By Jeff Baldwin, TRF Entertainment Director
Today is June 1st, 2020.
At this point in the year, for the last twenty-two years, I have been in the midst of making casting calls.
I always look forward to casting. Immediately after the first call, Facebook and social media erupt with excitement about who got cast as what, and in which character group. There is an excitement about the season, and all the changes. There is a palpable yearning for everything to get started. Normally auditions are held the first two Saturdays in May. Rehearsals would then begin in July. But I do not need to tell you... things are different this year. To allow for auditions being delayed back in May, the 2020 auditions were rescheduled to July 11th and 18th. Rehearsals will begin shortly after that. Casting will happen, we will rehearse, the show must go on. And it will!
Amid all the uncertainty that the winter and spring have brought, I am certain of one thing - The Texas Renaissance Festival will happen. It might look and sound slightly different, but the love and dedication that has made this festival what it is will still be here. Our management is working tirelessly to bring our beloved patrons the magical experience they look forward to and have come to expect. We are striving harder than ever to create a safe place where you can escape the madness of the everyday world. We all need that escape... now, more than ever.
The Texas Renaissance Festival was built on and by the imaginations of thousands of people. If you know me, you know that I liken TRF to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory - A world of pure imagination. That is what TRF is, an imagined world, that welcomes everyone, be they Imperial Stormtrooper to Hercules, Henry the VIII to the crew for the USS Enterprise. Imagination is the fuel that moves everything.
Since we are already imagining.
It is not difficult to imagine a festival where certain
restrictions of the 21st century have to be observed. It is a world
of imagination, right? Our participants and patrons have amazing imaginations
and they continue to astound me with their creations every season. If we have
to maintain a mandated socially accepted distance, then we will do it. As an
actor I was taught that any "character choice" made could be justified. You
just had to be creative enough to find the justification. We can, and will,
create past this. If performers have to wear a mask to protect our
audience, then we will do it. But we will do it in a creative, imaginative way
that does not deny, but justifies the choice. Together our imaginations have
built this place, and together we can make it better, safer, and more creative
One thing I have learned about the participants and patrons of TRF over the last four decades is our ability and willingness to accept others and their choices. The Scottish Highlander on Highland Fling weekend does not care that the Roman Centurion is here on his weekend. He welcomes him. He either accepts that these two are here in the same "imagined" point of time, or he "justifies" it some other way. Being at Faire is what matters for both of these guys. I know that the acceptance of others will abound this season. The magical experience is all that matters, regardless of what you are wearing or not wearing.
It is not my place to tell you, our patrons, what choice is right or wrong. Those choices belong to you. I can help guide performers and participants, but ultimately the choices are theirs as well. I love TRF. I love my job. I love our participants and our patrons. I love the shows, the characters, the food, shopping, and the games. I love wearing a costume and pretending to be someone else from some other place. I love the world we have created together.
Photos by Steven David Photography