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Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 6:32 am    Post subject: Questions for Reenactors         Reply with quote

Hello,

This coming weekend I'll be doing my Medieval combat demo at a Rennaissance Faire. I'm trying to be as prepared as possible and as informative as possible. We'll be doing introductory lessons and more in-depth lessons for those who are interested as well as an entertaining show.

As such I'd appreciate if those of you who've done this before would share the kinds of questions you get.

Thanks,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Bill Tsafa




Location: Brooklyn, NY
Joined: 20 May 2004

Posts: 599

PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 6:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Steve, I have done a few such demos and I can offer you a few things to think about.

I have found that the audience at Ren fairs is mostly families with young children and teenagers. For that reason you really have to keep it on the entertaining side rather then turning it into a history lesson. People who are hardcore, have already migrated into the SCA or WMA groups. If you are recruiting for any particular organization, don't expect and intimidate turnover. The people you talk to today, will be coming back 5 or 6 years from now, maybe 10 or 15 for the really young ones. So... keep it light. 2 sentences of entertainment for every sentence of information. Every ten or so sentences you will want to do some visual demonstration. The audience needs visual stimulation to stay interested.

You can let it be known that you will be available after the general demonstration to talk in more detail to anyone who is interested. That will be your opportunity to say the things you really want to say to the people that really want to know.

If you are recruiting for any particular organization you will want to mention the costs at some point. Most people are overwhelmed at Ren Fairs and think that the participants are all millionaires. At some point near the end you will want to give some cost scale. I usually give a minimum cost just to get involved even though they may not look so good... a cost to be involved and look good... and an estimated cost if they really want to live it up.

That is my overall theory of demonstrating at Ren Fairs. Now let me ask you, Steve, what are you demonstrating? What information or impression do you want the audience to come away with?

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
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William Goodwin




Location: Roanoke,Va
Joined: 17 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

pretty much most of what Vassilis mentioned. Keep is simple and to the point while adding a bit of flare to keep it interesting. Speak slowly and loud, get the crowd involved in some way, if liabiltiy issues are not a major factor, pull someone from the audience for a brief moment (usually make's somebodies day).

Yes, those that are really interest will have questions and will wait until the demo is done (mostly) so do make the offer for people to approach you.

Most of all...have fun with it...if the crowd see's you having fun, they'll enjoy it more too.


Good luck!


cheers,

Bill

Roanoke Sword Guilde

roanokeswordguilde@live.com
"I was born for this" - Joan of Arc
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Chuck Russell




Location: WV
Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Reading list: 46 books

Posts: 936

PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the number 1 question we always get asked... no joke..


"Is that a real fire?"
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Zac Evans




Location: London
Joined: 26 Dec 2006

Posts: 151

PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Do you sleep in these tents?" is the one that we get most.

As far as a demonstration, don't feel intimidated by the crowd, try and work out ways of relating it to their lives, and use colourful language. Involve those that you feel need/deserve it, but don't get everyone in on the action. If they really want they'll come and see you for more. If you have loads of people and can't decide choose one person and keep coming back to them. People will find it amusing you are picking on them, and will enjoy it as that person was the only one to get a turn. If everyone gets a turn except one person then thats not as good and that person feels bad about it.

Finally, have fun with it. Act up a little bit. In our group we insult the french, lancastrians, each other and various people that we feel can take it in good humour. Be someone they can relate to rather than a history book spouting stuff they don't really understand.
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JE Sarge
Industry Professional



PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My method is to get the crowd as involved as much as possible. One of my favorite things to do is to go to random people in the crowd and ask things like:

How much do you think this sword weighs?

How long do you think it takes to make a helmet like this?

Why do you think that this polearm might have an advantage over this sword?

As they answer, correct them (if needed) and elaborate on the proper answer. It gets them involved and keeps the interest level high. Don't try giving a long-winded history lesson. If you do all the talking, the interest level will drop. Keep the people involved in your lesson/demonstration.

Something else I do is when I am getting into a harness, I choose random people from the crowd to help me as my squires. While they are attaching pauldrons, buckling my cuirass, etc - I explain what they are doing and why it is done.

I hope some of this can be of use. Good luck with your expo!

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Ed Toton




Location: Northern VA
Joined: 16 Sep 2005

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PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

More questions to be prepared for (based on my experience at the renfaires), if you'll be in armor:

"Can I hit you?" (followed by a strike on the armor before you can answer, or just a strike without the question first)

"Is that sword real?"

"Is the armor real?"

"Isn't that hot?"

"How heavy is it?"

The last two of course are legitimate questions with real answers in a historical context, even though you hear them again and again. The "is it real?" questions of course open up an opportunity to explain your armor and weapons in detail, even if the question seems absurd on the surface. The first one above, well... how you handle that is on a case by case basis. The time I got punched in the helmet by a drunk woman carrying a baby on her hip, I was just at a loss.

-Ed T. Toton III
ed.toton.org | ModernChivalry.org
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Hendrik De Coster




Location: Belgium
Joined: 20 Jan 2007

Posts: 115

PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"stay off those weapons please"
is the line i have to say the most
all the others already gave the clichés
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Adam S.





Joined: 01 Sep 2006

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 12:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've found that if there are any kids present it's often easier to talk to them.Allot of the time it's the kids that are the most interested and willing to learn, boys and girls.

I've even had parents "translate" for a shy, whispering child that desperately wants to know something. The parents wind up learning something, and the kids suck it up like a sponge.
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Ken Nelson




Location: central Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Reading list: 12 books

Posts: 55

PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to agree with much of what has been said, get the children involved, and ask a lot of questions yourself. It seems that the more questions I ask of teh audience, the more intelligent their questions are in return.

I demonstrate blacksmithing, and like a combat demo, action is required to keep attention. it is also good to have a series of goals, or endpoints. If you draw out a action scene too long, it will lose them, even if it is flashy. I have found that talking for a few minutes, then a flurry of action (pounding in my case) and then being able to show a result before going back to talking helps. Maybe just making sure there is a "fatal" strike in each fight sequence would work well.

Something else to think about is outside the demo. If you want the faire to be happy with you, and you happy enough to return, there are several things that will help out. First, food and water. they are easy to overlook in the rush to get everything else ready, but dehydration is no fun. Safety, put up a rope or chain separating you from the audience. and make sure you are far enough back that if a 2 year old gets away from mom and dad, and ducks the rope, you can stop before he gets hurt. little kids can be slippery devils. Practice projecting your voice, try not to yell as you can lose your voice that way. And clean up, you are dealing with iron and steel, much like I do. Get a magnet on a stick, and sweep the area before you leave. you may not realize if one of you lost a rivet, but the next person to walk through barefoot may find out.

As others have mentioned be prepared for mind numbing questions. and practice answering them with a straight face, and in BFA. some questions can throw you right out of character if you are not ready for them. Not all the mind numbing questions are stupid either, some are embarassing, and others may just require stepping back to take a different look. examples I have had, or overheard. "is that really hot?" Yes, I get that constantly, I even had one dad explain to his son that it was just plastic and lights...until I used the steel I was holding to light a paper on fire. "Does that (pointing to someones codpiece) ever pinch?" " does the codpiece double as a chastity belt?" "Do you need a crane to get on your horse?"

I do wish you luck in your endeavors, I hope you can provide a good show, and can return time and again.

Ken Nelson

"Live and learn, or you don't live long" L. Long
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Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
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Posts: 385

PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 6:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Onlyaddition I would make is that (at least where the youngsters are concerned) before you correct them, make them feel like their answer was smart, even if it was not accurate.

"How much do you think it weighs"
"...errrr, 20 pounds?"

You can either go with "No, that is riduculous, it is only 2" or "Yeah, you would think that, because it is made out of steel, which is pretty heavy, but they are so well designed that they only weigh around 2"
the seccond aproach will get kids very interested because it will make them feel like they can do it, and that they have something to learn.
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Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Tue 02 Jun, 2009 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for allt the replies so far. It's been a tremendous help.

I'm looking forward to the event even more now. Big Grin

Keep it coming, too.

Thanks,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Gert-Jan Beukers




Location: Voorhout, The Netherlands
Joined: 02 Mar 2009

Posts: 30

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 4:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was at an event in Holland where an elder couple saw some burning candles.

''Oh look dear, nice those swords and armour, and those knights really great.. I know dear, it's all fake. Look! Even the candles are made of rubber!''

Correct me if I'm wrong.... I'm dutch
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Gabriele A. Pini




Location: Olgiate Comasco, Como
Joined: 02 Sep 2008

Posts: 239

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"But in the medieval ages the armors weren't quilted..."

"No, lady: when you ear the helm chime like a bell it was the signal of the end of the battle..."

A good discussion...

Stay calm: when you see 400-500 people who are here to ear you is easy to panic... I did once (even if I was trained to speak in public) and it was disastrous.
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Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriele A. Pini wrote:

Stay calm: when you see 400-500 people who are here to ear you is easy to panic... I did once (even if I was trained to speak in public) and it was disastrous.


I have a decade of Theatre experience - that's the easy part Big Grin
I just need to know what to say, and I figured finding out what they'd ask would help with that.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Christopher Gregg




Location: Louisville, KY
Joined: 14 Nov 2007
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Posts: 663

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OMG! Laughing Out Loud I can't count how many times I'm asked:

Are those REAL knives/swords/guns!

Are those sharp? (AS they grab for the blade)

How much do those cost? About three dollars? WTF?!

You're not really going to shoot anyone with that, are you?

Gah! I've found the best thing I can do to avoid going insane at reenactments, faires or the like is to stay in character whilst talking with the public. That way, i don't show my frustration with their obviously dumb questions. No, seriously, these questions are just dumb. I mean, if anyone took a look at the replicas and antiques laying there on my table, the answers to their questions are obvious. Yes, the knives/swords/guns ARE real. Perhaps you want to know if they're antiques? Some are, some aren't. Yes, they're sharp/dangerous/expensive...DO NOT TOUCH, PLEASE! (as the little signs written in English say). Sometimes I wonder if kids these days (and their parents) are getting anything close to a quality edication. Oh, well. It's just the common scenario of the reenacting world! If I reach one perso in a weekend, I feel I've done OK. Good luck on your quest!

Christopher Gregg

'S Rioghal Mo Dhream!
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