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Creating Community Through Celebration

California Revels Newsletter


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Oakland, CA
November 2011
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in this issue...
Parking for Christmas Revels
Revels Calendar
A Black Friday
Special Offer!
2011 Merlin and Courtiers
Welcome the Solstice with the Christmas Revels
Celebrate the holidays with family and friends at the 26th annual Christmas Revels with our Black Friday 25% discount for either of the Friday night performances, December 10 or 17 at 8:00pm.

This year's production takes place in the court of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere within the mythical kingdom of Camelot. Merlin the Sorcerer will enchant kids of all ages while the Knights of the Round Table regale the court with tales of great adventure. Lords, ladies and children will share songs, dancing and storytelling with opportunities for audience participation.

The talented ensemble of nearly 100 performers includes Robert Sicular who appeared on Revels stage as Saint Nikolaus in the 2009 Christmas Revels as King Arthur; Revels favorite Susan Rode Morris will portray his Queen, Guinevere, and the famous magician  Dr. Kim Silverman (a.k.a. Merloch Silvermaine) makes his Revels debut as Merlin.

Tickets for are all performances are available on the Revels website or by calling the box office at 510-452-8800, 12-5 weekdays. (Closed Thanksgiving Day.)


Purchase tickets to either of the Friday performances and get 25% off the ticket price when you order online. Use the coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY11" at checkout. This offer is only available Friday November 25th from 12:01am - 11:59pm and is not good for other performances. (Center Box Seating not included in the sale. Offer good on new orders only.)
Performance Schedule
Friday, Dec 10 8:00pm
 Saturday, Dec 11 1pm & 5pm
Sunday, Dec 12 1pm & 5pm

Friday, Dec 17 8:00pm
 Saturday Dec 18 1pm & 5pm
Sunday Dec 19 1pm & 5pm

Tickets are $19-$52
Buy Tickets

Park at ALCO Parking Garage for the Christmas Revels.

Once again we have a great deal at the Alameda County Parking Garage for Christmas Revels patrons. Normally the garage (the large round structure located at 13th & Madison, 4 short blocks from the theater) is closed evenings and weekends, but they have agreed to stay open just for us. The parking fee is only $5 per vehicle for the length of your stay.

 Alameda County Parking Garage


 Street parking near the Scottish Rite Center is becoming increasingly difficult to find no matter the time of day. This ensures that everyone will find a safe and economical place to park while they enjoy the 2011 Christmas Revels.  Please arrive a little early. The walk from the garage to the theater is less than 5 minutes.





Fridays 6pm - 11pm

Saturdays 12pm - 8pm

Sundays 12pm - 8pm


We highly recommend that you park in the Alameda County Garage.  Not only is it convenient but also if enough Revelers use the facility they will guarantee our use of the garage next year.

Travel via BART 

 The closest BART stations are the 19th Street Station and the Lake Merritt Station. Both are approximately seven blocks from the theater. From the 19th Street Station exit up the 17th Street escalator, turn left on 17th Street and walk to Lakeside Drive. Turn right and the theater is a half block on your right.


From the Lake Merritt Station, take the 8th Street exit, and walk down 8th Street to Oak. Turn left and walk 6 1/2 blocks. (Oak Street becomes Lakeside Drive.)  The theater will be on your left.
Reveling  Through the Seasons.

 2011 Calendar of Events
 (See our website for updates.)
December 3- Yule at the Zoo 1pm, Oakland Zoo. 

December 9-11& 16-18  The 26th  Annual Christmas Revels: A Celebration of the Winter Solstice at the Oakland Scottish Rite Theater.

December 21 - Winter Solstice welcomed at Muir Woods with Revels' choristers and Deer Creek Morris Men dancing the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Pass the Word

Revelers continue to be our best resource for getting the word out about our programs.  It's so easy to let your friends know that you enjoy Reveling. Simply click on the "Forward email" link below.  We never see the email addresses and we never add email addresses to our mailing list without express permission first. New Revelers must opt-in to receive our newsletter.  Thank you for helping us to create community through celebration.  Happy Holidays!
RevelsŪ is a registered trademark of Revels, Inc., Watertown, Mass.

From the Artistic Director

Artistic Director's Report

  Who Was He Anyway?
Part 2
This is the conclusion of a two-part column. The first part was published in the October 2011 newsletter. The entire article can also be found on our website.

It is the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth that first gave extensive credence to the existence of a kingly figure by the name of Arthur. His History of the Kings of Britain, written in the early twelfth century, devotes much of its length to the deeds and exploits of fifth century military leader he identifies as Arthur. The manuscript, now largely discredited as a historical document, is the source of the Arthurian narrative of liberating Britain from the Saxons, as well as his death at the hands of Mordred and his departure to Avalon. In drawing the genealogy of this Arthur, Geoffrey posits the existence of Uther Pendragon, brother of Ambrosius, and also of Uther's wizard, Merlin. His writing, widely disseminated and accepted at the time as factual, is the wellspring of many of the structural elements of the legendary Arthur.

But of the various characters mentioned in Geoffrey's narrative, Ambrosius Aurelianus stands out as the only individual referred to in other more reliable histories of the time. He indeed led the Britons in numerous battles, and is claimed by some to have been the victor of the Battle of Badon Hill - perhaps the prototype of Arthur's final battle. Indeed, Nennius, in his 9th century Historia Brittonum calls the victor of Badon Hill "Arthur". Is it possible that Geoffrey of Monmouth, in creating his imaginative version of early British history, (and having read the work of his predecessors) seized upon the story of Ambrosius as the armature upon which he would sculpt his influential version of the legend of Arthur?


It certainly seems possible, but what of the fact that earlier writers were already making reference to a dux bellorum named Arthur? And very importantly, why does a leader as influential as Arthur fail to appear in other accounts of fifth century British history? Even though Geoffrey of Monmouth may have laid the mantle of Arthurian identity across the shoulders of Ambrosius, it seems that legend precedes even him.


There is one more antecedent possibility, one who has gained in favor with modern Arthurian scholars. His documented history aligns well with the major events in the later legends. He lived in Roman-occupied Britain in the second century and his name was Lucius Artorius Castus. One more fact: his middle name, or gens nomen, Artorius, translates as Arthur.


A close study of the life of Castus reveals a myriad of details which could plausibly have provided not only the foundation of the Arthurian legend, but also many of its dimensions, structures and ornamentations.


For example, Castus commanded a legion of Samarian cavalry (armoured knights who fought with long lances and carried shields) brought in from Dalmatia. The Samarian herald was a dragon. They dined at circular tables, worshipped a war god whose emblem was a sword thrust into the ground above a grave, told stories of questing for a golden cup, and even revered a hero who was said to have died after his sword was thrown into a lake.


Records indicate that Castus commanded the Roman forces in twelve battles against the Caledonii, which roughly align with the twelve battles ascribed to Arthur. He was born in Campania, Italy and after being mortally wounded in his final battle, may have boarded a boat and expired attempting to return to his hometown of Avellinum.


It seems plausible that many of these details, expanded, amended and molded by oral tradition were passed down the centuries. Embellished by monastic clerics, troubadours and Welsh poets, the stories would have spread and intertwined until they gained the status of legend. They would have become disconnected from the Second century historical antecedent and the tales of Arthur would have taken on a life of their own. This was the stuff that Geoffrey of Monmouth mixed with the story of Ambrosius, and presented to the world as a factual portrayal of fifth century Britain.


And so, it was Geoffrey of Monmouth who most influentially cast these legends into the mold of history, and in an ironic turn, it is Geoffrey's embellished historical Arthur that in turn became the basis for the Arthur of the greatly expanded legends to follow. This pattern, history into legend, back into history and back into legend gives rise to the Arthurian stories we retell today.


Did a King Arthur really live? It appears that the answer is 'yes'. Someone we can call Arthur once did tread the soil of ancient Britain, and the Arthur he later became certainly lives on in the imagination of the modern world. In both a historical and legendary sense, he is The Once and Future King.


     -David Parr, Artistic Director

Visit our Friends and Colleagues at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair


The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Among our favorite holiday events, (apart from The Christmas Revels of course,) is the annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco. Many of the fair folk come to see our Revels every year. You can always tell who they are in their Victorian finest dress.  And if you go to the Cow Palace on Friday, November 25th you may recognize some of the Revels choristers. It's become a traditional outing for the cast on the rare day off of rehearsals.
Four weekends including the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 25 through December 18, 2011: Visit London in San Francisco! The one and only, original Great Dickens Christmas Fair is the only event of its kind anywhere. Join us to celebrate our 33rd year! The winding lanes of Victorian London come to life in over three indoor acres magically transformed into music halls, pubs, dance parties, and charming shops overflowing with hand-made holiday treasures. Enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty foods fill the air. It's a lamp-lit city brimming with lively and colorful characters from the pages of history and the imaginations of Charles Dickens, Jules Verne & Lewis Carroll. Hours:11 AM to 7 PM, free - $25. Free BART Shuttle from Glen Park Station every Fair day. Cow Palace, Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Avenue, San Francisco. www.DickensFair.com   
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