Washington Revels’ Mission
Washington Revels uses performance, education, and community engagement to revive, sustain, expand, and celebrate cultural traditions - in music, dance, storytelling, and drama, binding people together in spirit and joy. We strive to illustrate the world’s common humanity, connecting all people in a community that stretches across ethnic, cultural, and religious divisions, and through time.
An established cultural institution in the greater DC area since 1983, Washington Revels is dedicated to reviving, sustaining, expanding, and celebrating a diverse range of historical and cultural traditions through the arts. We celebrate our shared humanity through interactive singing, music, dance, story-telling, and dramatic performances, carefully curated to be educational, engaging, and respectful to each time period and culture depicted. Revels audiences are an integral part of our productions and are always encouraged to participate.
Washington Revels’ Guiding Values
Community: To create deeper bonds within our community by celebrating multi-generational and multicultural events that engage and connect people across cultural divides.
Culture: To explore different cultures and traditions through educational, participatory, and engaging musical and theatrical events and programs.
Connection: To encourage people of all backgrounds to connect with each other and revel in the differences that make us unique.
Diverse & Inclusive: To positively impact our community with an inclusive approach to expressing our shared humanity.
Storytelling: To sustain and expand our work promoting the celebration of community and cultural traditions through performance and education incorporating music, dance, storytelling, and drama.
Outreach & Engagement: To provide year-round performance and outreach opportunities that respectfully reflect our communities in and around the greater Washington DC Metro area.
Access: To ensure that all communities have access to the joy of participatory performance.
How We Practice Our Values
Washington Revels’ focus on audience participation and the respectful presentation of different local cultures and traditions helps build new connections and deepen existing ones. For example, our Christmas Revels production includes singing songs at intermission and dancing out of the theater with the stage actors, an activity so popular people often insist on aisle seats in order to get up and dance more easily. Additionally, Washington Revels volunteers, whether performers, crafters, or backstage crew have, over the years, formed a family. We often have two to three generations of families volunteering or performing at the same time on our stage.
Every year we create opportunities to explore different cultures and traditions. Each Christmas Revels productions has a different theme from Medieval to Early American. Our new Juneteenth Festival celebrates a different facet of regional African-American culture and history made possible by the end of slavery in America. We are also planning new events that celebrate distinct historical and cultural holidays and events that will allow us to increase our connection to Latinx and Jewish communities. Our online Book of Days presents videos showcasing a significantly diverse range of cultural celebrations from Lunar New Year to Burns’ Night.
Storytelling is a vital aspect of all Washington Revels’ performances. Our Ensemble groups (Jubilee Voices, Maritime Voices, Heritage Voices, and Gallery Voices) regularly perform in costume which deepens our audience’s connection to the stories being told and songs we sing.
Washington Revels’ Juneteenth Festival engaged new participants and allowed us to focus on how the DMV region changed because of the Juneteenth. The opening of the final event included 4 of the original Glen Echo Park protesters marching to the Carousel and singing with us. We were surprised and delighted that audience members spontaneously joined in because they were so moved by the protesters leading the procession into the park. By working with multiple partners throughout the region, we expanded our outreach efforts significantly, including receiving remarkably positive press.
Almost every performance is free, open and accessible to the public. We supply song sheets to encourage audience participation and our only major ticketed event, Christmas Revels opens each year with our Outreach Performance to allow low-income families and individuals to experience quality live theater. Our online and virtual events, expanded during the pandemic, have engaged audiences across the nation (and overseas!). A few of our patrons have even told us of cross-country watch parties where family and friends watch the OnDemand Christmas Revels together despite being separated by continent.
Washington Revels Impact
Washington Revels engages its audiences by encouraging participation either as a volunteer or an audience member (sing-along sheets are included with every performance) and provides free artistic programming of historically and culturally rich music and storytelling. Our youngest performers are in Elementary school and our oldest is 92 years young. These testimonials are evidence of our impact:
“We happened upon this commemoration.... a great tribute to those with the courage to stand against injustice.” CB (Diverse Voices; Juneteenth Celebration Festival of Freedom)
“This community is full of music, joy, and comfort! It's my favorite found family” - RP.
“I am certain; if not for the Jubilee Singers there are people that would never hear this music. Thank you for keeping it alive. That which is remembered never dies.” – KRW
“I’ve volunteered for Revels off and on for 22 years. Every Revels performance reminds me that the actors and the audience are – for a magical few hours – truly PARTNERS in sharing joy and good will.” – LW
“The best memories of my whole life!!!” – TJ
“We have been coming to the Revels for about 30 years now and every year we say, "This was the best!" The Revels sets the Christmas spirit for our household and that of family and friends. Thank you, Revels players for all these years of joy.” GSH
Thank you for this opportunity to share Washington Revels with you. We hope you will consider selecting us as your CFC charity (CFC Code 52558).