Highland Weekend

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Nothing like breaking the all time attendance record 2 days in a row to make your fair feel like a champion! Now I could bring up about how amazing the crowds were, or how phenomenal the cast was. But what I’d really like to do is take a moment to recognize RESCU Foundation.

For people out there who don’t know, you don’t get health insurance for working at a Ren Fair. In fact if you get paid (in cast) you’re among the lucky few. It’s sort of like being a self employed hobbyist. So if you get injured or need help with medications, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to take care of yourself without breaking the bank. This is why most people who work at fairs (both cast, stage shows, crafters and such) usually work a day job in order to accommodate doing what they love.

We take working for the weekend literally.

Anywho, the RESCU Foundation stands for Renaissance Entertainers Service and Crafters United. Their organization does what it can to raise funds to help promote and maintain the health and medical well-being of Ren Fair participants, historical performers and the like. They are completely not for profit group and do their work through donations.

A RESCU Ralley sometimes gets held to help drive the donation process. A bunch of people from different fair booths will donate some of their merchandise to the cause and we hold a big party with food and drink one night after fair. There are (for our party at least), 4 ways to win a prize. You can buy tickets for the brown bag prizes or for the raffle. Or you can bid on an item during the silent and live auctions. It’s a great way to get your hands on items for cheaper than they would normally go for, although the bidding wars can get pretty competitive on the good stuff!

So even if you aren’t a member of the Ren Fairs, please take a moment and donate just a little cash to them! You can even get a really neat pin or CD’s.

http://www.rescufoundation.org/home.html

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Pumpkin vs. Watermelon vs. Rain & Romance Weekend

For only the second time in it’s 23 year history, the ORF had to close due to weather.

Now let me be plain. It was not the rain itself that was the issue. We have been out and playing in the rain and mud and sludge and done it with a smile.

It was the fact that the parking lot had become impassable. It presented a danger to patrons (and their cars) and as such just wasn’t safe. From what I heard we had people waiting at the gate in the downpour to get in regardless.

Still, yesterday was a lot of fun! Pumpkin vs. Watermelon wars is always a big turn out and it’s fun to see the ways in which people choose to align themselves.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Let me explain.

Some Ren Fairs have a fools weekend or something along those lines. It is a chance for the cast to engage in some well meaning anachronisms and decorate themselves in wilder (not necessarily period) garb. Since our festival falls at the end of summer, the Watermelon/Pumpkin is symbolic of the end of summer and beginning of fall. We have a Pumpkin/Watermelon Court, with Queens, Kings, princesses, vizir, master of talents. We dress up in the preferred colors of our chosen gourd and parade around. There is even a “War” where we have sack races, egg toss, all that good stuff. I would love it if we had a watermelon and pumpkin pie eating contest! I should suggest that next year.

We also had a bratwurst eating contest that went down WONDERFULLY! We even came up with a really good idea for next year! Won’t go into it in case it doesn’t happen. But still I hope it does.

The lovely gentlemen at The Lost Viking Hoard http://www.lostvikingshoard.com/
took cast pictures today! I am so excited! They do such wonderful work and are so fantastic to do this for people.

Just as a quick extra, this is what ORF looked at by 4 p.m. this Sunday.

By the Y Bridge

By the Y Bridge

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-The Aleing Knight Pub

ROMANCE WEEKEND

What better way to celebrate Romance Weekend than with an interview from The Other Woman, Scarlet Lattaire!

How long have you been known as Scarlet Lettaire?

4 years.

Where did you get your start?

I did my first commercial when I was 6 mths old and continued from there. I started doing standup when I was around 23. I got my first ren gig when I auditioned for a three part girl group in Toronto and was cast as Charity in the limeybirds. I performed with them for 7 years.

Were you nervous when you first had a stage show?

Not really. I had been performing for sooo long. My First solo Scarlett show was another matter. It was ALL me and I’d written it in three days. I’d gone to Arizona to bartend and found out when I got there that my visa wouldn’t Allow me to have an hourly wage Job. So the E.D. Offered me A stage spot… And Scarlett was born.

How many venues do you preform at?

Differs every year. Sometimes four or five long run shows per year, sometimes 7 or 8 shorter or one weekend shows.

Which is your favorite?

ORF. I LOVE performing here. Louisiana, cause I love new Orleans, Arizona cause its soo beautiful… Wherever I am is my Favourite.

What is the most difficult thing about being a Renny Stage Preformer?

Hmmm. It’s a lot of work. Unlike being in a theatre you don’t have a stage manager, and everything Is subjective to change. Unlike being in one location, you don’t have an agent.., so you have to do all your own bookings, accounting, contracts etc. I guess what I’m trying to Say is that you are responsible for everything. Especially in a solo show.

What is the BEST part about being a Renny Stage Preformer?

Everything. The people you meet, the freedom, the travel.., I get to do what I love. Perform. Very few people can actually make a living doing what I do.

Is there any advice you would give to people interested in performing at a Ren Fair?

Sooo much. There is so much you Learn just from trial and error. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I guess with patience. It takes a long time to build a rep, and book a full year. So you better be willing to work a shop or kitchen in your off times.

Did you know that some people have no idea that Ren Fairs have stage shows!?

Crazy!!! I know people think we all travel around together like a circus.

Like a bunch of educated carnies.

Ha!

I may have little hands, but I don’t smell like cabbage!

Anything else you would like to say to people curious about life as a Renny?

There is an utopia. It does exist. There are drum jams and pot lucks and the best people on earth!

Make sure to LIKE https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Other-Woman/143824662318197

Barbarian Weekend

Something about fair creates opportunities that really can not occur anywhere else.

You can come up with a simple little song, just something that kinda gets in your head. And if the right person likes it, suddenly you have a full on Pub song!

It really is something amazing when people get together to create something good. On that note I do want to thank all the people who put time and effort into making my little song something really worthwhile. If it goes where we want it to go, I’ll be sure it gets posted here in all it’s glory. But for now I will just post the lyrics so that I do have them down in some sort of form

We’re All Friends Here
Chorus:

And she sang
Bring me a whisky
Bring me a stout
Bring me an ale
We’ll close the pub out
Pour me a pint of your best dark beer
No use brawling
We’re all friends here

Twas a wild and a winsome lonely wind
 That knocked down the barmaid when I blew in
I cried “Beg yer pardon!”
But she said “No fuss.”
“Don’t matter if your down when you can still get it up!”

Chrous

I smiled at the lass and she winked back at me
Round two corks later we went for a spree
Was a banging and a crashing on the second story floor
When I thought we was finished
Still she cried “MORE! MORE!”

Chrous

When I woke the next morning
Feathers in my hair
I reached for me lassie but there was none there
Me watch and me wallet and me boots were gone
All she left was the notes to that damn little song

Chorus 2x
Last round clap to finish.

It was beautiful weather this weekend, which opened the opportunity for people to really get out and play. Two of our wenches had fun pretending to be mermaids in the puddles! It takes a lot of grit to sit down in a chilly pool of water, knowing you can’t change, knowing you have to walk around in those clothes for the rest of the day.

On that note, it’s also time for the Mid Fair Plague!!! That special time of year when the long days spent outdoors, chilly night temperatures and eating from a trash can start to get to you. Several people were down this weekend with the cold and flu. So be sure to take care of yourself and to stock up on antibiotics!

Pirate Weekend

One of the most popular weekends at ORF is Pirate Weekend! It’s no surprise of course. Who can help but have a fascination with the scurvy buccaneers and the freedom of the high seas? Not to mention the outbreak of Jack Sparrows that come every time. I think I suggested once taking a shot every time you saw someone dressed as a PotC character but quickly realized that it would take less than an hour to be dead to the world.

I have to admit I am thrilled to know that one of the pirate Captains in attendance this year is Grace O’Malley. Also known as Gráinne Ó Máille, queen of the Umaill. She is one of my favorite historical characters and frankly well played by the cast member who portrays her. So it was a special point of pride for me when I got to involve her in a wooing contest. 😀

Another of the great parts of pirate weekend are all the songs we get to hear from the crew of the Fancy Kraken. My favorite is The Worst Pirate Song.

If you’re a pirate I don’t believe it I don’t believe that you are capable of such deeds If you’re a pirate let’s see your wallet and we will see if you are licensed for the seas Are you capable of swinging from the riggings of a ship Or wearing a black do-rag when it really ain’t that hip I don’t think so, I don’t think so, at all

 

CHORUS: So where’s your eye patch Where’s your peg leg If you’re a pirate Where’s your gun Where’s your booty Your sassy parrot I can’t picture you on a bottle of cheap rum

 

‘Cause You’re the worst pirate, the worst pirate in the world You’re the worst pirate, the worst pirate in the world ‘Cause you’re a girl

 

So all you females just put your swords down I’m not a fool and I’m not amused You’ve got no hook hand, no secret island And pirates never go to the bathroom in twos So if this isn’t some sort of cheap prank Then tell me who exactly walks your plank Not me, not me No, nay, never, not me

 

CHORUS

 

A pirate vessel is not a bedroom No walk-in closet, there’s no bidet

 

There’s no pink loofah hanging in the shower and pirates don’t worry about what shoes they wear today

 

Because everyone knows that pirates just wear black They raise a flag of skull and bones when they attack Not birds and flowers, not birds and flowers, no way!

 

CHORUSx2

A little anti-feminist I’ll admit, but given the addition of our good crew I think they more than made up for it.
Unfortunately I ended up having to skip day two due to an asthma attack. Most unhappy about that. It’s going to be a long week.

Irish Fest Weekend+Interview with QE1!

Even when we have a slow weekend, there are always opportunities to have fun!

The Queens Choice had a particularly memorable moment after our 2:30 show at the Wine Garden. There was a young girl, perhaps no more than 3, who really enjoyed our singing. So much so that she didn’t want it to end! She was very upset when we left the stage so a few of us went over and gave her a private performance of Paddy Lay Back. She was so delighted to be included in the movements and singing! It brought forth something in my mind that I wanted to be sure to include in this post.

I wrote a while back about some of the reasons we do Ren Fair. And sometimes in our enjoyment of the fantasy we have created, we pass over our littlest patrons. We thrive on the bawdy wink and a nod mentality that usually applies to the money spending portion of the audience. We need them to survive after all. If nobody buys beer, drops a $5 in the tip jar or purchases that patchwork skirt, the fair doesn’t gain enough revenue to come back year after year.

So what about our little audience members? What do they mean to us? I know a lot of people out there have had some of their best experiences with children. What did you do? How did they react? What advice would you give to someone who’s character attracts children?

Well who better to ask than the Queen herself? Most fairs have some form of royal court, the ORF has Queen Elizabeth the First. She is one of the most well known and outstanding characters at fair. She is also one of the most visual intimidating characters ever. One of our cast members related it to the “Santa Claus Syndrome” children often get around Christmas time. They want to see her so bad but once their confronted with the reality…well…better let the lady herself tell you!

Connie (QE1)
When children come to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, they know there is a Queen there, and they want to see her. I am 5’9″ with a big crown on my head, a HUGE skirt, and jewels all over me. Sometimes when they see me, they stop dead in their tracks and don’t want to come near me. This is not only with small children, but with preteens as well. I know that they will regret not meeting the Queen, and I want them to feel more comfortable around me, so their parents can get happy pictures of them, and the child can leave with a bit of Festival Magic. So I try to distract them from the “aura” of the Queen, and get them to play with me. I get down on their level (usually on my knees), and talk to them. If I’m near a hat shop or a puppet, I’ll ask them if they like hats or puppets (or whatever is near, if it is child-appropriate. No weapons!). If they say yes, I ask them to come and show me which one they like the best. That usually puts them at ease, and we can have a fun conversation, and they feel comfortable enough to get close for a picture. If I’m not near any child-appropriate shop, I’ll say I think they look very smart, and then ask them if they can open my pocket-watch, if they can figure out how to use my fan, or which of my rings they like the best. That helps them to see a little bit of me, instead of being overwhelmed with the titanic me! The child leaves with the feeling that I think they are very important and that is my main goal!

Family and Friends/Labor Day Weekend

You find out a lot about yourself and others at Ren Fair. And without going into details I think we all made a very wondrous discovery this weekend.

During rehearsals we talk a lot about how our village is a family. How our cast takes care of one another. Most of the time this is something simple like mug of ice and water, a sandwich, an extra muffin hat so you follow historical accuracy. Nothing major, just helpful.

This weekend we all came to realize just how much we love one another and the lengths we will go to for the protection of our family. We stick up for one another. We stick by the side of those who make up our cast. We protect them from themselves and from anyone intending mischief. We protect the noobs from the creepers, we protect the wenches from dehydration, and we protect our queen.

Seriously, creepin on people who carry swords as a regular accessory…not smart.

So onto the more wonderful aspects of the weekend! Despite the sweltering heat, blazing day star and multiple visits to first aid, this season started off with a bang! so many people turned out that we were packed from the get go. Sallie had a lot of fun with the kids, especially when she insisted that 9 years old was young enough to be engaged and 14 was old enough to get married! I had a couple of fathers argue the point with me, till I reminded them that as the father, they got final say in the husband.

Suddenly they were on my side. *shrug*

We had the return of Friar Finnegan to celebrate! That man has the best stories with the worst jokes and songs you find yourself humming for the rest of the day.

We had a fantastic group (well new to ORF anyhow) preforming in place of the Swordsmen for our opening weekend. Carnivale’s performance was so wonderful that people were imitating it for the rest of the day! I really and truly hope they get a full contract next year so that I can actually stick around for one of their shows!

One of the best parts of the run is seeing people that you really only get to see during the season. Either they are too busy or too far flung the rest of the year to get together and say hi. You realize just how many people you know at fair when you go for a short walk after hours and don’t get back till past midnight! It was so very nice to see all my village friends again and next weekend I’ll have to head out earlier. I also got to meet some new friends I’ve seen around the booths.

On that note, never put a blacksmith, and engineer, and a creative crafter together…shit is gonna go down.

So here I am. back at my apartment, tired, sore, exhausted. I have 3 days worth of laundry and garb that smells like wet dog, repair work to do on my wedding staff, and sewing to accomplish if I want to be ready for Irish weekend on the 14th. Even though I suffered dehydration, blisters on my feet, only one though can possibly signify this weekend…

I-REGRET-NOTHING

Two More Days…

There is a nervous rush to this time. You just spent the last two months planning and it’s all down to a few measly days. You double check our garb, looking over every aspect a dozen or more times. You pack and unpack all your accessories, your baskets and daggers and mugs and wooden eating implements and bells (NEVER ENOUGH BELLS) because you need to be sure you have everything. You check back on the FB page every single time someone posts something because you never know if it will be something critical to you.

Projects that have been stalled or left incomplete are suddenly being finished within hours. Last minuet plans are finalized within guilds and groups with to the minuet updates. Anything involving “real life” is being put off till next Monday or, gods willing, late October.

Because very soon you will wave good by to all those things which tie you to this dreary time and enter Elizabethan England 1572. Be ya peasant, gentry, noble or pirate, your world will change to a pageantry of color, sound and smells that seem almost alchemaic in nature. A potion brewed specifically to breed creativity and joy within the realm.

That being said, this week is fucking DRAGGING BY!!!!

I swear any other time I feel like Tuesday and Friday are right next to one another. But for some reason this week seems to be taking forever to end! I am dying for the smell of fair dirt and turkey legs. (Don’t judge me! It’s better than the smell by the end of Day 3. Seriously there is a shower on site with hot running water people. Make use of it.) Everything is ready to go and I still have 2 days before I even pack it into my car!

Setting The Mood For Fair

The closet it gets to the run, the more obsessed I become with the fair. I am sure I am not the only one, either on cast or as a patron. So here are a few movies choices to help channel the anticipation and joy till August 31st! I included basically any movie, series or documentary from the Tudor era as most fairs are Henry or Elizabeth fairs. A few are medieval fairs so I included a couple from that era.


DOCUMENTARIES
-Monarchy U.K
-Horrible Histories
-The Madness of King Henry the VIII
-The Six Wives of Henry the VIII (2001)
-Faire: An American Renaissance

SERIES
-Elizabeth R (Genda Jackson)
-Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen
-The Tudors
-The Six Wives of Henry the VIII (1970)

DRAMA
-Elizabeth I (Helen Mirren)
-Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett)
-Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Cate Blanchett)
-Mary, Queen of Scots
The Other Boleyn Girl
-Braveheart
-Rob Roy
-Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

 

ROMCOM
-Shakespeare in Love

JUST FOR FUN
-Black Adder Season 2
-A Knights Tale
-All’s Fair in Love
-Robin Hood: Men in Tights

 

Taking Things To The Next Level

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When the last few weeks of rehearsals come forward, there is a flurry of activity about the faire. Less time is spent on basic improv skills, more time is spent on developing interfaire character relationships and establishing the finishing touches on your concepts. You do more scene work, which is a good thing. See, up till now you have largely been interacting with the rest of your cast mates as “yourself”. All the games and rehearsals have been about getting to know one another, coming out of your shell, and feeling safe to play. Now we have to reestablish/redirect all those comfort levels as our fair personality, which is an entirely different idea. Doing scene work in character reminds you that once the garb goes on, you have to react to those same people with a different mentality. The person you sat around with at lunch eating Doritos and chatting about Game of Thrones is now Lady Anne Knollys, sister to Lettice and a court lady. You have to reverence and show a different level of social interaction. They haven’t changed, but your character interaction is different now.

You spend a lot more time with your respective guilds. Village mostly interacts with village, court mostly interacts with court. Mind you this does NOT in any way establish some arbitrary hierarchy within the faire cast. It is simply the people you are mostly likely to associate with on any given day. If you are a Scruffin’s (rat catcher)it’s probably more feasible that you will interact with the scarecrow than John Dee (Queen’s Alchemist). You also do a great deal of work with the “Act” Guilds. Choir, Dance, Fight, Stunt show. These guilds are where you spend a fair amount of time through out the day. So your work with them become increasingly important. You are putting the finishing touches on routines, establishing who is available and when, making sure any drags in the act or transitions are covered. Especially for act that require close patron interaction, we discuss what you can and can NOT get away with during an act.

When push comes to shove, we are a PG-13, family friendly faire. There is some general bawdiness, some wink and nod commentary, but I’d say 80% of the fair is good for folks of all ages. That last 20% is what is known as the pub crowd. You get several warnings before a show of an adult nature to make sure that any delicate or unseasoned ears (anyone easily offended or underage) have time to remove themselves from the area. People tend to think that Ren Fair has no rules. That we can pretty much do whatever we want. Well, we don’t have many rules, but the ones that exist are firm in place. We rely a lot on people to have common sense logic and we rely on one another to give a mild, friendly correction if we see something getting pushed over the line. That being said, towards the end of the day most of the family crowd is headed home in the carriage with exhausted children, and whats left are the playtrons, the pub crowd, and the friends of fair who want to hear naughty songs while they finish off their 12th beer. Pub Sing gives both them, and the exhausted cast, a much needed release before gate closes and we all have to go back to the real world for another week.

All and all, this is the time when love comes into play. Love of the fair. Love for your guild. Love for the acting and the flair and the pageantry of it all. This is when you start to find out who is really dedicated to spending 4 months of every year sweating and running and panting and exhausted. It’s when you start to feel a little more of the panic set in with the neophytes. It’s also when you start to see the vets come in with a comforting word and some well earned wisdom. Letting them know how it goes down and not to be nervous. Giving them confidence by showing confidence helps a lot. And you can always depend on a vet to lend a helping hand.

A few vids from our Fighter and Choir Guild, hard at work perfecting their acts for your pleasure.



Skipping A Week

Urrgh. Remind me never to skip again. It gives one that same feeling you get in high school when you’re out sick and the teacher still wants you to turn in homework. Arguably I had a legitimate reason for it. I was exhausted, I had been sleeping on a blow up mattress for the last week and my wife told me to. But just because I skipped a week doesn’t mean I didn’t miss it. I’m already super excited to get back to work, as well as to start wearing some of my garb to practice.

This year we have a lot more preparatory work to do. Last year felt off-the-cuff by comparison. But now we have a portfolio and everything. It was a little annoying at first. But the more I work on it, the more I feel like I’m getting to know Sallie better than I did last year. I’m starting to feel like she’s an old friend coming to visit with all these new stories to tell me.

A while back someone posted this really interesting picture to the FB Rennie page. It was a picture of a shoe merchant with dozens of shoes hanging from him. It was meant to emphasize to us to think on how we can make our characters really stand out in the village. How can we show what our place and job is to the patrons. Originally I had just intended to make a small felt shield with two hearts on it to symbolize myself as the match maker. But the more I thought on it, the more I realized that would not be ENOUGH. I’ve been playing with my garb for a while now, and it’s helped me to step back a bit and realize that this isn’t “my garb”. It’s Sallie’s.

To put it another way, if I was making the garb strictly for myself, I would choose vivid jewel tones and rich fabrics. I would not be period for the most part. I would look like a character stepped from the pages of the newest fantasy novel.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about Sallie. Sallie is from Willy-Nilly-On-The-Wash. A small hamlet about three days away from London. She has a vocation but not a regular one. Matchmaking isn’t a daily gig so much as it is a free lance opportunity. (Which also begs the question, what does Sallie do to get by when pickings are slim?) She’s a peasant rather low on the Great Chain of Being (I think there are like…6 people between her and the pirates) So what does Sallie wear? How does she market herself? How does the matchmaker get reflected in the garb.

Hearts.

Hearts and flowers and wedding rings and bells.

Awwwww yeah. You gon see her comin a mile away.

I’ll need to get a picture or two done but I’ve been busting my ass this week on getting her skirt ready for revea.