‘Welcome Yule’ at Turners Falls to celebrate change of seasons

Dec 3 2017

This year the celebration will feature the ideas of Loril Moondream. She focuses on the actual solstice and community practices around it.

Welcome Yule: A Midwinter Celebration of music, dance, song and story in the British folk tradition has been ringing in the return of the sun for 33 years in the Pioneer Valley.

“Welcome Yule” at Shea Theater Arts Center on Dec. 8-10 combines a consistent general format and recurring staple elements with changing themes and historic settings. Past themes have included Wales, Cape Breton, Appalachia, Ireland and Santa Lucia.

“Welcome Yule is not just a show in the theater for me. Being American Indian I have always celebrated and marked the seasonal changes. When I found Welcome Yule I was mesmerized, and my heart opened to people who celebrated the seasonal changes as well,” said Janice P. Mason, producer of the show and a member of the cast.

In the show’s mythical medieval village, cast and audience will join together to celebrate the bounty of the harvest at the end of the old year and the magical beginning of the new year. As the sun rises through the megaliths of an ancient stone circle, they will recall the old ways of nature and religion in a reverent, joyful, community festival.

“Welcome Yule has focused on many aspects of the midwinter season over the years, but lately we’d strayed away from this theme to ones which incorporated the changing season but didn’t focus on it,” she said. “When Loril Moondream proposed a whole show about the solstice it felt like getting back to our roots.”

Welcome Yule’s signature wassailing and seasonal songs will be on the program, along with some new music. As always, there will be a mummer’s play, the passing of the Yule log and the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Rose Sheehan established the show, but when she moved many of the people who had performed in it wanted to keep it alive.

Welcome Yule began as a group of friends, mostly Morris dancers, who came together to share their joy in dancing and singing with people outside of their own circle. “As Welcome Yule became better known and some original members moved away, the remaining performers decided to keep the show going as it had a life of itsown,” Mason said. “More people from outside of the original group joined. Slowly we realized that we had a new community that had grown up around Welcome Yule.”

“Welcome Yule” will be staged Dec. 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.

General admission is $12; the cost for seniors and children is $10, and children four years old and younger will be admitted for free.

“The show is filled with joy,” Mason said. “The performers telegraph their pleasure to the audience with the message that the sun will return, that spring always follows the dark days of winter and ‘all will be well again.'”

Tickets may be purchased online at welcomeyule.org or at the door. They also are available to Amherst Books in Amherst, Broadside Books in Northampton and World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield.



Nov 2018