Saturday, November 05, 2005

Ren Faire and Robert the Ratcatcher

Went to the Las Cruces Renaissance and Craft Fair today. Wow, has it grown over the years! To investigate all the craftsmen, information booths, and food vendors would certainly take all day. Combined with the various events, it's a long day that makes it easy to come back for both days that the fair spans.

I thought my son would enjoy the processionals and other costumed pageantry, but he was largely uninterested. And when I thought about it, of course it wasn't anything special - he's not old enough to know that those clothes are anything out of the ordinary. Mostly, he liked the water fountain in the lake and the playground - both things we could come to the park on any other weekend to do for much cheaper. Heh.

But it was fun for my wife and I. I always enjoy seeing the spectrum of costumes people wear to the Renaissance Fair. Obviously, you have the visitors wearing everyday clothes on one end, and on the other, you have the people wearing extravagantly detailed, period-accurate costumes that must have cost a good couple of hundred to make.

But the costumes that I enjoy the most are the ones in between the two extremes. I like seeing the knight walking along with a sword, a shield, and sneakers on his feet. Or the goth girls that wear black renaissance gear, but with glittery black bat wings or vynil high heeled boots. Or the wizard walking along wearing mirrored sunglasses and a baseball cap. That's just fun stuff.

However, by far the best thing at the fair is Bob Diven doing his "Robert the Ratcatcher" show. Most people who dress up at the Renaissance Fair dress up as nobles or knights, which of course was a tiny fraction of the populace during the Middle Ages. Bob dresses as the lowest of the low - the guy charged with catching the disease-infested, food-stealing rodents. But it's a great show, because he uses his "ratapult," a replica trebuchet that flings fake burlap rats into a crowd of excited kids, and flings pumpkins at a dumpster 50 yards away. Fun stuff.

I've always been impressed by Bob. I first met him when my wife was doing stand-up comedy. I saw many of his performances, which consisted of clever folk songs he'd play on his guitar, and unlike all the other comics, he absolutely never bombed - he was always engaging and always entertaining. (He has a CD out called Play with Yourself, Live in Concert, by the way - pick it up if you like folk music with a smart, funny edge.) We commissioned him to write some songs for some educational software we did back in the early 90's, and we're still getting letters from kids saying how much they like the songs he wrote. Since then, he's worked on the Renaissance Faire (I believe he built the dragon in the lake as well as the trebuchet), starred in local community theater productions, and produced a lot of impressive artwork.

That's why we asked him to be the barker for our new "Blackwood Mausoleum" Halloween attraction this year. He did a fantastic job adding the mystery and backstory to the attraction, entertaining people while they waited in line, and setting their minds at unease before they went inside to face the Blackwood kin. We gave him the overall idea, and he transformed that into an almost poetic spiel that really complemented the magical, spooky nature of our haunt.

I have video of his intro spiel - I'll be posting the video on a web page soon, so you'll be able to see it for yourself soon if you missed it this Halloween.

No comments: