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Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?

Ruth Archer 26 Oct 09 - 08:02 PM
catspaw49 26 Oct 09 - 08:09 PM
michaelr 26 Oct 09 - 08:14 PM
Ruth Archer 26 Oct 09 - 09:06 PM
wysiwyg 26 Oct 09 - 09:22 PM
artbrooks 26 Oct 09 - 09:22 PM
Ruth Archer 26 Oct 09 - 10:27 PM
GUEST,Jim P 26 Oct 09 - 10:33 PM
Don Firth 26 Oct 09 - 11:15 PM
M.Ted 26 Oct 09 - 11:31 PM
Janie 26 Oct 09 - 11:33 PM
Stower 27 Oct 09 - 05:20 AM
Leadfingers 27 Oct 09 - 06:05 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 27 Oct 09 - 06:07 AM
artbrooks 27 Oct 09 - 07:53 AM
MMario 27 Oct 09 - 07:58 AM
Leadfingers 27 Oct 09 - 12:25 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Oct 09 - 12:47 PM
Don Firth 27 Oct 09 - 04:09 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Oct 09 - 04:15 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Oct 09 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,Tinker in Chicago 27 Oct 09 - 05:34 PM
GUEST,Suibhne (Astray) 27 Oct 09 - 05:40 PM
Wolfhound person 27 Oct 09 - 05:58 PM
Don Firth 27 Oct 09 - 06:00 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Oct 09 - 06:03 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 27 Oct 09 - 06:17 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Oct 09 - 06:19 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Oct 09 - 06:46 PM
Ruth Archer 27 Oct 09 - 06:53 PM
Bill D 27 Oct 09 - 07:01 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Oct 09 - 07:44 PM
Jack Campin 27 Oct 09 - 09:46 PM
michaelr 27 Oct 09 - 10:06 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 27 Oct 09 - 10:07 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Oct 09 - 10:57 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Oct 09 - 11:08 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 28 Oct 09 - 12:05 PM
open mike 28 Oct 09 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Oct 09 - 01:48 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Oct 09 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,pattyClink 28 Oct 09 - 01:59 PM
Chris Green 28 Oct 09 - 02:04 PM
VirginiaTam 28 Oct 09 - 02:12 PM
Chris Green 28 Oct 09 - 02:22 PM
Anne Lister 28 Oct 09 - 05:57 PM
Ron Davies 28 Oct 09 - 09:52 PM
GUEST,Suibhne (Astray) 29 Oct 09 - 04:25 AM
MMario 29 Oct 09 - 02:58 PM
Jack Campin 30 Oct 09 - 09:24 AM
Tootler 30 Oct 09 - 04:33 PM
Hollowfox 04 Nov 09 - 03:12 PM
Ron Davies 05 Nov 09 - 10:20 PM
Lonesome EJ 06 Nov 09 - 01:46 AM
GUEST 06 Nov 09 - 09:41 AM
GUEST 06 Nov 09 - 09:43 AM
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Subject: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 08:02 PM

Someone I was at university with in America has a career performing at Renaissance Faires in America. Recently some video of these faires has been posted on facebook, and I have to say, I'm kinda confused.

I assumed that they would be kind of like the historical re-enactment stuff you sometimes happen upon here in the UK, where people are adhering as closely as they can to the historical evidence about a particular period, and effectively bringing that period to life.

Watching the videos, it seems I was completely off the mark. People seem to be wearing a whole range of not necessarily Renaissance costumes, and singing songs that seem largely drawn from a Dubliners-cum-Clancys pub-Irish repetoire, augmented by the odd shantey. It was like the Renaissance by way of Disney, all clanking wooden tankards and "bawdy" songs and amusingly-named fast-food stalls...a bit embarrassing, really.

I always think the re-enactment stuff is kind of cool. You can learn a lot about the period being explored, and it's especially useful for schools groups because it brings history to life.

But the ren-faire...well, I don't think I'm getting it. It just seems like a lot of grownups playing dress-up, with no real historical engagement or context. Which is fine, but I don't see why anyone pays to go and watch it.

Am I missing something?


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 08:09 PM

Yes.....They all have a shitload of fun. MMario will probably drop by to explain.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: michaelr
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 08:14 PM

It's a party! And while many of the costumes are indeed historically accurate, re-enactment is not the point of the Renaissance Faire.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 09:06 PM

well, can you explain what the idea behind it is? As I say, I feel like I'm missing something.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 09:22 PM

Entertaining people. For money. And having fun doing that-- with people who become another community beyond borders.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: artbrooks
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 09:22 PM

RenFaires aren't supposed to be accurate depictions of anything, although one does run across the occasional authenticity Nazi. It is entirely normal to see Henry VIII in all his glory, an emaciated belly dancer, a Chinese dragon and a pirate a la Johnny Dep all in one glance. I have heard entirely accurate Provençal madrigals, O'Carolan on the lap harp and Eskimo Nellsung in the style of the Irish Rovers - all in the course of an afternoon.   One can buy beer, crystal necklaces, fancy boots, beer, swords (finely crafted, made of pot metal, or wooden), entirely unauthentic "period" clothing, Green Man plaques, incense...and did I mention beer? Go for the fun of it.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 10:27 PM

okay...I'm getting the feeling it's not really my scene. But good luck to all who enjoy them, and thanks for the explanations! :)


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: GUEST,Jim P
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 10:33 PM

What they said. Very generally speaking, the Court tries for some historical accuracy, but other than that, Katy bar the door. Its a party. Don't think too hard about it and have fun.

Next up by the same folks (for the most part): Dickens Fair!

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 11:15 PM

I've never been to a renfair (I did meet a fellow once who does go to them, who said that on those weekends, he is "Egbert, the Duke of Yolk"), but I suspect they are not that different from some science fiction conventions—an opportunity for people to leave the real, work-a-day world behind for awhile and live out a bit of fantasy.

I haven't been to a science fiction convention for some years now, but at the last one I went to, along with the serious writers' workshops and such, I saw at least five Darth Vaders of various sizes and shapes all kitted out with the black armor, the long black cloak, and the black chamber-pot on their heads, along with enough people wearing Star Trek uniforms from various series' to crew about nine enterprises, along with more Klingons than there were on the Klingon home world. Romulans, Vulcans, and species I didn't recognize. A few bare-chested and somewhat paunchy Conan the Barbarians, and one rather grossly overweight young woman who really shouldn't have, but had chosen to be Red Sonja. Very skimpy outfit along with an impressive looking broadsword. I've never quite understood the practicality of a chain-mail bikini, but I figured "what the hell . . . she's enjoying her weekend of fantasy, so leave her to it!" And I did see one very blue smurf!

Anyway, I tend to think that a bit of fantasy away from the everyday grind is pretty much what it's all about.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: M.Ted
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 11:31 PM

Having once worked a season at a Ren-faire, I have to say that there is more to it than drinking beer--there is also wine, and sobriety checkpoints on the main roads-


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Janie
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 11:33 PM

Have pm'd Mmario, who is our resident expert, to draw his attention to this thread. Hopefully he will post.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Stower
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 05:20 AM

This may explain my puzzlement and irritation at folks I have seen on the web who dress up in supposed Mediaeval and Renaissance costume, singing supposed Mediaeval and Renaissance songs that are nothing of the sort, playing supposed Mediaeval and Renaissance instruments that are entirely modern (bowed psaltery, steel string guitars, steel string mandola, Irish bouzouki!). I'd always put it down to sloppiness or the want to make a quick buck out of those with no historcal knowledge, but it turns out it's just a bit of silliness. Well, good luck to those who enjoy that sort of thing. Not my sort of thing, I think.

"one does run across the occasional authenticity Nazi" I am still reeling at this comment. Someone who has a 'thing' about historcal accuracy is in the same camp as a race-hater and supporter of mass murder? I think not. I know (I think) it was meant as a throw away comment, but when there are those still living whose friends, relations and lovers were murdered by the Nazis, I, for one, will never use that word flippantly.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 06:05 AM

Stower - I have been involved in 'Medieval Banquets' for a number of years - The LAST thing the average attendee wants is Authenticity , especailly with the music !
We did have a Re Enactment type turn up dressed like a very Low Class Farm worker and request some 14th century Madrigal . Every one else was in Silks and satins and Armour , so he just looked totally out of place .


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 06:07 AM

My old History tutor refused to even go to period history re-enactment fairs because she found the degree of historical inaccuracy too frustrating.

Renfairs sound like a mish-mash of "Ye Oldy Worldy" fantasy dressing-up stuff for big kids. I can get that. I'm sure they're fun if you have a frivolous attitude about it and you're not expecting anything more than that from it.

Pay to see it though? Mmm, probably not. Though I'd go if it were a free music festival in the park, with a 'historical' theme that included dressing-up, beer tent, traditional craft displays, face painting etc. type of thing. I've been to similar council funded 'history day' type events in the town park, though sadly *without* the musical aspect.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: artbrooks
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 07:53 AM

Stower, I'm sorry if the term offended you, but that is the term in common use.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: MMario
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 07:58 AM

Yes - the ren-faires are entertainment venues. Some are completly fantasy - some are accurate *in part*; a lot of those people wearing inaccurate clothing and singing out of period songs on non authentic instruments know every fault...but their job is to entertain; so you give the crowd what they want.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 12:25 PM

There used to be an organisation called 'Corridors of Time' who did SERIOUS re Enactment . We used to work with them providing a bit of music (In approptiate Costume) at some of their events .
Some of their memmbers took exception to the fact that we were paid the going rate , and they were on expenses , and we sometimes did NOT have the right period buttons on our Underpants !


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 12:47 PM

Yeppers!   Ren Faires are fantasy fancy dress event. There's a lot of crossover from the Medieval Society for Creative Anachronists too, as Scadians find them another outlet to sell their goods, which helps fund playing in the SCA. SCA is moderately more authentic (remember Creative is part of the remit).

Really RFs and SCA events are just a bit of fun and if History teachers are put off by the rife inauthenticity, then they should just not go and avoid the cringe factor. But it would be better, to encourage students' attendance with a charge to find what is and what is not "period." Might just light a fire of interest in history in some kids who otherwise would never give a second look.

Did for mine. My daughter Andie started SCA at 15 and was apprentice to a Bard. It was a big deal to her and she was what I called a snob, because she was uber keen on authenticity. Which means she was studying and researching to make certain her garb, her music and any other activities she partook were correct for her persona's place and time.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Don Firth
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 04:09 PM

I have heard Society for Creative Anachronism enthusiasts describe their get-togethers as "the Middle Ages, not as they were, but as they should have been."

Okay. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 04:15 PM

Should have been with duct tape, mobile phones, video cameras, an all


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 05:21 PM

VTam: Really RFs and SCA events are just a bit of fun

I'm sure they are fun, because otherwise why would people do them. I think what was puzzling Ruth (and still puzzles me) is why people find them fun, or what kind of people find them fun, or whether we have the kind of people who find them fun in this country, or something.

I've never been to an sf con - not really enough of a fan - but if I did I'd be looking to meet authors & fellow fans, and maybe score some cheap books. Dressing up wouldn't come into it. Mind you, I'd been to the Rocky Horror Show and seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show three times before I even heard that there were people who went dressed as Frank. I thought it sounded like a thoroughly bad idea.

All in all, I think what I'm saying here is "Grown-Up Dressing-Up Parties" = "One Of Those American Things Which We Don't Really Get".

I have heard Society for Creative Anachronism enthusiasts describe their get-togethers as "the Middle Ages, not as they were, but as they should have been."

I second Don's raised eyebrow.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: GUEST,Tinker in Chicago
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 05:34 PM

I've performed at RenFaires for nearly 30 years and across many states (including MMario's). Some strive for history, some are just adult costume parties. The problem is, all of the faires admit customers who are in costume, and no matter how accurate we employees might try to be, the "playtrons" as we call them do not. The first-timer in civilian clothes can't tell who works there and who doesn't, hence get confused. (I've seen Klingons, Star Wars storm troopers, 18th century soldiers, Raggedy Ann and Andy, the Tom Baker version of Doctor Who, etc., etc.)

But nearly all of the faires are businesses, and they want to make money. So Americans who are woefully ignorant of history, including their own, really don't care about anachronisms; they want their ATMs, pizza, Coke (the drink, not Sir Edward) and flush toilets. True Renaissance music would bore them to tears, and we don't want unhappy customers, now do we? So we sing drinking songs and bawdy songs, and one Italian-American I know has made quite a career in passionately singing Jacobite songs he probably doesn't understand.

It's a pity. My closest faire started as a reasonable compromise with history, but now it's become nothing but a theme park. Alas.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: GUEST,Suibhne (Astray)
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 05:40 PM

Society for Creative Anachronism enthusiasts describe their get-togethers as "the Middle Ages, not as they were, but as they should have been."

Sounds like the UK folk scene - & all the revival folklore, customs, traditions, green men festivals, storytelling, morris dancing...

Yo, Ruth - remember this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKN0j4b9oU0

I see they removed our comments!


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 05:58 PM

Could it be that we in the UK don't get it because we actually have an awful lot of real history on our doorsteps? So we don't need to pretend too much?

We do have the re-enactment Vikings and others (I once had to translate part of a Russian article so a work colleague could get his Dark Ages helmet just so...)and Sealed Knot and so forth, and Roman legionaries who appear on our history channel, but even all that looks fairly cardboard to me. Trotting out half a dozen "Romans" on Time Team doesn't convey the atmosphere of a legion and these people are just too CLEAN to be convincing.

....Written from an 18th century room on a farm going back to 1240 in a parish with an Anglo-Saxon church not too far from a reconstruction of the oldest house in England, all of them restored and improved to suit 21st century tastes.

Paws


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Don Firth
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 06:00 PM

At most of the science fiction conventions I've been to, the majority of people were there to meet authors, get books autographed, and such, but mostly to take in workshops and discussions with authors and editors. One gets the impression that everybody and his or her pet chicken want to write science fiction, get published, and become another Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke. It was the writers' workshops that attracted me (I have about four unfinished novels stored on disc, which someday . . . maybe. . . .)

But a lot of people attending are somewhat more into science fiction movies and television, often referred to as "sci-fi," which, among the cognoscenti, is not a particularly complimentary term because of the tendency in these media not to care much if they get the science wrong (in Battlestar Galactia, for example, the writers didn't seem to know the difference between a solar system and a galaxy!). These are the folks who are the most into sticking a couple of antennae on their foreheads, painting themselves blue, and coming as an Andorian, or dressing in a leather bikini, carrying a broadsword, and coming as Xena, Warrior Princess.

As I say, I've never been to a Ren-faire or an SCA gathering, so I'm not sure what the dynamics are there, but I feel fairly certain that there are some fairly strong similarities.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 06:03 PM

Hi Pip

Are you saying that only weird American adults enjoy dressing up and pseudo pretending to be figures from history, characters in science fiction, etc.?

I have seen plenty and attended a few Pagan meetings, Lilith Fairs, Fetish Faires and Historical re-enactments here in the UK. I have adult UK friends and acquaintances participating in a number of these "escapist" activities.

Also, how different is it from Morris dancing? That's dressing up and doing archaic dances which have no place in today's social norm. Yet it is done and I thank the stars for it.

Also, I never knew of fancy dress parties for adults in the US, barring the Halloween parties. But in the UK they go on year round. And dressing up for charity events too Like Children In Need. I never did anything like that in the US.

BTW.. I thought Ruth Archer is American living in the UK.

So now I am doubly confused and have talked myself into a pretty deep hole, which is pretty normal for me, I think I need to reread and maybe better interpret the original post.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 06:17 PM

Tam remember it's po' white trash shite, that doesn't aspire to worthy yet faux pretentions of 'authenticity'.
It's OK. Just get with the programme and *do* learn to know your place: you're in the UK now after all, my dear.

You'll know when you finally fit in, once your arthritis has anchored your head into that 'just so' position, where you can peer quaintly but submissively up to your betters - educationally, socially, economically (you get it, it's a fucking long list...)
Just as well really that the arthritis is starting to set in. Good luck with it, I'm still almost young and rebellious..


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 06:19 PM

sorry GUEST,Suibhne (Astray)

Just realised I echoed your input re Morris Dance.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 06:46 PM

"Veerry intetesting - but stoopid..."


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 06:53 PM

"It's a pity. My closest faire started as a reasonable compromise with history, but now it's become nothing but a theme park. Alas."

The one I've seen linked to on Facebook is in Maryland, and a theme park was exactly what it reminded me of.

Yes, Tam, I am American living in the UK. But having lived for a similar amount of time in each country, and pretty much all of my adult life in the UK, I have not really experienced the Ren-faire phenomenon. I did once see a video of my uncle's step-daughter, who had a Ren-faire-themed wedding. I must confess I found it all rather odd, especially as they all queued up in their costumes for the lasagne and meatball buffet and had an Irish pub band as the entertainment. I guess I thought if you were going to have a medieval or renaissance theme for your wedding, the various elements might be a bit more carefully thought through...

I guess you either get the whole escapism thing and grownups having big fancy-dress parties, or you don't. It seems the comparison between people dressing up at science fiction conventions is apt. Good luck to them if it makes them happy - they're certainly not doing anyone any harm and obviously get a lot of enjoyment out of it. But I'm still puzzled by the people who want to pay to go and watch it...

Yes, Sean, I do remember that ren-faire version of Abbots Bromley that we found on Youtube - hilarious and appalling in equal parts, largely because it claimed to be something that it wasn't.

I think there's probably a good parallel between the ren-faire community and certain kinds of morris sides - but not all. Some morris sides adhere to whatever vestiges of tradition they can, while others seem to enjoy the dressing up and the face painting at least as much as they do the dancing.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 07:01 PM

but...because our Civil War is our own history, we have re-enactments which are excruciatingly accurate.

The RenFaires are 'superficially' accurate by the promoters, but the paying public goes on many tangents. It is, essentially, a money-making enterprise with a general theme...and great fun is had by all.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 07:44 PM

Are you saying that only weird American adults enjoy dressing up and pseudo pretending to be figures from history, characters in science fiction, etc.?

Not if you're going to contradict me!

But I'm intrigued by "pseudo pretending" - which I think captures something that involves more effort and dedication than just dressing up for a lark (something people do here at the drop of a hat), but isn't necessarily about getting it right either. It's that middle-ground where, perhaps, RenFairistas rub shoulders with Xena, Frank N. Furter and spooky Morris.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 09:46 PM

I get the impression these things are something like a zombie festival, except they can't pretend there'll be enough brains available for a good feed.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: michaelr
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 10:06 PM

Amazing how English folkies appear so much like stereotypical English upper-class. I can just see you turning up your noses and curling your lips, like in the Monty Python twit competition.

If it's really so bad with you that you can't understand enjoying a bit of fun, you may as well end it all now. For me it's all about the bodices.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 10:07 PM

The Sterling Rennfaire in NY state is one of the better fairs about. I think Mario will agree. I usually get there once a season. It isn't the middle ages it is a theme park with a costume requirement. Some are accurate some aren't. It is fun. It has become far too expensive for me to go to more than once a summer.

I have often thought that when I get too old to bash about in the Irish Band I am in I would dress in breeches and a smock and take my jewelry business to Sterling for the summer. It would be fun and I might make some money.

Did I mention it was fun.

Don


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 10:57 PM

Could it be that we in the UK don't get it because we actually have an awful lot of real history on our doorsteps? So we don't need to pretend too much?

What a load of shit. No one "has more history" than someone else, much less more "real" history.

And I guess they do cos-play in Japan because they don't have enough of real anime characters around them, unlike in Argentina. And they don't have Halloween in Uzbekistan because there are lots of real ghosts and goblins floating around there. And why Ren-Faires are most popular in the state of Hawai'i, where the natives have only started having real history since 1959, and before that people never dressed up.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 11:08 AM

If it's really so bad with you that you can't understand enjoying a bit of fun

Hey ho. I'm sure it is fun for the people who do it, because otherwise why would they do it. I think what was puzzling me was why people find them fun, or what kind of people find them fun, or whether we have the kind of people who find them fun in this country, or something.

(Do I repeat myself? Yes, I do.)


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 12:05 PM

"I think what was puzzling me was why people find them fun, or what kind of people find them fun,"

Well I wonder what kind of fun people have going to wine bars get, or cocktail parties, or why people enjoy 'Wedding Fairs', or go to Harrods, or want to lay on a beach all day long as a holiday, why people love having babies, or want to create 'alpine gardens', or go shark fishing... I've no idea why anyone would want to do anything I wouldn't find interesting. People really are the most perplexing creatures!

My boyfriend on the other hand finds it rather weird (i.e: laughs at me) that I enjoy going to sit around with Old Tom Cockles and Barnacle Bill swigging warm ale out of their personalised pewter tankards, while singing songs about incest.. :-)

Honestly though, no wonder the yanks think us lot are a bunch of snobs.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: open mike
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 12:52 PM

the northern california ren faire has the goal of re-creating life as it might have been 500 years ago...so each year, it changes time periods by one year...this year it was 1509 that they were attempting to re-create (in some small way)

see for yourself:
http://www.renfair.com/
http://www.renfair.com/socal/
http://www.norcalrenfaire.org/

In 1963, schoolteachers Ronald and Phyllis Patterson originated the Renaissance Pleasure Faire as an outgrowth of school projects.

here is an article containing history, comparisons, etc.
http://en.allexperts.com/e/r/re/renaissance_fair.htm

the Pattersons had established a living history center where staff
and participants worked on authentic costumes, and prepared for the
faire. the people who are involved in the faires have developed a
lingo which includes a lot of huzzah's, m'lord, m'lady, and other
words..Workshops are held the month before the faire -one class is Basics of BFA-Basic Faire Accent Used by participants.

you can see more here:

http://www.myspace.com/renaissancepleasurefaire


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 01:48 PM

Renfests have been around for a while now. And like any other art form, they need a framework and they need elements in the framework.

You can say it's all for fun, but nonetheless, after a while bawdy songs and fake accents jokes are not enough to keep people coming back. It seems to me that authentic music and crafts would a natural 'new element'.

That said, I want to describe my latest visit to a renfaire.

1. $16 to get in. (that was 3 hours pay for me at the time)

2. to see lots of booths selling clothes that would never fit me

3. didn't see certain interesting exhibits (e.g., Raptor Rescue)because mgmt left them off the map

4. saw one harper doing variations on the C major chord. Saw a duo (hammer dulcimer plus fiddle) playing a jig. Both acts wanted money, of course.

5. got hassled by a guy not-playing a rebek. Hadn't even tuned it, didn't know how to play it. Ugly, ugly sound! He kept following us till I put my hand up like a cop stopping traffic to say 'Leave me alone.'

6. Watched the jousting till a rider got thrown and dragged across the ground with his foot caught in a stirrup. Sis and I looked at each other and said, "Let's not watch this."

7. Enjoyed a concert by a man playing a huge set of bells. Not authentic, but still quite good.

8. Thought I might buy a piece of pottery, but the seller ignored me for so long that it gave me time to realize how uniform and machine-made the pieces actually were.

9. When we left, a dozen musicians showed up to smile broadly and play "Greensleeves" at the exit. Where had they been all afternoon?

Yes, I think it's definitely time to 'freshen up' that particular fair.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 01:54 PM

Honestly though, no wonder the yanks think us lot are a bunch of snobs.

Why? Where's the snobbery? "I don't get it" isn't fiendish aristocratic code for "be off with you, peasant" - it just means "I don't get it".

Yes, people get their jollies in lots of different ways, most of which look weird and incomprehensible to outsiders. The thing about RenFaires is that they look *almost* like some things that do resonate with me, *but not quite*. Also, quite a lot of the people who are into them seem to be folkies, and hence not outsiders - I feel I ought to have a more intuitive understanding of what's going on there.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 01:59 PM

Wow, people are down on these things! I went to one long ago, it was a delightful escape from a modern city for a day. I have to consider them a good thing, however inaccurate, because they broaden the horizons of people, particularly children and young people, who have seen no other way of life or costume than their own electronic bluejeans world, live and in 3-D. And they employ a few people to do something besides work in a bigbox electronics store for the summer. Net positive all around.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Chris Green
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 02:04 PM

Hmmm. My other half's very much into re-enactment and living history (which are separate things by the way!) and I enjoy doing the odd event as well. I get what was meant by the term 'authenticity Nazi', but it seems to me the point of re-enactment and LH is to re-create life from another time as accurately as possible. This is why, as Ruth said at the start of this thread, it's a boon to schools but it's also increasingly accepted as genuine historical research. I have a mate called Sean Jones who does a living history project at Kentwell every year. He's a bagpipe maker by trade, and a couple of years ago he decided to attempt to make a set of Brueghel-type pipes using only 16th century technology. As a result he learned God knows how much about Tudor instrument making that he could never have learned from written or drawn material. (The pipes worked by the way - they were just bloody loud!)

It seems that ren-faires (of which I have no direct experience) are about people who like dressing up, having a few drinks and having a good time, which is an entirely laudable and cool thing to do. For me, however, the problem would be if the content (ie - the clothes, music, etc) is presented as authentic when it isn't. Hasn't Hollywood re-written history enough?


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 02:12 PM

Why people pay to be merely spectators at Ren Faires?   Like CS said, same reason they go to Disney, the cinema, cruise the fjords, etc. Purely for entertainment. It's different.

Should Ren Faires be regulated to be more sensitive to real history? I would welcome it, but would it have the same appeal to the average punter? RFs are after all a commercial enterprise. Did anyone make Disney adhere to recorded history when they produced the feature Pocahontas? I remember being lived as were colleague teachers when that film came out.

As said before, there is some cross over between fantasy and historical players for a variety of reasons. Often merchants and artists can sell their wares at fantasy events to help fund playing in the historical one. It is an expensive pass time, putting together authentic, garb, kit, attending events, learning a trade (weaving, leather work, etc.) or skill (fighting, barding, scribing).

Most everyone Andie knew in the SCA spent their weekends, evenings and holidays attending events or prepping for events. Summer vacation was the 3 weeks of Penssic the SCA war between the Eastern Kingdom and the Kingdom in the West held annually (August) in a field in Pennsylvania. They frown on conventional camping gear. Players strive to make or buy a proper pavilion, build rope beds, armor, weapons, instruments, lanterns, cooking and eating gear. It all costs. God do I know it costs, and all I tried to do was make authentic garb using authentic materials. Cost to apply for your Arms device. Cost to research and publish to gain an Arts and Sciences designation and to rise in the hierarchy. Very expensive. No wonder they do Ren Faires to supplement income. OTT? You betcha. Ya gotta love it to dedicate that kind of time and money to it.

Also, I don't doubt there are a fair few musicians who rely on RF's for a portion of their income. Mediaeval Baebes, Blackmore's Night and the like. I saw the Baebes at an event called Joust at Berkeley Castle. The Joust was put on by a paid reenactment group from Florida. They were pretty authentic, in garb, kit, activities, but there were also plenty of stalls selling pure tat. Again, commercial enterprise for the paying public.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Chris Green
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 02:22 PM

Just to clarify, I wasn't suggesting that ren-faires be regulated! :)


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 05:57 PM

I've been to the Maryland Ren Faire twice, and I was also invited a few years back to sing at the Calaveras Celtic Faire in California. Both left me reeling, as someone who is married to an actor who makes most of his living out of historical interpretation (the professional branch of re-enactment, I suppose). On the other hand, they were both fun, once I left my "is this supposed to be serious/accurate/historical" attitude behind.
I don't have a problem with it, and it amuses me. I'd like to say the classic British line of "only in America ....", but I have also seen a beautiful mullioned window in a beautiful old pub in Stratford on Avon containing an advert which said "traditional pizzas", and I've also (because of my husband) attended several multi-period events and traders' fairs in the UK which have had enough anachronistic moments to more than rival the Ren Faires.
It's a state of mind. It's certainly akin to the various conventions dedicated to various cult tv and movie films. You get it or you don't. What's so wrong about having a bit of fun and dressing up?
Oh, and I'm spending this week dressed in (authentic) 17th century clothing and accusing a man (in doublet, hose and an unconvincing wig) of witchcraft four times a day. Hey, it's part of how folkies like me make a living!


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 09:52 PM

I'm sorry that, for about the 3rd year in a row, I'm going to miss the Maryland Renaissance Fair. You just need to know what to expect---and it's not authenticity--and you will likely have a great time.   My destination when I do go is "Shakespeare's Skum".   Shamelessly vaudevillian sendup of Shakespeare,, complete with cheerful anachronisms which seem to fit perfectly. Example:    character has just been skewered by his opponent.   While staggering around he declaims: "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away" and expires.

I used to be part of a madrigal group which sang at the Fair. And I used to get bent out of shape when our leader suggested doing a 19th century madrigal. But if I'd really been honestly concerned about real historical accuracy, we could have done none of our material except the Agincourt Carol--that at least was old enough.   Virtually always the Fair would be centered around Henry Vlll's court in some way--a problem when doing Dowland or Morley for instance--neither of whom would have been born yet. Even Lassus would have been about 13 or so.

But I still love to hear madrigals sung by a good group in what seems to me relatively faithful garb and in a sylvan setting. It does let the imagination roam.

I remember asking some high school singers if they had any idea what they were really singing when doing "Matona, mia cara" in the fractured Italian--not even close to the bowdlerized translation in the "Gray Book". Of course they did not know.

And I strongly second the vote in favor of the bodices--or as Jan puts it, the dumplings boiling over.




Though I admit that if I were to hear about a Renaissance fair in the UK, I'd expect much more fidelity to the period than you ever get in the US.   It does seem that if you are close to where that history took place, more accuracy is called for.

Though Mormons evidently believe that Jesus visited the Western Hemisphere after his resurrection, as far as I know Henry Vlll has not been seen here.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: GUEST,Suibhne (Astray)
Date: 29 Oct 09 - 04:25 AM

Least we forget:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuqhEix8lGY


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: MMario
Date: 29 Oct 09 - 02:58 PM

Might I mention, that except for the very smallest of renaissance faires; that the experience of ONE patron can be very different from that of another patron? At Maryland, for instance, there are actors who spend a great deal of time researching their characters, their character's lives, and their characters families, livlihoods, etc. If you follow one of these persons around for the day you discover a whole different Revel Grove then if you spend the day at the White Hart Pub.   

Talk to a half dozen rennies about why they do ren-faire and you are liable to get a dozen or more reasons.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 09:24 AM

Rennies? I guess that makes typical folk-festival-goers Tums?

"Dumplings boiling over", I like that.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Tootler
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 04:33 PM

IIRC "Dumplings Boiling Over" was a line from a Benny Hill song.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Hollowfox
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 03:12 PM

Well, as a member of the SCA for (ahem) baout thirty years, I can say that it is at it's best when somebody's thoughts tun something like this: Hey, that's interesting! How'd they do that? I bet I/we could do it...let's give it a try.
I like the SCA because it does not focus on military history, so as a woman, I am not limited to cross-dressing or just being a camp follower. If I want to dress up funny and cook over a fire, I can do that without paying for the privilege. It also covers about a thousand years, so there's a lot to play with. Since I am needle-impared, my clothing is either purchased, or not all that great, but that is not held against me.
Admittedly, I am not that active, but I go to the Pennsic War (probably their largest event) to see friends, to shop for stuff I couldn't get anywhere else (at least not easily), and for the classes. I've tried out everything from Mongolian cooking to cracking a bullwhip. Not everything in the SCA is the quintessence of academic research, but a lot can be, and it's nice to sample a bit of something without having to spend hundreds to satisfy your curiosity.

I've been to a couple of renfaires, but I didn't find much to do there besides eat, see a couple of decent demonstrations and shows (falconry, plays, etc), and look at a lot of vendors' booths. Pretty, but a bit expensive for me. (remember, speaking just for myself here.)


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 10:20 PM

It's entirely possible that Jan got "dumplings boiling over " from Benny Hill. She's from Bradford-on-Avon.

By the way, is it true that self-styled feminists hounded Benny Hill?


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 01:46 AM

You're all welcome to my Authentic Rennaissance Faire. Just make sure you haven't bathed in a month or two. Also, those with massive goiters will be admitted free. We'll live on the site for a month or two before we open up for the public, just so the premises can attain an authentic level of mud, dung, and contagious disease. Don't miss the Flagellants Parade at dusk! Visit the Leper Colony in our South quadrant and take home authentic leper-made souveniers! Kids of all ages will enjoy the Bear-baiting! Or visit our concessions stands for some Rancid Meat-on-a-stick!

Give me a break with the non-authentic American Ren-Faire crap.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 09:41 AM

Right you are, L-EJ.
No one in their right mind would go to that place and think of it as entertainment...accurate as hell, but not entertaining.
The whole point of fair is that it's an escape from reality.
Previous posters had remarked about the broad range of time-lines, authenticity, modernity at various fairs.
I have worked at the Maryland fair for over 20 years. My Pyrates Royale Band freely admit that we are 300 years out of step with the Henry VIII theme of the fair. If we were totally honest, we would also have to admit that our charming, handsome, personable Henry is nothing like the self-centered, infected, nearly-infertile, wife-murdering, Catholic-persecuting, land-grabbing king with his retinue of social climbers and back-stabbers.
If a commoner (read:YOU) were to approach the real Henry to ask the time of day, they wouldn't be knighted, they would likely be stabbed by the king's guard tossed into a stinking prison until you died.
This season we had more than 300,000 paying patrons over the nine week run. I attribute this number to the fact that our king's guards don't stab that many patrons during the season.
The wares sold at fairs also vary greatly. At MDRF the vendors sell what they make, and most items are true examples of the artisan's craft. I've also seen fairs where the cardboard boxes of ale mugs from China are barely hidden from view, but the vendor claims that "It's all hand made by me".
Our Jousters also really joust. If a rider is knocked off, he didn't take a dive. Shattered lances have really shattered. Not gimmicked. This is not always so.
If you go to fairs like Maryland, Georgia, Carolina, Texas, the two NEW York fairs (Howdy MMario)and don't find something to make you smile, then you are probably trying to have a bad time. Drink more.
So it's not for everybody. But it's no more silly than many other pastimes...like folk music. Teehee.


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Subject: RE: Ren-Faires: what 's that all about?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 09:43 AM

Sorry, "Guest" above was me, Skivee, logging in from a friend's computer


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