Post-pandemic, I am doing a lot of head-shaking about all the important things one has to do, like clockwork, so you can be viable to do your shows. So for all of you lovely and naïve performers, here are some thoughts, tips, and tricks.

Deal with dirt right away.

I’m serious about this. If your swords are in the rain-clean and oil them ASAP, and then don’t store them in a wet bag. (Not intuitive for some)

Home from the renfaire? Put that stuff into the dry cleaner or the washing machine. That smell will not improve, and you will end up with an unpleasant surprise if you forget.

Leather shoes and boots? Take care of them, and they will take care of you.  I generally don’t do product placement, but everyone should have a pair of something from Medieval Moccasins because they are good warm-weather, multi-era, and machine-washable shoes.

You can reduce cleaning with layering-wear something light and machine washable under something heavier and more elaborate. And that jacket, boots or cloak-Scotchguard or the equivalent so it is dirt resistant.

Don’t be ashamed to use a dry cleaner, it’s less expensive than you think, and they have all the materials for the job!

Props and bits

Part of your expense should be replacing and repairing your clothes and anything you use in your act. If you are handy, this is easier because you probably built it in the first place. And, if you are like our Fire Juggler, you carry a repair kit with you for those emergency occasions.

But mice eat things in storage, and things are misplaced. I keep an electronic copy of the props for each kid’s act and each has a special tote bad for the components. Do people mix these up after every show? Yes, I’d love to have a props manager, but *shrug* so that’s what I spend downtime between shows doing.

Share the load

Nobody wants to carry everything. Take note of the tale of the Little Red Hen.   It has been some years since this happened but sometimes people forget that it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get someone onto the stage, and without that, you’re just some a-hole in a costume.  You need to have an act, market that act, polish that act, perform that act and support other steps that made that act become a thing.  You do not have to be someone’s dogs-body to make them a star unless that was explicitly contracted.

I am lucky that the younger members are willing to haul and load and do the little jobs. In return, we get the gigs, and make sure members have shelter, food, and water and what they need to make the magic happen. (This includes non-tangibles like correct directions and setting expectations) Some people think that being a leader is a fabulous job. No, the leader is the one who stands next to the fan when someone tosses crap into it, and your fearless leader hopes that they block most of it from getting on you.

Ain’t Nobody looking out for you but you.
Whenever someone uses the “But we’re like a faire family!” There are some folks I would say that about, but most are more of the “dysfunctional, financially ruined, and full of drugs and drama”  category.

I would love to say that there are gigs where we show up, are pointed at a spot, set up, and the day just toddles on smoothly. Frankly, that never happens. And we accept that faires are crazy, tentacled beasts with a million heads. 

But some basic things we do so we bring our own tiny bit of calm.

We have a tent, which is our shelter, a green room, and guarded storage.
We have our own water and food supply because you never know when the cops will show up and all the food vendors will sneak out the back (true story)

We have caution tape, rope, and ground stakes because there are events that are astonished that we would need a barrier between a crowd of unpredictable people and things on fire or weaponry.

We have a standard operating procedure about bugging out of an event because tornados, hurricanes, and crazy people running events happen.

And not really mentioned are extra clothes, a first aid kit, and a buddy system.

I know this kills your dream of screaming fans and pretty clothes. And some of you think that putting on a nice kit and grabbing a weapon is all you need to be a star.  If people are gawping at you it’s not because you are awesome when you do that. It’s because you are a train wreck, and they can’t look away.

But I hope you decide to become a performer anyway.