I have to give Gia and the crowd at Renaissance Performers on Facebook credit-they do bring up great topics which I feel compelled to steal borrow.

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What to do when the act before you runs late…


I love the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum  It is simplistic but that’s the point, most of us by the time we are in first grade have learned to not pick on one another or interrupt the teacher. That is, we understand basic civility and the concept of fairness. (And so do many other primates BTW)

For some reason at Conventions, Renaissance Faires and The Internet, that all goes out the window. I’m not sure if it is the gathering, the excitement, the beer or the “Hey! Fun!” but individuals come unhinged. We’re fortunate, we’ve never been forced to participate in some of the mass hysteria that happens (no, “King’s Parade” and “Final Sing” do not count, but it should) we’ve waved at quite a bit while it went by us.
Of all the folks at a fair, who have endured the slings and arrows, one would think performers would be the ones to look out for one another. In many cases this is true and we are grateful to those who have offered aid, shelter and warmth of the human kind.
And then there are the dicks.
There are so many ways this can be expressed (posts and posts worth) but this is common sense how-to on this one issue. Case in point, you are due to go on stage and the stage is Not Yet Open.
In many cases the performer may be trying to wring out some last tips, lost track of time, or just had so much fun even the audience doesn’t want it to end. This is all okay, but shouldn’t become a habit.
But a decent performer actually has a 25/20-minute act-this gives wiggle room for setting up, breaking down, getting on and off and interacting/prepping the audience before the fun begins. For a good act, the audience doesn’t even note the setup and the next act goes on seamlessly. For a great act it’s a case of magic and everyone is sorry to see it go but understands.
Part 1 What if you are the person behind the laggard?
First, some good-natured ribbing is totally within bounds once they have come off the stage. If they are running over 10 minutes, that’s it, you will (if you are a good team player) cut your act short so that the schedule may be maintained. And will point at a time-keeping device with a firm look. After that, if you have made your point clear and the act still doesn’t get it, well then it’s “Behind the stage special conversation time.” That is, as non-emotively as possible mention to the act that they ran late, offer to help in some way (Hey we can loan you a cheap clock to conceal on stage or loan you some assistance) If the response is not
“Oh Hey, sorry about that.” That leads to stage two of How To Deal.
Part 2 When it becomes clear that the act in question is not Playing By the Rules,
then you are well within your rights to check the schedule and warn other acts that this is a habit and they had best be aggressive about their stage time. You need to once again, do this as non-emotively as possible. Dialogue should be friendly but facts only. This way you are not accusing of gossiping behind anyone’s back. And if it does get back that you mentioned this it is easy to reflect
“Were you late” “Was this a public act?” “Did you read the schedule?” “Did we mention this was rude?” It’s not gossip, you are no more over-involved than a traffic camera that gives citations. Do not play any games or get upset.

Part 3; the act has made this a habit and they figuratively butt wiggle and sing neener, neener, neener.
The gloves are off. New acts should always remember that the mafia and the renfaire community have certain similarities. You earn reputation, you are always under scrutiny and you can disappear. I’m not saying it will happen overnight but if you tick off the organizer or the organizer’s peers (i.e. the poor schlub who MADE that schedule) it can go poorly for you. In our case we have ten year relationships with certain organizers because we always bring the goods and we play nicely with others. We reserve the right to use sparingly the “not in our backyard” button. When senior acts with a following cite you as a problem, it’s going to affect your longevity at a festival. Perpetuating this level of belligerence is often the death knell for an act. As you can imagine, they don’t reserve this behavior to isolated pockets-it happens to those around them, to patrons and often is turned back on the others involved in the act itself.

EXCEPTIONS:
Sometimes you have to put on a nice face and Suck. It. Up.
Animal Acts,
yes kids, the raptors, poodle, ponies etc. do not work on a renfaire schedule. Just like the other performers they get cranky, uncooperative and won’t leave the stage on time and no amount of sighing, eye-rolling and muttering will influence them and will just tick off their handlers who are doing the best they can. I know you are jealous that animal stars can steal food, stage time and go to the bathroom any time/place they like but they don’t get to drink beer so call it even. W.C. Fields had something to say as well.
Jousters and other top-of-the-food-chain acts.
This can any kind of act, really. But they are the ones in the promotional material, they bring in the big crowds and often they are Established (Capital E) They should know better but frankly if the choices are making the crowds happy and you getting on stage-well, put on a happy face and plan for it. And it doesn’t mean you can’t bring it up, but it does mean if you have and everyone who runs the show is happy, then do your best under the circumstances.
Royalty
Some might argue that this group will fit into the above but I say they are their own special case. I have personally put up with behavior that had me steaming for days and then I learned to be Zen about it. I try to pass this calm on to my fellow performers and we try to have a good laugh after hours. Let me just say that although the Dalai Lama should be my inspiration, sometimes I channel Bugs Bunny. And that’s what I’ll say on that subject. Buy me a beer and we’ll chat more.

Bottom line, it can be a slippery slope but there are modifiers in place.
For instance, we come from a state that proudly declares itself full of Massholes. And we can hold it in for a finite amount of time but hey, we have a job to do and won’t mince words. When we work with other acts and subcontract others we DO get a an interesting variety of faces the first time they encounter our “game face.” We try not to be caught up in this  but sometimes you just have to give the rude back, with panache. The most extreme example was wrist tapping, followed by noisily settling into the audience and then followed up with coming on stage and starting to “test” small torches (NOTE: not in a threatening way, just in a hey, fire act coming on, buddy.) When the complaints started to the organizer he asked
“Did you run over time?”
“Yeah, but the audience started to fill up.”
“They weren’t there to see YOU.”

burn

But to conclude I point back to Robert Fulgum, it’s a big sandbox and we should play nicely. And if it’s happening to you, set a good example. And hey Don’t be that Act That Runs Late, and if you are, tip the act that follows you and apologize.

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