Leaping right in today with some suggestions on sharing the performer-spherekindness-clipart-good-neighbour-3

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Know where the bathroom, security, and first aid are BEFORE the gate opens.  Have you ever been mistaken for the employee of a supermarket? Did it confuse you and the person who asked? This happens all the time at the renaissance faire. Costumed people are employees to visitors. Don’t expect the people coming through the gate to know the difference, and reacting badly will not do anyone any favors. If you don’t know, politely excuse yourself or direct them to someone you know will have the answer. I find it’s easier just to know this information

Come prepared (rope, gloves, first aid, etc) No one goes to it-where do they head? The tents with the sword people. Do they just assume we’re that terrible at what we do? I don’t know. If it’s more than a kind word, cleaning and a band-aid, we are all headed to the EMT.  And we have a job where we travel 1300 miles away from home and stores come and go.  Fairgrounds can also be remote (turn left at the dead armadillo) so we tend to overpack.  At one faire we ended up providing manpower, ropes, knives, and glue when a large faire (the organizer’s) tent was packed away badly.  I was hauling up a rope when a chivalrous SCA member was ready to take over, but Mrs. SCA said
“She’s all set, darlin’ she’s even got on gloves”  I heart you, Mrs. SCA, that was an excellent compliment, and her husband grabbed *another* rope and we got that Frankensteinian albatross up in time for gate opening.

I am always looking for innovations to make life better at the faire We have glow in the dark rope (Mediocre) solar lights to mark tent perimeters and I bought a patio umbrella light for our center pole and night-time bug-outs. My partner brings flood lights-good for fire shows and more. (I think he has never recovered from performing at a zoo, next to the alligator pit, in total darkness) But that’s another entry.

Keep to your stage times.  We have been known to walk onto a stage with lit props 10 minutes after we were scheduled to go on to perform. We told the musical act they were welcome to continue but they would have to share.  Now if we were nicer people or lazier perhaps we would have let that slide (and we have in the past) but this act had been pulling this stunt ALL DAY and they probably figured better us with legitimate fire than the other performers with torches and pitchforks.  If we have a long setup (fire show) we sneak over early and politely watch the show before us.  And we do our best to never interrupt tip collection. It happened once and we didn’t catch our performer in time and the previous performer was (understandably) pissed. But we apologized and offered our tip and the Previous Performer was still an ass about it.  He tried to give an ultimatum to the organizer and we did not see him the year after that. Which leads me to

Be flexible.  We have changed to an “encampment” format because we are sick of people sniping our stages and locations out from under us. We try to be understanding when we find vendors, or in some cases, cows, in locations we’d been given on a map.  We do our best to accommodate others and work with what we have. In some cases, giving up a prime location this year may mean a much better location next year.  And we do tell people when a stage is untenable (Fire show on a hay-filled field? Nope!)   And don’t cross the people who organize the plots at a faire.  A specific group of SCAdians repositioned flags the night before an event and incurred the wrath of a coordinator. They were dismissed and we received a double-wide spot.  We have been scheduled practically on top of another act and we made it work, some patrons may have thought it was the same act with singing, shooting and sword fighting pirates, but that show will never be seen again.

And do give a shout-out to the act that follows you, that’s just being a good neighbor.

Don’t steal the audience, I mean it.  I am one of those people who will stop what I’m doing and march up into your business. You will be part of the act and not in a good way. I am old and hold a grudge. We understand calling your show, we understand the renfaire death march (Often known as the Royal Procession) and we get it if you are a lane performer. But don’t steal or distract an audience.

Don’t “haunt” the green room, vendors or campsites.  I have fallen to this. Renfaires are not just full of distractions to visitors. We like to get together, gossip, grab some food and have some time off stage. One of my favorite things to do is go behind the tents and catch up with old friends and have some water and food.  But I keep my teammates apprised and when I don’t, they know I’m within spitting distance.  And we’re all a little tired. We’ve all experienced a troupe mate come in look directly at us then ask others where we are.  But if you are in a group, DO keep track of time and communicate. In our early years with was so much of a problem we had to *schedule* free time away from the tent because others would walk off with no notice or location and then fail to, or show up late at shows.  Ten minutes is a good window. And don’t run to shows, it looks bad, is hazardous and doesn’t set the tone well.

Do offer help/water/respite, and be kind to other groups and some visitors.  If I see a clearly dehydrated person or someone with low blood sugar, I’ll share. You do need to be discriminating because otherwise the mooch hotline gets a tip and your tent will be party central with the wrong kind of visitor. I wrote a blog about What you owe your audience/fans.

It’s nice to help merchants. But merchants, we are not your dogsbody  In the middle of a tornado don’t complain at the order/way people help you get stowed.  And don’t snipe at the folks who help with your tent. It is just as easy to walk away. As someone who vends as well, my partner in that venture says- if you can’t handle moving product and setting up, you need to rethink how you do things.  Performers don’t have the outlay but they still need a lot of energy.  And performers, it’s okay to say “no” so that you do the job you were paid to do.

Remember that the patrons are there contributing to your paycheck. This means if you can’t be nice, at least be funny. I know folks at faires who actually don’t seem to like the visitor very much. That’s like being a teacher and disliking kids (and we all know that happens) The festival does not happen without people attending the stage acts so we do our best to try and understand the faire from the outside and be a good audience when we attend other faires.

All of these are GUIDELINES, each faire has its own way of doing things. Remember, even if everything is going wrong, smile and put on your game face and do the best you can.