Revels

Florida Friebus

Florida Friebus 1926 and faculty member Katherine Everts, c. 1923

With the snowflakes of winter comes Revels, one of Dana’s most festive and anticipated traditions.  First performed on December 10, 1921, this pageant featured a medieval play, Saint Francis Keeps Christmas at Greccio 1223, written by Constance Grosvenor Alexander, an inspired teacher of English literature. She wrote in celebration of the 600th anniversary of Dante’s death and told the story of how St. Francis celebrated Christmas in 1223. The play was originally performed with faculty, friends, and students from all of Helen Temple Cooke’s schools—Pine Manor, Tenacre and Dana Hall. The traditional play, as written by Miss Alexander, was performed for many years, and continues today with some adaptations.

The focus of Revels remains the same.  Faculty and students gather in medieval costumes to enjoy the junior class’s interpretation and presentation of the merriment of medieval life as portrayed in the Revels play

Revels 2009, Class of 2011

Revels 2009, Class of 2011

with peasants, Sir John and his royal children, the Lord of Lord of Misrule, the jester, minstrels, and a procession of cooks.  It is unknown when St. George and a dragon were added, but the dragon and a dragon-slaying knight are mentioned in the January 1930 Association Quarterly.  After the performance, bagpipers lead the revelers from Bardwell to the Dining Center for a traditional Revels banquet.

The Revels festival is meant to be joyous and mischievous and to celebrate Dana’s community spirit.  It is full of singing, dancing and laughter, and is a time to come together in anticipation of the turning of the year at the time of the winter solstice.  “So another link … [is] wrought in the chain of memories that binds our hearts to Dana for all time.” (Christmas Revels, 1925 Class Book)

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