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.”


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