Vershire's Program Director on Christmas Revels & Revels North
Vershire’s Laura Craft is Program Director for Revels North, which really just sounds like too much fun. She says her job is to “oversee all the programs and give people the tools they need.” This sounds like a modest description of coordinating the multiple activities of the organization, from Christmas Revels and Summer Revels to Revels Traditions and Revels Kids. Laura also manages the volunteers, which can number “in any given year about a hundred people helping out in different ways.”
“The Christmas Revels, a beloved Upper Valley tradition for the whole family, is presented annually by Revels North at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. We celebrate the holiday season and the turning of the year with glorious carols, festive dance, and traditions that span the centuries and the globe. Recent performances have featured the stories, music and traditions of the Québécois, Ireland, Appalachia, and England.” This description is taken from the Revels North website Christmas Revels page.
This year’s production features Quebecois culture. “Christmas Revels 2016 travels to the beautiful province of Québec! In the story of The Flying Canoe (la chasse-galerie), a group of lonely voyageurs in the northern timberland go to extraordinary (one might say devilish) lengths to meet up with their faraway sweethearts on New Year’s Eve. This classic French Canadian tale gets the full Revels treatment with colorful, high-energy songs, dance and pageantry, a multigenerational local cast and chorus, and Québécois musical trio Genticorum and step dancer Pierre Chartrand. An Upper Valley family holiday tradition since 1974.”
Revels Traditions has been expanded this year by Nils Fredland, Artistic Director. The Revels Traditions webpage gives detailed descriptions of each available activity. “Our popular year-round programs–Revels Mummers, Revels Teens and Pub Sings–are joined by three new ventures under the banner of Revels Traditions! Revels Singers, Band of Fools, and Family Contra Dance will engage everyone in a thrilling and accessible creative collaboration at monthly gatherings.” Individuals and families can become members of Revels Traditions for an annual fee which allows them to enjoy any or all of these offerings, or members of the public can attend various events for a donation, such as the upcoming Pub Sing this weekend.
Laura started working with the Summer Revels when her daughter, Alice, was five, and since then the whole family has gotten involved, including Alice’s dad, Gene, who performs onstage with his daughter. Other Vershire families have been part of Revels in the past, including Revels Kids, which brought programs about the Silk Road to the Vershire Town Center last school year.
Revels North is the oldest offshoot of the original organization that started in Cambridge Massachusetts 45 years ago and has spread to nine cities. This branch employs several people full- or part-time, yet welcomes participation from everyone of all ages. The Revels North Mission Statement page states, “Revels North educates the community through theatrical, dance, and musical experiences that bring the world’s cultural traditions and celebrations to life.”
In addition to the Christmas Revels performances., you can revel in free Revels events with your family and friends, starting with a pub sing from 6-8 p.m. this Sunday at the Norwich Inn. On December 2 there will be a Tree Lighting at Dartmouth College, followed by caroling to the new Skinny Pancake location, complete with free hot cocoa.
Laura wants people to know that Revels North is “more than just the Christmas show,” that there are year-round programs and ways for the community to participate. If you can't make it to these events in person, or you would like a taste of Revels before you get involved, check out the Revels North YouTube channel. You can also stay up to date with the Revels North Facebook page. Meanwhile, tickets for this year’s Christmas Revels are on sale now and going fast, with another sold-out year anticipated. The Thursday evening performance is especially well-suited for families with young children as ticket prices are as low as $8 and the under-2-hour performance will get little ones in bed at a decent hour.
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