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‘Ship of Fools’ rushes in for Revels

December 20, 2011

Published by Metro

Back in medieval times, villages dealt with their crazy people by sending them out to sea to drift on a boat with no captain.

“It’s a very strong allegory, this idea of the ‘Ship of Fools’ wandering about without a rudder,” explains Patrick Swanson, director of the 41st annual Christmas Revels. “The world upside down is encapsulated in a boat.”

Every year, the Revels show is about rebirth, ringing in a new year. Sometimes the tale is serious, other times it’s funny.

“This year it’s mostly funny,” Swanson assures.

The story takes place in a 16th century Mediterranean fishing village, where three fools are responsible for an annual pageant to mark the new year.

“We’re in the hands of three characters who bumble their way through the whole process,” he says.

Needless to say, they end up alone at sea.

Local artist Mitch Ryerson had a challenging task: building a “Ship of Fools” for the production.

“Sanders is a peculiar theater,” says Swanson. “There’s no way to get anything large on the stage through its small doors. Mitch had to create a prop for us in the form of a giant jigsaw puzzle that gets put together as the show progresses.”

Culture and tradition

The Revels observe many traditions in their show every year: Poems are read, carols sung and a dance is performed by the chorus and audience together.

“Every year there is new context for these familiar things that people expect,” says Swanson. “We like to introduce different cultures.”

This year, there will be visitors from the East: the Sharq Arabic Music Ensemble.

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