Tag Archives: Revels

Script Writer – Gray Eubank …the Onrush of Time…

The 2013 Portland Christmas Revels ‘Eastern Europe” script is the 8th Revels show I’ve had a hand in writing. I’m especially proud that Portland scripts Dick Lewis and I crafted have gone on to be adapted by the Revels in Cambridge, Oakland, and Washington D.C. among other Revels cities.

I believe a Revels script balances precariously between theatrical irrelevance and pompous sermon. These shows are about music and dancing and have been since the Revels inception in Cambridge, Massachusetts more than 40 years ago. The script is just a vehicle that gives the songs a ride for a couple of hours on a cold December night. It can’t be trivial, it’s a ride that must plunge us into the darkness of Winter and renew our hope in the coming Spring. Yet too heavy a hand on the keyboard and I’m preaching cliches about tradition and community and romanticizing ye goode olde days. The script has to be a simple story that takes us where we need to go and does so with very little dialog but a lot of heart and no sermons.


Each year I look for another aspect of the returning light to let me write. Sometimes a folk fable will show me the way into a story, something as simple as the gnome characters of the Northlands script disgruntled with a lack of butter on their solstice porridge. Sometimes its the setting that haunts me as in the Ghosts of Haddon Hall. Often my penchant for magical realism gives me a storyline as it did in last years Appalachian Revels when a song stealer crept into a mountain community and tried to make off with the people’s songs. Or in the Spanish show where we rifled through the hidden treasure room until by waking each relic that held a song, dance or story we realized the culture itself was the treasure of Andalusian Spain.

Wandering through sources of music and architecture and stories of the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe this year I came across the picture of a medieval clock that first graced the town of Prague in the 1400s. Struggling with the construct of the show I came back to this clock again and again. It reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books “The Wonder Clock” with stories and illustrations by Howard Pyle. In that book each hour of the day presented a new story and with that memory I realized I had solved the dilemma of exploring a culture as diverse as that of the Slavs. It isn’t one story – it’s many stories. The clock can unify them and the onrush of time moves us through our journey.

From the clock also comes the crisis of the show. Its workings allow for the humor and darkness and timing of the play. It makes for a magic premise that will bring both the darkness and the hope for the future. But if I say anymore you’ll curse me for spoiling what happens when you see the show. Just wind it up and see where we go this year.


Gray Eubank

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Properties Designer – Andy Swinford …It Just Keeps Getting Better!…

As a properties designer, an important part of my job is to make sure that everything that is “used” onstage looks like it belongs there – in the time and place of the production, whatever that may be. My goal is to be invisible and have none of my props interrupt the flow or draw the audience’s attention from the story being told onstage.

Designing for Revels is a little different because we start with a time and a place firmly set in our minds, and then the Revels magic kicks in and things can get …. a little fluid. I just have to let the Revels magic flow over me and see where it takes me. Last year, I had a magical bag (times three) and Native American/African hybrid animal avatar masks taking flight and journeying to the Sun.

This year, I get to recreate the Russian crown jewels and help to bring a highly complex astrological clock alive onstage. It’s my second year designing for the Revels and it just keeps getting better! As a designer, the process can be challenging. It is hard to let go of the rules and all the cultural and period research and just design for this show, but also as a designer, it is so very, very rewarding. When it all comes together – the amazing music, brilliant set, inspired lighting, glorious costuming and my very own props all working in concert to pull our audience into the Revels world of the longest night and the shortest day – it truly is magic.

Andy Swinford

Andy Swinford

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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.


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.


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


Polish participants


Polish dancers


Czech School children’s choir

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The Christmas Revels 2013: A Christmas in Old Europe

2013 Flyer Art

The box office for the Christmas Revels: A Christmas in Old Europe, is open as of October 23rd!

Tickets are available from Box Office Tickets anytime of the day or night. Tickets are available via phone from the Revels Box Office – 503-200-1604 – Monday though Friday 10 AM to 4 PM PST.

Group sales discounts of 10% are available through the Portland Revels Box Office for orders of 10 or more tickets for a single performance. Check the Revels website at portlandrevels.org for details on ticket prices.

The shows run from Friday, December 6th and continue through Sunday, December 15th. See below for all 11 show times.

Friday December 6 - 7:30pm
Saturday December 7 - 1pm matinee and 7:30pm
Sunday December 8 - 1pm matinee and 7 pm**
Thursday December 12 -  7:30pm**
Friday December 13 -  7:30pm
Saturday December 14 - 1pm matinee and 7:30pm
Sunday December 15 - 1pm matinee and 5pm **ASL interpreted performance

What’s the show about? It seems there is a wondrous clock built to celebrate the solstice and the cycle of the seasons. It’s so amazing the mayor throws a party to coincide with the town’s annual Mummers competition. Mummers and townsfolk from Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Russia, Georgia, Macedonia, Serbia and Poland gather for the unveiling of the clock before the Empress, who makes a hasty decree which will leave time itself hanging in the balance. Sounds exciting doesn’t it!

Come see the magic that the Christmas Revels yearly offers including their guests for this year:

Get your tickets today!

Related content

  • An Oregon Music News review of the Appalachian Christmas Celebration, the 2012 stage production of the Portland Revels.
  • Another review of the Appalachian Christmas Celebration posted on the blog, ut omnia bene, in 2012.
  • Artslandia (file requires Adobe Reader) article on the Portland Revels


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