Intrigued by some of the info on the other thread, would it be fun if we asked and answered a few questions about what we do, and compared things?
I know very little about ren faires. To be honest, in the UK most re-creators have heard of them, seen the photos, and tend to be very snooty about them as being a sort of second-rate approach to re-enactment as very inauthentic. Those are the prejudices I've learned. But the other thread has made me think maybe they are not intended to be the same sort of event at all. And they sound like fun. So - teach me the truth about them, please . and I'd like to learn more about other countries' approaches to re-enactments as well.
My questions, which I will also answer in another post (but please feel free to ignore them and just talk about whatever you want, and ask me questions too).
Do you see a basic difference between the purpose of ren faires, re-enactments, and re-creations? Which do you do? What do you think the others are?
I do ren faires, and the goal is to provide a mix of entertainment, education, awesome food, and shopping.
What type of events do you do? What groups do you belong to?
Our group is a Royal Court, with educational and entertainment presentations and shows. Our group does 4 different faires a year, in 2 different states. Individual members may do different events, or appearances. For example, we once did a dancing exhibition at a mall, along with a ribbon cutting ceremony, for a new children's play area with a castle theme. We've also done parades and other promotional appearances. I've done talks for a community art group as well.
Are you paid for what you do? Do you pay to take part?
We are paid a nominal amount. We are actually a non-profit organization. Most of our pay goes to travel, lodging, food, and a bit for upkeep of the clothing.
What level of authenticity is expected where you take part? I know individuals vary in compliance, but generally...
I give a talk on noble women's clothing, so my clothing and underpinnings have to be pretty accurate. I'm sort of the unofficial wardrobe person, in that I try to steer people towards the right style, color, and fit, but there is a lot of leeway, as not everyone can sew. The clothing can be extremely expensive if you have to have someone else make it. Not everyone is willing to spend a couple thousand on a gown. I make all of my own clothing for this. In fact, the only thing I ever buy ready-made are socks, bloomers (light cotton sleep cropped pants work best), and shoes. Like everything, there are fashion trends that occur within the faire community.
What do you get out of taking part?
A huge chance to meet new people, including well-known groups and performers. I also get a chance to travel a little more than I normally would. Our furthest faire is 10 hours from where I live. My character is a romantic character, so, although I hate to admit it, part of why I like it is that I feel beautiful at faire in a way that I just don't in real life.
The best part though? The kids. Some of the kids, I see every year, and watching them grow up is fun. We have a pair of sisters who always come to see us, and get made Ladies-in-Waiting. Their mom told us that they have a special frame on the fridge that they put the new photo in every year. They've been coming to that faire for 6 years, since the girls were pretty young. I also had a little girl tell me that she was so excited to be there. She had never been in England before.
I about melted, and I gave her a special token that I keep for those little special moments, and told her that I hoped she enjoyed visiting my home.
I'm also sort of an introvert outside of faire. At faire, I feel like I can really be myself, because there is this character I can sort of hide behind.
Is there anything you don't like about what you do/the way it is organised? what would you change about it?
Some of the faires don't pay well at all, and I feel some owners don't value the performers. They just see the money spent, but they don't see how hard we work, in all weather, to made certain that people have a good time. It's very hard work. I don't think a lot of people realize that being "on" from 10-6, even when on the way to the restroom, is very exhausting. I've been doing this for years, and trust me, no one does it only for the money, although some people do make good money. Without the performers, basically the faire would just be an outdoor mall.
To be honest, I would change some of the rules about costuming, especially for vendors and some types of street performers. I would love to see more middle class portrayals among the vendors. Right now, we've got people mostly dressed like peasants, because it's cool and comfortable, but I would love to get the women in non-food booths into nice linen dresses in appropriate colors and styles. Not going to happen though. I also have certain opinions about the necessity for structural undergarments, especially for performers, as in, if you wear a bra in "real-life", please wear one at faire (or the appropriately fitting renaissance counter-part), or at least make sure your shirt isn't see-through.
How 'inclusive' is your event with regards to making allowances/special arrangements for people with disabilities for example, or those whose ethnic group doesn't match that being portrayed?
There are no exclusions whatsoever, unless you got on the "banned" list for bad behavior. Some individuals of different ethnic groups enjoy portraying historical characters from their region of origin, some prefer the more English styles, or even privateers or barbarians. All restroom facilities have disabled access stalls, and we have vendors and performers and guests with disabilities. For performers, you just have to be able to physically get through the day, while performing.
What type of visitors do you get? How do they respond to you?
We get all types of visitors! Generally the response is good. Occasionally I'll get a know-it-all who has seen a highly inaccurately costumed TV series who'll try to get smart with me, but I give as good as I get. Because my character is noble, I can get away with a lot. I always correct people with humor, and a big part of the show is the ability for creative insults. However, if someone is genuinely interested, I will go out of my way to help them find resources that will help them learn. If they are making fun of us, or are being annoying, they get the tongue-lashing they deserve, and usually go away smiling (it sometimes takes awhile for renaissance insults to sink in, then when they get it, they are too busy laughing to be angry).
I caught one boy in a group of teenagers, who was eating cookies from our table of snacks last year. I told him that if he wanted to keep out of the stocks, he had to pay the chocolate tax, because he stole the queen's cookies. I told him to present himself to the Queen at 3:00 sharp, to apologize for his egregious act. It was hilarious, because all of his friends were just dying laughing, and this kid was laughing and protesting through a mouth full of cookies. The last laugh was his, though, as he showed up, right on time, with a piece of truly decadent fudge that they had pooled their money to buy (less than 50cents each, so not a huge deal). They caught me off guard (up on a table getting skirts pinned after my show), and I confessed that I had been kidding about the chocolate, but he told me that they had to do it, because when and where else would they have this kind of experience.
So, I made a huge deal out of the whole group, escorted the young man and entourage to the Queen, presented him very elaborately, with an explanation, and the boy made a short apology speech and presented the chocolate to the queen. I swear, everyone was practically crying with laughter at that point. And the fudge was awesome! We let them kiss our hands, the Queen knighted him for being so honest, and providing such wonderful chocolate, and sent them off to commit mischief elsewhere.
Like he said, where else can you do something like that?