WIL Final Workshops

I work for the street cast of a local Renaissance festival that is preparing for our spring show now. And many of us like to keep logs of things we learned over the weekends as they go by, called a W(hat) I L(earned). I’ll often add anecdotes of fun stories or things I’d like to remember when looking back later at the end of mine.

This was the final weekend of classes. We have dress rehearsals next weekend, then the show opens the weekend after!

A lot to talk about this weekend because there were several games specifically designed to bring about revelations.

  1. Faith trusts Captain Latimer Fairfield now. There’s a direct line between this trust and the friendship and trust she built with Beckett years ago. It opened a door to accepting that the Captain does in fact love Scarborough and holds its interests in his heart.
    It also solidifies the difference between privateers and pirates in her mind, and establishes another layer of grey in her originally black-and-white world of Justice.
  2. No justification is a good justification for killing innocent people. Not even protecting the village or her own family would be a good reason to kill other innocent people, no matter who they were.
    Faith would be a terrible choice for werewolf. Because she would target someone who is already a criminal for the first victim, and then the next night–now knowing she’s a werewolf and who the other werewolves are–out EVERYONE.
  3. She’s not afraid to acknowledge that people she loves may have sides to them she doesn’t know. There are exceptions to this (it’d be extremely difficult, for example, for her to believe any ill of her mother), but when things get bad, and there is a strong sign something is wrong among the people she loves, she’ll point it out and back it up.
  4. Do not ever assume that your feelings or relationships are “better” or “closer” than those of others’. Faith sees it as an extreme insult, no matter how famed the closeness of your group may be. Everyone loves those around them and wants the best for them. No one is above reproach.
  5. Faith really isn’t seen as a leader figure in the village. She’s not surprised, I’m not surprised, but it needs to be worked on. That being said, she doesn’t give up after being ignored.
  6. Faith sees her biggest failing as Lady Bread as that lack of authority.
  7. From her interactions with Lord Exeter, she’s reminded of the same attitudes she sees in the Rooke, baron of Scarborough. Because of that correlation, if she needs assistance from someone in the court, Lord Exeter is likely to be the first person she thinks of.
  8. Cemented: she has great ambition for herself, but her happiness lies in her family. If she achieves nothing she wants for herself, but all her siblings grow up, get married, and have happy, fulfilling lives, she’ll die a happy woman. Her fondest dream is to die in bed with her grandchildren around her.
  9. Faith associates being called ‘Lady Bread’ by people she knows well as being called out to do her job. As such, she doesn’t particularly relish the title.
    Another reason she doesn’t relish it is that the title means ‘Mum’ to her. Hearing it directed at her is awkward.
  10. She really likes sex. Not in general, only with her husband, whom she loves deeply and passionately.
    If she can’t have sex with her husband, she can’t be married to him. End of story. She wouldn’t be able to keep her hands off him.
    Getting married to someone she has these feelings for then immediately leaving to go back to London for a while left a lot of passion swirling around that had no direction. It led to a marital indiscretion while she was away, which she deeply regrets and found no ultimate satisfaction in.
    She has gone to confession for it, but I’m not entirely sure she’s worked up the courage to tell William. It’s not an “if”, though. She knows she must, and most likely ultimately will.
  11. My pride in myself as a performer is stronger than ever, but still depressingly fragile. Mostly because of the close tie it has to the approval I get. I’m too dependent on it, always have been, and until I can make the root of my confidence come from myself, it always will be fragile.

 

My favorite scene moments all have single lines I said that exemplifies what it was that made it memorable and fun.

“Don’t worry. Most taste testers live several years.”
I had to practice positive conflict, and I chose to give the patron the great news that I thought she’d be a wonderful taste tester. For the royals. But it’s fine, the food is wonderful, and you get to try so many different things. Sure, there is risk of death–horrible death, even, as some poisons are nasty–but it’s not like every meal is poisoned. She could live for several years in the lap of luxury eating delicious food.

“Do you not WANT to feed starving children?”
In a scene with a partner, my partner established that we were going to sacrifice our patron for May Day. Because this is a fertility festival, that means her sacrifice will ensure lots of food for the village in the harvest. Sure, I may have implied that the children in Scarborough are starving–which of course they’re not–but surplus food we have gets sold for cheaper, which means more food for everyone in the general area. There are bound to be starving children somewhere that would benefit from her sacrifice.
The instructor pouted at me.
Our patron then informed us she was Buddhist and wouldn’t burn. So, my partner and I decided we must test this theory. We were going to get something to burn her with and find out for ourselves if she wasn’t flammable. “Stay right there; we will return momentarily.” How To Not Have a Pet Patron* 101.

*A “pet patron” is a patron who follows you around because you invited them to. This usually happens because they agree to the situation you’ve put them in, and you can’t find a way to get them to unagree to it.

“Have you never heard of a meat pie?”
Because I’m working on supporting, I also didn’t drive this one. My partner established that I was going to be making a bread statue of our patron. Which involved the patron standing in a grand pose, being covered in bread, then baked. Naturally. The patron was thrown for a loop that she would be in the bread sculpture, so I helpfully provided the context that she seemed to be lacking. Hey, maybe they didn’t have meat cooked inside bread where she was from.

“Well, she had to keep going until she got a boy.”
We were practicing patron conversations, and my two patrons were arguing. So, I asked if they were siblings or married, they said siblings. We had a fun conversation getting to the fact that Faith has nine siblings, there are nine girls and one boy, the baby. One patron said, “Your poor mother!” so I had to explain that Mum couldn’t very well stop with only girls if she wanted a real future for her family. My instructor nearly fell over, and declared it a successful start to a conversation.

We played In Character Werewolf this weekend, and several of the numbers above came from this game. The individual scene from that which stuck out to me the most happened in the first game. Early on, Faith pulled aside Arthur Sheffield, the only other authority figure in the village present in our group. She pointed out that they were in charge and had to be on the same page and guiding the village. The very next round, Faith died. So, I got to stand aside and watch the werewolves choose. And who was a werewolf? Arthur Sheffield. Faith was furious.

(As a side note, I’m quite proud of how impassive I could manage to be while the people who were still alive had their eyes open because I was stomping, screaming mad when I saw him kill someone.)

He was eventually executed as a werewolf, and when he died, I went after him. We went off to the side and had an intense argument. He persisted that he was saving the village, redirecting the victims to be gyptians* instead of villagers, and backed up his defense by pointing out that now that he’s not alive anymore, villagers are dying in droves. Faith laid into him that the gyptians were also innocents, and because the Rooke has the gyptians under his protection for the duration of the festival, that makes them also under the protection of the Council. (Faith, as Lady Bread, is on the Town Council. Arthur, as Lord High Solicitor, is also among the leadership of the village.) He was still harming people he was supposed to be protecting, not to mention harming people at all. He should’ve given himself up and tried to take down the other werewolves, but instead, he chose to kill. That makes him a despicable person and a traitor to the village as far as Faith is concerned.

In the second game, it began with the death of Faith’s mother. That made the entire thing a thousand times more personal. No one in her direct family was involved in the previous game. This one also began with only deaths of people Faith feels responsible for–villagers and one gyptian. Which meant she had to step up and do something. However, she didn’t have any suspicions about who it might be. The groups present were all ones Faith has some measure of confidence in: the village, the gyptians, the men of the Mary Rose (flagship to His Majesty, so king’s men), Royal Guardsmen, and Seahawks (who have Scarborough as their home port, and although privateers and thus criminals and murderers, the Captain–as noted above–has the best interests of the town at heart). No one she would immediately suspect.

Because the only deaths came from village or village-adjacent, Faith realized a horrible truth: one of them was a werewolf. At least one. Because they’re trying to draw suspicion away from themselves. Without knowing who precisely that meant because there was no one Faith  wanted to think that of, it made her unreliable at finding who might really be responsible. So, she called the village and gyptians over to tell them her theory, in case someone else had insights.

There was a horrible moment when no one responded. Absolutely no one. Not even her cousins or her fellow village leader, who would be the most likely to listen. Absolutely no one came over when she called. That hurt, I’ll be honest, but it only made Faith angry. She called again, louder and angrier, and got a response that time.

The gyptians sent a representative, who informed her that it couldn’t possibly be one of them, they’re clean, they’re good people, they would know, they take care of their own. (At least, that’s what Faith heard in her words.) All implying that the village does or is not these things, which only made Faith angrier. It added a level of disdain to her thoughts of the gyptains, but did not make her suspect them. They have the confidence of the Rooke, so Faith sees no inherent danger in them, like many people of the Period do. But she does not appreciate being told that they think they’re better than she and her loved ones are.

After that, though, Faith didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know who, specifically, it might be, and there’s nothing to be done except kill suspects. Which meant she went from the shock of Mum’s death, to anger that people are attacking her village, to now hopelessness at being helpless to stop it. It was either that or start killing innocents personally out of a hope that they get the right one eventually, which Faith was not willing to do. She would rather let people who are more world-wise than her and more discerning figure it out and support them.

Which she did. She found that in Captain Fairfield. When one of her villagers was accused, Faith asked why, and the basic reason was that he had an instinct for this sort of thing. Because she knows he has the village’s interests at heart, she didn’t believe he would simply throw accusations around, and he is everything she looks for in someone to listen to in this situation–authoritative, world-wise, strong, and compassionate. Yes, it’s in a strange package she would not have accepted a few years ago, but everything else fits. It took some soul searching, and she shook severely while thinking it over, but she supported his accusation, and that villager was a werewolf. Which validated Faith’s original gut instinct, but it still left her with no other moves personally to protect her people, who dropped like flies that game. She would rather have gotten killed herself, to spare some of the others who were more innocent or more needed than herself.

*Gyptian is the Period term for Romani. The Romani themselves often use the correct terminology, though they go back and forth because of ease of understanding for their hosts. I’m unaware of this old term being considered problematic still, but because of its strong resemblance to the racist term for this culture, I wanted to give some context.

Advertisements

Joy in Puns

That’s right. I said it. I love puns. Fight me.

I heard a fantastic pun this weekend during a story. A friend and her husband were at another Renaissance festival, holding beers, and he knocked hers out of her hand. Then said this beautiful line: “It’s not my fault you can’t hold your beer.”

I laughed a lot, guys.

Being the only person laughing at a pun also brings me joy. Mostly because when the other people aren’t laughing, they’re usually groaning. That’s half the fun of puns in the US: they bring pain to the vast majority of people. The more exaggerated the outrage over the joke, the more hilarious it is.

A favorite comic artist of mine, Mookie (writer of current webcomic Star Power, and writer and illustrator of completed webcomic Dominic Deegan), knew this just as much as I did. Many of his main characters enjoyed telling puns, but then would turn around and give the audience an “oh brother” look when another character would tell one. Because the element of a character not enjoying a pun was just as much fun as the pun itself, or more. Or there would be pun-tastic exchanges between characters, the best of which were when title character Dominic and his wife would flirt with puns. It was beautiful.

That’s one reason I enjoy British media so much. The British love puns, too. I’ve recently gotten into The Great British Baking Show, and the hosts Mel and Sue are wonderful about inserting puns into their announcements. The fact that they’re so prolific with them made it hysterical when they began one episode by stating they had been banned from punning off the word “buns” that week because it would be coming up all episode long and the possibilities were endless. The tortured looks on their faces when they had a great opportunity but had to let it pass due to the ban were as much fun as any joke would’ve been.

During one episode, they were making picnic pies, two contestants were modeling their pies after picnic baskets, and Sue gave this announcement with an enormous grin: “Half an hour left, bakers. Don’t let the time crunch hamper your progress.” She then paused, swung her arms awkwardly, and added, “I’ll just be out back,” in an acknowledgement of how bad that pun was.

A close friend of mine likes to share puns with me because she knows I like them. She does not. Any sharing of puns in the other direction involves accusations of being a bad person who should feel bad. I do not.

I am, however, not spectacular at puns myself, hence the lack of them in the sentences I wrote myself for this pun. I’m a write amateur at them. (See, that’s not very good, but it still makes me smile.) I think admiring the skill others have which I do not adds to my enjoyment.

Do you like puns? What are some that you’ve heard that you’ve particularly enjoyed?

Or do you hate them? Why are puns so terrible?

WIL … however many I’ve skipped

I work for the street cast of a local Renaissance festival that is preparing for our spring show now. And many of us like to keep logs of things we learned over the weekends as they go by, called a W(hat) I L(earned). I’ll often add anecdotes of fun stories or things I’d like to remember when looking back later at the end of mine.

I’ve had two half-weekends I know I didn’t do WILs for yet. I’ve been sick this entire time, my voice mostly gone the previous weekend and this last weekend mostly back. Missed Sunday of the previous weekend, and Sat of this one.

I got some feedback from Character at the end of the first weekend that I then spent over a week overanalyzing and obsessing over because of course I did. It was phrased in a way that made it sound like I was failing my fellow performers, despite getting generally positive feedback from most of my instructors during, well, all of workshops so far. I’d felt like I’d been doing a great job prior to that conversation, and that single sentence said to me made me doubt my entire assessment of how I’d been doing. So, that’s been fun.

  1. Everyone has lapses in judgment, brain power, what-have-you. This applies to characters, too. So, however much your first instinct might be “she’s too smart to do something like that,” it’s a stronger choice to push that aside and justify why maybe she wasn’t really at that specific moment. Your audience losing their minds will reward you.
  2. Although I hadn’t put it in these terms before, Mark Follywoll is definitely a foible of Faith’s. Much like Kit Rooke, in Faith’s eyes he can do no wrong where the law is concerned. Which is even funnier because from what I understand, Mark is a bit of a doofus, as opposed to Kit Rooke’s quick wit and aggressive attitude, which matched Faith quite well. I think the pair of them doing Walkies with Faith fangirling over how smart and right he is will be quite a sight.
  3. I can’t take sitting and being an audience member for an extended period of time. All my energy leeches out, no matter how entertaining the scenes are. After a while, I can’t even be a mouthy audience member anymore. This is probably heavily influenced by how tired I am on weekends this year, but it makes a pretty stark contrast between my successful scenes during the day and my attitude when leaving.
  4. I dislike not being able to volunteer. With the decision out of my hands, I may not get a chance to participate through luck of the draw. It leaves me feeling dissatisfied with the lesson, even if it was good.
  5. As disappointing as it is to think of what would’ve made the scene work better 20 minutes after doing a scene that doesn’t go well, it’s also a good thing. Because I know what the scene needed, even if I’m slow about it. It’s far preferable to having no idea what I should’ve done that would’ve been successful.
  6. This year is giving me deja vu for my first year back after college. I knew people and was liked, but I didn’t know a lot of people as well. I had trouble finding my footing in groups, and generally felt lost and off to the side when in groups with no one I knew particularly well. I felt out of touch with current dynamics and patterns of cast, and found myself getting strange looks for some of my opinions. (Different strange looks than usual, since I have a warped idea of what people consider weird or commonplace already. I routinely get comments like “everyone does” in response to me phrasing an experience like it’s weird, or confusion in response to me phrasing an experience like it’s common. I simply don’t know sometimes.)
  7. The further the season gets along, the more comfortable I feel in the knowledge that I’ve grown in the years I’ve been away. My feedback has never been so consistently positive as it has been this year.
  8. I’m not entirely sure if my decision to return as Faith was a good one. I may change characters next year if that feeling doesn’t go away.
  9. Regardless of if it was a good decision or not, I am objectively doing pretty well with her, so I don’t think this season will go badly in terms of my performance. I’m not entirely sure it’ll go well as far as my mental health and satisfaction, though. A few too many things eat at me at the moment.
  10. It’s legitimately funny to see one of my major ways of engaging patrons during the actual run turned into a game for Character. Although the other performers don’t often catch me at it and join my conversation, like in the game, seeing patrons watching performers from afar and giving them context and a story is a favorite tool of mine. It’s a way for me to be like the exposition in a novel.
  11. However much Faith’s ambitions in herself are modeled after her mother’s independence and don’t exactly fall into the general mold of what women of Renaissance England were supposed to want, her ambitions for her family fit neatly into the times. Social advancement? Not hardly. She wants her siblings to stay in the village, find good families of their own, and be happy. Her own ambitions motivate her energy, but her happiness lives in her family. In their safety, security, and success. The way she married speaks strongly to that as well–she loves William deeply, but it also roots her in the village personally, and his profession easily provides for her profession, which advances everyone in her family which shares the job. Her travel to London only accented to herself how much she wants her future to be tied to home.

Related to #1, I had an excellent scene with a couple of foreign noble characters, where we played off their misunderstanding of English as their second (or more) language. The phrase “bone to pick” came up in relation to my bread, and it was suggested I put actual bones in the bread. Although another character spoke up with an out for me to not own up to such a thing, I decided to ignore that and say yes, I did put bones in the bread. I’d heard a rumor that it was all the rage on the Continent, and thought it was a new fashion for baking. To dive deeper into it, I suggested that my little sister Chastity had been choking on the bones in the bread lately and it still hadn’t clued me in that it was a bad idea. Everyone in the scene had a “…did she really just” moment, then the other characters gently steered me toward a better approach for my breads and what the fashion really was.

At the end, the instructor pointed at me and said, “You owned that.”

 

Not really a joy

I’ve been sick for nearly two weeks now. I was never very sick, just enough to mess up my voice and sinuses and make everything I did an exercise in annoying myself and everyone around me. My voice is still recovering, much to my continued annoyance.

Along with this, a mood settled over me that I haven’t shaken yet. I sat down trying to write my positive posts and totally blanked. Which doesn’t make sense because I have plenty of things that I love and which bring me happiness. But thinking of one and writing an interesting post about it is apparently beyond me right now. And last week because I know I missed that update.

I don’t know why I feel this bad, so I don’t know how to make it go away. I’m going to do what I can and hope it improves soon. That’s all I can think of.

Five Things About Me

This is a positivity blog, so not any old five things, but five things I like/love about myself. Because a friend asked me that the other day, and I had a hard time answering.

1. Bravery
I’ve been brave many times in my life, thinking on it. A high school girl, shaking so bad I would’ve spilled water all down my front, on stage auditioning for a play. Moving to Japan, twice, alone. Many smaller instances, like standing up for myself at work when I was being treated unfairly. I’m not always successful, but I can count on fear not stopping me from trying.

2. Support
Being there for my friends is important to me, and I like that I can be there for them at least some of the time. I don’t always have the right things to say, or a good enough wit to make them laugh, but it’s not always about doing the right thing. It’s about being willing to ignore how tired I am to pick someone up from the train station in the middle of the night. It’s about not simply saying “let me know if you need something” but making an effort to think about what they might need and providing it in case they didn’t want to ask. Or simply being present. All your other choices can be wrong sometimes, but if you’re present, it’s enough.

3. Intelligence
This one is easy to forget these days because I’ve so successfully made a wonderful group of brilliant friends, but I’m smart, y’all. These days, being reminded by my tea ceremony teacher–who is not quick with praise–that I pick up her criticisms within one or two times of being told, or she’s impressed that I improved something from watching her correct another student, helps me remember this fact about myself. It’s easy to lose sight of, and why it’s important to try your best not to compare yourself to others, when surrounded by people equally or more smart on a regular basis. Feeling dumb and being dumb are vastly different.

4. Organization
This one may make some of my friends laugh who have seen how well (or not, more to the point) I keep house, but it’s actually true. When working on professional things or together with a group, I’m impeccably organized. The files I kept on my schools in Japan, all my extra materials for classes, my lesson plans, all of it was organized such that I never walked into a class not knowing what I was doing that day. (I may have had too much or too little to do, but I always knew what I was doing.) I only rarely had problems with my materials being wrong or missing. I love that when it counts–to me, that means when other people rely on it–I’m organized. At home, which is personal, is a totally different story.

5. Sensitivity
This one also might sound counter-intuitive, but for a wider audience. “Sensitive” is generally thought to be kind of an insult. But as I’ve written on this blog before (get a link for this later), I’m quite proud of my emotional sensitivity. I love how easily I laugh, even though it’s a bit detrimental to my performances. I love how easily I cry, even when I wish I wasn’t. I love how deeply I feel, because as bad as the lows are, the highs are exhilirating. Most importantly, I don’t end up numbing myself off from these things. I don’t learn emotional lessons very quickly. I don’t close myself off from something after having a bad experience with it from someone else. It’s not terribly smart, and has led to wounds, but I’d rather leave myself open to the good than close myself off in fear of the bad.

What are five things you love about yourself? You don’t have to be as detailed, or you can go even more in depth. You might have to dig deep. This post was not easy for me to write. I had to think harder than I’m happy to admit. And if you need to revert to small things, go ahead. Large or small, deep or shallow, five things you love about yourself. Go.

WIL Workshops Week #1

I work for the street cast of a local Renaissance festival that is preparing for our spring show now. And many of us like to keep logs of things we learned over the weekends as they go by, called a W(hat) I L(earned). I’ll often add anecdotes of fun stories or things I’d like to remember when looking back later at the end of mine.

I’m a bit late getting started (it’s nearly week 2 already), but I have one night before the new weekend. Let’s see what I remember.

1. I can do this sleep deprivation thing. Sunday wasn’t as much of a knock out of the park as Saturday was, sure, but I was functioning and contributing to scenes.
1a. My lowered brain power is actively noticeable to the instructors, at the very least.
1b. I have an awesome ensemble to work with who can work with me even when at limited capacity.
1c. Holy hell can I sleep after these weekends.

2. My confidence has grown noticeably while I have been gone.
2a. Related but also separate, I don’t feel any need to go first, though I often volunteer first. If there is any kind of fight over it, I step back and let others.

3. I may have become a bit of a steamroller.
3a. I default to it, but I think I can still wingman. The times I was a wingman, though they were few, went fine.

4. Faith’s nemesis is Grace (her big sister).
4a. Apparently the only people who didn’t know this were the Potter kids because no one else was surprised in the least.
4b. Grace’s nemesis is not Faith, nor should it be. The whole reason Grace is Faith’s nemesis is because Faith struggles against having an irresponsible big sister who doesn’t listen to common sense. Since Grace disregards most of what Faith says, it disqualifies Faith as her nemesis automatically. Interestingly, this is a strengthening factor in Faith’s opposition to Grace.

5. I default to negative emotions with Faith. Particularly anger/indignation/etc.
5a. When trying to go outside of that, using a happier emotion, while sleep deprived, I was without a doubt still acting, but I was not acting as Faith for that scene, which disturbs me. When choosing a positive emotion, the reasoning for said emotion that I reach for should not be out of character. Being tired is a good excuse for plenty of things, but finding a reason Faith is happy with a current situation should not require large amounts of concentration.

6. I don’t just throw myself under buses, I hand the wheel over to my partner and lie down in front of them.
6a. And then attempt to insist, in the scene, that they run me over if they refuse to.

7. I am not a flat-out ridiculous performer. I like for what I do in scenes to make some kind of logical sense and be relatively believable. My way of imparting magic is to seem as real as possible, so that my game of make-believe that we’re in Renaissance England is harder to deny. Real people with real problems lived there, and I prefer to impart real empathy to the patrons whenever possible.
7a. This does not invalidate anyone else’s way of playing in the lanes. I am only saying out-and-out ridiculous scenes that give the patrons “okay, just smile and play along” expressions make me, personally, feel uncomfortable, and I’m not good at them. I can support them until the cows come home to our pasture, but I do not enjoy driving them, and don’t see the point in driving scenes I don’t enjoy.
7b. I may be wrong, but I don’t see this as a weakness, only a personal preference. As long as I don’t deny other performers’ scenes because they’re not what I would’ve done, I feel comfortable with my performing style.

My two favorite moments this weekend happened with the same performer, both on Sunday.

The first was meant to be a “three-line scene,” with only three lines of dialogue to form a miniature story that told the audience all the essential things they needed to know about us, the conflict, and the setting. I stepped out with a veteran performer who is a good friend of mine, and both of us sort of forgot the technical rules of the scene and telepathically decided that once we were finished speaking, that was “one line.”

She plays a professional mourner, so I started the scene by explosively telling her to stay away from my father’s funeral, despite being paid by another character (and good friend of the family). She got affronted at my reaction, then flipped to upset and informed me she would be doing it for free, and stormed off. I went after her, telling her she could come.

The icing on the cake was that the instructor overseeing that group is the actor playing the friend of the family I name-dropped, and he threw a minor tantrum at being called into scenes he can’t join because he’s teaching.

The second was a regular scene, no special rules. The same actress stomped toward me, so I ran away, and we argued over whether or not she had been intending to hit me. But instead of being aggressive about it, she got all sniffly and upset at the accusation. I was on the defensive the entire time, and gathered her up in the middle of the stage, apologized, and asked her what she had been mad about. She proceeded to hit me and demanded I “stop burning the bread!”

Jerk.