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Revels in Cambridge, MA


The Spring Revels returned to Cambridge June 21-23, 2002, for four performances at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre.

Padstow, a small fishing village in Cornwall, is home to one of the oldest and strangest folk rituals in England. The Padstow 'Obby 'Oss, which was at the core of the May Day celebration, is a fearsome black-skirted beast with snapping jaws, but its most terrifying aspect is the beaked, fur-tufted and gaping mask allegedly brought from Africa to England by merchant sailors involved in sea trade.

Revellers took a voyage of imagination with the Cornish sailors responsible for the extraordinary fusion of African and English cultural imagery that created the Padstow Mayers ceremony, a strange and symbolic ritual featuring the Padstow 'Obby 'Oss. Like many ancient seasonal folk rituals, the joyful Padstow Mayers song and ritual dance, performed with "horse" and teaser, relates to nature's cycle of death and rebirth, and is still performed annually in the streets of Padstow, hundreds of years after the ritual's first appearance.

Traditional singers Tony Barrand and John Roberts (of Nowell Sing We Clear), Nigerian poet Ifeanyi Menkiti, and versatile Revels performer David Coffin headed a cast of more than 70 performers which also included The Revels Chorus of adults and children. Along with the Padstow 'Obby 'Oss, audiences will enjoy African dancers, Carnival drums and a giant outdoor Maypole!

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