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There are plenty of “so you want to work at the renfaire?” articles. But a bigger question to ask is “Why?”

It’s like any other time and money sucking interest (and I say interest because we are not taking on the further implications-yet) it will well…take time and money. I’m not saying you can’t just do your six weeks a year as a volunteer or cast member and be done. In fact, that is what a lot of smarter people do and some do by necessity because it can be expensive and exhausting. I once said to a friend of mine,
“if you can’t hold up a hundred-dollar bill and watch it burn with no regrets, you shouldn’t get involved with renaissance faires.

But you are still reading.

One of our troupe members told me that when he first wanted to join, he had to ask one of our current ones if I was actively discouraging him.  He realizes now that I was not being harsh, but did not want him to walk in with blinders and blame us for any unfortunate outcomes.

What are some items I would caution about?

Drama, drama, drama and then there is the drama. So people who feel excluded, want to be part of a romantic world, dress in costumes, are subject to 360 degrees of speculation and interaction for eight+ hours a day under random environmental conditions-what could go wrong?

Give me a moment to collect myself and narrow it down. If you are not in that inner place that lets you be at one with the universe in a minute or less? You may not be cut out for the faire. I am not saying the place is free of rampaging hosebeasts, but those people need to be fantastically talented or well-connected, charismatic, rich or any of the above in combination. The exception to this might be “willing to work for free” which is like throwing a random number generator onto a dirty bomb. You best strategy is to steer clear of these people and situations when possible, be centered within yourself and be your #1 competitor. Nothing is gained by comparison, trash-talking, or gossip.

Listen. Exactly what it sounds like. Initially I was hurt at how dismissive many senior performers, organizers and staff were to new faces. But we’ve come to realize that it was like owning a puppy and living near a busy highway-if it survives the first year, it will probably make it. Understand that a happy and enthusiastic hard worker and a sociopathic  dress-up doll sound exactly the same until you see them in action over time. Most people who work at the faire are waiting to see if it all works out for you.  If someone who has more experience offers you a critique or a suggestion generally you will find they are the kind people. If it’s simply a put-down or ”Helpful Hint” wrapped around something mean-spirited, well, now you know. Good Advice is good advice regardless of the source.  Sometimes the lesson is “That person is a rampaging jerk and has no idea what is coming out of his/her own piehole.” And now you’ve learned something.

Have a an escape hatch/plan.  You are responsible for you. It’s lovely that certain faires tell you that food with be available, that there will a green room, and other amenities. It will be a special blog entry here someday about the expectation vs reality gap one can encounter at faires. This means you should wear layered clothing because the environment can change. You should keep a bottle of water, a granola bar and some band-aids and wipes. This is not meant to be an encompassing list –it’s meant to be indicative of your basic needs-which may not be met at the festival. It’s chaos at a renfaire and you are your own best advocate. You’ll notice that older participants work in clusters of friends and locations, this is a survival mechanism.

Understand your own reasons for doing it.  Dressing in pretty costumes and having fun won’t cut it. If that is what you want, pay to get into the faire, drink beer and go home at a reasonable hour to sleep in your own bed. No one knows what the longing in your heart is for better than you do. Strange as it sounds regarding a large, outgoing activity, you need to be aware of what is going inside your own head. Large events like these can have serious mental and physical triggers for people and if you react badly-no one has those answers but you. Life is stress, but life in a hot costume, forced to wear a smile and cornered by an overly-friendly drunk person-that can be years of therapy in your future.

And not exhaustively, because I’ll think of three more things after posting this entry, Good Shoes or Good Boots. You may be laughing but I do not exaggerate when I say that Gel Soles have saved lives. Those are your feet, they move you around, they get you to where you want to be, they will take you out of bad situations and will lead to great experiences. Everyone loves a good pair of footwear and it’s a conversation starter. And if you decide not to work at the faire, they will take you to your next adventure.

With luck this has given you something to think about that is more than a list and after reading it, like the troupe member, that I say it not to discourage but to lift up and be honest. And I hope to see you at the faire.

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