Come Aboard


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The roof of the gym resembles ship’s ribs, which seems fitting this year as the theme and location of this year’s Christmas Revels is aboard an immigrant ship bound for the golden land of America, sometime in the late 1800s.

The gym has the familiar quality of an old friend as we pull up our chairs to begin shaping something thrilling — as magical for the audience as it will be for the company that comes together to form the show.

I actually got there late, having helmed a performance to celebrate the opening of the Orange Line Max line (you can read about that here). The thrill of slipping into my seat at the back and looking over the old and new friends in the company was as strong as ever. There were some faces I missed of course: our rehearsal accompanist Michael Fox has retired after many years of devoted service, and other friends were likewise not in the group. But there were new people to get to know and many old friends with which to share the miseries of learning yet another language.

The emigrants in our story were facing the unfamiliar and frightening. Most had never ventured more than a few miles beyond their village. They were excited surely, and scared.

No matter how often I’ve sailed on this Revels ship, and it’s been more than a few times, there is still the element of the unfamiliar, excitement and a wee bit of terror. (Just a very wee bit which is a good thing I think.) Like the men and women we represent we’ll face whatever challenges lie ahead and make it to the farther shore.

Women at work

Women at work

Our annual autumnal pub sing is coming up this weekend along with several other Revels related events. Come spend an afternoon crafting, eating and making friends at Crafternoon, this Saturday Sept 19.  And then onto pub sing which is being held at Kells in downtown Portland, a partnership with LIFT Urban Portland.

Autumn Equinox Pub Sing
September 20th, 2015 6:30 PM-8:30 PM
Kells Irish Pub 112 SW 2nd Ave., Portland

For more details on these events contact Revels at or  head to Portland Revels Events


Tomorrow is nearly here



Did someone say party?

Well not at my house but at the German American Society whose beautiful location plays host to the Portland Revels Ceilliuradh celebration at 5626 Northeast Alameda Street, Portland.

Although I have been busy (as have many, many others) making cookies of all kinds:IMG_5076Gathering flowers:

IMG_5075Rehearsing mummers:



So don your party clothes, put on your dancing shoes, tune up your voice and join us for the best Revels party yet.

Your Revelers hope to see you there.

PS  Did you know that yearly, we award the “Spirit of Revels” to someone who has contributed to making the Portland Revels and the Revels community a special place.  This year, the Spirit of Revels will be announced at the Ceilliuradh.  Come join us to celebrate this year’s Spirit.

PPS Haven’t bought your ticket yet? It’s still possible to attend. Just show up at the German American Society 5626 NE Alameda at 7 pm tomorrow, April 25 and join the festivities.

Cialiuradh logo

Lucky 13



Counting down, counting down. The days are slipping and the tasks are piling up.

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In honor of April 13, and the thirteen days to the best Revels party yet,we give you

Thirteen reasons for coming to the Revels Ceilliuradh

1. Robert Reed’s fabulous truffles.
2. Themed dinner registry (Sign up for French, Mexican, Moroccan, Peruvian or Barbecue pool party!)
3. Adventure sign-ups
4. Special “pub” area with song
5. Sea monsters
6. Pirates
7. and fiery headed women (oh my)

8. A select number of exclusive silent auction items
9. Wild Irish Rose – the signature cocktail

10. Irish caeilli and set dancing for all who will
11. Gourmet noshes by Simptatica Catering
12. The spirit of Revels award
13. Fun with friends in support of Portland Revels





Props and costume bits for the Ceiliuradh mummers

What do these things have in common?

Pirate hats
A sea serpent
Bad rhymes
Great music
The spirit of Revels

Well of course they have a common date – April 25. When the Revels Ceiliuradh will burst upon the spring scene putting the fun in fundraising.

The mummers have begun their rehearsals, we’re taste testing signature cocktails and fine tuning our catering. The tasks are coming fast and furious as this spring celebration is less than a month away now.

We hope you’ve been an early bird and ordered your tickets. If not you have until Wed. April 1. Tickets will be sold until the day of the event at the regular price. Group ticketing is also available.

The Revels website has ticket information at Revels Ceiliuradh or you can visit here  to print out a ticket order form.

We hope to see you soon.

Throw Back Thursday




As I was cleaning out some cabinets at home in preparation for a big project, I found something I didn’t even know I had — this poster promoting our very first Revels!  For some reason, I thought our posters were a “recent” phenomenon (i.e., in the past ten years) and was surprised to unearth a piece of the past.  The old time engraving purports to show the original Haddon Hall with a celebration of the Feast of Fools afoot


Dick Lewis brought the concept of Revels back to Portland when he went to Pinewoods, the venerable camp sponsored by the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS). Inspired by Jack Langstaff, Dick came back home to institute the Portland Revels which has turned into a very Portland program.  While Cambridge (the Revels home office) keeps an eye on the Revels cities (we are part of a “registered trademark” after all) our Revels, under Dick’s guidance, soon began to add very “Portland” things to our Revels celebrations.  Small customs both visible to the audience and internal to the company began to take root.  For one, our shows have more of a story arc than many Revels. So there’s not just a story told in the show there is story told through the show.

Our first few Revels stayed close to the original model. If you saw the first show today,you’d be struck by the “variety” quality of the performance (and how short it was!). Tied together by the antics of “the fool” the show emphasized singing over plotting.  It wasn’t long before Dick (along with Grey Eubank) began to tweak the scripts we received from the mothership to more uniquely reflect our west-coast home.

At last year’s Jubilee, we celebrated twenty years of Reveling in Portland.  This year, we’re looking to the future with our Cailliuradh celebration. We hope you’ll join us. Early bird ticketing deadline is April 1 — don’t be an April fool – get your tickets soon. You can go to the Revels website: Revels Cailliuradh or print out a form from Ticket order form.

Who knows, you may get to be a mummer.

P.S.  This year, CDSS in collaboration with Revels, Inc. is putting on a special Revels camp for adults and families. If you’ve ever wanted to be more intimately connected with the inside of Revels, this is a way to do so. See Revels Camp for more information.

Back to the Basement


Well actually, back to the Revels storage space which is a basement warren full of costumes, prop bits, stage set pieces. And dragons. It’s a most delightful place to stretch the imagination.

The busy Cailliuradh committee was down there scoping out usable bits for this year’s spring event.

Some dragons may come in handy (no this is not Barney!)

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And of course bubbly:

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And let’s not forget décor.


These pieces and more will come together for a fun and interactive extravaganza. Maybe you will be chosen to participate with the mummers. Or sign up for some fun adventures. Or join in on traditional dancing.

However you celebrate with us, we hope to see you there.  Early bird ticket prices are good to April 1. Go to Revels Cailliuradh for online ordering.  OR go to Ticket Order Form for a form to mail in.

Hey and check us out on OPB — we had company down in the bowels. And you can listen in. We’ll be on State of Wonder  on Saturday, 12-1. See also OPB Programs

Count down to the Ceiliúradh




Cialiuradh logo

Last year we celebrated Portland Revels 20th year with a jubilee celebration. This year we’ve come of age (21) and we’re having a party to celebrate. Our spring fundraiser is a Ceiliúradh (pronounced “kell-oor-ah”) Irish for “celebration”. And celebrate we will with an emphasis on those things that make a party fun – singing, dancing, and merriment of all kinds. We’re reprising some of the elements that made last year’s jubilee so much fun including a participatory pub sing and specially written mummers play (featuring pirates and a sea monster and more).

Party planners and worker bees are warming up to a spring full of activity to prepare for this event. While we won’t be serving green beer or turning the Willamette green, we will be creating some inviting and exciting activities and a special Ceiliúradh drink. Our “spirit of Revels” will be announced. And, this being Revels, the unexpected can always occur.

The work of the fool



We do the work of the Fool. It is the Fool’s business to gather up the bits and pieces of the real, possible world and juggle them into a new order – an order that is at once surprising, delightfully improbable, and a little dangerous. David Parr, California Revels

Portland Revels is getting ready to celebrate the work of the fool this month (Thurs. March 19 at 7:30) in a salon that will highlight and explicate the role of the fool. Fools, or jesters or motleys, were a feature in European medieval times often employed by nobility for entertainment (the stupid youtube videos of the day) or may have been an itinerant performer who traveled through the countryside and performed at fairs and markets….probably akin to today’s busking.

Jesters could come from all classes and backgrounds, if they were funny enough they might catch the eye of a passing nobleman …. hit the big time in the court of a king. The job criteria was simple – make me laugh. But they also had a more serious role – bring up those inconvenient truths that the king might not want to hear.

According to the Royal Shakespeare Company — Regarded as pets or mascots, they served not simply to amuse but to criticize their master or mistress and their guests.

Could be a little dangerous,amidst all the fun and folics.

While we know mostly about English jesters and fools, other continental courts employed men in this role including courts in German, Poland, and Spain. And jesters had a job as far away as India and China. Although we think of foolery as a custom of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, a domestic jester was recorded at Hilton Castle in county Durham in the eighteenth century and a Scottish jester, Shemus Anderson (d. 1833), at Murthley Castle, Perthshire. (from Fools are Everywhere)

It’d would be interesting to pinpoint who the jesters of today are. John Stewart? Political cartoonists? Perhaps our Salon speakers Stephan Simek and Burl Ross will have some ideas.

So come hear more about fools of yesteryear (and maybe even of today!) – March 19th, 2015 7:30 PM Artist’s Repertory Theatre-Alder Lobby (located on 15th and Alder) $12 a person.   For tickets and more information go to Revels Salons.

And don’t forget, if you’re interested in sharing your families immigrant stories, check out our previous post for more information and mark  your calendar for this year’s best Revels party yet April 25


For additional insight on jesters and fools see  Fools are Everywhere

Immigrant Stories and the next Revels


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We’re a nation of immigrants, from the founding fathers (and mothers) to the people today who come to America searching for a better life. Revels has celebrated that immigrant history through shows such as the French Canadian Revels initially produced in 2004 in Cambridge, and even in the Appalachian Revels presented around the country in the last few years. And the immigrant experience itself has been inspiration for Revels scripts.

This last year (2014) Washington DC and Rocky Mt. Revels mounted productions of the Immigrant Revels, the prototype of which was produced in 2012 in Cambridge. Next year, Portland Revels will be using the immigrant experience for our own show and we invite you to share your family stories of their travels to the new world – America.

If you have those kinds of stories, letters home or other materials and are willing to share them, we would be interested in using them as source materials for script development. Although we are looking especially for stories from the mid-late 1800s and early 1900s, any immigrant stories could be useful. So don’t hesitate to let us know what you’ve got.

Please respond to Bruce Hostetler at and Linda Golaszewski at

And be sure to mark your calendar for a wonderful Revels song and dance party – the Ceiliúradh (pronounced “kell-oor-ah”) or “celebration” in Gaelic Saturday April 25th, 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM at the German American Society 5626 Northeast Alameda Street. For more information go to Spring Event.


Seeds are sprouting


My husband let me know that are lettuce seeds are sprouting. What better news to have on this day, that seeds are stirring.

Feb. 1 is the Celtic Festival Of Imbolc (also called Bridget’s day and in the Christian calendar referred to as St. Bridget’s day).

In most places in the United States, it’s obvious that the days have grown little by little and the sunrise is a little earlier, and sunset a little later, than they were even a few weeks ago. It’s certainly lighter out than at Christmas.

Imbolc signifies the start of spring in the Celtic tradition and was mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature.  Associated with the goddess  Bride, who as a fire goddess was also in charge of poetry, as inspiration or creative “fire” was at her command.  She was also goddess of the hearth and controlled divination — including weather divination (clue the Groundhog).

It’s interesting to find out that weather divination is associated with this time of year (early Feb.) in a number of cultures. Poles and other eastern Europeans have folk sayings like” if there’s frost on Candlemas prepare the wagon, if rain the sled.” And Italians hold to “on Candlemas-day there be snow or hail, we shall soon have done with winter: but if there be rain or sunshine, winter will continue for 40 days.”

As Ireland became Christian, the concept of the goddess Bride may have merged with a (probable) historical figure –  St. Brigid or Bridget. She is the protector (or patron saint) of babies and midwives, travelers, scholars and sailors. And perhaps most importantly, a patron saint of Ireland.

In celebration of St. Brigid’s feast, food and drink would be set aside for her and she wold be invited in to partake and bless the house. A contemporary idea (taken from the book, Circle Round) suggests reading poetry at dinner. Be sure to light your candles and celebrate the returning light.