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.