Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Turnip Lady!

The Turnip Lady!, originally uploaded by Phoole.

The Turnip Lady at Muncaster was a simple, precious street character in the Grand Old Style of Doing Things the Ron Scot Fry way. Fry is the Artistic Director at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, and he was my first teacher and mentor for street performance. Ron's technique for doing street theatre is this:

Put on a costume, get a name, and go.

That's it! It works for him, and it works for some others. For others, different approaches are required. But that's not the point here. It worked for this sweet lady. I believe she's Muncaster's gardener's wife, and she wanted to be a part of the Festival of Fools and contribute to the ambiance, so she created this Turnip Lady character. She's a natural fool; her motley is humble and really adorable, down to the burlap cockscomb; and she's approachable, vulnerable and likeable, and she gives out not-quite-fresh turnips, and that's really all you need to make smiles happen.

At the Bristol Renaissance Faire, there's this bloke who's been a part of Friends of Faire forever, and I wish I could remember his real name right this very minute -- but he plays this brilliant turnip-farmer character, very simple, very much covered in clods of dirt, great props, extremely accessible. I tried for years to con him into joining the Street Cast at the show, but he prefers his time to be his own, and I respect that. But these two characters together would be Turnip Perfection.

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