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So it’s over.  The Spring 2008 Sarasota Medieval Fair.  Date: April 5th and 6th, 2008.  Theme: Robin Hood and his Merry Men.  Place: Robarts Sports Arena, Sarasota, Florida.  This thing that has eaten the last three months of my life.  The first Medieval Fair that I have been part of as an actor.

I’m sitting at my desk, still in costume.  My lovely tunic that I paid someone to make for me has been ripped open.  I’m covered in Karo syrup, because at one point I had to die, and it had to be spectacular.  I’m sunburnt, blistered, filthy, exhausted, and working on one HELL of a case of heat rash.

I’ve never been happier in my life.

I have been introduced to an entire world of camraderie, teamwork, artistic license, and love.  I feel like I’ve gained a family.  I feel like I’ve been part of something much bigger than I, and while it may sound pretentious, I felt like I was an important enough part of it that had I not been there it would have had a quite different feel.  Of course, it would still have been a spectacular show, with all its major elements intact, but I feel that I, like every other cast member, contributed just enough of myself to make it that much more special.

There’s something about being a part of a successful theatrical production, I’ve found, that can be quite intoxicating.  Oh, yes, make no mistake -- this was theater from start to finish.  The difference in this case is that your stage is not confined to one end of an auditorium.  No, this stage is everywhere -- in and out and around the "lanes", which are the walkways between the stage acts and vendor booths, the human chessboard (which I’ll get to in a minute), the small areas behind the stages...everywhere.  Any time you’re not in the ’green room’, you’re on and in character.  You have no script, no omnipresent director telling you exactly how to interpret each scenario, no chance for a second take.  You’re out in the thick of it, bam, here’s the audience, they’re all around you, and they’re looking to you to provide them with an avenue of escape from their lives, asking you to enable their suspension of disbelief for a few hours.  In a way, you’re their reprieve.  You’re their doorway into another world, and you have to create that world on the fly from word one.  Of course there’s a framework, a given scenario from which you build, but that’s where it ends.

Perhaps it sounds dreadful.  Perhaps it sounds like too much pressure.  It may sound like something impossible to achieve and maintain.  It sounded that way to me at first.  But I tell you -- as one who, a scant six months ago, was on the outside looking in -- once you’re there, and you hear yourself greeting entering patrons in this accent that sounds ridiculous to your own ears, but you see their faces relax and smile back and acknowledge you and begin to enjoy themselves.....that, my friends, is a good feeling.  You begin to think, "Hell yeah...I can do this!"  And you go off to find one of your fellow performers so the two of you can spontaneously invent a bit act to perform for the patrons, and when they stop and watch you and laugh at all the right spots, and even start to involve themselves in your little shenanigans, and applaud you when you’re done....there’s that good feeling again.

And the human chess match!  God, I haven’t had that much fun -- legally -- in years.  A life-sized chessboard, 48 feet square, each square occupied by a living person.  Every time a piece takes another, it’s a glorious battle to the death.  And I got to fight.

Let me say that again. I.  Got.  To FIGHT.

My fight was against our Little John, played by a man that I am not only taller than but outweigh by about 30 pounds.  Hence, the name given to me by our director -- wait for it -- "BIG John".  Our fight was not the most spectacular, but it was a good freaking match.  We both used staves, a weapon I am more than comfortable with, and by GOD it felt good to run out there and swing that sucker around like I knew what the hell I was doing.  The actor I was paired up against has been doing these kinds of fights for years, and he was more than willing to patiently work with me on the things I needed to know to both fight safely and make it look like we were really pounding the hell out of each other.  We spent enough time in practice to get a feel for how each other worked as a fighter (most of the featured fights in a chess match are choreographed, by and large, by the fighters themselves), and we even came up with our own dialogue to spout during our match.  And in the end -- glee! -- I got to die.  Oh, it was great.

All of these things are wonderful experiences by themselves, but when they’re all packaged together in this one hectic weekend of hellacious seat-of-the-pants brouhaha, it becomes an unforgettable experience that you would do anything to extend or repeat.  Fortunately, we get to do just that -- our show was a rip-roaring success, so we’ll be putting on another one this November.  We don’t yet have all the details, but we do know this much:  Vikings.  ’nuff said.

One of the best moments today?  After our big climactic chess match, as I was off by the privy trying to rinse Karo syrup out of my hair, a mother and daughter came up to me and told me that they’d been attending Medieval Fairs for years, and that this was one of the best Med Fairs they’d ever seen. 

EVER.

  God, I’m going to be high off that one for days, I can tell.

If you’re reading this, O spring ’08 cast:  I love you guys.  You are all -- each and every one of you -- a joy to work with.  You have made this into a life-changing experience for me, at the risk of sounding melodramatic.  And -- make no mistake -- I will definitely be there for August casting.

Huzzah!

Date: 2008-04-07 07:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] salkryn.livejournal.com
Absolutely awesome, man. I love acting, although my only experience has been on stage. It sounds great, and I wish I could have seen it. I'm glad you've found something that you enjoy.

Date: 2008-04-08 09:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kritusi-vuki.livejournal.com
Mmm.. enjoyed reading this, enjoyed your own happiness that you feel now. Thank you :)

Can't Wait

Date: 2008-05-12 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] confusedmujer.livejournal.com
Hello love,

This sounds like you have had so much fun. I am eager to see you take part in the next fair. If it is meant to be, I will be in the fair with you. You are amazing and full of life. Never forget that. I look forward to hearing your adventures with the upcoming cast.

*It*

~Angel~

I am glad for you.

Date: 2008-11-05 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vipersaim.livejournal.com
I hope you never have to experince the backstabbing pain and loss I did at the hands of those very same people.

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