Normally, this is the day when rehearsals for my summer theatre job begin. Actually, they began this morning, around when I started writing this post. But I’m not there! This summer I made the choice to stay in the city, for the first time in four years. I’m positively giddy about the prospects of this, as you know. Still, I’m a little sad, a little nostalgic today, missing a home away from home and fellow actors who are like family.
Now, I should tell you, this was not your typical summer stock job. No.
I worked at a Renaissance Festival all these years.
Can you believe it? It’s so not cliché!
Yar! It’s true! Oops, did I just say “yar”? Typical. For four fantastic years I played the part of a piratess. I created the character myself, so she plays to all my strengths. I’d describe her as a delightful paradox of cruelly piratical and ridiculously silly. Her name is “Consequence Wailes”.
The story goes: she was named by pirates who called her “Consequence” because her birth was a consequence of their philandering. Har! Har!
Every weekend from July- August I became this pirate lass, performing intense, interactive, outdoor theater. The experience was incredible, life changing even.
So why am I not going back? Oh, a myriad of reasons. They’re good reasons, but not fun to list.
I’ll list something fun instead!
WHAT I Miss MOST About Being A Pirate
1. Turkey Leg Duels
Now I’ve eaten enough turkey leg to last a lifetime. What I will miss is the duels that happen you’ve eaten down to the bone. Turkey Leg Duels are a sport I created (an arrogant claim, I’m sure people fought them before my time) where contenders use turkey legs as swords and battle each other. Turkey goes flying. It’s ridiculous and highly entertaining.
2. Looking like a BAMF
Me? I’m a cute blonde girl from San Francisco. My character? She was raised by pirates and fought her way to captain a ship in an insanely male dominated world. She has a scar on her cheek from getting slashed in the face and she’s killed over 200 men. No one is more bad ass than Consequence Wailes and embodying that is amazing.
3. Getting Dunked
“Dunking” is a historical punishment where in miscreants were forced into a chair, dunked into dirty water, and likely to catch cold and die as a result. No joke. Working at a Ren faire, this former punishment becomes a job! Fortunately, on a hot summer day it’s not so bad to be plunged into water. It certainly is an experience as adrenaline from the dunking floods your body and then you shout (or sing in my case) insults at the nasty town sheriff who’s dunking you.
4. Feeling Like a Rockstar
Someone I didn’t know, a patron of the festival, printed a shirt with my character’s name on it. “CONSEQUENCE WAILES WILT THOU MARRY ME” it read. It was incredibly out of the ordinary, incredibly flattering, and made me feel well, incredible! I’ll never forget that day, I really did feel like a pirate super star.
I usually spend all summer trying to maximize my burps so they are super loud and super gross. I seriously consider this part of the job- I’m a pirate! I can’t tell you how many people I’ve cracked up with just a well punctuated, volumous belch. Won’t be doing that in NYC! This summer all gas will be quiet and lady-like. Blast.
6. Tying People Up
In public! Not in a BDSM way! This is the only time and place in the world I can walk up to a stranger, tell them I’m going to kidnap their child, and they think it’s the best thing ever! I tie people up, vividly describe how I’ll torture them, speak of all the men I’ve killed- cause it’s my job! Yar!
7. Children’s Reactions
Kids love pirates and I’m especially good at entertaining them and getting them to participate. It’s a blast, there’s really nothing I love more. Having performed for four years, there is a handful of kids who I have seen grow up. Two little auburn haired boys have parents who work at the fair so I’ve seen them every year. They each especially adore my character. (The worst part of not being a pirate this summer: thinking of the kids who will be disappointed.)
8. Pub Sing
The last half hour of the day, everyone meets on the Festival Stage to sing song. Folk songs, sea shanties, old drinking songs. Music is such a part of life at this fair. Melodies seep into your pores, sometimes makes you cry, and always brings joy. It’s magical and inspiring. So inspiring I sat down one day, not even thinking about it, and wrote a song of my own…
9. Making Music Videos
The song I wrote is all about my character and thus titled, “The Ballad of Consequence Wailes”. It’s ridiculous and silly and hilarious (so I’ve been told). Filming was such a blast and I’m so glad I have to immortalize my pirate self! Written, directed, and performed by yours truly- give it a watch!
10. Fair Family
I met so many incredible, kind-hearted, creative, fantastic people because of Ren Fair. They are now many of my dearest friends, my biggest supporters. I’m not exaggerating when I say they’re family. Spending a summer in a woods in the middle of nowhere bonds people like nothing else! I love them, I’ll miss them, but bonds like that don’t break!
I know the stereotypes you’re probably thinking. No, it was not four summers spent naked in the woods, being at one with nature, and doing drugs. My time working at a Renaissance Faire was a buzz of hard work, creativity, spontaneity, physical training, historical studies, and yes, occasionally dancing in the rain. If you ever find yourself in upstate New York, around the Finger Lakes or even Syracuse, check out the Sterling Renaissance Festival. It’s a truly magical place.
Thanks for reading about my piratical Renaissance history! Did you watch the videos? I’d love to hear what you think!