Reflections on Malibu

Posted on 2.17.2016 by Patrick Swanson

Every year Revels directors and producers gather for a weekend to share their experiences in putting on all nine Christmas Revels programs around the country. This year we were in Malibu amongst the surfers and choppers picking each other's brains on subjects as diverse as storytelling with puppets, advertising on the buses and dealing with divas.

For four days in February we move from being nine loosely connected Revels cities into a community acting like a national Revels organization. There is something imperative and urgent about this annual gathering. Like a female giant panda in the mating season or a mayfly in the morning, we are aware that there are important things to be done and but a short time to do them.

First order of business is to review the past year's productions. There are multiple video sessions and each of the Revels cities gets a chance to meet privately with the Revels Inc. team to go over the last year's show. Next come discussion groups in which we look at wider issues that might contribute to the health and growth of our organization. But perhaps the most valuable exchanges are at an informal level – the after dinner chats, the early morning walks, the late night musings around the fire.

Revels attracts extraordinary people from all walks of life who bring original ideas and energy to the circle. Directors share tricks and shortcuts that they have found to be effective in their stagecraft while producers and executive directors share marketing techniques, board development ideas, budget management and strategies for dealing with the everyday challenges of running a Revels franchise. Music directors compare styles, warm-up techniques, musical treasures unearthed, performers, conducted vs. non conducted pieces and many more details that keep the conversations going well into the night. Big ideas and tiny tips are aired in a series of meetings and workshops designed to make the most of our collective experience.

We know that one of the remarkable effects of Revels is its ability to create tight communities. We directors are lucky to participate annually in this core shared experience but we anticipate that its effects will inevitably work their way into the wider Revels community.