Twelfth Night Revels - The Witches Table
Gathered outside the Globe.
_For some years now the Lion's Part an unusual theatre group have been running the Twelfth Night Revels.  A curious set of old British
traditions are played out on the South Bank outside the Globe
Theatre on the nearest Sunday to the Twelfth Night. This was my second outing to the Revels and, this year, at least we enjoyed clear weather, cold but dry!

We arrived early to find a group of players in costume and immediately threw ourselves into the tudor dancing whilst waiting for the Revels to formally start. More and more people arrived and  then more people in costume arrived until at last we were all huddled around a small part of the riverbank waiting for the Holly Man to be ferried up the river.  I love this part of the revels, there is a truly Pagan sense of anticipation in waiting for the Holly Man to come back to London. Obviously returning far too early for the Wheel of the Year calender but as one of the Players remarked "People just really like seeing the Green Man" and of course they do - we are all looking for the hope of Summer at this time of year.

_When the Holly Man emerges from the river the whole assembled company Wassails the boat, hoping for safe passage for the year for the sailors and this signal my favourite part of the proceedings.  I love Wassailing, I love standing with a group of disparate strangers
wishing for good cheers, safe passage and the tongues of poets to set
fire to the Globe.  Because once the boat and an apple tree are
wassailed the company always wassails the Globe Theatre for a fine
year of Playing.  I am not really much of a patriotic person but I was
proud to stand and wassail the globe for another fine year of creative endeavour.

The formal Revels end with a traditional Mumming play which was great fun, St. George battled the Cuts and stood as Protector of the Welfare State, the Doctor and assembled company healed St. George with magic wands when he fell in battle and all was well. The cakes were passed around and inside two a pea and bean led to the Crowning of King Bean and Queen Pea - in true 21st century style they were both, in fact, women busting those normative gender roles!

We didn’t go to the George pub afterwards for more stories, dancing
and the Kissing Wishing Tree but instead travelled our weary way home. But I feel like I have started the New Year off properly, seeing the Holly Man really does raise my spirit and wassailing everything in sight creates an amazing sense of community amongst strangers, however temporary.

Wassail.  Drink Hail.
1/16/2012 02:51:35

Oh, this post makes me miss living in London, Antara. Thank you so much for sharing it :-)

1/17/2012 13:02:12

You should come back and visit sometime!

1/19/2012 19:13:20

I'll be back in May 2013 (hopefully) for my brother's wedding... maybe we could organise a catchup coffee/beverage-of-choice

1/16/2012 04:35:08

This is such an atmospheric post, I had no idea such tribal revelry went on when I lived in London! The holly man reminds me of the burry man in Scotland.

1/17/2012 13:03:09

Oh it absolutely does happen, just in the hidden crevices and the cracks in the walls. The Lion's Part do three such events a year all on the Southbank!


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