Thank you for what you did for the New England Renaissance Faires

 

As many folks in the renfaire community now know, this organizer and performer is now looking at End-of-life care after a year(s) of terrible things.  We are not particularly close to the Stickney family but we did work with Paul and David, we knew them by reputation and occasionally had conversations.  And even with that distance, I feel sad and that a lot of us are just now appreciating the effect they had on New England renaissance faires.

One of the first things I admired the Stickneys for doing was calling out shitty practices and putting their ethics where their mouth was. There is a 900-pound gorilla faire in Massachusetts that I (had) loved to attend and we even (before the troupe) considered joining. They had an acting program that gave wings to a lot of current and past performances. That was in no small part due to the Stickneys. But they called out bad practices, working conditions and pay and they were SUED for speaking out.  But that didn’t stop them, they weren’t brimming with money but they walked away and started their own performance group which set the standard for the area.

And it was a high standard.

One of my favorite faires was the Three Musketeers Faire in Newport Rhode Island. They had rented one of the mansions and set the scene perfectly-including a chance to have a lovely meal with the cardinal and king. The acting was wonderful, the setting perfect and the characters fully immersed and brought the eventgoers along for the ride. I’m not sure anyone could top it.

And then they had both King Arthur and Robin Hood faires at Hammond Castle. Once again the venue was outstanding but it wouldn’t be much without a fantastic cast and bringing visitors along for the ride. In an old post, I make it a point to talk about the depth and breadth of both the heroes and especially the villains.  And having a fight melee to the rocky backdrop of the New England coast? That wasn’t being part of a movie, WE WERE THERE.  The Stickneys not only brought great performances but taught others to do the same or in other cases, just polished some accomplished performers.  Their casting was often impeccable.

Then they did the Pirate Faire with our friends  Dina and Brian and that was at Stage Fort Park  a great venue beside the sea. We did sword lessons and pirate games and some of us will never forget it.

Later, the Stickneys would help to stage events to benefit Salem Pioneer Village.  They helped everyone remember what an interesting place it is-often overshadowed by Salem or Sturbridge for historic places to visit.

The reason I hold a special place in my heart for the Stickneys (and I confess, David especially)  is because at one time we had someone(s) actively trying to destroy our troupe and in direct defiance of what some of their own staff had to say about us, David called us and asked us to audition last minute for an event. And if one of the Stickneys makes a personal direct call to you (and you didn’t give them your number and knew you’d never be included) and says
“Show Up.”
Friends, you show the hell up.
And we got to share a private joke with them that cracks us up as recently as a week ago. If you want to know what it is, you can buy us supper and a few beers. And if the Stickneys are willing to care about Phoenix Swords, then the renfaire community was willing to care about Phoenix Swords.  There is still a lot of fecal coliform we’ve had to endure but they stuck their necks out for us and that went a long way to no longer being unfairly labeled unclean.

The last few years they were active was at another faire gunning for the 900-pound gorilla. They were smart to hire the Stickneys because they knew talent and how to put on a great show.  I will never know what happened exactly but when they were fired? Laid off? I know that David was hurt by it and I honestly believe he and his brother, Paul, despite physical limitations, gave Fantastic Show [which I had the pleasure to see]. (I will only attend the gorillas when I have free tickets) And they were always there with their dreams and what they gave to the people around them. We can only aspire to give a portion of the magic they gave to New England Renfaires (and other shows)  and now, I feel like they have given everything.  How can you process that?

Why have I written this blog post? First, I’m not a sentimental person but feel this loss keenly.  Second, anyone who reads this post has to search it out and click and I am not inflicting my feelings on people who are clearly going through grief and pain and soon, mourning. But I want to say something, even if inadequate, about an amazing person, a force for magic and a kind human being.

 

The Theater Company he ran: https://www.facebook.com/groups/54620236554/