kids

As you may have read in recent updates, babies are decimating our numbers. Our members joke about “just making future members” but the fact is that childcare is paramount and given the choice between practice and show, members (wisely) choose being with  their kids.

We are not without sympathy to this and we occasionally have our Godkids with us, and for the first time we had them on a working day under our supervision.  Renfaires are a much more forgiving place for “bring your child to work” but even this can be both lovely and problematic.

One friend forbid another friend from dating what he referred to as “renrats” or what is often a moniker for kids raised at renaissance faires.  (Long story, another post) These kids often are pretty tolerant of a wide variety of people, have some odd speech tics and because they are raised in what is considered an alternate lifestyle by many, just don’t give a fig for more conventional social mores. I’ve met some great “renrats” and have met some awful ones and we’ll talk about both examples.

It takes a village to raise a child but only one child to raze a village.

Although kids can generally roam free at faires pretty safely, the other denizens shouldn’t be raising your kids.  At the last faire, we had packs of roaming kids that would ask questions, hang out with us and we would hang out with them as well. They were polite and adorable and because it was a small faire generally a look up and couple of steps would let any parental figure do instant reconnaissance.  Most ren kids know that if they need food or water, most folks at a faire would give it to them and because it IS a small community, if anyone did harm, the community would be on them like scarab beetles on a corpse.  I’m not saying that the community is immune to all the plagues of the real world, but if I had to pick a place to have kids explore and have some autonomy, that would be the place I would do it. But they should have some rules. These are my observations

Politeness-same as any setting-please and thank you are important as is understanding that it is polite to ask before grabbing anything.  Most ren kids have better sword handling etiquette than visiting adults. I say MOST because some, raised around it, just assume everyone knows that they know enough to be safe. Not the case.  Because the community is so tolerant, sometimes the kids forget that they are not, in fact, little adults.

Looking out.
I am not the most maternal of persons but generally if I see a child doing something potentially hazardous I’ll intervene. If I see a kid swinging like an orangutan on a maypole or rocking a set of stocks,  I will be sure to say something to the child, 2) say something to the parents 3) call security knowing I did due diligence. I generally won’t touch children unless it’s a “walking on to the highway” situation. And yeah, I will scoop up your toddler if they head into a fight ring during a show because I’m a jerk like that and you aren’t on my insurance as anything but “hazard.”

Not my problem:
I see plenty of kids and situations that will mix in a not great but certainly non-fatal way. I can’t speak for anyone else but if I see a running child who is not looking vs vendor with strangely placed racks, I might shout-out but frankly, unless I’m a superhero, it’s going to happen.  I might  help clean the resulting debris and make sympathetic noises but at the end of the day, I’m going to go home and chuckle about a lesson learned and what a kid covered with pots of glitter looked like and will look like for years later. (Glitter, it’s a plague)

Finding the owner: This is a bad example.   We did a faire where I kept finding a fairly rude little girl in our tent. Our folks are nice and kept an eye on her but we had shows to do and had to boot her several times.  We figured out that she belonged to a couple running gaming booths behind us and we’d push her in that direction.  Eventually she went up to the right person. He was an older gentleman and said
“Young lady, you come with me.” And she did-right to the on-duty cop. When escorted her back to her parents, they started to berate her and the police had to correct them, it was not the *child’s* fault that she had the opportunity to wander off with a stranger.  There are bigger endemic issues when strangers feel obligated to act on behalf of your kids and are better caretakers. (I qualify that because lots of people have opinions, it doesn’t make them right.)

Warn people:  We warned both our Godkids and troupe members that there would be eyeballs in both directions. We did not expect them to take care of our charges but if they thought they needed water or were being rude, they were qualified to say something and act if necessary. And the troupe members were asked to muffle the f-bombs, and inappropriate jokes, which was a good idea anyway.

Their stuff-I have seen firsthand how a well-meaning parent will bring what I call “The Collection” that is, everything modern society has told us we need to care for children. It’s one thing to bring activities but when we start to talk about multiple strollers, play areas  and enough food to feed the mercenary troupe, well, it can be problematic. Ordinarily it’s not an issue because faires are open spaces but if you have paid for a vendor spot or are trying for authenticity, it can put a damper on things. And there are ways around it, one group I know is creating historical “child minders” or another dedicates a “kid tent” behind the others where all of the accoutrements can be stashed but available.

Our stuff: Swords and fire,  it’s right on our sign and business card. Has this stopped parents from berating us? No, but it gets a good laugh after the festival.  Our swords are in a rack in the tent, or we allow children (with a parent) to ask politely.  I have nudged a dog with my foot, the alternative was setting it on fire, I think the owner understood. I have yet to apply it to children but then, in those cases I was the spotter and treated them to a spritzer bottle-works with cats too.

The summary: You can let your kids run at a renfaire, but if you aren’t responsible, don’t count on us to be, we’re at work.

boxed

Sometimes when I write these things people ask
“Are you making this up?”
No, sadly I am not. So let’s “go there,” shall we?

Organizers-When you do performance you owe the organizer what you contracted (and that falls back on the organizer as well) You should show up on time, do the shows in a slot, do your best job and then collect your pay. What you do not owe the organizer is 1) your personal life 2) access to your circle of friends 3) use of your equipment 4) security 5) more than what you are contracted for in black and white.  6) favors.  From past entries we all know what a hot button the term “faire family” is for me. Often we are happy to do more than expected but only on a volunteer basis. We’ve been known to hold snakes, watch kids, pull a shuttlebus out of the mud, set up tents and chairs, load trucks and move wheelchairs over terrain-all because we were either asked nicely or offered to do so. The good thing about my blog is now I will dispense some practicalities.

When organizers start “fudging” terms, you need to be polite, use computer voice and point to your contract. If this does not shut down this behavior feel free to bandy about words like “contract dispute,” small claims court, local violation, police intervention and lawyer.  We designate my partner to do these things because he is large, eloquent and can hide his temper better than I can. (Let me be clear, we are equally pissed off but he is less likely to act impulsively) You may well not get paid and that’s when you bring in others that are an authority on the matter.

True Story: Organizer tried to make us be friends by threatening our paycheck

Fellow performers-whether it is the water cooler at the office or the middle of a field, you owe your coworkers at least basic civility. This means keep your stage times, be non-obtrusive while waiting to come on, announce them if they follow you, warn them of any hazards (ex: there is a problem with the stage, a certain patron may be an issue,  and look out you are about to get drafted for the Royal Parade)  If you are nice you’ll share water, shade, stories, etc. DO NOT join in drama (feel free to see my post “Drama”)  Some performers are scoping for after-hours fun, if you are game, fine. If not, a polite “no thanks” should be sufficient. All things equal, working at the fest means we swim in a location full of sexual innuendo, scatological jokes and more. And if you aren’t ready for that, well, not sure what to say. For me, the line is crossed when I’ve said “don’t like it.” Have removed myself and then it’s as though the words never left my mouth, or invited worse personal boundary violation.  And some people play the “Rennier-than Thou” game. I always let them win. Because at the end of the day, I have a full, solid, life that I enjoy and the only person I have to one-up is me and my personal standards. If you are experiencing personal bullying then it’s a step too far.

I admit our troupe gives one another verbal shots to the arm, but if someone has a grievance we do our best to address it. And if you have issue with others but it’s not enough to try to rectify, well that’s when we have what is referred to as “Car Conversations.”  It’s often a long ride back to sleeping arrangements and you can blow off steam with your fellows there. Otherwise, keep your trap shut.
True Story(s):  Fellow performer managed to insult every member of the troupe within less than two hours. Had to isolate person to prevent murder.

Patrons and volunteers.
Volunteers (long sigh) sometimes they are great. I love it when they are helpful and fresh and happy. Not so much when they become tin gods and decide to be a mouthpiece for the organizer. If a volunteer has not been specifically appointed my contact, we will be that annoying act that verifies everything. It’s the sign of bad organizer if they have not pointed out who can and cannot speak for them. I can put three-year-olds to shame if someone points and states
“Because I told you to.”
Then, stubborn becomes a mission.
I will do as security requests –if possible. We had one festival that every year we would be told we could not bring out equipment through the back gate or the front gate and when we inquired how, we were told to follow orders. So we handed everything over the fence and when stopped, pointed out our parameters (while continuing our fire line) and asked for an alternative plan. EVERY YEAR we encountered this until  finally they decided that letting us into a gate was easier than dealing with our loopholes. (And to be clear, we weren’t driving onto the site, just carrying our gear)

Patrons, you owe them a good show, a friendly face, knowledgeable input and a smile. After that, it’s a bourrée  offstage or to your next act. Like retail, it’s okay to do what we lovingly call “scrape off” someone onto your manager. Sadly, two of us are the managers.  I’m pretty good at the polite nondescript face, my partner is the master of Irish diplomacy. And we’ve both been known to sucker in other members if we just aren’t in the mood to hear about the sharpened katana in the attic for the mailman. (Little joke there,  it’s a line from our “Fox and Cat” skit) But we don’t engage if it is about sex, gender roles, body parts or “Duel me!”  Here are some gems I recommend
On bewbs and other bits: “Yes, I did grow them myself” and “No they are my balls, I wear them on my chest so they don’t chafe.”  “Nope ya can’t touch!” and “and they chime when I walk, too” and “Your Mom’s lipstick.”
On Badassery: “Sorry you aren’t on my insurance.” “Sorry I don’t have my sparring gear. What school did you say you were with?”
Ideally, you don’t engage at all. But if someone says something inappropriate, often I’ll just walk away. Let them explain to the organizer why you didn’t answer a question that included a reference to naughty bits.

True Story: I don’t mind friendly people but you’d be surprised at how fast a smile and kind word can morph into your fellow troupe members physically pulling you into a van in motion, to get away.

Finally, sometimes it is the whole festival (or seems like it) I’ve worn those uncomfortable, nail-filled, three-inch heeled shoes. If the “personality” of a faireground  endorses bad behavior there isn’t much you can do about it. Especially if it happens with the blessing (and participation) of the organizer. It’s awful and uncomfortable and often people will turn on those who point out the bad behaviors. I am not sure what to tell people about this. I have a friend who loves her home faire and bends over backwards to support it. But some of the stories I’ve heard would make me bail and hope for better elsewhere-and sometimes there isn’t an elsewhere for being in a festival.  In these cases, your community theater, the local help organizations and others would love to have you. Or you can be bull-headed like we were and start your own thing. (Hard road, be warned!)

So many true stories that need to be blog entries. To give you an idea of the scope, I turned to Fenix and asked
“So would you want to write up a ‘when it goes bad’ entry for me?”
“How could I narrow it down?
And I didn’t have an answer.

But the good does outweigh the bad, otherwise, why do it at all?  I have noted that many people who have been successful, for reasons not clear to me, DO NOT warn others of the pitfalls.  And sometimes if the person does speak up they are accused of crying wolf.  There isn’t a one-solution-fits-all and no one can warn you of *everything.*  I am a big proponent of going in with both eyes open and somewhat prepared. And even being in this business for twelve years, we still have situations over which there is little to no control and we have to fake it until we make it. So these blog entries, some cheery, some not are primarily to pass on what I wish someone had passed on to me. As always, if you want to chat, just go to our website (phoenixswords.com) and drop a line.

fire_014

How did a sword troupe come to work with fire? Someday I will talk about how I ended up in/running a sword troupe but today I want to talk about a much bigger turn that led to a stranger place.

I have a friend who is an idea factory. He seriously churns out things as a side note that I wish I could catch and tuck away for later. We’ve diverged in path significantly but initially we were both interested in working at renaissance faires and had worked together in a troupe. He didn’t want to do sword work any more-he wanted to play with fire. My strength is that I make things pretty and am very good at promoting OTHER people.  We made an agreement that we’d put him under our troupe umbrella and handle boring things like promotion, act details and contracts and book shows for him.   We did that but unfortunately he became bored with fire and performance. He sold us his props and I found another colleague from the same group that did fire but with different tricks-and he too, was done with swords. I breathed a sigh of relief, same deal, shows covered.

And then, he had to give it up as well. Sadly, we still had shows scheduled.  I begged him and he agreed to train me and any interested parties in Phoenix Swords how to use and be safe with fire. Little did I know how many people think fire is sexy and how much it would change  the face of the troupe!

I bought some props for me to try-fire fans. They looked a little less intimidating than say, juggling or devilsticks.  We had two dancers that took to this immediately and wrote up a set of choreography to do.

fandance1

Undeterred, I found a bigger set of fans-which then were bought by a member and he took them over as his thing.

Dragonwing2

In the meantime, two members invested in a set of fire swords and took over that part of the business-my second fire guy was nice and continued to train anyone interested. This led to us starting a division called “Phoenix Fire” because we had to do something about the fire training cutting into the sword training.

The shows we’d booked to that point involved the whole troupe and although we did a little fire work as a gate finisher at some faires or as individual bookings, it became clear that we had a full act on our hands and we needed to get a much more formal stage guide in place.

Stepping back a moment, as soon as I heard fire guy #2 was going to leave, I had to jump into the wonderful world of fire safety and performance with both feet.  At that time, the only place anyone heard of doing what we do was with Burning Man or the occasional poi spinner or secret  fire gatherings that were world-of-mouth. Like any subculture-first you have to FIND it and then you have to go in full-on invested.  The places where I found the best information were at Home of Poi (in Australia) on Tribe.net  and I read, read and read. And coming into it as an outsider I asked firefighters, burners, fire lovers, people who liked to grill-anybody and funneled all that into something we could use. Long story short, apparently I went about it the hardest way any human being could. But when I was finished, we had working procedures for safety, stage and tools. MSDS sheets for fuels (we don’t mix)  an annual training, training booklet, step-by-step bits for each tool and a checklist with a quiz.  And we made mistakes-and apparently had a reputation for being “safety Nazis.” The nicer people were just happy we showed up with tools and I was roped into doing a fair amount of spotting for other fire acts. One subcontractor expressed concerns about our first aid kit so I brought it over. His response was.
“Well, I asked about first aid and it appears we can survive a plane crash with this.”
(Our full first aid kit is bigger than carry-on luggage)

Friends and I have often discussed “the Curse of competence” that is, we inadvertently get so good at something that other folks start taking it for granted. Although I’d been the one to start the big push for fire, I did not get a significant piece of the stage action for nearly three years. I knew how to do most of the tricks and bits and could pinch-hit, some of the performers actively discouraged me from being onstage. We eventually figured out  1) they would have to share stage time (and honestly I don’t begrudge it) and 2) good spotters are hard to find. 3) Because, reasons.

So I developed (with some help from the internet) my own fire tool and we put it together. It had the bonus of being dangerous for men to use. That would be the fire meteors-which we’ve since discovered is the second most dangerous fire tool out there. And for me, I had to use the bigger monkey fists because I wanted the extra weight. (My gorilla arms, so hot)
meteors

But honestly, it began to be too much to be a stage manager, a spotter, props person AND help run the sword troupe. I tried delegating with mixed success.  One summer we had some really awful interpersonal incidents. And when some barriers were removed (and some people) there was sudden peace and re-arrangement. We  stopped doing a certain faire and it eventually disappeared. And now there are three to four troupes in the area that specialize in fire, it’s been an easy transition back to doing historical and stage sword work, with a bit of fire.

Some things we stopped doing were letting people go from practice to performance before a year with us (and fire) We used to have an issue with people staying just long enough  to learn the tricks and then become competitors-or that we were not “burners” so they were disappointed.   We have learned to ask A LOT of questions of anyone who wants to hire us. One would think inviting someone to come and play with fire in your backyard/venue  would lead to concerns but in a number of cases it’s good we were proactive!

Anyway the summary of how I ended up working with fire is that I had to learn to make my bookings. Plenty of others have different reasons (and THAT is another whole blog entry)  but it is pretty cool to work with once you realize it’s not an “if” but a “when” you will get burned.  My partner teases me about being a little nuts to do it, and it did take two years before I could bring myself to fire-eat.  But it does illustrate that you can start by being a certain thing but your business ends up going in a different direction. Some of the troupes I’ve seen ended up doing more marketing and less performance. Others saw how lucrative it was to sell the tools they use and ended up as vendors. Some started with weapons and that became the focus of their show.  But by its very nature, fire can consume and not just with physical properties so be sure to be aware of ALL its aspects, even the commercial ones.

phoenixswords:

I just wanted to share this

Originally posted on Larry Hurtado's Blog:

I’ve been puzzled in recent days by some readers whose comments suggest that they expect that sound scholarly analysis of serious historical questions can be conveyed persuasively in blog-postings and/or replies to comments.  There seems to be some notion that they shouldn’t have to read books and articles, plow through the data, etc.  So, they ask a question; I respond briefly and point them to some book or article for fuller and more adequate discussion; but then the responses sometimes suggest the folk posing the questions really can’t be bothered.  Yet they often seem to have firm opinions on the issues involved, challenging me to dislodge them to their satisfaction.  So, I think it’s well to try some clarification of things here.

Scholarly work intended to have an impact on the field isn’t done in blogging.  The amount of data, its complexity, the analysis and argumentation involved, and the engagement…

View original 317 more words

sir-texts-a-lot

What we do for performance highlights history and the past but modernity has we impacted how we do business and how we handle communication, travel and commerce. That’s true of everyone but in some ways it’s amusing that a sword troupe thrives because of technology.

For this I’ll use two examples generally 2002 timeline and totay

Getting out the word-
Then: At that time not everyone in the troupe had email, so we had to rely on the phone, meeting at practice or passing along via troupe members what our plans were. I tried to do six-month planning sheets that I would hand out at practice.  We had a phone tree for cancelled practices and I generally had to decide the night before because some folks wouldn’t be caught fast enough by phone.  We had a fax number so we could send/receive contracts and a website. On the website we had printable materials, the fax number, email and posted our own video. We joined as many webrings as possible and posted on every forum I could find. We had brochures and sent out “promotion kits” with a CD, printed material and a hardcopy photo.

Now: We have a website, facebook, blogger, wordpress and Youtube.  Still haunt forums and sites and try to get us linked to as many places as possible. Practice info is sent by text, by email  and occasionally I’ll use a facebook site. People don’t change, and I’ve flat out said that when I have hold someone’s hand, look deeply into their eyes and tell them troupe plans, then there will be jail time and I’ll call it quits. And yes, I’ve been told that calling, announcing at practice, and email was not sufficient. (Not for some time, admittedly) We do most of our contracts via email. I love email, it leaves a trail.

Travel-
Then, we had to find our way to a faire site that was not on Mapquest and had to request a map (and consult an atlas) to find our way there. Only one person per car had a cell phone and we left at different times. We tried not to call one another because outside the area was expensive. And we chose our cell phone plan based on the fact that there was a cell tower near the practice site. Even on reaching the performance site there were no signs, had no GPS and even people from the LOCAL AREA had no idea where it was. (Wilmer, AL Mobile Zoo-) Note that even today,  there are no connecting roads.  We would print up “map books” from AAA in a bound folder with turn-by-turn directions and gas stops. Sometimes we had to front people money because ATMS were not a thing yet. We would throw in a mix tape to travel.

Now, we print up the turn-by-turn on a single sheet of paper and we have everyone’s cell number. We still rent cars and leave at different times but it’s simple to just call on the road and see how it is going.  We (owners) can locate one another via “find my phone” and I am seriously considering a “nanny app” for larger sites so we can track one another (with permission) Our special gift is finding spots where Google’s map is out of date/wrong (this happened as recently as this April) We can warn of road hazards and traffic jams. We have told our people “Do not rely  upon your GPS.” So when we receive a call at 2:00 am from a place that is nowhere near any of our written directions, I’ve been known to throw phones across the parking lot. (It was a nokia, so no problem.) Some things haven’t changed-bringing our own food, setting up shifts and packing light.  By polite request the person in the “shotgun” seat doesn’t play with their phone or handheld games so we all don’t die in a ditch because the driver fell asleep.

 

Photography-
Then:huge difference. It was expensive and time consuming because it required camera film and then a trip to the local pharmacy. When we did move to digital it was with a pixel-quality camera that is available for most children’s toys now. I do miss some of the vibrancy.  In order to get “action shots” I’d record with a (tape required) camera and then whittle down to certain frames. Editing video was a weekend-long job.

Now: Take a picture of everything! Even though I generally only have a little pocket canon, I get some great shots. The problem is getting people to take photos! I am probably the least-featured member because I am behind the lens. Now, my big issue is winnowing down what makes a good shot.  I’ve been told I have a good eye and no amount of photoshop can help a picture be amazing if you don’t start with something good. Video is as simple as a quick edit  in iMovie and “bam!” it’s out on youtube. The bigger problem now is discernment of what is interesting

Information in general-we can do waivers and contracts on an ipad-and check online information. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve received a call while on the road with a request for information. We can be professional  while in a van of overtired performers but sometimes it can be a challenge. And we have a credit card reader so commerce can be done on the spot!

Things that won’t change: Physical demands-you have to haul gear, swing a sword and have some physical ability. We still have tents and swords!  Networking-there is nothing like person-to-person contact to make an impression. Video can be misleading-it’s easy to be good for three minutes-tough to do for a ½ hour show, repeated throughout the day.  And our experience is that tent with extra “oomph” will take longer than an easy-up, but will stay in place longer. I had a boss who told me that a webcam would make sure that no one came in to see a live creature for themselves.  That might be true of some but what a terrible way to rob yourself of a terrific experience!

I’m sure there is technology out there that we haven’t event tapped but it’s  a balance between making your bottom line and playing with the newest, latest greatest.  I remember how some folks told me if we weren’t on twitter then we should just throw in the towel. Sorry, just can’t be that entertaining all the time, and if celebrities are any indication, it’s written Russian Roulette until something stupid from your brain sets the internet on fire.

Although having modern access helps, it’s not what our experience is about and what makes it special! So although we’ll continue to add to the modern arsenal, it’s going to be history, proximity and fun that keeps us viable.

Country Diary : Crows fly through branches of a tree

When we do the Wheaton Arts Fantasy faire in NJ, we often get together during the day with the Mystic Mercenaries Stage Combat Team and talk shop. We have a lot of fun and turn one another onto sources, video, show off new equipment and talk about our current projects. We discussed how the economy hurt recruitment. I’ve been thinking about it for some time and decided to share my musings (sorry dear readers) about members and some of the things that will thin your ranks if you run a group.

Bad economy-this is fairly basic, no money, no gas, no costuming no free time. If people have to choose between making a living and coming to practice-we completely understand this. We’ve been known to offer some financial help to dedicated members. This has sometimes come back to bite us but you don’t know unless you try.

Laziness –once again, not really a stretch to figure this one out. For me it’s a bigger stretch to put myself in those sparkly slippers and think as others do. I am not sure what it is about people who want to join groups (of any kind really) and then think there will be basic expectation of working toward a common goal, expected tasks and services. Or that putting on a costume and strapping on a sword suddenly makes you A STAR! I’m sure there is someone out there who has successfully done this but they haven’t yet worked for me. So I would say the percentage is against you in never having to learn basic safety and how to be part of a team, and then get on stage.

College, not exactly under economy but it’s a killer. We’ve recruited A LOT of college students but rarely do they stay. On the plus side, once they hit late twenties, there is an uptick in recruitment. So academia results in both a high and low tide of numbers.

Sex and significant others. Never underestimate the power of the basic drive to procreate-we certainly don’t. This dynamic is like mud thrown through a screen door-it may not all get through, but chances are you’ll get a little on everyone. One of my hot buttons is partners of members who decide that they would like to run our troupe via a member’s nether bits. That is-they start applying pressure to the partner to force the troupe leader to accept ultimatums, make demands and essentially make life hellish for everyone. We had one member who had been with us from the beginning and he was very enthusiastic and well-liked. We had even survived him dating and breaking up within the troupe (oy!)

But he picked up one girlfriend (not in troupe) that decided she was going to drive him like a front-end loader over our set of rules and behavior using the stick shift. She gave him a set of demands he was to present to us just before a show. At the rehearsal he walked up, told us he needed to spread his wings and that we weren’t offering what he needed and he’d have to leave unless we made some changes. Imagine the sadness and his surprise when we accepted his resignation and wished him the best and that we totally understood. Then we went back to work as we left him standing there taking it all in and absorbing it. He didn’t stay to finish practice and from what we overheard as he and his girlfriend left, that wasn’t what she expected either. Over the years I’ve had a chance to observe that “driver” follows a pattern and you’d think she’d learn that one never gets actual personal power via others.

More insidious is a strange type of foreplay that involves unwitting participants-that is, one person who dresses in costume, takes on a persona and a sword against a backdrop of others supporting the role of pirate, swordfighter, paladin what have you. This adds a layer of sexy and the Significant Other gets to enjoy some role-play. Great. But then the fact that sexy troupe member is now accepted and works with other sexy troupe members sets up a dissonance-they love that their partner does this but RESENT the organization for not keeping the mental game to the minimum two players. The rest of the troupe moves from backdrop to threat. That stuff makes my right temple pulse and twitch.

As years pass, my tolerance has gone to nil for this. When the female half of a couple joined and her husband came to practice, I had no issue. But after the third practice I had some plain words that boiled down to ‘join or don’t be here as a distraction.’ Pleasant surprise-he joined. A more common response is that we never see the troupe member again. Sad as we are, we have headed off a long-term problem. And this plays out over, and over and over.

Babies. Seriously, who can compete with babies? (Note: babies have decimated our numbers this year)
Favoritism, guilty as charged. Do a lot for the troupe; we’ll do a lot for you. Do not badmouth us or try to guilt, blackmail us or whine. We’ll bend over backwards to help people achieve what they need but we are not interested in being bent over against our will. I’ll let Queen Latifah speak for us

I can do it better-not a surprise to hear. As many faire craftspersons can tell you, they hear it often. So I take a line from them-“By all means and good luck.” Producing art is harder than it sounds.

And the last, just done. For sword work and fire, it can be grueling and some folks have other things they would like to do. As I like to joke
“What!? Something else to suck away my time and money?!”
We have reenactors who have other gigs, LARPers who have events, people who have long drives and/or kids and plenty of other activities that don’t involve hauling equipment or being bitten by mosquitoes. And if folks are done, they are done. Even I feel done with it at times-and we run the darn thing!

Our long-term plan, which we only half-joked about the week we formed Phoenix Swords, is that as long as my partner and I can still move, enjoy and entertain, it can be just the two of us out of the trunk. This takes the pressure off everyone else. And some years, we do kind of eye one another and cross our fingers that we have enough to keep going. But even with these pitfalls, if you have a fire, a plan and keep growing yourself and what you do-your energy will attract others.

Performance has scary consequences. Although this is about street magicians, I thought you would appreciate some of the insights:

http://www.cracked.com/article_21291_5-dark-sides-hidden-dangers-life-as-street-magician.html

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