Location: Pittsburgh, PA/ USA

Total posts: 118
Posted:Hey, Pele- How long have you been doing the Ren Fair circuit? Is there a big market for fire at Ren Fairs? (I should check and see if either Penn or Pitt Renn Faires have fire performers yet... I know a couple friends of mine who do fire BREATHING, etc, were thinking of trying to drum up some business there not too long ago... I should email them to find out whether or not they were successful.) Is it like volunteer work, or do they pay you? Or is it like busking? My bf used to work at the NY Fair, but eventually ended up quitting, because they weren't paying him enough to cover all his bills. He says it was the most fun he's ever had at a job, though...

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The Cabiri

Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Total posts: 20
Posted:Not to rudely interject here, but we had some experience with a Ren Faire here in Washington...We were hired to do the show, then realized we weren't sure what we wanted to do in our act (theme and story-wise... the fire part was a given), especially since we weren't juggling yet at that time.So we decided to come up with a 'traveling alchemist' routine, with a lot of Asian influence. We met with a man from Tibet, who helped us come up with costume ideas, then went from there...I'd love to hear what others do at Ren Faires, how you integrate fire into some sort of cohesive, sensible 'story' or act, and how you have been received by the crowds. I'm also wondering if people mostly get stuck performing during the day, as we were, since the faire shut down before dark.Thanks!Charly


BRONZE Member since Dec 2000


the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Hey guys.I have been doing Ren Faires for about 10 or so years now...since I was 16. Penn and Pitt both already have fire and a few others actually work the north eastern circuit, and PA REN fired theirs last year due to show cut backs. And it goes by a year long contract...some years they want the show, some years they don't. Pay is on a contractual basis always...and it is difficult to get into it as an independent stage show. I was able to break through because I used to perform as a simple cast actor and then branched out, with alot of friends and backing behind me within the Ren Community.As far as pay is concerned, it depends really, on what you ask for, on what they are willing to pay, on your show frequency, on whether you can sing and act as well so they can intergrate you into as much of the other aspects of the faire as possible. Keep in mind also you have to have the costumes, the accents, and appropriate props (no aluminum props or cables), which gets figured into costs...and the costumes run me about $200 each...and I sew them myself! This is not to mention that you HAVE to carry a minimum of $1 mill. liability insurance policy before most faires will look at your portfolio or video when dealing in fire. The first few years I did fire at faires I took a monetary spanking....I didn't make back what I put into it. Then I built up a reputation and was paid more. It is by no means easy nor is it cheap but it is fun and in the long term for me it has been worth it. I also have to point out here that it is a nomadic lifestyle. It is very rare for a Ren performer to make a living at one faire...and since I can assume Jesse that you are from Penn, they both run fairly simulatneously, which means you would have to branch out. This means either camping equipment or an RV, it's the only housing they generally give, not to mention travel expenses. Performances are all day time shows, but that allowed me to go set club dates for nights. The crowds are harder to deal with because this form of theater is in your face..and that's where they want to be. Truly it isn't for hobbyists or those who question their abilities. That being said, here's my advice to break into it...go to the faires, buy the season pass and get a feel for how the shows are, how the cast is and what they respond to. Build a show around those can't just swing. Skill is actually the smallest part of a ren show, your character has to be believable, your show has to flow and has be conversationsl, play up to the audience and get them involved. It alot of personal contact with the audience and not just stepping out and swinging or eating. You also have to be interesting beyond your skill, this is where comedy usually plays it's part. I have performed in all forms of theater from stage to tv to Ren and Ren is the hardest but also the most rewarding. When debating a contract, aim your price high but tell them you are willing to work within their budget...if it is too low the best power you have is to say no thanks. When submitting your portfolio or video be sure to involve professional recommendations and (on video) audience responses. They weigh heavily on whether or not you get it. Make contacts...really it is the best way to break through. Is there a big market for fire in Ren Faires? Truthfully no, especially for fire eaters, only because there are a handful of performers doing it already and they cover most faires...they are the ones who have been doing this a long time and have the reputation behind them. They set the precedent the rest of us have to live up to, and it isn't easy.As far as creating a "story"...that's the easy part for me...getting the gig is the hard part. For Fire eating I turned it into a luncheon..starting with appetizers (flaming cotton balls) and working up to the after meal drink (the blow). As for Spinning we turn it into a competition between Prome and I as well as a showcase. The audience claps to provide the music and it is a challenge to stay with whatever beat they set...or change. They are also the ones who decide who wins the competition. Be careful too, there are show thieves to look out for, people who have stolen shows line by line, and played them at upstart faires. It hasn't been pretty. So if you get reinvolved Charly, copyright ALL of your show stuff. We have and it proves useful in the end.I am not trying to discourage you, but more warn you of the pitfalls I have come across. I could go on about this topic since it's one close to my heart but if you want more info please feel free to email me of luck to you both and see you at the faire!!!!------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir...

Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK


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