Are you that person who flubs lines and trips on your own feet?  I am as well!  I don’t like crowds, I am not good at improvisation and I hate, hate, hate learning dialogue. I need to obsessively go over my choreography before shows and get grumpy. So why would anyone want to work with such a crappy performer? Well here’s how you work on your mediocrity and are better for your group.

Bring the enthusiasm. I’ve seen a lot and it’s hard to get excited after over 300 shows but if I can’t bring it for myself, I’d better bring it for everyone else. You should listen to new ideas, participate with an open heart and understand that even if it’s not YOUR first rodeo, it is for someone else and it’s not for you to dampen that.

Practice, Practice, Practice-I’ve had fights that I’ve known for years and still botched them. I have two fights (sword and buckler) that I’ve discovered we can’t do in shows because muscle memory can take over from those brain farts. You are in a cooperative dance with your partner. It does neither of you any good if you stuck at your choreography, or find hiccups that occur because of body placement or costuming-you can smooth those out. Feeling under the weather? You can still do your performance-just not at peak levels. You are never so good that you don’t need to practice.

Defer where you suck. If you want to ask me about George Silver or the various buckler styles-I could go on a little too long. But Longsword? I’ll  guide you to the people who love it. And I’ll send you to the guy with the Bachelors in historical warfare for battles. Want to talk costuming? I am NOT your person, but there are a what number of folks who love that stuff. You cannot be all things to all people so love what you love and be sure to share with others. It’s okay to say “I don’t know but X does.” Rather than make crap up to sound important.

Be situationally aware. I’m not the greatest at this, my partner is much better and he is the one with the fake bottled coffees for our caffeine addicts.  The sun has shifted and the fire kits are in the sun?-don’t grouse, move them!  Someone looking a little peaked? Offer water and food!  And Folks, if we are all standing in a downpour moving gear-you get a little complaining. But after the first round


Because no one is secretly in the Bahamas having mixed drinks, we are all there, in the downpour ALSO MOVING GEAR. You can’t make it better but don’t $%^&ing make it worse. And if you slack, and you don’t think people notice? They notice. I’ve been feeling a little guilty at how great members have been about moving stuff because I’m old. And we thank them.  So if you are not adding the extra hands to help-you had better be there with snacks or great solutions.

Sometimes being a good teammate is just getting out of the way or doing something mindless. One of the first things I ask new members to do is get the water.  The more senior people are hauling swords and worrying about making sure things go smoothly. Sure anyone can get water-but not everyone thinks to do it.  We have a teammate who is good at straightening out the tent. We encourage others NOT to “help out” because there is nothing like reaching for a prop and finding it missing just before a show. Packing up the fire equipment? Specialized job and dangerous if done incorrectly.  But if you are willing to take direction and be a set of hands-you will learn quickly and may even become the person who does the task in the future (Sorry about that, Ian)

So you may not be the Charisma Monster of your group but you can still be someone that your group wants along on every job. (And if you want to be Charisma Monster, go for that goal and learn from them )