Recapping the week that was

We’ll get to that in a second. First, a quasi-poetic moment.

I was walking up my driveway just now. It’s a bright day outside, despite the few grey clouds interspersed with the fluffy white ones. I looked up and noted the sun, visible through a thin layer of cloud, obscured just enough that I could look right at it. There it was…a perfect circle in the sky…as if someone had taken a hole punch and just tapped out that one spot.

It wasn’t long before a thicker layer of clouds covered up the sun, but the memory remains…and is now preserved here.

Just another reason I love having Scatterthought.

So let’s see…it’s been…wow, a full ten days since I last updated. Sorry about that, but I’ve been unbelievably busy as the last week was almost entirely consumed by the Robin in the Hood festival, which was held last Friday and Saturday. And now we recap.

The craziness began with a rehearsal on Sunday the 28th. A long and warm afternoon in the park running through the various tournaments that make up the main portion of the festival. Monday was free, but Tuesday night was spent getting all of my gear ready…costume, tools, etc..

On Wednesday evening, it rained. And while it rained, we loaded up our moving van with all of the equipment and set pieces that had to go to the park where we hold the festival. The thunderstorm managed to take out power in part of Waterloo Region, which killed the traffic lights and doubled the travel time from home to the high school. Luckily, the school still had power.

Thursday morning began at 8am. Just as we began unloading the truck at the park, the sky cut loose again with another fierce storm. Eventually, most of us were hiding underneath a tarp that was affectionately dubbed “shantytown” or in the back of the half-unloaded moving van. Meanwhile I stayed out in the rain ranting that it’s only water and that they were already wet and we might as well keep working. But no one was buying in.

Eventually the rain let up and we spent the rest of the day setting up the various games and stages. In the absence of someone with an actual clue, I lead the two major construction projects: the castle and the dungeon. Turns out that the castle wasn’t really that difficult to do…I had just never done it. But I’m loud and like to give orders…and for some reason people like to follow my orders. Crazy. Anyway, we got almost everything up and called it a day around 9pm.

I went home, slept for a few hours, then woke at 3am and got back for 4am. Since it’s a public park, we have to have people watching over everything to prevent vandalism. Around 6am I got bored and started constructing stuff again, and around 8:30am I changed into my costume.

My character in Robin in the Hood is “Harold the Herald”. I have a sister, Hark, and a brother, Reynold. We do all of the announcing at tournaments and of things going on during the festival. It’s a fun job that is well suited to my penchant for nonstop vocalizing.

Friday was the Education Day, when about 1200-1300 Grade 4 students descended on the park to learn about medieval times. I was a tour guide this year, so I was assigned a class whom I lead around to the various shows and activities they were scheduled for. We also had a couple of tournaments, during which I run around and get the kids cheering for the knights and warriors.

After that ended, I went home and started to get everything in order for that evening’s Battle of the Bards…but ran into a slight problem. A miscommunication led to us not getting the keys to the facility, so we had to cancel the show. Unfortunate, but it happens. Instead, a bunch of us walked up to a store called “The Other Five Toes” and I bought a hideously expensive shirt to complete my costume.

Sidebar: last year was the first time that I was a herald (I was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer in “A Knight’s Tale”) and our costumes consisted of what we refer to as the “orange carpets”. In truth, they were orange curtains that were converted into really ugly tunics. I modified mine as much as possible last year to get it presentable, but the material was really heavy and uncomfortable. This year, I bought a bunch of really nice red fabric and Hark’s mother (that’s not her real name) and a friend made tunics for all three of us. So we went from having some of the worst costumes to having some of the best costumes and I’m very happy about this. I’ll post a photo when I get one. Anyway, I was wearing one of the school’s white shirts under my tunic and I didn’t much care for it, so I bought the new shirt on Friday night, so now I have a complete costume that I like very much.

Where was I…right. Got up around 6am on Saturday morning and went to the park to finish off a few things. There was another crazy rainstorm overnight, so everything was a little wet but serviceable. The forecast called for 90% chance of thunderstorms, so we figured on going as long as it was dry and then packing up everything as soon as it started coming down.

Turns out that we got through the entire festival without any rain at all. It went mostly well, though a bit more rehearsal would have been nice in some cases. My favourite part of the show came during the last tournament. The first fight ended, at which point a character was supposed to march in to the tournament ring and interrupt things. However, that person missed his cue. I didn’t know what to do next because he was too far away and I couldn’t do anything without him.

I started announcing another fight, and the first name that came to mind was Sir Thomas, a guy whom I do a lot of shtick with in the festival. I said how he was next on the list, but no one wanted to see that…at which point he started protesting. I turn around, and he’s holding up a crutch (which belonged to an injured actor) and saying that he’ll fight with it. So I decided that if he wanted to fight with a crutch, he could fight with a crutch. Brought him out, and told him to select an audience member to battle with his crutch.

Sir Thomas was a little surprised by this…he figured that I was stalling for time, but didn’t realize I’d take it this far. Problem was that the other character still hadn’t realized where we were in the tournament.

Anyway, I was planning to pull a kid out of the audience and give him one of our knights as a coach to take on Sir Thomas. But then I turn around and see that someone had already been shoved into the ring…a former cast member whom we knew well. So I figured, what the heck, let’s have some fun. And sent Sir Thomas in to fight our friend with a crutch.

It was friggin’ hilarious. They flipped each other around a few times and fought with the crutch, and then Sir Thomas yielded. As we were celebrating his opponent’s victory, the actor who had missed his cue strided in to the ring and we were back on track.

That was, to say the least, the most unexpected portion of our day. And that’s what I love about Robin in the Hood and my role in it…the sheer unpredictability. I love being in the moment and having seconds to come up with a way to get things going the way they need to. I suppose that’s why I love doing the set construction as well…here’s a problem, and here’s what I’m going to do to fix it so that we can move on.

Like I said, the rain held out until the festival ended. We closed off, and just as we started to take everything down, the rain began. It was slight enough at the beginning that we were able to safely break down the castle, and as we were loading the truck it really started coming down. So by the end of the day, we were all drenched. Sometime around 8pm, I realized that I hadn’t actually eaten anything substantial since dinner the day before…around 4:30pm. And yet, I wasn’t really that hungry. I guess I was running on all of the adrenaline…and it was becoming apparent that the fuel tank was low.

I got on the road shortly after 9pm, and went straight home to relax and sleep in. Unfortunately, after waking at 3am and 6am, I was only able to sleep in till 9am. So I was still really tired on Sunday. I cleaned my tools and stuff and got that out of the way, though, so at least I was productive. Then it was back up to the school for a post-show barbecue…followed by a bit more work. We had borrowed about 40 bales of hay from a local farm, and had to return them. So four of us did that after the party, and then we went our separate ways.

Yeesh. That’s a lot of work for four days. No wonder that I’m still exhausted. But hopefully I’ll get a good night’s sleep and be back up to full speed tomorrow. Cuz there’s a lot that I have to do this week, now that the festival’s done for another year.

I’m already looking forward to next year.



  1. The farm boy part of my is betting that they were bales of straw, not hay.

  2. Where’s that picture of you in your herald uniform? I remember you looking unspeakably snappy that day!

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