I am NOT a multitasker, I am a person who focuses and so when I have to switch gears, well it’s ugly. So I will try to put into words the brain-states I have that do not cross over well.

The first one is “Boss Brain.” That means the person who makes lists, assigns tasks, double-checks everything and worries about every little thing. This bashes heads with people who are all “go with the flow” and responsible only for themselves. Boss brain will sit on my head just before falling asleep and asks
“Oh hey, are you sure you bought the brand of paraffin the fire breather *really* wanted?”
When it is, of course already packed in the car. Boss brain will read over old blog entries for a past show so that I’ll remember all the hazards/problems we had at the last show. Boss brain has to make schedules ten weeks in advance so that when we have the bigger shows we can make sure that we have wiggle room for rehearsals in case of weather/flood/dogs and cats living together, what have you. And boss brain hates props, hates them so much. And knows that if they aren’t in rehearsal by week three then they aren’t happening, no matter what the performers say. Boss brain is an asshole and boss brain has to pack the car so it doesn’t explode when it discovers that ‘X’ was not packed. Boss brain is not agile.

Performer brain, I’ve had to cultivate this brain-it doesn’t come naturally to me . Performer brain has to listen to all the muscles, take in in all sights, senses and people. Performer brain must be intention poured out into the universe.  Which means in many ways, to boss brain it is stupid and feely.  I tell new spotters and booth babes
“Your job is to be the performer’s brain, because as of now, they don’t have one.”
And that is not a joke.  I ask support folks to take aside our talent and, just like kindergarten, tell them where everything goes and confirm everything. Why? Because I could not count the number of times a performer has arrived a show and been surprised to find-they did not have something as simple as a sword to do a show because they were so focused on getting psyched up, into character and working the audience-that they forgot they needed a backsword for their show. I’ve done, it, that’s how I know. And although I’d like to think it will never happen again…well that’s why I rely on our support people. It’s also why boss brain makes mini laminated fight lists with safety pins and we put them on our fighters.
Fire Brain-the rest of the troupe has learned not to have idle conversation with me when this brain is tasking. Of all my brains this one needs to internalize, visualize, walk the perimeter and will not notice anything that does not pertain to the fire show. Naked people could be dancing and swinging flags but I won’t care or notice because they are 1) not my people 2) on fire.  This one is tricky because I definitely hate multi-tasking here but often end up doing just that.  But because I am also the person who writes up the performance list, I can write it to my advantage. Hey, I get to have SOME perks. I can’t say much about this brain because it is super-primal mixed with analytics with no in-between. The troupe members laugh when they ask what my favorite part of the  fire show is and I answer “when it is over.”   It’s not unheard-of for me to get post-adrenaline shakes and need to have a beer after it.  Some people find that fun and exciting, I just find it exhausting.

Stage and props brain-this is definitely the weakest of my brains. It is one of the positions that makes me the crankiest people on the planet because it forces me to interface with other people and their brains and we are generally not even on the same planet, never mind the same page.  I honestly could not count the number of times that I have set up props for people and then discovered they were missing moved or played with.  And often when I confront someone with WHY they moved the prop, the answer is usually
“I don’t know.” (see performer brain) So much as people want me to be a functioning stage manager, I don’t have the temperament for it. As my Partner says
“If this was left (exclusively) up to you, everyone would be dead or fired.”
 I’m bad at props brain don’t make me do it.

Common Sense Brain-this brain rarely is showcased in performance. To be specific, a lot is going on for people who run, perform and support faires and if we were all the arbiters of common sense we be doing accounting over webcams and have our groceries delivered. That is not the person that other people go to see  and with whom they interact. I’ve tried to figure out why this brain type is often the white rhino of the festival savannah and I have a few theories. First, if you are doing something that is traditionally considered “sketchy” by your culture (Renaissance actors, not well-loved) Chances are you are metaphorically sticking your head through a sunroof, driving with your feet and giving the double finger to your own society. Secondly, if we had common sense, we’d be stripped down to the basics and not suffering in a costume. You might make fun of the girl in the booty shorts but she’s not wearing skirts and bodice in summer heat,score one for modern society. Then there has to be a certain suspicion of belief, that yes, in the middle of our 21st century is a European Village with nobility and townsfolk, who were never touched by the various American Wars and 200 years is a long time for a building to be standing. The people of the faire have to chuck all that aside and be IN the magic for it to happen. Let’s face it, once you’ve cast aside most of what informs your view and personality(context)-what’s a little risk-taking? Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s getting sued.  But if you ask me if I had to run for an immediate  fix/help to an issue, I’d be bee-lining to the artfully placed Modern Cop or EMT. Just my opinion. For reasons not clear to me, many run to the sword fighters for a band-aid, and that’s not the faire staff, that’s the visitors so I have no overall explanation and stock a lot of first aid supplies.

What I’m trying to say here is that people at the faire wear a lot of hats(brains.)Some are more skewed than others but ALL of them have uses. No one way of seeing things is the “right” way of it-too much common sense would never get a faire started. To much financial acumen would shut out the folks at the art end of the spectrum and too much reality would not allow the visitors a special place to escape. The trick to to get people to pool that brain trust and use it to make magic-which to date, there is no one recipe or person to make that happen at the festival.