What we do for performance highlights history and the past but modernity has we impacted how we do business and how we handle communication, travel and commerce. That’s true of everyone but in some ways it’s amusing that a sword troupe thrives because of technology.

For this I’ll use two examples generally 2002 timeline and totay

Getting out the word-
Then: At that time not everyone in the troupe had email, so we had to rely on the phone, meeting at practice or passing along via troupe members what our plans were. I tried to do six-month planning sheets that I would hand out at practice.  We had a phone tree for cancelled practices and I generally had to decide the night before because some folks wouldn’t be caught fast enough by phone.  We had a fax number so we could send/receive contracts and a website. On the website we had printable materials, the fax number, email and posted our own video. We joined as many webrings as possible and posted on every forum I could find. We had brochures and sent out “promotion kits” with a CD, printed material and a hardcopy photo.

Now: We have a website, facebook, blogger, wordpress and Youtube.  Still haunt forums and sites and try to get us linked to as many places as possible. Practice info is sent by text, by email  and occasionally I’ll use a facebook site. People don’t change, and I’ve flat out said that when I have hold someone’s hand, look deeply into their eyes and tell them troupe plans, then there will be jail time and I’ll call it quits. And yes, I’ve been told that calling, announcing at practice, and email was not sufficient. (Not for some time, admittedly) We do most of our contracts via email. I love email, it leaves a trail.

Then, we had to find our way to a faire site that was not on Mapquest and had to request a map (and consult an atlas) to find our way there. Only one person per car had a cell phone and we left at different times. We tried not to call one another because outside the area was expensive. And we chose our cell phone plan based on the fact that there was a cell tower near the practice site. Even on reaching the performance site there were no signs, had no GPS and even people from the LOCAL AREA had no idea where it was. (Wilmer, AL Mobile Zoo-) Note that even today,  there are no connecting roads.  We would print up “map books” from AAA in a bound folder with turn-by-turn directions and gas stops. Sometimes we had to front people money because ATMS were not a thing yet. We would throw in a mix tape to travel.

Now, we print up the turn-by-turn on a single sheet of paper and we have everyone’s cell number. We still rent cars and leave at different times but it’s simple to just call on the road and see how it is going.  We (owners) can locate one another via “find my phone” and I am seriously considering a “nanny app” for larger sites so we can track one another (with permission) Our special gift is finding spots where Google’s map is out of date/wrong (this happened as recently as this April) We can warn of road hazards and traffic jams. We have told our people “Do not rely  upon your GPS.” So when we receive a call at 2:00 am from a place that is nowhere near any of our written directions, I’ve been known to throw phones across the parking lot. (It was a nokia, so no problem.) Some things haven’t changed-bringing our own food, setting up shifts and packing light.  By polite request the person in the “shotgun” seat doesn’t play with their phone or handheld games so we all don’t die in a ditch because the driver fell asleep.


Then:huge difference. It was expensive and time consuming because it required camera film and then a trip to the local pharmacy. When we did move to digital it was with a pixel-quality camera that is available for most children’s toys now. I do miss some of the vibrancy.  In order to get “action shots” I’d record with a (tape required) camera and then whittle down to certain frames. Editing video was a weekend-long job.

Now: Take a picture of everything! Even though I generally only have a little pocket canon, I get some great shots. The problem is getting people to take photos! I am probably the least-featured member because I am behind the lens. Now, my big issue is winnowing down what makes a good shot.  I’ve been told I have a good eye and no amount of photoshop can help a picture be amazing if you don’t start with something good. Video is as simple as a quick edit  in iMovie and “bam!” it’s out on youtube. The bigger problem now is discernment of what is interesting

Information in general-we can do waivers and contracts on an ipad-and check online information. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve received a call while on the road with a request for information. We can be professional  while in a van of overtired performers but sometimes it can be a challenge. And we have a credit card reader so commerce can be done on the spot!

Things that won’t change: Physical demands-you have to haul gear, swing a sword and have some physical ability. We still have tents and swords!  Networking-there is nothing like person-to-person contact to make an impression. Video can be misleading-it’s easy to be good for three minutes-tough to do for a ½ hour show, repeated throughout the day.  And our experience is that tent with extra “oomph” will take longer than an easy-up, but will stay in place longer. I had a boss who told me that a webcam would make sure that no one came in to see a live creature for themselves.  That might be true of some but what a terrible way to rob yourself of a terrific experience!

I’m sure there is technology out there that we haven’t event tapped but it’s  a balance between making your bottom line and playing with the newest, latest greatest.  I remember how some folks told me if we weren’t on twitter then we should just throw in the towel. Sorry, just can’t be that entertaining all the time, and if celebrities are any indication, it’s written Russian Roulette until something stupid from your brain sets the internet on fire.

Although having modern access helps, it’s not what our experience is about and what makes it special! So although we’ll continue to add to the modern arsenal, it’s going to be history, proximity and fun that keeps us viable.