Author Topic: s/o Ren faires and historical reenactment/recreation - how do you do yours?  (Read 869 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

English1

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 232
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  :D. 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?

What type of events do you do? What groups do you belong to?

Are you paid for what you do? Do you pay to take part?

What level of authenticity is expected where you take part? I know individuals vary in compliance, but generally...

What do you get out of taking part?

Is there anything you don't like about what you do/the way it is organised? what would you change about it?

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?

What type of visitors do you get? How do they respond to you?



« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 06:07:31 AM by English1 »

English1

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 232
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 might be wrong here, but I now think that ren faires are run by a private company, which organises big events, in which there are some vendors who don't dress up, some vendors who do, and some paid actors, although what they act out I'm not at all sure. Then the visitors dress up or not. But overall it isn't a historical recreation as such - it's more a themed fun event along the lines of a comic con or a games con? so you get really inauthentic costumes to the most part, more fancy dress than real clothes, with a few people who do go for authenticity just for personal satisfaction. And it's 'renaissance' in a very fantasy film way, there's no real restriction on period or authenticity, you get medieval ish, tudor ish, pirates ish, and then fairies and centaurs and just having fun costumes. Am I sort of right? They do sound like fun, I'm not putting it down for being different to recreations. Re-enactment - I see this as an authentic portrayal of a specific historic event (Battle of Hastings, for example). Recreation - an authentic portrayal of a specific historical period and situation (household in 1550s, for example)

What type of events do you do? What groups do you belong to?
I do a recreation at a privately owned Tudor mansion in the country. Around 300 or so of us participate - we aren't a formal group but just recruited by the owner. Each year we portray a specific year using the historical events of that year as context, and everyone plays a specific role in first person (ie 'I am Tom, I bake for the manor', not 'this is how Tudor bakers used to do it') with year specific clothes etc. It's on for three weeks each summer and some bank holiday weekends. I've done this for over 20 years, missing a year now and then, and played a wide range of roles but always in the lower class categories.

Are you paid for what you do? Do you pay to take part?
No, we aren't paid. Which gets some criticism as it's a privately run thing. But it wouldn't be feasible for those numbers, and most of us prefer being volunteers as we are under less control than employees would be. We have to provide our own clothes and kit - some is there as permanent features from the estate owner, but most people supplement the equipment to varying degrees. They provide all our food, and somewhere to camp.

What level of authenticity is expected where you take part? I know individuals vary in compliance, but generally...
High. Our clothes have to pass a check. Fabric, colour and style must be appropriate for role and year. (there's usually a run of fairly close years so we don't have to make new stuff every time). No machine stitching on show. Authentic shoes, although machine stitching is now allowed on those so people buy them from approved suppliers (when I started we had to hand stitch our own). the language is a sort of quasi Tudor - enough to give a flavour but not too much to be awkward for visitors. Nothing anacronistic should be seen. You must stay in role 100% of the time when we are open for visitors (we do have coffee area to retreat to for a break).

What do you get out of taking part?
These days, mostly socialising with the friends I have there! Lots of great evening parties once we are 'shut'. Also the chance to spend some time relaxing in a beautiful country setting away from the pressures of normal life. It's my annual re-charge. Depending on my role, I either enjoy the work I am doing or find it a bit boring. There's always something new to learn though. I also like interacting with the visitors, some more than others, although again after this amount of time it can get quite monotonous, I like the few visitors who stand out for some reason or other.

Is there anything you don't like about what you do/the way it is organised? what would you change about it?
Er yes, our favourite game as volunteers is how WE would run it, but on the whole it's ok. We have less freedom over areas of the estate than we used to have but there are a lot more of us now so that's understandable. It's changed a lot; some ways for the better, some ways for the worse. Most of the changes for the worse are inflicted by changes in society/law/H&S. So we can't offer the visitors a taste of any food, any more, for example. 
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?Very, I would say, within the bounds of what can be dealt with in the requirements of apparent authenticity. We have had several participants with serious disabilities. Modern aids etc cannot be used when we are open, but with a bit of friendly help, they've managed. I think the out of hours side of things may be more difficult for them. For example, there is a blind man who participates every year and gets around just fine. There was an elderly man who took part for many years then suffered severe stroke, removing his ability to move much or talk. for a few years until he died his family would bring him in the morning and collect him when we shut, and he spent the day in his costume, sitting on a special comfy padded wooden chair in his old work area, watching the world go by, and having friends drop by to say hi. It was very moving. Inauthentic race/nationality for roles is just ignored, people can still take part whatever their colour/accent, but the majority are white British.

What type of visitors do you get? How do they respond to you? On weekdays it is all pre-booked school parties. Other times it is open to general public. There's less interaction these days, people seem more scared to talk to us and just want to watch us from a safe distance, we don't know why and it's something we are trying to tackle. School parties vary. Personally I love the rather boistrous inner-city 'difficult' schools, as they are so much more engaged with what is going on and so excited even just to see a real live horse for the first time, for example, and they aren't shy about trying things and asking questions. Most participants find them, err, challenging, and prefer the quieter, younger children. General public, some really get it, some really don't. Some have a whale of a time and want to get stuck in, some just walk around with slightly pained looks on their faces. School parties are supposed to dress up slightly, weekend visitors are not allowed in costumes, to avoid confusion.
It's true that many have a problem with what is real and not real. Safety-wise, fire can be a problem. People don't seem to recognise it as a dangerous thing, even some adults. Or that a horse and cart with a combined weight of over one ton cannot stop dead when you decide to step in front of it. Even being in the countryside is a new experience for some and we have to rescue them from walking through nettles. Some things get a bit irritating - yes we really are going to eat the 250 loaves of bread we are baking authentically every day, we are not doing all this work for nothing! Yes, we really are going to eat that pottage four people have spent the last 5 hours working on to make enough for 150 people. Lots of funny visitor stories I could tell, but I don't want to bore you all any more than I probably already have!

« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 07:41:06 AM by English1 »

Lady Snowdon

  • Super cool awesome title
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5857
I don't think a Ren Fest/Faire is meant to be similar to historical period-accurate reenactment.  It's a place to go and be entertained - there's music, entertainment, crafts for sale, different food from what you normally find, etc.  For the patrons who attend, dressing up is voluntary and is not limited to the era that your fest is set in.  When working at the MN Fest this past summer, I saw everything from a period accurate doctor (complete with the huge beaked hat) to several young men dressed as Ezio from the video game Assassin's Creed.  Some people dressed in gorgeous Tudor outfits, and some people took a challenge to see how little they could wear.  At least for me, people watching is part of the fun! 

I have only done Fest, have never been a part of a historical reenactment or recreation.  I was paid for my work as a supervisor on the food and beverage side, but I've heard a lot of the smaller or newer entertainers at the MN Fest aren't paid.  People who attend have to buy tickets to get in, plus must pay for any food or beverages they want. 

As far as inclusiveness and diversity, the MN Ren Fest is a legal corporation and therefore is subject to all federal laws.  So a fair amount of effort is made to make things accessible for those who are disabled - the paths can be used by someone in a wheelchair, assistance dogs are allowed, things like that.  We also tried to note what allergens were in use so people would be aware and where possible, tried to minimize the cross contamination.  For example, one of the food booths that I supervised had coconut shrimp as an offering - we fried the shrimp in a separate fryer so that people who wanted french fries weren't getting the contamination.  And lots of time and effort went into trying to make sure that those from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds would enjoy the fest as much as anyone who grew up on tales of knights and fair ladies.

Thipu1

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6335
In our experience, Ren Faires are entertainment with a bit of historical education thrown in.

  Back in the 1970s the SCA did them at the Cloisters in Upper Manhattan.  The theme was Medieval rather than Renaissance.  Every attempt was made to make the event as authentic as possible.  As an example, African-American players  dressed as Moors and Asian-Americans dressed as Mongols with appropriate arms and armor.  There were displays of falconry, crafts and cooking. 

Unfortunately, things got a bit too authentic.  Hand-to-hand combatants started trying to beat the Deity out of each other and there were too many injuries for the event to continue. 

Later, we attended Ren Faires at Sterling Forest.  These were more entertainment than education.  There were even vendors who had signs saying that they accepted 'New World Express' cards.  The costumes were also a lot flashier but there  were still the falcons, the armorers and the food.     

On the other hand, we have a friend who is an American Civil War re-enactor.  He has appeared as an extra in several films about the period.    Everything these people wear and use has to be absolutely authentic.  This includes eye glasses, underwear and drinking mugs.   




VorFemme

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12303
  • Strolls with scissors! Too tired to run today!
The entertainers at the festivals who are passing the hat or selling something after their show - that's how they get "paid" for their appearance - it's called "busking".  Take extra cash to toss in the hat.  Buy a CD or DVD of their act, if you liked it that much.  But don't call them greedy because they need to rake in at least enough cash to cover travel expenses, food, special clothing that they can't wear many other places, and the like.  They may have "day jobs" (many musicians and actors do) - but let them earn a little something from their "passion", too!

Don't use the ATM to get more cash - those places are "active" as businesses on weekends only for six to eight weekends a year - the fees to get cash reflect that it is a special trip for the thing to be reloaded with twenties.  Take extra cash with you - this is one place where having a cache of cash can help - just because they take credit cards doesn't mean that their credit card machine might not fail due to cell phone signal drops, power drops, or just the common "someone dropped it and it doesn't work any more" form of accident.

I've never worked one - I would love to - but VorGuy doesn't see any point in reenacting anything before the invention of planes - that is HIS passion.  He does like martial history - but is more passionate about anything involving flight, in some form.  He was in the USAF, which might indicate why he feels that way. 

We went to a Roaring Twenties "dining experience" once - I referred to him as my "fly boy" who had been "barn storming" and the employees loved it...he got tired of it...  Being an introvert, the crowd gave him a headache before we'd finished watching their act & eating dinner (one price for everything - tip additional to our server).  I was making plans to make a "period" outfit for our next trip - only to find that he really does NOT like those events enough to ever go to a second one of the same type. 

Bummer...but if I can ever get him to the Medieval Times place, I have a dress or three to wear....it will be fun for ME!
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

cwm

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2427
I started going to the local Ren Faire when I was a wee small child, and I've gone faithfully every year. When I was in college, I joined a Renaissance fencing club (found them at the local Faire) and started going to events with them, which was always fun. In recent years I've learned a lot more about the hometown Faire (some of it good, some of it neutral, some of it downright stupidly political). I'll never actually act or perform at my hometown Faire, but I may volunteer for a day or two.



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?
Faires for me are just like they sound, a fair. Just like a county fair or state fair, it's a fun place to go, eat different food, and be entertained. Historical re-enactments or re-creations are designed to teach/show history in a living manner. They're completely different. One is for entertainment and the rules are a bit more "bendy", one is actually designed to be historically accurate to a stricter degree.

What type of events do you do? What groups do you belong to?
I don't act in anything any more. When I did, it was as part of a fencing troupe. Our personas were pirates, and we had four ships. Each Captain in our group was actually one of the fencing leaders, and his crew was his responsibility to teach fencing to, and also his responsibility at Faire to make sure we behaved ourselves. In College Town, we had two faires a year. There was the Spring and Fall Festivals. Also, around Shakespeare's Birthday we'd go to a local elementary school along with a lot of the paid actors from the Faire and give demonstrations.

I will never act for Hometown Faire. I will never get involved professionally with them, but that's because of a great deal of personal knowledge on my part, and personal issues with the people who run it. I didn't realize who it was until recently, and I didn't realize some of the other things they'd done. I have no issues with anyone who does decide to get involved, but I won't.

Are you paid for what you do? Do you pay to take part?
College: the fencing group was invited, and as long as we carried our own insurance, we didn't have to pay to take part. Individuals had to pay to be invovled with the fencing troupe, but we were all invited free of charge to the Faire. The insurance component was only because we had fights that were unscripted and unchoreographed. Other groups who didn't do live fights didn't have the higher insurance requirements.

At both Faires, only the actors doing professional roles outside of stands or entertainment are paid. Royalty, nobility, their immediate servants, and a very few of the other contracted performers are paid. Hometown, I know that includes the Gypsies and a very few of the pirates, but they fight the Sheriff on a regular basis, so they're more than just street performers.

I know that at some Faires, street performers are paid, but not the ones I go to. I support the buskers because they're out there doing their job and don't really have any time to walk around and enjoy the scenery. I know a lot of street performers, and a lot of them wish they'd get the chance to go shopping, or to go see other things, but the reality is they can't. They're always "on stage" even when they're not actively performing, and the pittance they earn in tips for them doesn't give them the chance for down time.

There are some of the food stands manned by high school volunteers. There's a sign saying what school, what group, and they get a proceed of the sales. The groups change on a regular basis, but they're putting in the hours as a fundraiser. I don't know if you'd consider that getting paid in the traditional sense, usually they're raising money for things like school trips or new instruments or uniforms, something like that.

What level of authenticity is expected where you take part? I know individuals vary in compliance, but generally...
For Hometown paid performers (royalty, nobility, etc. as described above) the costumes are expected to be perfect. Usually the royalty themselves (King, Queen, Princesses, and visiting Princesses from Spain that we have every year) the costumes are maintained and provided by the Faire. Upper Nobility (Lord Mayor and his family) may have their costumes provided as well, I'm not sure. I know College royalty had their costumes provided and cared for by the Faire.

Street performers, vendors, and everyone else, well, they take what they can get. Most of the time the people running things realize that not everything will be historically accurate. It's not impossible, but it's improbable, especially if they want to attract street performers and musical groups who may not have historically accurate costumes laying around, or the money to acquire them. Plus it's kind of a disconnect to require historically accurate costumes when someone's playing a modern guitar or banjo. I know a lot of people DO have decent costumes, but I'm also fairly certain that if someone from that time saw some of our street performing "Gypsies", they'd be horrified.

At college Faire, we had an SCA group. As far as SCA groups, they were snobs. I know not all SCA groups are like that, but these guys were. They looked down their noses at my fencing troupe because we had clothes that weren't historically accurate, they wouldn't let the fencers in their sub-area of the Faire because we were performers (not patrons) but didn't take the time to "do it right". That ended one day when the actual leader of our troupe went to their leader and said hey, yeah, we're not historically accurate. But our bodices, vests, shirts, and pants have to be strong enough to act as light armor. Our shoes have to be comfortable enough that we can move around in them. We have to have it affordable enough that anyone can get the armor, and it has to be easy enough to make with easy to find materials because one person makes nearly all of it by hand. For us, safety was more important than historical accuracy.

What do you get out of taking part?
Well, with College Faire, I got a great workout three or four times a day. I got to see the joy on kids' faces when they watched us fight, and then when they got to interact with us out in the rest of the Fairegrounds. I got to be part of a bigger whole and make a lot of great friends, as well as enjoy myself.

The people at Hometown Faire do it out of love. I know a lot of the people out there, and they'll sit there with a smile on their face saying how hard it is, how hard it is to perform in the rain, yell over the crowds, how they have to fight through sore throats, colds, flu, heckling patrons, instrument and costume malfunctions, and anything else that could possibly go wrong, and how much they wouldn't change it for anything. They get more views for their YouTube videos because people go home and want to show their friends this awesome group they saw at the Faire. They get a few more CDs sold. They make new friends with the other performers, and sometimes with the patrons who become regulars at their shows.

Is there anything you don't like about what you do/the way it is organised? what would you change about it?
College Faire was well done, very fair and clear with regards to what the requirements were for groups coming to work at the Faire. It was run by a council of people, the royalty traded off every year if there weren't any outside auditions (there never were any, as far as I remember), any groups that caused problems were told clearly what the problems were and weren't invited back the next year, but if they could prove that the problem was fixed, they'd be welcome again.

Hometown Faire...I'm not going there. A lot of politics and personal backstory go into it, and I'd hate to get myself that upset over it. I will not discuss it.

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?
College Faire never really had that problem, it was a small group of people who ran it, and they didn't have anyone audition who wasn't white. I heard a discussion that if they did, they'd come up with a good reason why that person was there, give them a good backstory, and do it with that person's input so as to not come off as demeaning. We did have a female in full plate armor fighting, which was pretty cool when the girls realized they didn't have to be the "princesses" and could still kick butt.

Hometown Faire, we've got plenty of people from various ethnic groups. The Gypsy troupe is a bit homogenized for my tastes, but that's because that's the people who passed the dancing audition. If someone else came in and could pass the dance auditions, they'd get in. I remember an Asian Gypsy one year (I think he was Korean, but I'm not sure), and we've had a few African Americans as Gypsies. We've also got several AAs in various other positions in the Faire. One of my friends, Bob, actually runs his own mini department of minions and oversees various audience participation shows. They're very inclusive that if you can pass the audition (named part, nobility or royalty, speaking scripted character) or get together a costume and fit the terms of the contract (street performers, people in positions like Bob who work and get paid but don't have scripted parts), you're in. No questions asked.

What type of visitors do you get? How do they respond to you?
College Faire had a lot of elementary school kids, especially after we started doing the outreach to the schools for Shakespeare's Birthday. We got a lot of people who had grown up in bigger cities and missed the atmosphere of a Ren Faire. We got the usual crowd of high school/college kids who wanted to give everyone a hard time. The little kids loved watching real fights, especially the live steel and plate armor. As I said above, little girls were ecstatic that we had a female in plate fighting! We'd have little kids yelling at us during our grand melees to watch out, there was someone behind us! It was always fun interacting with them.

At Hometown Faire, I'm usually a Playtron. I dress up in costume, go out and pay my admittance fee, and get mistaken for someone who works there. I play it up, mostly because I know my way around enough that I can help people find what they're looking for, make suggestions as to shows to see, and answer general questions. I curtsey to little kids dressed like royalty, I love seeing the look on their faces when people believe in them.

Hometown has been going on for probably longer than I've been alive. I remember going there when I was a tiny little girl, and I've heard many people talking about how they grew up coming every year, and now they're bringing their children to enjoy it. It's a hometown tradition, and one we're very proud of. We get families coming in from out of town to visit and go to the Faire. We get college kids coming back home for fall break coming and visiting. We get the same people year after year. I've run into several friends while I was there, didn't know they were in town for the weekend. They had just come for the Faire, and we spent half the day together.

TheWeirdOne

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 60
Warning: epic wall of text ahead. Apparently 'concise' is not my strong point.  ::)

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?
Here in QLD we only have a few reenactments - mostly annual things. Reenactors and stallholders have to be in correct attire and behave ourselves, entertainers and volunteers less so, food stalls can do whatever they like. As a reenactor, I have to abide by certain codes - no watches or visible technology, good behaviour, use appropriate furnishings etc. I'm still fairly new at it, and in Aus we don't have ren fairs (basing all my knowledge of ren fairs from epbot). The main reenactment often has big events (jousting! hawks!) and each encampment/group will also hold displays/classes at certain times - I've learned how to make cheese and (theoretically) mead, spun thread and seen morris dances. The rest of the time reenactors have to be in character.

What type of events do you do? What groups do you belong to?

I'm a member of a renaissance fencing group and have been going to the annual medieval fairs we have here as a member of the public and a reenactor for a few years now. We are first and foremost a sporting group. We have a uniform and grades, and usually spend most of our day doing fencing displays. We try to have at least one bout going at all times, as it tends to draw crowds.

Are you paid for what you do? Do you pay to take part?
Nope, not paid. The public pays to get into the medieval fairs, but that doesn't go to us (I think it's mainly rent for the grounds). As we are a sporting group, we pay for lessons, equipment, insurance etc, but we also get into the medieval fair for free. A lot of the people at the medieval fair are volunteers - I presume they get free entry in exchange for labour. Some of the entertainers (I'm thinking mainly of the wandering stilt walkers and jugglers) may also get paid.

What level of authenticity is expected where you take part? I know individuals vary in compliance, but generally...
There is variation between reenactment groups, but my group is very reasonable. Authentic looking fabrics, some leeway with footwear (for instance, I was able to wear some tall black boots that had an inside zip, but not my black hiking boots, and some of the people in my group wear Docs). We are more relaxed for general training. Ear plugs must be removed, earrings are ok, people with glasses can wear glasses or contacts. If there's someone dressed inappropriately one of the senior fencers will talk to them about it. Despite the inauthenticity, about half of us are female, so there's a bit pile of 'inauthentic' right there.

Possibly the reason we are more easygoing than some groups is that we are a sporting group first and foremost. Period exact shoes may be more authentic, but they have less traction, hand stitched shirts would cost tons more than machine stitched, plus everything HAS to be machine washable. Our main priority is behaviour - we have weapons, even if they are tipped, and so safe conduct is a must. When in our camp, we can also only be seen to use authentic props/furnishings/food. We will do things like hide our modern camping chairs under appropriate fabrics and hide our backpacks and food in authentic looking chests. However, outside the camps we don't have to stick to those rules - visible wallets and soft drink cans are fine.

The other groups are pretty similar - it's a balance between authenticity and practicality. The gypsies use period appropriate musical instruments, the camps with dogs keep plastic bags in their pockets. Also, we generally keep our native accents.

What do you get out of taking part?
I get to play with swords. ;D I have found that other reenactors are more friendly if they know you are a reenactor, but as everyone's baseline is 'hey, come see our camp and learn about some awesome stuff' they're pretty friendly to begin with.

I will admit, I enjoy attending as a member of the public more than a reenactor - as a reenactor I can't leave the camp whenever I feel like it, and unless you want to fence all the time (It is summer, I am hot, and I only just sat down. Go challenge someone else) it can be a bit dull. While we are all friendly and socialise outside of the group, I much prefer to go around and see all the different camps and watch the gypsies than talk all day. However, this may be because when I used to attend as a member of the public I would spend all day going to the talks and classes. My solution for this year is to go as a member of the public half the time and as a reenactor the other half.

Is there anything you don't like about what you do/the way it is organised? what would you change about it?
Nope, I think it is organised just fine. That may also be because we are right next to the oil wrestlers though.  :D Some more communication between all the different reenactment groups would be nice - they had an open archery tournament last year that we would have entered if we had known about earlier.

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?
I've never seen any problems personally. We have age restrictions and someone who physically could not hold a sword might have a problem (again, only because we are a sporting group). We have female jousters and fencers (who don't pretend to be male), no issues with race, disability or gender that I've seen. From seeing how the quite obviously caucasian reenactors in the non-causasian based groups go about it, it seems to be ignored completely.

What type of visitors do you get? How do they respond to you?
Everyone, from little kids to the elderly. The vast majority of feedback is positive. I think last year the major complaint was not enough seating.

darling

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 221
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  :D. 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.  ;D

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.  ;D 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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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?
« Last Edit: December 20, 2013, 12:33:55 PM by darling »

cwm

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2427
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?

That is an AWESOME story, truly. It's always fun interacting with the visitors to a Fair, because you never know what they'll do. Sometimes they'll come up with something like this and surprise you.

VorFemme

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12303
  • Strolls with scissors! Too tired to run today!
For fun - I take a pouch of "gold" coins - the USA came out with dollar coins ($1) when I was in college (Susan B. Anthony) but they never really got into common use - too close to the quarter ($.25) in size and color.  Since then, the dollar coin has been redone with a gold colored cladding - making it somewhat easier to tell apart by sight.

The post office and a number of parking meters give them out - or I'll pick up a roll or two at the bank or credit union before going to the Festival.  VorSon loves it - he has a green velvet pouch that was made from scraps from his green velvet (kimono based) robe - so he fills it with his change and more dollar coins, mostly for the tips to the buskers (a centaur, an elf maid with a violin, an Ent, and a maid with a tiny "unicorn" on a leash - looked like a young goat with one horn - possibly some nail polish was used to make the horn look even "prettier" as I don't think that goat horns are that "pretty" without some cleaning & polishing). 

I have gone to the Atlanta and the Texas Festivals (the one near Houston) - I'd go to others - but those two are where I visit family or live (lived, at one time) so I am familiar with them. 

They are not 100% authentic - they are for fun - and some people are paid & others "busk" (work for tips, pass around a hat, etc.) - I try to make sure that I have money for tips...sorry, can't afford $5 bills.  Don't always feel the need to get a CD of the act, either.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2013, 03:49:51 PM by VorFemme »
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

cwm

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2427
Re: s/o Ren faires and historical reenactment/recreation - how do you do yours?
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2013, 03:56:14 PM »
For fun - I take a pouch of "gold" coins - the USA came out with dollar coins ($1) when I was in college (Susan B. Anthony) but they never really got into common use - too close to the quarter ($.25) in size and color.  Since then, the dollar coin has been redone with a gold colored cladding - making it somewhat easier to tell apart by sight.

The post office and a number of parking meters give them out - or I'll pick up a roll or two at the bank or credit union before going to the Festival.  VorSon loves it - he has a green velvet pouch that was made from scraps from his green velvet (kimono based) robe - so he fills it with his change and more dollar coins, mostly for the tips to the buskers (a centaur, an elf maid with a violin, an Ent, and a maid with a tiny "unicorn" on a leash - looked like a young goat with one horn - possibly some nail polish was used to make the horn look even "prettier" as I don't think that goat horns are that "pretty" without some cleaning & polishing). 

I have gone to the Atlanta and the Texas Festivals (the one near Houston) - I'd go to others - but those two are where I visit family or live (lived, at one time) so I am familiar with them. 

They are not 100% authentic - they are for fun - and some people are paid & others "busk" (work for tips, pass around a hat, etc.) - I try to make sure that I have money for tips...sorry, can't afford $5 bills.  Don't always feel the need to get a CD of the act, either.

One of my favorite performers at the hometown Faire has a speech perfected.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we're not here just to entertain you. No, we're here for a far more serious cause. The sober musician's fund. Every day hundreds of musicians in this world go sober. (laughter) Fix it.

Dig into your purse, your wallet, your pockets, take out all your bills. Take your tens, your twenties, keep those for the ride home. Use the rest to donate to a good cause, and help sober musicians the world over."

It's fun, and if I go back, I may start taking gold coins too. It's a great idea, and would work really well with my persona out there.

artk2002

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12570
    • The Delian's Commonwealth
Re: s/o Ren faires and historical reenactment/recreation - how do you do yours?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2013, 05:02:27 PM »
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?

There is a continuum across these, varying in authenticity and approach.

What type of events do you do? What groups do you belong to?
I worked at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California, which started the whole Ren Faire thing many, many years ago. While there I played in the "Nightwatch" which did the opening gate pre-show. If any of you came to the Faire while it was at Glen Helen park and were there for the opening, it's likely that you saw me. You may have even learned to dance a bransle under my instruction. The Nightwatch also played for several of the dancing groups at the maypole.

I've done SCA (briefly) but the biggest thing I did was tour the UK with a set of living history re-enactors. At that time, in the UK, there were more "costumed interpreters" at historical sites than actual re-enactors. Although in costume, they would present things in the form of "in the 16th century, people would..." What we brought were actual characters that people could interact with. For instance, we spent a couple of days at Buckland Abbey and one of us played Sir Francis Drake who owned the house. The rest of us played household characters around him.

Are you paid for what you do? Do you pay to take part?
I got paid for Ren Faire since I played in one of the resident groups. I paid to go on the living history tour of the UK.

What level of authenticity is expected where you take part? I know individuals vary in compliance, but generally...
The SoCal Ren Faire has declined in authenticity dramatically over the last few years; so much so that many people have stopped participating. Undecorated food trucks anyone? When I was there (early 1990s), it was far more authentic. The living history tour was extremely picky about authenticity.

What do you get out of taking part?
The same thing that any actor gets. The thrill of working an audience.

Is there anything you don't like about what you do/the way it is organised? what would you change about it?
I haven't participated in years. As I mentioned above, the SoCal Ren Faire has become more and more commercial. I found the SCA to be extremely cliqueish and left during one of the rebellions against the self-perpetuating Board of Directors. The touring group was great except for the leader who had a number of emotional issues and couldn't understand that people need to eat occasionally.

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?
Ren Faire's always been pretty good, as is SCA. The touring group was by audition so inclusivity wasn't a parameter.

What type of visitors do you get? How do they respond to you?
All types, I guess. The Ren Faire tends to attract the drunken frat boy type, or rather it did until the cost of the beer got to be prohibitive. Haven't been in years so I'm not sure what the audience is like now. The touring group got lots of locals around the venues where we played. They responded very well, enjoying the interaction with people who lived in the venue during the period.

Interestingly, one of the favorite times for visitors on the tour was when we did "dining in public." I guess that they expected us to gnaw on bones and toss them over our shoulders. Watching us eat like civilized people was a revelation for them.

For your entertainment, these were taken at Buckland Abbey (and yes, I made my own ruff.)


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

SoCalVal

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2105
Re: s/o Ren faires and historical reenactment/recreation - how do you do yours?
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2013, 01:06:48 AM »
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?

There is a continuum across these, varying in authenticity and approach.

What type of events do you do? What groups do you belong to?
I worked at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California, which started the whole Ren Faire thing many, many years ago. While there I played in the "Nightwatch" which did the opening gate pre-show. If any of you came to the Faire while it was at Glen Helen park and were there for the opening, it's likely that you saw me. You may have even learned to dance a bransle under my instruction. The Nightwatch also played for several of the dancing groups at the maypole.

I've done SCA (briefly) but the biggest thing I did was tour the UK with a set of living history re-enactors. At that time, in the UK, there were more "costumed interpreters" at historical sites than actual re-enactors. Although in costume, they would present things in the form of "in the 16th century, people would..." What we brought were actual characters that people could interact with. For instance, we spent a couple of days at Buckland Abbey and one of us played Sir Francis Drake who owned the house. The rest of us played household characters around him.

Are you paid for what you do? Do you pay to take part?
I got paid for Ren Faire since I played in one of the resident groups. I paid to go on the living history tour of the UK.

What level of authenticity is expected where you take part? I know individuals vary in compliance, but generally...
The SoCal Ren Faire has declined in authenticity dramatically over the last few years; so much so that many people have stopped participating. Undecorated food trucks anyone? When I was there (early 1990s), it was far more authentic. The living history tour was extremely picky about authenticity.

What do you get out of taking part?
The same thing that any actor gets. The thrill of working an audience.

Is there anything you don't like about what you do/the way it is organised? what would you change about it?
I haven't participated in years. As I mentioned above, the SoCal Ren Faire has become more and more commercial. I found the SCA to be extremely cliqueish and left during one of the rebellions against the self-perpetuating Board of Directors. The touring group was great except for the leader who had a number of emotional issues and couldn't understand that people need to eat occasionally.

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?
Ren Faire's always been pretty good, as is SCA. The touring group was by audition so inclusivity wasn't a parameter.

What type of visitors do you get? How do they respond to you?
All types, I guess. The Ren Faire tends to attract the drunken frat boy type, or rather it did until the cost of the beer got to be prohibitive. Haven't been in years so I'm not sure what the audience is like now. The touring group got lots of locals around the venues where we played. They responded very well, enjoying the interaction with people who lived in the venue during the period.

Interestingly, one of the favorite times for visitors on the tour was when we did "dining in public." I guess that they expected us to gnaw on bones and toss them over our shoulders. Watching us eat like civilized people was a revelation for them.

For your entertainment, these were taken at Buckland Abbey (and yes, I made my own ruff.)




I think I remember seeing you (or else there are a lot of guys who look like you)!  Sad to hear about the SoCal Ren Faire.  I haven't been in years (and only when it was at Glen Helen); I'm glad I haven't been around to see the food truck aspect of it.

I went to Dickens Faire this year and saw some items at one vendor's booth that I swear looked like tie-dye.