Christmas Revels Celebrates Americana

Friday, December 12, 2014

Revels is a family-friendly production to please all ages in a celebration of the long-ago winter traditions that bring us together to welcome the Yuletide.

California Revels has brought its unique theatrical, participatory holiday celebration to Oakland's Scottish Rite Center since 1986, presenting the customs of different cultures through songs, dances, poems and plays as they respond to the Solstice and the turning of the year. Past Revels took us to Galicia, Renaissance Italy and Medieval England.

This year, the show is set in the United States during the Great Depression, with a musical exploration starting in Appalachia, then traveling westward through the bayous of Louisiana toward the Pacific Coast. Then, new technology - radio and the 78 RPM phonograph record - brought music and stories from remote areas of the country into many homes. The old, simple and traditional songs and dances - part of a world now gone by - gave a nuanced sense of what it meant to be a part of American culture. They may be familiar, some may feel modern, yet they are all part of our continually emerging tradition.

The Revels adult and children's choruses and their town band will be joined by talented storytellers and performances by accomplished guest artists. I invite my Rockridge neighbors to join me, whether your roots are in rural America in the 1930s or in another time, place or culture.

Ten performances: Friday through Sunday, December 12 - 14 and 19 - 21: Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm and 5pm.

Parking for all performances will be available at ALCO Park garage, 1220 Jackson Street (three blocks from the Scottish Rite Center) for a flat rate of $5. Scottish Rite Center, 1547 Lakeside Drive. For more information and ticket prices: 452-9334 or http://californiarevels.org/.

Author Ann Daniels has lived in Rockridge for over 20 years.

This is her first year performing with the California Revels.