ming
I was using my highest level of profanity (appropriate on Mother’s Day since it involved the word “Mother” and how one becomes a mother) trying to get some HTML code to work on the revamped website. My partner came over to see if he had to heave chocolate or liquor my way and I asked
“Doesn’t anybody realize how much work is behind the scenes in making things happen!??”
he smiled and answered,
“No and we can take some pride in that.”

This subject is especially close to my heart as a number of friends are dealing with venues, performer issues, financial issues and health/family issues. One doesn’t have to be financially solvent and totally stable to do the business of renaissance faires but boy, it sure does help.

I have a whole post due to be written about organizing faires (and why I try not to do it any more) but there are extra burrs and cockles with some Dante mixed in for good measure. Some friends are currently dealing with wrestling that faire beast right now. (I have no idea how they manage it) But I’m writing this as a plea to performers and volunteers to be nice to the folks who do the dirty work so you can get on stage.

From the performer perspective, you generally start as a volunteer and you are given your marching orders. If your faire overlords are kind you will have things like breaks, water and food.

One of the most potent weapons I have seen organizers, leaders and fraternities use is the psychology of exclusivity-that is, because you are slaving away for a certain institution, you have earned the right to be there and it automatically makes you better than everyone else who does the same thing somewhere else.  I have looked in awe at how effectively some faires  and groups(and nonprofits) have applied this method. I’m not saying hard work doesn’t elevate you-it absolutely improves your skillset, makes you part of a team and generally moves mountains. But this application does not work equally to all things and we have seen the dark side of this as well.

Convince someone that they are better than their fellow human beings and  gets something like the Stanford Prison experiment. Even in our own group we experienced something like it when we decided to be more  hands-off as leaders.  That played out poorly. So now we have a benevolent dictatorship run as a meritocracy.

But we DO have to be in your business when it effects the whole organization and the people in it.  We get a double dose of work –not only should we be able to pinch-hit for the other performers, but  we had to start weeks and years before with making a name, advertising, hustling gigs and working out contracts.  Our current group is pretty responsible (and thank you so much for that) but in the past we’ve had to do phone check-ins, wake-up calls,personalized checklists,  to-the-minute schedules and coffee runs (which makes the water and tea drinker owners frown a bit) We make sure everyone knows locations, directions, meeting times, weather reports-and has the needed props and equipment. In some cases we had to provide-last-minute transportation!

Image

One formerly typical incident, that to this day causes me to make a face like the one above, was when we had to roust a member, harass them into getting dressed, still late and when emerging blamed another troupe member because they (not the blamed one) had forgotten a certain costume accessory.(?!)  Later, on the departure of this member (and so many like them) we all stood in front of the vehicles, fully dressed and ready to go, did a head count and all realized that it was only us grownups and we were ready to go. I think some of us did a little dance before loading in and leaving. (I’m never going back to the dark times!)

If someone runs a faire, well this gets exponentially bigger and more complicated. This is why most organizers have a merchant AND a performer coordinator so the cat-herding is divided.

We fully realize by being “in charge” in means you have the most unforgiving boss ever-who follows you into the bathroom with questions and whispers in your ear just before you sleep. And that you VOLUNTARILY signed up for the madness.

What I’m really trying to say is that if you are a performer or participant in faires, that when you come into a situation, please come prepared as best you can.  Or as a former troupe member so eloquently put it (phrase here not for kids)  The folks who make the magic happen are juggling a lot of balls, so please leave your chaos at home and don’t make it part of the show!

Advertisements