Sterling Opens!! (and more....)
Greetings! I hope this reading finds you all well. Again I have not had the time to update this blog, it seems that monthly (or so) updates have become the norm. Let me try and catch all of you up.
I've spent the past month working with the actors at the Sterling Renaissance Festival. For those who may not know, Sterling is one of the few Renaissance festivals in the States that has a professional acting troupe called the BTM Players and there is basically a month of rehearsals (six days a week) before the festival opens. I am the "Assistant to the Creative Director" which means I help with the character and improv workshops, teach songs for our many revels, direct and write scenarios and town events, and more. I must admit that it has been a struggle and a lot of fun. There is a joy that I find in working with creative and like-minded people. I really do love the way rehearsals are treated here, which is with delight and joy.
We begin our day with warm ups and singing together. I love singing with the same 40 - 50 people each day. Something about voices joining together in song is a confirmation of our shared humanity, and a confirmation of the innocent delights we can all share. This year the BTM's numbers have been increased to 50. Last year we were down to around 20 BTM and there were perhaps 60 shows total at the festival. This year, including the "Independent Acts" there are over 140 shows. Many of these shows are our Scenarios (like the Trial and Dunk, Mud Shows, Wash Shows, etc), Town Events (Public Execution, Pirate Revels, Science Exposition, etc.), and Shakespeare Plays and are performed by our BTM troupe. This has meant a truly packed rehearsal schedule. The cast, directors and whole creative staff has really had to step up to the challenge of getting so much done. It has felt that there has been no free time for the last four or five weeks. I will say that I think we were successful. When you come to the festival I think you will be delighted with what you find there this year.
Also, the new owner Doug Waterbury has been more than easy to work with. He has been showing the performers, artisans and workers in general a lot of respect. Plus he seems really dedicated to the whole idea of the festival. He actually spent quite a bit of money paying all the support people - from grounds people, food sellers, bar wenches, parking lot attendants - all the them - to come to two days of training. They were trained in dialect, manners, and general techniques to help ensure that the patrons get a complete experience at the festival. I am impressed. I believe that when you come to the fair you will notice quite a few, very nice changes - there are new stages, new crafts and 14 new shows (along with many of us old-timers).
We finally opened this past Saturday. I think everyone who attended was delighted with everything that was going on. I heard, more than once, that "Sterling is back!", or "The magic is back!" - it was really, really nice to hear. The weather was awfully hot and humid, which I think kept some of the crowds away - it rained in the afternoon - but didn't stop the Final Pubsing from happening. On our new Pub Stage. When Auld Lang Syne was sung there were few dry eyes in the house. Waterbury himself was caught in the spirit and was moved by Lenny's speech and the entire cast coming together to greet and say farewell to all who came. "Lovely", is all I can say, "Lovely".
Sunday was a very rainy day. We still opened. People showed up and, I think, had a lot of fun. Sterling is alive, my friends, alive and unleashed!
There has been some sad news in our community. One of my dear friends, who was responsible for many of the early festival-wide scenarios in Chicago and Boston in the "old days" recently passed. Her name was Patty McKenny. I will (am) miss (ing) her dearly. Patty was the biggest supporter of community and tribe. She was a writer of songs, musicals and brought so much joy and sense to us all. I am not really capable of speaking much except to say that I will miss my brilliant, challenging, healing, creative, supportive, sensual, spiritual and lovely friend.
At this moment I am sitting in a Hampton Inn across the street from the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival. They have brought me in to teach Character and interactive techniques. I had my first workshops today and had a lot of fun. These are good people. I have another day of workshops tomorrow before heading back to Oswego and two days of rehearsals at Sterling before our second weekend. Hopefully we'll see you there.
This has been a spring of many losses for many people in my life. Perhaps it is a sign of getting older, or of just knowing more people. I am not certain. I am certain though, that we are all on this journey together, whoever we may be. And, as the song says, let us "take a cup of kindness yet". Kindness, my friends, that is key.
Thanks for all your support. Drop me a line!