Jimbob's Journal
Renaissance Faire
by Jim Harris

Come all ye lords and lassies to the rollicking, frolicking days of plagues, witch hunts, illiteracy and servitude! Experience those romantic times when rowdy rouges and lusty wenches bathed infrequently, if ever, and an unboiled cup o' water or a cut on the finger could kill ya deader than a doornail.

Question: What takes place in Pennsylvania every fall and has more crazy caucasians than an Elvis look-alike contest? Why, to be sure, it's the Renaissance Faire! The scenario is like "Connecticut Yankee" in reverse: an entire medieval village suddenly appearing in the midst of a technologically advanced society. Let's take a virtual tour.

First we see the guildsmen and merchants. Looks like show and tell day at vo-tech school. "Nice work, Lancelot. That club with all the spikes must have taken a lot of time to whittle. Did you know that they have machines that can do that now?"

Next, the refreshment booth. Ah, recently fermented wine, or maybe it's beer, hard to tell. Anyway it washes down the big hunks of mutton nicely. Over there, falconers are demonstrating their skills with large dangerous raptors. One of the falcons seems to be eyeing my mutton and it's making me a little nervous. I heard that one flew off with a young child last year.

Everywhere historical figures are engaging fairgoers in lively discourse: "What's that, you're Queen Elizabeth and you'd like to dance with me? Uh, gee, I'm flattered, Your Highness, but I just had a hip replaced."

The Faire ads call it "high-touch (rather than high-tech) interactive theater." They don't get it. The whole thing about theater is that it's NOT interactive. There's supposed to be a cast, a script, and an all-important invisible fourth wall that keeps the audience in a safe, protective womb of obscurity.

A little personal background: Whenever I'm at a play and I get even the slightest inkling that the performers may be coming out into the audience, I pull my shirt over my head and yell "Don't touch me" over and over. This behavior has rendered me somewhat of a pariah in artsy-fartsy theatergoing circles, but I care not. I pay to be touched figuratively, not literally, by the arts. My personal space is accessible by invitation only.

Having all those wacky Renaissance people coming at me from all directions could surely cause me to have some kind of stroke or something. I mean, even the bathroom attendants there are costumed and in character. And I used to think that doormen had it bad. Imagine having to wear a silly outfit and clean toilets to boot. Bottom line, there's no escaping the characters in this medieval looney bin.

And make no mistake, they are all mad as hatters. I have no doubt that they believe they are actually people from the 16th century. I think the lot of them are very close to busting out of the fairgrounds and running amok in the real world, jousting with cars on the turnpike and beheading hapless citizens willy-nilly.

Before that happens, I propose that we bring in a team of psychiatrists and exorcists to do a mass "intervention." First, the clerics would chase out any ancient demonic spirits that might be present, then the psychiatrists would engage in a sophisticated therapeutic deprogramming dialogue: "You're NOT Queen Elizabeth (Yes I am) No you're NOT!" and so on, until they came to their senses.

To do all this, of course, would take lots of government money. Please, write to your elected officials and tell them that you're sick and tired of living in fear of being attacked by Knights of the Roundtable. Be sure to give your full name and address, and don't mention me or this article, as I am operating undercover at the outhouse behind the castle.

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