My smart phone is getting precocious. Returning from our annual directors and producers conference on the west coast, I was checking my photos of the local beach when a file popped up entitled “Malibu Memories.” With a dreamy California soundtrack playing in the background my phone had assembled the photos I took on my 15 minute break from back-to-back consultations with our eight Revels sister cities at the conference center. I think that Siri was subtly suggesting that I was repressing recent memories of walking on the beach, carrying my surfboard, catching a few breakers in the Malibu sunset and ending the evening over a cold beer at “Neptune’s Net,” the local biker bar.
Actually, despite the sequestration in a conference center, the weekend was way better than that. Last year, despite the general success in performances, some cities were troubled with potential problems – money issues, personnel changes, board attrition, venue issues and on and on. Just in the last few months Santa Barbara had become an emblem of disaster surrounded by fire and inundated with mudslides. Against all odds they still managed to perform their Christmas Revels for a dazed but grateful audience. Somehow, the impending crises outlined at this time last year by some of our cities, had been confronted and like the fearsome dragons of mythology had been stared down. Some of the “impossibles” became “maybes” and one way or another, the issues were addressed. As in mythology of course the dragons will be back, but the takeaway from this year was that the heroes won.
I can’t help thinking that some of that resilience and determination comes from the greater Revels community. This directors and producers conference allows us all to be regenerated. As we talk and watch each other’s work, we can see clearly the common denominators, the essential parts of the Revels formula and the many different scales and methods of achieving our trademark celebration. Every production has something new or a new way of doing something old. We get high on discussing the pros and cons of including marijuana references in a Boulder mummers play, or on the perils and possibilities of using recorded sound in live performance. Over excellent local food we talk about theorbos and trolls, with wine in hand we compare budgets and bands, squeezed into bedrooms we analyze the plusses and minuses of productions, the tempos of dances and the rubrics of script writing. And copying those Malibu beach boys we surf effortlessly across the delineations of politics, religion and rock and roll.
All too soon we are gathering for a final breakfast, bags in the lobby, a check in about this year’s show plans, a group photograph and we are all saying goodbye.
As we are leaving, I notice the perfect wheelie tracks across the highway opposite Neptune’s Net. The California sun glints on the chrome of the emblematic Harleys parked outside. I am physically tired but my deep cell batteries are recharged. The state of the union in Revels is pretty good. It is revitalizing. The nation could take note.