California Revels 
Creating Community Through Celebration
California Revels Newsletter
Oakland, CA
August 2012
in this issue...
3rd Annual Abbots Bromliad
Revels Awards Deer Creek Morris
A Matter of Scale - From the Artistic Director

3rd Annual Abbots Bromliad coming September 3rd


The third annual  Abbots Bromliad in Oakland's Joaquin Miller Park is set for Labor Day. In 2010 and again last year nearly 200 people showed up to take part in or watch what has become the worlds largest Abbots Bromley Horn  Dance unfold.  We have had many requests to repeat the day and are marking the next Annual Bromliad on Monday, September 3rd. Same time, same place. All Abbots Bromley and traditional English dance enthusiasts are invited to join the California Revels in a day of good food, good music, good dancing and  another celebration of the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Every Wakes Monday, the dancers in Abbots Bromley, England take up the traditional horns for their legendary 16 kilometer trek of dancing through countryside and pub yards. In 2010,our inaugural Bromliad, Wakes Monday happened to fall on Labor Day in America.This year it's a week later but we will continue to use Labor Day for our celebration. 


We are calling for dance teams and individuals to come together for a day of picnicking, dancing and music, which will culminate in the Bromliad - a mass dance of the Abbots Bromley antler dance featuring even more people than danced last year (150 along with over 20 musicians!). And while we are dancing in Oakland, two new Bromliads will be performing with Portland Revels and Puget Sound Revels.  Someday there may be horn dancers from coast to coast on Labor Day! 


Abbots Bromliad 2011  

This free event will take place in a beautiful glade in Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland on Monday, September 5th. Picnickers can arrive any time after 11:00 AM. Bring the kids, a blanket and your favorite foods and beverages. There will be music and Morris dancing (teams cordially invited) as well as called group dancing. Then at 1:00 PM, we'll set up for the largest Abbots Bromley serpentine ever. The fun continues until 3:00 PM. Show up and be a part of dance history!


This is a free event, but we'd like to know who's coming, so register now on our Evite invitation.  Or check our own website for updated information.


Would you like your very own pair of antlers for the Bromliad? We have a few pair for sale on our website. $20 per pair (enough for one deer) includes tax.  Other suggestions are toy archery bows, fool caps, hobby horses and parasols. Or just bring a sense of fun and playfulness.

California Revels Welcomes the Deer Creek Morris into our Artistic Associates Group

One of the highlights of this year's Summer solstice Gala was the induction of the Deer Creek Morris into our group of Artistic Associates. This is a distinction we extend to those artists whose generosity, talents and efforts have, over a number of years, helped shaped the identity of the California Revels. This is recognition richly deserved by the Deer Creek dancers.


Bruce Hamilton founded the group in 1986 in order to provide the necessary Morris components for the first Revels to be performed in Oakland. Dubbed the "Golden Ring Morris", a title that has been used on and off in Revels performances over the years, the dancers emerged from the show with a keen interest in developing their own Morris "side".


The group found rehearsal space near Deer Creek in Palo Alto, hence the name. Over the years, some personnel have changed and the costuming has evolved to the current "kit" consisting of bells, blue and gold baldricks and armbands worn over the basic whites and topped of with a jaunty black derby. When dancing in the Christmas Revels, the team generally sports a look appropriate to the era being represented.


Deer Creek dances out at numerous Ales and other scheduled events over the course of the year, but Revels especially looks forward to their annual participation in the Mayday, Gala and Bromliad celebrations and most especially to their Abbots Bromley and Lord of the Dance performances in the Christmas Revels.


California Revels is proud of our long association with Deer Creek Morris and pleased to welcome them to the ranks of our Artistic associates.


David Parr,

Artistic Director

Revels Events for 2012


Creating Community through Celebration



Calendar of Events 

September 1 & 2 - Revels Solstice Ensemble appears at the 147th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

September 3 - The Abbots Bromliad. Back by popular demand! Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland. See the above article for details. 

October 15 - Box office opens for the 2012 Christmas Revels

December 2 - Yule at the Zoo, Oakland Zoo.
December 7-9 & 14-16  The 27th  Annual Christmas Revels: A Celebration of the Winter Solstice at the Oakland Scottish Rite Theater.

Reveler James Galileo appears in The Princess Bride: Live!
James Galileo in The Princess Bride 


James Galileo has become very familiar to Revels audiences. He portrayed Sir Gawain in last year's Christmas Revels and played the comedic yet scary Ruprecht in the 2009 Bavarian Revels.  James is currently starring in the new stage version of The Princess Bride: Live! at the Dark Room Theatre in San Francisco.
The impossibly lovely Buttercup (Khamara Pettus) falls in love with Westley (Galileo), a poor, perfect farm boy who dies at the hands of the Dread Pirate Roberts. The fabled hunter, Prince Humperdinck convinces Buttercup to marry him, but not before the land's most notorious criminal ensemble, Vizzini the Sicillian , Fezzik the giant and Inigo Montoya the fencer, kidnap her -- with the mysterious Man in Black hot on their trail.  But they'll need a Miracle before this inconceivable epic ends happily ever after.
Performances continue through August 25th. 

From the Artistic Director

Artistic Director's Report


A Matter of Scale

I have found two things especially interesting about the recently announced discovery of the Higgs boson. One is the way that scientists express their degree of certainty. They say they are positive this thing exists to the "five sigma" level - a measure of certainty where there's only a 0.00003% chance that the effect is not real. This means that the likelihood that they are mistaken is about as good as the chance of twenty consecutive coin flips all coming up heads.


Now I have lived my entire life at a comfortable arm's length from science and mathematics. But I do have some familiarity with coin flipping, and it tickles me to hear such portentous news expressed in a lexicon I can understand. Still, twenty doesn't seem like all that much...


The second thing I like about this discovery is the particle itself. The name is, well, cute. Its elusive behavior is sort of charming. Although scientists refer to it as a card-carrying particle, no one has actually observed one. They are thought to exist for less than a septillionth of a second, so don't blink. And although its existence is only inferred, it still packs about 130 times the wallop of a proton. And it isn't afraid of hard work. In the famous E=mc2 trope, it is the Higgs boson that does the heavy lifting.


But the real reason I'm paying so much attention to this little critter is that it makes me think about scale. I seem to recall reading someplace a considered opinion that that typical human being falls almost precisely halfway along the size continuum between the smallest objects in the known universe - subatomic particles, and the largest - black holes. That range is so vast that minor variations, the short bagger at the grocery store or the tall kid that plays center field, don't shift the balance. We are all squarely in the middle along with dust motes, cufflinks, baguettes and battleships.


Size-wise, I have as little in common with the Higgs boson as I do with the Andromeda Galaxy. I have much more in common with the things I can see around me, especially people and the things they make.


This summer, my family and I enjoyed a short outing to the Sierra. We spent some time prowling around the "Gold Country" and when you do that, you are sure to see a lot of big old rusty machines. Some of them were built for hauling and chopping trees, others for pumping or boiling water, and still others have no purpose apparent to my eye but to make a grand display.


When you touch them, lift their creakily moving parts, or crawl around on them, you can't help but be impressed by their mass. Someone, or many some ones and their draft animals, expended a lot of energy to get these things into the foothills where they could be used to produce gold or lumber. The old steam locomotives and decrepit cars that still populate the high forests sit on snippets of rail that once formed the web of commerce for the populace of this region. They are all big, heavy, hard pieces of machinery, and striking in their scale. They dwarf the bystander and must have required a lot of ingenuity and the strength of hundreds to build and maintain.


When I touch these machines, and think about the world in which they functioned, I can't help but feel that they represent, or at least suggest some kind of limit as to how big people can make things. You can see the old photographs that show dedicatory ribbons being cut, final spikes being driven and inaugural switches being thrown. They are all filled with crowds of people who seem to be as impressed by the magnitude and complexity of these behemoths as I am. And yet in the grand scale of size, I know that these big machines and people all huddle with me in the middle, the point of equipoise.




Scale in our time is often a matter of repetition rather than sheer size. The digital age has transformed the way we think of proportion. A byte would be lost in the shadow of a Higgs boson. It has no dimension at all. But put enough of them together in the effortless language of algorithms, and you get social networks encompassing vast swaths of the human population. Line them up in endlessly varied processions of 1's and 0's and you get motion pictures, unconstrained by the limits of physical reality, that awe us with enough scope and scale to challenge the imagination. Our world is awash in an abundance of pictures, songs, numbers and words. Things are infinitely numerous because it is so easy to make so many of them, and they extend beyond the cognitive horizon in every direction.


We have crossed a threshold where size is less a matter of dimension than it is a state of being. Propagation trumps proportion. My old habit of looking in one direction to see things bigger than myself and the opposite way to see things smaller doesn't make sense in this new reality. And yet I still want a way to feel proportion in terms of heft and space, volume and distance.


That, to me, is the argument in favor of rusty old logging winches. I think it is good to have things in our lives that we can run our hands over, that we can put our arms around, that we can lift or not. It is important to experience smallness and bigness in the way that mankind has always known it. I think that is the argument in favor of hoary old traditions, fusty old folksongs, twice-told tales - they help us to experience life on a manageable scale. They connect us to a world, winnowed of its complexity and reduced to what is important. We all benefit from the ease and opportunity of the boundless digital reality, but we also need to locate ourselves in the landscape of those who have come before us. It's a matter of scale.


                            - David Parr Artistic Director


All of David's past columns can be found on the California Revels website under "Dragon Fewmets".
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