Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Magic Maker of the Revels


Reading the Magic Maker, a book about John Langstaff by Susan Cooper (author of the wonderful Dark is Rising Series as well as many other books), was an excellent way to prepare for our annual journey to the Revels in Cambridge on Friday.

When John Langstaff died in 2005, he and Susan Cooper were working on a book about his life to be called Choirboy. It became The Magic Maker: A Portrait of John Langstaff Creator of The Christmas Revels. She writes:

I joined the Revels family in 1975, after being recruited by Jack (nobody ever called him "John" for more than five minutes) backstage at the previous year's Christmas production. For the next twenty years I wrote verse, short plays, stories, lyrics, program notes, record notes, and any other words Jack felt he needed. We became working partners, linked by respect, understanding, and the pleasure of the job we were doing; we grew to know most of each other's strengths, failings, and foibles, and when he died in 2005 I lost one of my three closest friends.


The Magic Maker is beautifully written and tells the fascinating story of a young boy sent off to board at choir school at age seven, a young man serving on the Pacific front in World War II with harrowing experiences and a serious injury, a performing life, a teaching life, and then…the Revels.

The words in the book that speak most personally to me are: "a musician who found his greatest delight in making audiences not listen but sing." For many years, when I was in the midst of children and a heavy schedule of teaching in the schools, I felt pulled away from my own artwork. Now that I have more time to devote to it, it doesn't have the same attraction. While I still love doing the work, I truly mean it when I say: I would rather teach a person to make something of her own than sell her a piece of my work. I want my audience not to look, but to do.

The Magic Maker can be purchased at the Revels website.

1 comment:

MoCrow said...

your words about teaching and enabling your audience "to do" are so profound, you let the world see your wonderfully inspired spirit books & you give so much time via your blog, your books and your bookmaking workshops. Oh how I wish I could attend a spirit book making workshop! one day maybe you will do one online for those of us living all the way out here in the Antipodes!

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