What's Your Version of the Revels Elephant?

Posted on 4.13.2015 by George Emlen

Last January at our winter pub sing at Doyle's Café, I got talking with a handful of 30-somethings who lived nearby and were looking for a different kind of night out. "How did you find us?" I asked. "Oh, just read about it in the Globe," they said. "Have you been to any other Revels events?" I pursued. "Nope. Never heard of it till now," was the consensus.

RiverSing2013_ShepFerg_w_caption.jpgSome of my favorite moments in the Revels year are hearing from people who are getting their first taste of Revels. It could be at a pub sing, or a harbor cruise, or RiverSing, or a salon, or a children's workshop. And of course it could be at The Christmas Revels. It's always exciting to watch as first-time attendees are caught off guard when Sanders Theatre is suddenly filled with the brilliant sound and color of an opening carol.

In each case, they are getting a first glimpse of what we do. It calls to mind the oft-told Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant, in which each man experiences the elephant differently depending on what part of it he is touching. The story is used to illustrate that we all have a partial grasp of the truth and that no one can see the entirety of it. Nowadays there are so many different Revels parts to grab ahold of that one can joyfully be engaged in one and be blissfully unaware of others. For some, the Revels FRINGE concerts may be the only thing they ever know about us. For others, a Revels week at Ogontz Camp in the White Mountains in August will define what Revels is.

I was reminded of this elephant at our high-spirited Spring Sing in March. We saw many familiar faces in the crowd. But we also met and heard from a few folks who were just discovering us. From their perspective Revels is an organization providing a well-timed, energetic shot of song and dance toFRINGE2014_ShepFerg_caption.jpg lift us out of some very deep snow banks. So true, but such a small sampling of the amazing array of what Revels now offers!

Does anyone experience the whole Revels elephant? Highly unlikely. One would be hard pressed to attend every performance, event, gathering and workshop that we offer in the course of a year. Even for those who manage to take all the rides offered at Revels World, the emphasis is always a little different for each person. What you know about Revels is true, but it is probably not the whole truth. This year maybe you'd like to find out more.

The elephant story is resolved when the blind men, who start out by arguing over the true nature of the beast, begin listening to each other and realize how limited their personal concepts are. I'm not suggesting we need to argue about what Revels is! I'm just saying: this year surprise yourself by exploring Revels and discover something new about us.