places, they’ve made the light come back.

This is the 19th year, then, since that never-to-be-forgotten Christmas Revels opening at Lincoln Hall Theater on December 8, 1995, and since then, English, French, Scottish, Spanish, Irish, Scandinavian, and Italian Revels have delighted Portland audiences.  There were 1,500 who came to that first year’s performances; now, more than 6,500 attend.  And I can’t help thinking that part of the reason is that we keep finding new cultural ways to welcome back the light.

Dick Lewis

Dick Lewis 2013

From The Christmas Revels 2003 – An Italian Renaissance

Portland Revels and Community Outreach

625663_542032979150267_1205170143_n Community outreach is an important tenet of the Revels organization as shown by our mission statement:

Portland Revels celebrates the seasons through song, dance, story and ritual of the past and present, creating community across generations and cultures.

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Traditional Polish dance costumes

Portland Revels recently participated in two distinctly Portland community building activities, the 20th annual Portland Polish Festival (September 21 & 22, 2013) organized by Portland Polonia and the Visegrad Festival (November 9, 2013) at the Polish Hall in Portland. The members of this vibrant community including Polish, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian and other cultures have participated in the Polish Festival for nearly 20 years. This year some of the Portland Revels board attended the Polish Festival to help celebrate these ethnicities and invite them to attend this year’s Christmas Revels production of A Christmas in Old Europe. Several of the board members also attended the inaugural Visegrad Festival held at the Polish Hall to hand out show flyers and raffle away music, tickets to the Christmas Revels show and to the upcoming Eric Stern Concert on Friday, November 22nd.

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Margo Norton, Portland Revels Board Member

For the Visegrad Festival, members of the Czech, Polish and Hungarian communities in Portland gathered to celebrate the 95th anniversary (1918) of independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. To honor that milestone in their collective countries, these three communities gathered for the first annual Visegrad Group PDX Festival at the Polish Hall in north Portland on Saturday, November 9, 2013, 1-7 PM. There was food, music, singing and dancing and a great time was had by all! IMG_4842

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Polish participants

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Polish dancers

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Czech School children’s choir

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Stage Director – Bruce Hostetler …Life is Movement…

Well, I’m back again directing the Revels. Year three and I’m still enjoying this gig. Actually more than enjoying it . . . reveling in it! (I know, I know – so shoot me).

We are producing an all-new Revels for the second year in a row. I think that’s a first for Portland Revels. Gray Eubank first pitched this idea to us months ago in Robert Lockwood’s kitchen: a Balkan village with an amazing clock, a visit from the Empress, and an attempt to hold on to a glorious moment forever.

We’ve all had those moments. That perfect second or minute we believe we are truly happy – truly fulfilled – truly ourselves. There is a terrible temptation to hold that moment forever. We can’t stop time, but we can still hold those perfect moments. We all know people who are still living as if college was the best moment of their lives. Or high school. Or living for the day that someone will come back to them. There is a multi-billion dollar industry created to make us believe we can stop aging.

But the truth is, we do age. We leave college. We end relationships. We move on, and if we let go, we can move on to new and more exciting things. It’s something that as a theatre professional I have to deal with more often than some. I work with a group of artists on a project for a few months at most – sometimes less. We get to know each other well, we dig deep and make art together. Then the show goes up, we play it a few weeks, and we are done. Nothing exists once the show is closed.

Theatre artists fall prey to the desire to stop time. We record our work, we take photos, and we go to crazy lengths to keep our moments from ending. But they end all the same. And if we are being realistic, we know they have to end, and that the best we can hope for is to be able to create something else tomorrow. And that perhaps we will have a chance to work with some of the same people. Hopefully we realize that the best work is still ahead.

Life is movement. To cling to one moment is the death of all future moments.

Revels is about tradition. We create tradition by repetition and expectation. But events also change with time. We do not create the same Revels show with the same cast each year. The stories are new, even as we bring back favorite moments (and favorite performers).

This year’s show contains what I love most about the Revels: breathless magic, stunning beauty, audience participation, a story with a soul, some elements we all know and love, and truly transcendent music. We are continuing to move forward. To grow and learn more about ourselves and this life in Portland, Oregon.

Enjoy the moment. It will never be again.

(But come back next year. We’ll be gearing up for my Senior Year at Revels! Will I be forced to graduate?)

– Bruce A. Hostetler  11/12/13

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