I’ve mentioned it several times on this blog that Renfaires tend to have DRAMA. I can’t speak to how others deal with it but I am going to point out some of my own experiences and how I coped.

To begin, everyone has drama of some type or another, we are all living a Greek Tragedy and one has to equip coping mechanisms. At the faire this gets ramped up because it has been my experience that dramatics and performances attract dramatic people. I just wanted to justify owning and using a sword and that was my first experience with “FAIRE!!!” I did not do it to enhance my personal self-esteem, be an elitist, join the “faire family” or be a superstar. So this pretty much put me at odds with 90% of the faire community.

If it feels wrong, it is. I can’t recount the number of times someone dismissed my fears, bad feelings, misgivings or outright discomfort at some of the things going on around me. This ranged from rampaging sexism to illegal acts. You know what if you don’t like it-if you can’t speak out, relocate. This is direct from the How to Deal with Difficult People seminar. You might be accused of having an overactive bladder or worse, but you know what? You won’t be there (hopefully) when all those chickens of doom come home to roost.

What if you decide to make your line in the sand? Well, there is a price to be paid for that and sadly sometimes you don’t know someone is racking up those charges on your behalf (more on that later) but don’t compromise your internal integrity. I am not asking you to be the faire police (because that’s another end of the spectrum) but if someone does something you don’t like or feel is unjust, speak up. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many others will thank you for it. My own example comes from a couple that once joked
“For all I know you are those every-Sunday church people. Hurr, hurr.”
“We are”
Awkward silence.
But that set up a personal boundary that stopped a lot of unsavory behavior and the unrevealed Christian guy in the same organization thanked us and we didn’t have to explain or rationalize anything. Does this mean I judge?-Well I do but not because of religion but by how you treat other human beings. We have a big rainbow of background in our troupe and although everyone is doing their own thing, I think we’re all in line of the ethic of “don’t be a douchebag.” But it can cost you friends, associates and maybe even your position. But honestly, long-term, who wants to be part of a community who can’t be kind to one another? In our troupe, I personally try to make our tent/group a mini-refuge so that even if the outside circumstances are not great and it hits the fan, we can just come together and know we are safe with one another. (This can be hard when you get too many refugees at an event, but another blog post) It’s perfectly okay to say. “Don’t do that in front of or to me.” Or “That makes me uncomfortable.”

Stealth personal attacks. This is so very, very hard. When you are hit with the 2×4 of crazy-making it’s quite the experience. I have at least four friends who will never, ever work at a faire again and their current communities rejoice to have them. Their detractors did not gain one single thing by cutting these people down and it was like trying to harness stardust-they were left with a handful of glitter and the faires lost something wonderful. Their envy, spitefulness and deeds just put another dark place in the world and they gained NOTHING, not even bragging rights. In my own experience, I turned to my friends and husband and had to try and redirect my energy positively. To be honest, for a few years it was pretty much vented into revenge success-I’ll show them! It meant that I wasn’t actively swimming in negativity. (I was peeved for years, but I refused to give in to being like my attackers)

Here’s what I say about that:

  • It doesn’t matter why, it is about them, not you. (Seriously don’t try to figure out the why)
  • You can calculate the worth of a man by the number of his enemies, and the importance of a work of art by the harm that is spoken of it.-Gustave Flaubert
  • It’s about your happiness, not theirs so they can suck it
  • Time will show who is who
  • Legal issues are best handled by the professionals (police, therapists, security)
  • If you are having personal problems over and over, maybe it isn’t other people.

More on that “maybe it is you.” I evoke a certain enmity in people-and my troupe fellows confirm it for me. We have a certain sub-contractor who could be in the middle of the Mohave desert, playing with his own toes and over the dunes, completely surprising us all, someone from a popular organization will challenge him to a duel. That’s not a personal failing, we’ve both just accepted it is “a thing.” And we do our best to diffuse it with a “whatever.” And do conflict avoidance. He drinks a lot of water, I suck on Altoids (Keeps my breath fresh and my mouth shut!) But if you don’t have long-term friends or people avoid you, or drama follows you like a second skin…you need to take steps to stop whatever you are doing that swirls that mess around and gets it other people. If you need to mutter a mantra or write a series of “computer voice” statements on a notecard or just picture Tahiti in your head-you do it. You and everyone around you will be thankful, long-term.

It’s just the festival and you can go home. It’s hard not to be personally invested and the experience is both better and worse if you are. If you aren’t feeling it, you’re probably not on fire as a performer either. But that fire is better spent on the people who love you, your passions, your accomplishments and personal improvement. If someone is awful to you, they have done you a favor, they have told you, straight up, that they are not worth your time. Move on from there.

Don’t join in. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a simple case of miscommunication or something even more miniscule turn into a mob-driven witch hunt. You can simply say
“I don’t have all the facts.”
And let it go. When the so-called saviors have burned everything to the ground and destroyed everything around them, often there is a tiny but significant
“Whoops!” In their wake.
I’m not saying you can’t have an opinion, but if you are not the impacted or involved party, then you are just an ass playing out some ego need. (Write that on your notecard, it’s important) Also, if you watched them turn on someone, next time that someone could be YOU, have fun storming the castle…

Don’t think they are playing chess when it is just whack-a-mole. Or as I like to write on my notecard ”do not attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” People are dumb animals, they get bitten by a fly and kick their neighbors-just like a mule-action/reaction. This goes back to the ‘don’t try to figure out why’ I mentioned earlier. I had one of the nastiest things at the faire to happen to me, and one of the ‘masterminds’ tried to friend me on Facebook years later. A friend shook her head and laughed at me. Then said
“She’s stabbed so many people in the back that she’s lost track.”
So much truth.

I’m not saying invite your detractors over for some scones and tea, but often they are less Machiavelli and more Moe of the three stooges. And be wary, they could be carrying a 2×4.

You are your own best friend and you can be the goofiest, cheesiest faire participant ever but you never deserve to be slammed or drawn into the stupidity of faire drama. We are still individuals and when you see a stampede happening-just don’t participate. You are there for your own purposes and to be part of a (productive) team. Although you probably have a good heart, be cognizant of the WHY you are getting involved, consult your brain-it does more than keep your body running. Take care of you, think things through and you will be glad you did.