By Jeff Baldwin, TRF Entertainment Director
I have found over the 23 seasons that I have been the Entertainment Director, that I enjoy the rehearsal and planning of the festival almost as much as I do the performance days of the festival. When I was a performer, rehearsals were necessary, but the performance was what I yearned for. The interactions with the audience. All the joys that performing live theatre can bring you, and more. Now, I find I enjoy the process more than the reward. It's the creation, not the presentation, that I live for.
I am, and always will be, an actor. That is what drew me to the festival as a boy, and it is still a large part of me as an artist. I enjoy the creation of a character, either in the controlled environment of a theatre, or the 'anything goes' environment of the guerilla theatre of a renaissance festival. What makes the festival so much more rewarding as an artist is that most of the creative choices can come from one's own imagination.
In the theatre, character development begins with the following: What the playwright says about your character, what you say about your character, and what other characters say about you? All the other choices are the actor's to make. I always thought what made me a successful actor, and I did achieve some success, was my ability to look beyond the script and create and make choices that enhanced both the show and my characterizations. I believe that ability has served me here at TRF.
When directing at TRF, I often assume the role of playwright. History guides some of my choices, but most of the time, theatre guides more. It does a performer no good if they are filled with historical facts about their character, but have no way to manifest that knowledge into choices that are presentable, identifiable and entertaining to their audience. I would much rather have an interaction with an actor playing Henry VIII at any festival across the country about what he looks for in a wife or his favorite pastimes, than to hear Henry quoting a lot of historical facts about his life. I can find out what King Henry's birthdate is on Google, but what I want to know is not found in the history books. What I want to talk about are the thing the actor playing King Henry would have had to create on his own. Things that there is no historical record for. Those are the choices I liked to make as an actor, and that I try to get my performance company actors to make as characters on the streets of our village as their director.
My favorite part of being a creative artist are the 'eureka" moments. Those moments when an idea comes to you out of the blue. For me, those moments usually happen in the middle if the night and wake me from sleep, like a light bulb being turned on. It could be the answer to the problem, the punch line for a big bit or the solution we have been looking for. I long for those moments when the muse wakes me and aids me in creation. Most of the time when this hits me, I get out of bed, and begin to work on making this idea a reality.
During rehearsals I get to share in this creative process with dozens of like-minded people. Working with these people has taught me this: Creativity creates creativity. It feeds off itself. One idea creates another and another. For me, as an artist, I am the content when I am creating. Whether that be creating graphics for the festival, creating characters or booking talent. It is the creative process that I love. When I get to collaborate creatively with another like-minded artist, it does not get any better than that.