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Motley Mage
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I am interested primarily in performing Renaissance-style magic, specifically for Ren Faires locally, but am unsure just how period accurate to be. I know there have been similar discussions, but here is my position: I know all of the basic literature (Scot, Hocus Pocus Jr.) But want to include others items beyond their scope. I have a fair repertoire of rope and silk magic, but want to include items like a mirror penetration and egg magic (silk to egg) and maybe linking rings. Would I be out of line?

Furthermore, I wonder about costuming. I have some period books, but want to perhaps make my costume more adaptable by adding detachable sleeves and skirts (e.g. make a robe/houpiland that converts easily to a doublet or jerkin) but worry about sticklers for period accuracy.

Thoughts?
MagiUlysses
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Greetings and Salutations,

Contact the ren fairs you are considering and discuss your questions with the entertainment directors. Tom Palmer has a great book on the topic of getting hired at ren fairs.

From my perspective, if the trick looks "period-esque" you're probably good to go. That being said, you generally can't go wrong with the classics: ropes, silks, egg bags, linking rings, cups and balls, etc.

Keep your costuming simple, and get the best possible footwear that appears to be period-appropriate.

Speaking from long experience, I would plan on spending about half your initial budget on a good pair of boots. Yes! They're that important. You're going to be walking and standing for the better part of 10 hours, don't try to do footwear on the cheap!

The Mage Ulysses aka
Joe Zeman
gomerel
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I second what Joe wrote. I have done some ren faire magic and now am doing California gold rush reenactment. I am not playing a magician, rather an old, retired gambler and con man who mostly shows cons, although I have "picked up a few magic tricks along the way."

My cups are made out of wood and my cards are period (although plastic coated.) I do linking rings and Chinese sticks "that I picked up over there in China Town." Spirit Slates show spiritualist cons.

Since I am into Steampunk, I have lots of brass tricks, e.g. the coin squeeze. They are not historic tricks but look like they could be.

I do use a traditional "church collection" change bag. Professional magicians may sneer at them but they look right for the period.

Something you might consider is the original Fast & Loose, which Shakespeare mentions in two plays. This thread is about what I do. I made prop for doing it, but you don't need one, just a strap and stick. http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......forum=26
HenryleTregetour
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Fear not about whether egg tricks are period.

They are. Several of the illustrations in The Oldest Deception includes eggs among various other objects on the tables where the jongleur performs the cups and balls. More significantly, a source of thirteenth century jongluer's tricks (yes, you read that right--thirteenth century!) includes a trick using a blown egg that magically floats around the jongleur's head (the spectators do not know the actual condition of the egg). It and several other magic tricks are revealed (meaning they include how the tricks are done) in the Secretum Philosophorum, a late thirteenth century work on ostensibly on the trivium and quadrivium.

I do not have my source currently available, but I will try to locate it tonight and get back to you tomorrow.
HenryleTregetour
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As for penetration, read the trick in Discoverie of Witchcraft in which you place a coin in a handkerchief, which then disappears. You will note that the trick concludes by the coin penetrating the table into a pan below it.

TO MAKE A GROAT OR A TESTOR TO SINKE THROUGH A TABLE, AND TO VANISH OUT OF A HANDKERCHER VERIE STRANGELIE.
A magician will also sometimes borrow a coin and mark it in front of you, and seem to place it in the middle of a handkerchief, and wind the handkerchief tightly around the coin, so you can see it. Then he will give you the handkerchief, and ask you to feel if the coin is still there, and ask you to place the handkerchief under a candlestick, or some such thing. Then he takes a shallow pan, or basin, and holds it against the underside of the table holding the candlestick and, with words of enchantment, in a short time you hear the coin fall into the basin. This done, he takes off the candlestick and, grabbing the handkerchief by one corner, he shakes it, but the money is gone! This seems as miraculous as any feat until you know how it's done.

(This is an online translation by Neil Alexander)

And with regards to linking rings, it is documented in Christopher Milbourne's Illustrated HIstory of Magic (p. 19), where he discusses Girolama Cardona's account (De Subtilitate Rerumm, mid-1500s) of magicians doing tricks (actually, I believe these are tricks are done by one man--the Spaniard Damautus--I looked at the original). Cardano states they "pulled 'nails and a string from [his] mouth,'changed pictures in a book by flicking the pages [this trick is in both Discoverie of Witchcraft and Hocus Pocus Junior), and linked single rings by tossing them into the air." So, the linking rings may not be Chinese afterall (it is my opinion that the trick received that name in the late nineteenth century because the linking rings was a favorite feat of the "Chinese" magicians popular in America and Europe).

Milbourne also includes a discussion of other Renaissance period continental magicians to give you ideas beyond our English sources.

And of course you should read Master Payne's book Sometimes the Jokes Are Just for Me (I just did! Great book), which should help answer your questions about how period a trick should be.
HenryleTregetour
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Back to penetrations--the trick immediately after the section on cups and balls in Hocus Pocus Junior is a penetration trick. It is called:

"How to make a great Ball seeme to come through a Table into a Cup"

Basically, the ball is held under the table and mysteriously penetrates the table to be found under the cup.
gomerel
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Quote:
On 2013-08-14 10:12, MagiUlysses wrote:

Speaking from long experience, I would plan on spending about half your initial budget on a good pair of boots. Yes! They're that important. You're going to be walking and standing for the better part of 10 hours, don't try to do footwear on the cheap!

The Mage Ulysses aka
Joe Zeman


Yes, footwear is important. However, for most characters, boots are a charming renfairism like wide belts, D-ring belts, modern kilts, kilts on any man not a highlander, low necklines on women, etc. These come from thinking "they probably..." instead of doing research. Everyone didn't wear boots all the time. I generally wear "romeos" - leather slip-on slippers.

Motley, it sounds like you are doing a jester. If you are doing a continental jester, the pointed shoes may be what you want. But English jesters did not dress the same way. I wore a hat with far too many feathers, a wooden sword and absurdly stuffed slops. (Couriers adopted those from jesters.) See link below. Other options would be magician or con man, e.g. Gypsy. Boots don't seem right for any of these options. But, I am far from a costume nazi. As I said, renfairisms can be charming.

http://www.amazon.com/Fools-Jesters-at-E......sh+court
HenryleTregetour
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Here is the citation for the 13th century magic tricks:

Robert Goulding, "Deceiving the Senses in the Thirteenth Century: Trickery and Illusion in the Secretum philosophorum." in Charles Burnett and W.F. Ryan, eds., Magic and the Classical Tradition (2006), pp.135-162. ISBN 0 85481 13 1 1

The article consists of a discussion of the Secretum philosophorum, followed by the Latin text of the various tricks, concluding with an English translation of the text. Secretum philosphorum means "secrets of the philosophers," which might be better translated as secrets of the magi (think philospher's stone).

I will post a summary of the tricks in the book later today under its own heading.
Motley Mage
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Thank you all for your thoughts. My performance character is actually more of an academic "exposing" magic--ala "Discoverie of Witchcraft"--for the edification (and entertainment) of the public, thus the robes/houppelande. I've done some fairly extensive costuming research (I am a college professor and teach academic research methods) and know what a truly accurate wardrobe would consist of and how to construct it. For practicality though--I live in Florida--I am looking for the flexibility of removing the sleeves and/or detaching the bottom portion of the robe to make it more comfortable. I've actually already worked out the practical design; just wondering if some large portion of my audience--or patrons, for that matter--would reject my modernization.

The same is true of my act. I have a solid set built around definitively "period" work, but wondered (mostly for the sake of starting a discussion again) what kind of resistance anyone has ACTUALLY found performing at faires. (I already own both Master Payne's above-referenced book and Bill Palmer's notes--which I believe MagicUlysses means--and have read and recommended them repeatedly.) I know the majority of folks at the faire are more interested in being entertained and are more than happy to accept anything that LOOKS and FEELS "period"--and will generally NOT be overly pleased with clear anachronisms like a floating lightbulb. Just wondering where the line lies in others' minds. I pretty well already know my own position.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts and for the book references--I will look into them (mostly out of curiosity and an ongoing love of such books). Pulsantes tuus!
HenryleTregetour
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Motley,

As far as the costume is concerned, rather than making detachable parts, why not make it of some very light fabric, like light weight linen or silk? Detaching the sleeves/skirt are going to ruin the academic robe effect, so why not find contemporary costume with shorter skirts (such as the type commonly found on Henry VIII)? In other words, you can have more than one costume.

I haven't had any actual experiences with Ren Faires, but I think you will have to know with whom you are dealing, meaning, who is running the fair and what is that person's expectations? Some people will be petty and "care," others won't.

I'm sure you already know all this.
HenryleTregetour
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Motley,

To add to my last message, I once judge a houppelande at Kingdom A&S. It was full sized, etc., but it was made of silk. The fabric was not sheer, and it had all the ungodly yards of fabric used in such garments, but it was literally light as a feather.

Henry
Payne
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At your typical Renaissance Faire historical accurracy, especially for the big stage acts is not at all important. At least at the ones I've worked at and from the YouTube videos I've seen.

Typically they will give lip service to being "Historically Accurate" by imposing costming guidelines for the workers. But these all seem to go ut thwe window for the stage acts who perform in all manner of outfits. Few of which are even close to being historically based. Musicians anad Singers tend to dress and perform material of a more period nature. But the variety acts are all over the board in material and dress.

But it depends entirely on what faire you are working, what stages you are performing on and your drawing power. The big acts that peoplr come expressedly to see have much more leeway than the first year performer stuck on lane work. So really there is no right answer.

I just moved faire's this year. From one that was more historically based. To a faire that is more typical of the Ren-Faire meme. I had to "dumb down" my material and take a lot of the historical references and terms out of it as the audience was confused by me refering to myself as a juglar and calling tricks japes. So, while it is nice to try and be as authentic as possible. It really doesn't play well in some enviroments. You just have to feel your way through and decide what type of material plays the best for the venue you are working.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Motley Mage
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Again, thanks to all who have responded. I continue to learn and ruminate.

Payne--I hope your venue change was by choice, and I hope you find happiness there. Thanks for all your help & advice over the years.
CJRichard
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The pros above know the ropes of working the ren-faires. From a straight historical reenacting standpoint, there is some leeway with costuming there, too. There are the "thread counters" who require period clothes to be hand sewn, 100% natural fibers, documented colors and prints, etc.

My wife's gown is completely hand sewn in a fabric with an accurate print. That was her choice. Our group allows machine sewn clothing because from three feet away no one can tell.

The general public is woefully unaware of fashion earlier than 20 to 25 years ago. Our 1770s characters at a fort built during the Revolutionary war are routinely called Pilgrims oe pirates by passersby. They virtually have no clue.

Our local Ren-Faire is King Richard's in Carver, MA, which runs weekends from Labor Day through Columbus Day. Among the fair-goers you'll see everything from Jack Sparrow wearing black sneakers to Fairy women with Mr. Spock ears. The performers themselves have very nice costumes, though I honestly don't know what era they are supposed to be portraying. The official musical show on the main stage features humorous lyrics set to well known tunes from Disney movies. . .
"You know some of you are laughin', but there's people here tryin' to learn. . ." -Pop Haydn

"I know of no other art that proclaims itself 'easy to do.'" -Master Payne

Ezekiel the Green
gomerel
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Most of the faires I have gone to in Northern California have looked like a 17th century Scottish regiment visiting a Flemish brothel on Knights of the Roundtable fantasy night.
CJRichard
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Not that there's anything weong with that. . .
"You know some of you are laughin', but there's people here tryin' to learn. . ." -Pop Haydn

"I know of no other art that proclaims itself 'easy to do.'" -Master Payne

Ezekiel the Green
HenryleTregetour
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Gomerel,

That is both brilliant and funny.

Of course, I might ask--where are the pirates?
meyegr
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Quote:
On 2013-08-21 22:04, gomerel wrote:
Most of the faires I have gone to in Northern California have looked like a 17th century Scottish regiment visiting a Flemish brothel on Knights of the Roundtable fantasy night.


I just spit some soda on my keyboard - that was FUNNY (and true).

At the faires, the entertainment is for the masses so being perfectly H/A is not important. Like said, most would not know the difference.
Pokie-Poke
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Ded Bob (a plastic skeleton puppet ) went on a rant about how period the fair goers are, from Dr. Who. to the entire family dressed as jack sparrow. it was at the NYRF.
www.pokie-poke.com
The Adventure cont...
Pizpor
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One of the new attractions at MnRF is the mermaid display.
It's really popular, but I can't say that it's authentically period.
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