I am an idiot. Seriously, I admit it. I am an idiot with a high pain threshold and sometimes I spread my idiocy to others. I will sum up this whole blog post with –if you are sick, you need to take care of yourself first, make sure you have backup and you can trust others to handle it.
My first working faire, I neglected to drink enough water and stay out of the sun. In my defense, the person running the volunteers didn’t have any idea who was doing what for how long and threw bodies at problems. That’s how my partner ended up working a dragon swing for six straight hours and why we both had sun poisoning. If you end up working under those conditions, take a risk and get yourself shade and water. You are just a cog in a wheel and faires, like any machine, will not grind down for the lack of one cog. You should let folks know if you can. But if you are in a situation where there is no clear chain of command-bigger issues and this is just the dangling thread at the edge of a big unraveling.
Making contract-our first big contract we had two people with relatives on deathwatches and I’d had a major event (physical/mental) that had me on opiates (legally) That job was a GRIND for us and I had one person say
“I can tell you are out of it because you are letting a lot of stuff slide.”
It was true, on major painkillers one should NOT sword fight. So I’d do the first acts and once my last fight was done, I was offstage and into the bottle. In order to be “clean” in the day I skipped my evening doses and later found out my whimpering was heard by people sharing a room. This was unfair to them and to me and if I had to do it again, I’d take a step back and probably not do it again. But at the time I was a new leader and didn’t want to ask anyone to do what I wouldn’t. I set a very bad example and won’t ever be doing anything that stupid again. And on the flip side of that coin, if I had been a real leader, the two people who came with us who were waiting on a loved one, I would have said “Screw that, you stay home.”
And on that note, we have rule #7 which states:
As professionals, troupe members and employees shall determine their own capabilities and comfort levels at our practices and performances. No troupe member shall be forced to do any performance, act or action that they do not feel comfortable doing. They are responsible for communicating their objection as soon as possible, so other plans can be made.
So, we did learn that it’s important to set rules when others can’t. we had a member who self-harmed doing a bit and when we learned on it we told them that they 1) needed to stop doing that 2) that continuing to do so even having been advised not to do that was a firing offense.
That person was eventually fired for not only that, but blaming us for aiding and abetting that harm. If you are a leader don’t play that game. Intervene early and often and bragging about hurting yourself is not bravado, it’s not being smart enough to keep out of the way. I am sharing these not because I’m macho but because I hope you will be smarter than I am.
As an example, I had a combination of terrible allergies (am allergic to hay and horses, feel free to laugh) and a bad flu. In between shows I would be under five or six cloaks, sleeping or drinking water. When the time came for the fire show, I couldn’t stand on my own two feet. Two of the troupe members called a “rule 7” on me and threw me back into the tent. I clearly was not making good decisions and that effected not only me but the people around me. The people around you should be empowered to do that because as stated earlier, maybe you are not in your right mind.
I generally don’t bring up my injuries unless asked or if citing bad examples. And getting hurt in performance happens but it’s not glamourous, it’s a sign of lack of rehearsal or poor skills if it reoccurs. One of my sword teachers tells a story of seeing someone at a faire essentially do a scalp cut (which bled like a fountain) The people who did it thought it was “cool” but the audience assumed it was fake blood and booed it. So, in the end, not even the kudos they’d bled for in performance.
In twelve years we’ve had one hospital trip and it was a single stitch and a tetanus shot-just to be safe. The member showed off the “war wound” at the next show to forestall rumors of missing hands and a recreation of this skit ( gore, 1.49)
You are primarily responsible for you-it’s not about ego it’s about being the best machine you can be. If we look at how we treat athletes and racehorses-their trainers make sure they are 100% and can support everyone else. It’s not altruism, it’s business and if you can’t treat yourself as well as someone would treat a poodle at the dog show, then you need to rethink priorities. So stay hydrated, be well fed, be sure to be running at peak efficiency and then you, in turn can help others do the same.