If it’s December, and you’re a junior at Dana Hall, chances are you’re practicing the sword dance in the Oak Room, prepping for the Mummer’s Play on the Bardwell stage, or rehearsing holiday music with Mr. Coleman in the choral room each day after school. Why? Because it’s Revels season! Each year, the junior class puts on a festive play to celebrate the end of the calendar year and to kick off the winter season. The 45-minute show was written in 1921 by a former English teacher here at Dana Hall and was initially called Saint Francis Keeps Christmas at Greccio, 1223. The play centers around a banquet hosted by the Lord and Lady of the Manor and features minstrels, cooks, a jester, princesses, dancers, mummers, and local village people. By the end of the banquet, all the party-goers have officially arrived to dance, eat, and “revel” by the warmth of the fire.
What makes the show particularly fun is the secrecy of the cast. No one outside of the junior class knows who Timmy (an adorable village boy), the Angel (a heavenly minstrel), or the Jester (the comic relief) will be each year. Faculty, staff, and fellow classmates always eagerly await the moment the curtain rises to discover which one of their students or friends will be in what role. Furthermore, the show always starts with a prologue as read by an adult member of the community. This, too, is a mystery, and the big reveal is often memorable.
One thing that is not being kept secret, however, is the new dragon costume to be featured in the Mummer’s Play. The junior class had a hand in the change by voting for their favorite one this past fall. Although the play has largely stayed the same for the last 98 years, many classes have tweaked it for the better by modernizing various components. Hopefully, this dragon will be with us for the foreseeable future.
This year’s show will take place on December 19 at 2:30 p.m. in Bardwell Auditorium followed by “tradition cake” in the Dining Hall. For many at Dana Hall, it is one of their favorite traditions and perhaps the best reason to look forward to the last day of classes in December.