As I write this from my phone, I am sitting in the shelter of my camp after a weekend of Sherwood Forest Faire in Paige, Texas,filled with gratitude. It was a challenging weekend. The weather was cold and wet, the exact opposite of what one might picture for a weekend of outdoor fun, and a long way from the comfort of performing in a trade show or corporate event. What am I grateful for?

First, I’m grateful for the cast in my show. I’m the puppeteer who brings Archimedes the Owl to life for the Merlin the Wise show. Mark Wilson owns the show and plays Merlin. Laura Brasher plays Morgause, the dark sorceress, before she turns to the dark side. They are a blast to work with, each giving and taking as we all work together to create an entertaining experience.

photo of the Merlin show cast

The cast of the Merlin the Wise showtat Sherwood Forest Faire 2015, left to right: Mark Wilson (Merlin), Chris Walden (puppeteer for Archimedes the Owl), Laura Brasher (Morgause)

Next, I’m grateful for the chances to stretch myself a little, artistically. The demands of a renaissance festival are different from many other performance situations. It requires a great deal of focus and flexibility. Discovering and adapting to each challenge has been interesting. The weather has been a little uncooperative. The schedule and dynamics have all made demands. Having to trust myself and my castmates in each unplanned moment goes against my normal desire for planning and organization. It’s been a continuous lesson in self-reliance and trust.

Finally, I’ve enjoyed expressing my art differently. As Archimedes the Owl, I get to be a sarcastic wit, looking for the quick joke and the smart remark. The puppet forces me to use a different physicality and to cast everything through the eyes of another species. Fun! As Saul the Taleteller I got to express the pure power of human thought and voice, using no props or settings, telling classic stories. Finally, Ravencraft the Mountebank read minds and performed a few feats of legerdemain. In each case I needed to do something just a bit differently than I had ever done it before, recreating props, language, working with different clothing and in the weather… What a tremendous number of lessons crammed into a compact time!

I hope you get to come experience Sherwood Forest Faire for yourself this season. I’m grateful to have this in my life right now and the support of all the new people I’m meeting along the way.

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