You would not believe how much angst I had in my first year as a member of The Christmas Revels chorus. The culprit: shoes. It was 2004 and the show was set in medieval England, so we had to have very simple flat shoes. At one point I thought I’d had a pair of old shoes approved, but it turned out the person who said she thought they were ok wasn’t actually allowed to approve shoes, and their thick soles made them look too modern.
That meant, 12 days before the 2004 show opened, I discovered I was shoeless. This may not sound so bad, but I was totally stressed out. I was going to be spending approximately three bazillion hours standing over the next few weeks and I have picky feet. I was also new and didn’t have a sense yet of how flexible things were; I just knew there were rules about shoes, and I am a rule-follower.
The next night, I drove around the suburbs collecting pairs of black shoes. I brought them all to the next rehearsal – our first night in Lisner Auditorium – and showed them to Mari Parkar, a veteran Reveler who’d been assigned to be my “chorus buddy,” a kind of mentor who can answer your newbie questions. I told her I was afraid the costume ladies would pick the men’s slippers with the rock-hard soles and I’d be in pain for the next two weeks.
Seven years later, I don’t remember Mari’s exact words, but it was along these lines: “Here’s what you do, Helen. Only show them those two pairs.”
So simple, and so brilliant! They chose the reasonably cute black flats with subtle white stitching, which will be appearing this December in their fourth Christmas Revels. For most other shows, I wear a pair of boots I bought on eBay in 2006 (which apparently look 19th-century enough to get by). And, one year, I got to wear my completely fabulous Norwegian dance shoes.
It’s nice not to have to worry about things like this anymore. I feel like this was also a useful lesson. Follow the rules, yes–but also ask your community for help.
Want more information on the show or to buy tickets? Click here!
14 Replies to “Between the Feet and the Stage”
Ooh! Love the Norwegian dance shoes!
Thanks! I love those shoes. Sooo comfortable, and after I bought them, Norwegian folk dancing got easier. They have just the right size heel.
Fourth Revels? Does that count the year I wore them?
Oh my gosh!! I totally forgot about that! It’s their *fifth* Revels!
And my experience, of course, helps drive home your points that finding appropriate shoes can be stressful — and that turning to your community can help!
You’re so right!
Every time I’m in a Revels set in the Renaissance or earlier, I get to bring out the curly-toed shoes I bought at a Ren Faire many years ago. They really don’t offer enough padding or support, but they look neat! (Or they would if you could see them under whatever floor-length piece of upholstery fabric they end up draping me in that year…)
But John, you make such a wonderful chaise longue… how could the costumers do any less?
Haha. This is probably the third time I read this comment but the first time I read “costumers” and not “customers.”
I Still check out thrift stores looking for “Revels shoes” to buy and donate……and it gives me an excuse to go “shopping”.
I wish I knew how to post a picture of my favorite Revels footwear, thigh-length musketeer’s boots. It didn’t matter that the toes pinched; it was like wearing the fabled seven-league boots, they let me stride and stomp and posture, Old Deuteronomy in Boots.
Dick, I loved those boots! If you e-mail me a photo, I’ll post it.
Oh boy I am sooo there this year – a newbie spending > 20 hours shoe hunting and stressing for weeks. Luckily my chorus buddy is none other than Helen! She could a spot another “rule follower” and helped me channel the Revels’ “don’t stress, it will all work out” state of mind. And it did, at least for the shoes… (I do believe, I do believe, I do believe, Ohm)
Takes one to know one, huh?