Revel, Revel 

Hot fool, they love you so

12/12-12/21

Whether your winter holiday of choice is Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Festivus, or Christmakah, you can welcome back the light -- and simultaneously polish your Shakespeare -- at the eighteenth annual Christmas Revels. Despite its name, the seasonal event marking the longest night of the year blurs religious and cultural boundaries, and blends drama, music, dance, ritual, and audience participation. This year, the California Revels Winter Solstice celebration journeys back to 1599, the height of the Elizabethan Renaissance, to commemorate Gloriana's reign on the four hundredth anniversary of her death. In a casting coup, the Bay Area's favorite fool, Geoff Hoyle, plays Shakespeare's favorite fool, Will Kemp. Act One follows Kemp in his savvy 16th-century publicity stunt -- to morris dance his way from London to Norwich to meet Queen Elizabeth. Kemp's actual traveling/dancing pub crawl, during which he encountered all manner of people from tavern to tavern along rough roads made even rougher by winter weather, took nine days from start to finish, which he chronicled in A Nine Daies Wonder, hence the phrase "a nine days' wonder."Act Two finds Kemp joining a royal winter pageant in honor of Elizabeth I (played by Deborah Doyle), where he portrays Hades in a court masque depicting the myth of Demeter and Persephone, but not without a few tricks up his sleeve. Rounding out the cast is a volunteer community chorus of more than eighty singers, dancers, actors, and children, featuring Wendell Brooks, Dick Bagwell, the Brass West Ensemble, the Golden Ring Morris Men, and the Solstice Singers. According to Hoyle, "Revels differ from other holiday shows because they use very ancient folk rituals to create a sacred moment, a reflective moment, as well as a moment of high celebration and the suspension of social norms."

David Parr, resident director of the California Revels, directs the Christmas Revels at Oakland's Scottish Rite Center at 1547 Lakeside Drive. Tickets for Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. are available at CalRevels.org and from Frantix at 415-621-1216.-- Pat Katzmann

SAT 12/20

Lit of Lights

Maccababes

What must it have been like on that second night of Chanukah, so long ago? The Maccabees squatting around the temple, trying to figure out why the heck their lamp oil was still going -- it must have been pretty tense, far tenser than Second Night Delight, for sure. Tonight from 8 to 10 p.m., writers Elana Dykewomon (Beyond the Pale, Moon Creek Road) and Teya Schaffer (A Ritual of Drowning: Poems of Love and Mourning) read prose and poetry to celebrate the second night of this Jewish winter festival. All women are welcome to the event at Change Makers for Women, located at 6536 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, and though a $3-$10 donation is requested, no one will be turned away for lack of funds. RSVP: 510-562-2605. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 12/21

Christmas Island

When the Sistas wit Style throw a holiday get-together, be prepared for hurricanes of merriment. Island sounds and conviviality are the name of the game this Sunday, when the Sistas wit Style Caribbean Folk Performing Company and the Warriors' Adonal Foyle present their Caribbean Holiday Celebration -- a cornucopia of rhythm with live drumming by Val and Toni, children's party games, live music by D Magician from Trinidad, and of course the Sistas' dance routines, emceed by Joan Savoury of KSBT-TV. The fun begins at 1 p.m. at Fellowship of Humanity Hall, 390 27th St. in downtown Oakland. And it's free, mon. For more info, ring up 510-952-6287 or 510-387-7771. -- Kelly Vance

12/22-12/23

Sugar. Plums. Fairies

Still in the mood for some holiday sweetness? Itching to try on a little Santa? Take a break from canned entertainment and make your way to Lesher Center for the Arts' Hofmann Theatre for Once Upon a Christmas, a family-style narrated ballet danced by members of the Ballet Joyeux ballet school in Walnut Creek. Highlights include Santa's toy shop and plenty of visual sugar. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee Tuesday, at the Hofmann, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. Tickets cost $16, $14 for seniors and youth, and $12 for kids under twelve, and are available from 925-943-7469 or DLRCA.org -- Kelly Vance

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