(and yes, these are true stories)
1) Directions can be optional. For our group we try to leave early and use a mix of local help, google maps and GPS. Note that I don’t say one of these things is better than the other but as least there is cross-referencing going on and you *might* get there with no issue. It can be a bit of a strain on the earliest arrivals. One fair we arrived before the signs went up and the location was a large, unplowed field next to a church. The church had not updated its address on the website so car two actually reached there first. Another example was a faire that took place so far out of town that the locals had never even heard of the location. But car one chugged along the red clay roads, hoping that there were no shotguns involved, and included in the final directions were
“and turn left at the dead armadillo.” Sure they laughed, but it did get everyone to the site.
2) Sometimes the people running the event have less of an idea of what is going on that you do, in many cases it is not their fault. It’s just what happens. In earlier entries I mention having an ability to find one’s center in these crisis moments. It’s important that no matter the language, activity or event, one breathes deeply and makes a new plan. (see Sun Tzu) we carry a tent and in your case, your Zen temple may be your car or that space behind some hay bales. Our SOP is to find a respected authority (you can tell, people come up screaming and running with flailing arms like a muppet and ask them questions) and pick a spot and confirm your showtimes. If conflicting information arises, redirect them to ‘authority’ Arriving early can sometimes be a boon as you are a ‘solved problem’ and no one wants to take the time to dislodge you (sort of like a friendly lamprey!) Some of the items we’ve seen-no schedule, so we told the organizer when and where we’d set up. Or that some mysterious entity came by in the dead of night and rearranged vendor and performer site tags to suit themselves. (We didn’t have popcorn but took in the show anyway!) And receiving a totally inappropriate area for performance (You guys do a fire show and swords? I guess in the hallway is a bad spot, huh?) And let the person who helps you take credit for the good idea even if you came up with it. Safety, harmony and happiness are key.
3) Occasionally there are no basic amenities. Always carry water and food with you. I don’t recommend dehydration but sometimes it’s not a bad thing when there is nowhere to water the wildlife. And garbage bags, med kit, safety pins, tools and duct tape. I wish folks who get hurt would stop first at the first-aid. Sadly, they usually stop at the tent with the sword people.
4) Contracts are your friends, read them, know them, carry a copy with you. Same with MSDS sheets, insurance policies and emergency contacts for your members. We keep ours in the medical kit. It would be lovely if no one ever needed to double-check these but if you need them, it’s a life saver.
5) Checklists, you laugh but it keeps life sane
6) Dirty laundry and extra clothing-some individuals are under the impression that it’s okay to reuse costuming without washing and airing. They are wrong. The cleaner you are, the better off you are. This includes hygiene, brushing off dirt, doing a spot-check on clothes. And yes, you should wash them as soon as you get home-it doesn’t start to smell better the longer you wait.
7) There may be animals, including insects. Or pigs, or horses, or cats. If you have allergies carry benadryl or an epi-pen(or both.) This is true of strange foods as well. If you are a lactose-intolerant celiac with animal allergies, I hope you have a great health plan and the fair may well be a miserable place for you. And yes, animals poop.
8) Be aware. Wind picking up? May want to pull down your pop-up-and dodge the other tent rolling your way. Horse loose? Stay out of the way of the person with the rope calling its name. Small child crawling onto your stage? Faire security can’t be everywhere, sometimes you have to be your own guardian angel.
9) Some people will try not to pay you. Try to never leave a site without getting paid. Don’t care if it is your grandma paying you in cookies, do your best not to let this happen.
10) Have fun and let your freak flag fly, it’s why you are here. It is also why others are here. You will experience things at the faires that you may want to write about later. In our troupe we have what we call “2-beer stories.” These are tales that only come out after someone has bought me two beers and we are in an adult setting. They aren’t always about me but I’m told well worth the cost of admission. You need to keep an open mind and roll with the punches. You will learn quite a bit, even if you didn’t want to know certain things. If it is all too much-remember your Zen temple.
I tell you these things not to discourage, but to make aware the new performers, and even then, this really will only be an “oh yeaaah….” Somewhere in the back of your mind when it occurs. I mean this with all my heart; wash your costumes, there are few things nastier than renfaire garb put away dirty and left to ferment.