Revels North is a theatre company steeped in tradition, according to their history on their website, revelsnorth.org. “Revels” began in 1957 when John Meredith Langstaff staged the first production of Christmas Revels in New York City, where its traditional songs, dances, mime, and a mummers’ play introduced a new way of celebrating the winter solstice. By 1974, Revels North was founded as a non-profit arts organization providing year-round, multi-generational programming which celebrates the power of traditional song, dance, storytelling, and ritual.Revels has been a profound positive experience for those in the Upper Valley for over 40 years. Upper Valley local and Quechee resident, Heather Nowlan, and her two children, Monet, 12, and Teelin, 9, had such an incredible experience the first time she saw a performance that she jumped at the chance to be involved. “My first experience with Revels was as an audience member, with my two children, at the 2016 Christmas Revels show at the Hopkins Center in Hanover. After that performance, we all were so moved by the music, the story, and by watching members of our community perform that I knew I wanted to find a way for us to be involved with Revels North,” says Heather.
Heather knew Nils Fredland, the Artistic Director for Revels North, through the Upper Valley Waldorf School where both their children attend and his wife is a teacher. Nils encouraged her to go to the family contra dances in the area and to join the cast of the Summer 2017 Revels. Having grown up in a family that was focused on music and dance, Heather jumped at the opportunity. She was the Children’s Chorus Manager and both Monet and Teelin performed.
Nils also suggested that Heather’s daughter, Monet, audition for the 2017 Christmas Revels where she again had an excellent experience in the Children’s Chorus making new friends, meeting the guest artists, and the other teams that were part of the production. “It was a rich, rich experience [for Monet], a kind of multi-generational experience that was very positive,” Heather says.
Finding their way to Quechee
Heather first moved to the Upper Valley in 2000 and lived in Cornish, New Hampshire, for most of that time until she moved to Quechee in February 2017. “I was drawn to the Upper Valley in 2000 by an internship at Saint Gaudens National Historic Site through the SCA [Student Conservation Association]. I later became an interpretive park ranger at the National Headquarters of SCA. I worked there for the next five years as both a recruiter for their national conservation crews and internships and as an AmeriCorps grant writer. When I became a mother in 2006 that became my full-time job,” Heather says.
After her husband, Lawrence Nowlan, passed suddenly in 2013, Heather also took over management of his collection of sculptures at LJN Sculpture in his Windsor, Vermont, studio. She was also inspired to move closer to Upper Valley activities, the Quechee community, and the Waldorf School.
Since moving to Quechee, the Nowlan’s have been actively taking part in many aspects of the community. “It’s been great for my little family,” she says. “We do most of the activities that are part of Quechee anyway; we love to ski and swim, and my son likes to play golf. There are these things that we are going to do anyway, so it makes it really easy for us to do all those things we enjoy… moving for us was a way to be closer to the school and the school community. The people that I’ve met here in Quechee have been so great and so fun, I love it.”
Teelin was on the Quechee Ski Team this past year and enjoyed it so much that even on freezing cold early mornings, he would still beat his mother to the door, dressed and anxious to go. Both Teelin and Monet are also on the Quechee Swim Team, and Teelin is at the Q-Crew summer day camp. Not only does living in Quechee make it easier for her children to participate in all these activities, but Heather also is enjoying her time within the welcoming and friendly Quechee community.
Expanding her involvement in Revels North
This past spring, Heather was approached to join the Revels North board as a member who has children currently participating and brings the perspective of a parent and active community member. She was happy to join and help support such a fantastic company.
“The Revels community has been so beneficial to be involved with, and I am proud to be part of such a wonderful group that enhances the arts in the Upper Valley and gives the opportunity to sing, dance, and perform to so many,” Heathers says, and joining the board was the perfect next step for her family’s involvement with the organization. Heather is looking forward to working with others who share like-minded goals for the Revels organization. Both Monet and Teelin are cast in this year’s coming Christmas Revels. While the whole production is still in development, it will have a Venetian theme.
To learn more about the Revels North visit www.revelsnorth.org.