Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Woman's Prerogative

So, I was chatting to a friend shortly after the Musgrave event and whinging and bitching about the sorry state of things, and he said that things are the way they are because people have no competition since our (very spekky) group folded a few years ago (shortly after I and the other mover and shaker left, funnily enough)... Now, I have me doots about the veracity of that theory but it was sufficiently flattering and enough of a challenge that I started to wonder - how hard would it be to get back into re-enactment again and give the buggers something to compete against?? Not that I'm a sacrificial lamb type at all (being dragged kicking and screaming into something I don't especially want to do simply to improve the Movement as a whole is SO not me), rather I see getting back into re-enactment as a golden opportunity to show off (yay!!), and a chance to take up a hobby again that interests me and this time do it right - do the parts of re-enactment that I enjoy (researching and making stoof) and stay well away from the parts that I don't (admin and politics). LOL see how long THAT lasts!

So a week or so after the fair, I sat down and did a Feasibility Study (yes, I am a Sad Little Monkey) of getting back into re-enactment, worked out I could do it, do it better than last time, have more fun...

Sooooo.... I'm handsewing another tent (okay pavilion - the bloody thing's 4.8 x 3.2 metres and about 3.4m tall), and getting together all the stuff I'll need to put on a passable display at fairs. I figured that I'd stick with the place and period I was re-enacting before (because it still interests me, not because I've still got the gear for it - I sold pretty much all of it when I gave up re-enactment 5-odd years ago), and I'd do a 'new-and-improved' version of the static display I started playing with in the old group.

I figured on doing it by myself, just me and a tent full of handmade, living history samples of textile production, games, eatin' irons, and assorted bits and pieces about the lifestyle of the period; then my Dad thought it'd fun to come along and preach History to the Heathens; then my children decided they wanted in, too... so I've ended up with a group after all! So much nicer than a solo tour.

Oh, the place and period? Late twelfth to early thirteenth century (i.e. Third Crusade) Cyprus, the Melting Pot of the Mediterranean!

(Pics are of the tent about 2 weeks ago - it's now all painted and hemmed and I'm sewing the roof together)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Musgrave World Medieval Tournament

Back again after a little rest.... (okay, so I haven't posted since last November, so sue me).

Went to the Musgrave World Medieval Tournament today, at Musgrave Park (!), Brisbane; having given up re-enactment in about 2003 I'd never found time or interest in going to any of the events that occur throughout the year (and let's face it, for the first couple of years after giving it up I avoided them like the plague because re-enactment still left a bad taste in my mouth - something to do with a hobby that had gone from being a craft- and research-oriented fun thing to an administrative and political position with its associated miasma of irritation and stress...), so I'd missed out on all the changes and gossip that has occured in the re-enactment realm over the past 5 or so years.

It was kind of fun to attend an event as a tourist, rather than one of the organising committee, and it was great to catch up with people I hadn't seen for years (and we've all become so OLD!!!), but at the end of the day I was left with a little feeling of sadness - it hadn't changed that much! I had expected the gear and the costumes to have improved over the years in acccuracy and construction, as when I left the 'Medieval Movement' five years ago, that's the way it was heading and I'd heard reports from re-enactors that I still keep in contact with that the gear was so much better now, even if people were tending to buy it rather than make it; but I saw little evidence of that today...

The encampments were, understandably, a bit sparse as the Brisbane City Council (who leased the park to the fair organisers) had decreed that no-one was to sleep in the park overnight (the event goes for Saturday AND Sunday) and thus a lot of the groups had decided to pack down and remove their encampments (or a large part of them) for the night and set up again in the morning - VERY inconvenient and not conducive to a good show - because leaving kit laying around in an inner city park with only a few security guards is an open invitation for trouble; so peple had tended not to bring along as much stuff to make the encampments more interesting and engaging as they usually might have. Even so, a lot of the equipment and tentage I saw was heartwarmingly familiar (and fair enough, as the stuff doesn't wear out); but it was the costumes... worn, shabby, very familiar - some of them I can remember as new in the early and mid-1990s.

It used to be a matter of honour, more or less, to have a new gown or surcoat for the year's new re-enactment season (in Brisbane, that's roughly May to September as it's too hot the rest of the year) and the old ones would be relegated to the 'camping costumes' pile or lent to friends or very new members who didn't have their own gear yet. Lots of familiar faces wearing lots of familiar clothes - the faces are a little older and the clothes are considerably shabbier... I wonder if the heart is going out of re-enactment?

That was the last big re-enactment event for this year (the others, Abbey and Fort Lytton, are held in kinder temperatures in the winter months) so I'll have to wait until next year now to see if things really have stagnated that much or whether it was just the event, which was being run for the first time by a new organiser and without much notice, and which had been dragged through the mud by its previous organiser leaving groups unpaid for their performances and the city council very unimpressed by the (mis
)use of the park. With that sort of a bad taste in their mouth connected to the event, I can imagine a lot of re-enactors may not have been putting in 100% effort and interest, in case they were burnt yet again; and I wonder if this extended to their use of second-best costuming and kit? Probably just as well there was not a huge crowd of The Public to see it....

At the end of the day I still had little desire to take up re-enacting again - it all seems like too much trouble now, for too little return in fun.