Archives for posts with tag: musings



person-posing-near-body-of-water-3050912Photo by Vitória Santos from Pexels

On the Phoenix Swords Facebook, I posted an “are you okay?” meme for the folks I know.  And someone who has performed with us and has their own act now commented that they were doing okay. And for the most part that seems to be true

I am taking cues from Guy Windsor, Jess Finley, D’Mon Stith by looking at manuals to improve our historical show.

I have been picking up online skills like a crazy person. We have permission to use our workplace media connection and I am taking full advantage of it to contact family and friends with the bells and whistles. I am taking courses and working full time. (Don’t ask about housework)


The troupe has reassured me that I am not wasting their time with online meetings and that it helps to be connected.

We are even participating in an online fundraiser for the New Hampshire Renfaire:

But it’s hard to be productive all the time and we still have bills to pay. We pay for storage and practice space and we are NOT practicing. Two performers will not be able to join us for wildly varying reasons-one because his job is trying to keep safe so he cannot attend or participate in any public performances for a set time. The other works in a high-risk group and does not want to bring sickness to us. He calls himself ‘the canary in the coal mine.’

In New England, we only have about four good months and people are itching to get out into them.  And you can’t practice fire in the house. (well you can but it’s a bad idea)  Just like everyone else, I HAVE THINGS TO DO.

I get it, we all do. I love my day job but will I have it in a month? My family, many are elderly-will I see them through 2020? One senior describes her role as “inmate” because she cannot leave her apartment for any reason and food is all but slid under the door.  I am grateful to be mobile and able to go outside.

And this “new normal” has brought out the serious mental imbalances in some of my friends. I hope that they survive physically, mentally, and spiritually. Praying for them every day.

I have nostalgia already for close contact performances. It’s going to impact our shows-can we still fight and “bag” our falchion fighters?  Take audience participation?  What about our spotters and fire breathers?  I’m trying to figure out how to do the human connection hands-free. Better work on those charisma skills!

Keep your fingers crossed for Fall faires, my friends. I am rubbing my rabbit’s foot like a sander and hoping the best for everyone, and that includes you.

 (and yes, these are true stories)


1)      Directions can be optional. For our group we try to leave early and use a mix of local help, google maps and GPS. Note that I don’t say one of these things is better than the other but as least there is cross-referencing going on and you *might* get there with no issue. It can be a bit of a strain on the earliest arrivals. One fair we arrived before the signs went up and the location was a large, unplowed field next to a church.  The church had not updated its address on the website so car two actually reached there first.  Another example was a faire that took place so far out of town that the locals had never even heard of the location. But car one chugged along the red clay roads, hoping that there were no shotguns involved, and included in the final directions were
“and turn left at the dead armadillo.”  Sure they laughed, but it did get everyone to the site.

2)      Sometimes the people running the event have less of an idea of what is going on that you do, in many cases it is not their fault. It’s just what happens.  In earlier entries I mention having an ability to find one’s center in these crisis moments. It’s important that no matter the language, activity or event, one breathes deeply and makes a new plan. (see Sun Tzu)  we carry a tent and in your case, your Zen temple may be your car or that space behind some hay bales.  Our SOP is to find a respected authority (you can tell, people come up screaming and running with flailing arms like a muppet and ask them questions) and pick a spot and confirm your showtimes. If conflicting information arises, redirect them to ‘authority’  Arriving early can sometimes be a boon as you are a ‘solved problem’ and no one wants to take the time to dislodge you (sort of like a friendly lamprey!)  Some of the items we’ve seen-no schedule, so we told the organizer when and where we’d set up. Or that some mysterious entity came by in the dead of night and rearranged vendor and performer site tags to suit themselves. (We didn’t have popcorn but took in the show anyway!) And receiving a totally inappropriate area for performance (You guys do a fire show and swords? I guess in the hallway is a bad spot, huh?) And let the person who helps you take credit for the good idea even if you came up with it. Safety, harmony and happiness are key.

3)      Occasionally there are no basic amenities. Always carry water and food with you. I don’t recommend dehydration but sometimes it’s not a bad thing when there is nowhere to water the wildlife. And garbage bags, med kit, safety pins, tools and duct tape. I wish folks who get hurt would stop first at the first-aid. Sadly, they usually stop at the tent with the sword people.

4)      Contracts are your friends, read them, know them, carry a copy with you. Same with MSDS sheets, insurance policies and emergency contacts for your members. We keep ours in the medical kit. It would be lovely if no one ever needed to double-check these but if you need them, it’s a life saver.

5)      Checklists, you laugh but it keeps life sane

6)      Dirty laundry and extra clothing-some individuals are under the impression that it’s okay to reuse costuming without washing and airing. They are wrong.  The cleaner you are, the better off you are. This includes hygiene, brushing off dirt, doing a spot-check on clothes. And yes, you should wash them as soon as you get home-it doesn’t start to smell better the longer you wait.

7)      There may be animals, including insects. Or pigs, or horses, or cats. If you have allergies carry benadryl or an epi-pen(or both.) This is true of strange foods as well. If you are a lactose-intolerant celiac with animal allergies, I hope you have a great health plan and the fair may well be a miserable place for you. And yes, animals poop.

8)      Be aware.  Wind picking up? May want to pull down your pop-up-and dodge the other tent rolling your way. Horse loose? Stay out of the way of the person with the rope calling its name. Small child crawling onto your stage?  Faire security can’t be everywhere, sometimes you have to be your own guardian angel.

9)      Some people will try not to pay you.  Try to never leave a site without getting paid. Don’t care if it is your grandma paying you in cookies, do your best not to let this happen.

10)   Have fun and let your freak flag fly, it’s why you are here.  It is also why others are here. You will experience things at the faires that you may want to write about later.  In our troupe we have what we call “2-beer stories.” These are tales that only come out after someone has bought me two beers and we are in an adult setting. They aren’t always about me but I’m told well worth the cost of admission. You need to keep an open mind and roll with the punches. You will learn quite a bit, even if you didn’t want to know certain things. If it is all too much-remember your Zen temple.

I tell you these things not to discourage, but to make aware the new performers, and even then, this really will only be an “oh yeaaah….” Somewhere in the back of your mind when it occurs. I mean this with all my heart; wash your costumes, there are few things nastier than renfaire garb put away dirty and left to ferment.