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!”