Monday, January 21, 2013

Two Paths Before Him

That's AJ being flung into Liberty Lake by Dave Catanese

Our auditions for the 2013 season of the New Jersey Renaissance Faire have come and gone.  We had over sixty people come out for us and we were amazed by the level of talent that we saw, all people eager to be a part of the village of Crossford and help us bring the magic of the faire to life.  We will be making decisions on casting over the next couple of weeks but some things have been decided.

             We would like to congratulate AJ Gagliardi who will be playing the part of Robert the Bruce at this year's faire.  This is AJ's second season with us and last year you would have seen him as the dashing Cardinal's Guard,  Bicarat.  His battle on the chess board and later being throne into the lake, against Dave Catanese playing the role of Athos the Musketeer is a New Jersey Renaissance Faire legend.  AJ is a graduate with a BA in Theater and Drama from Johnsons State College.  He has appeared in such stage shows as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Into the Woods and Peter Pan and played a press photographer on the television show Law & Order SVU.  He is a certified actor combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors and has won numerous awards for his acting achievements.  AJ is extremely excited to continue to play the role of Robert the Bruce, after starring as that character in the first three preview videos for this year's faire, including the one that is linked for you below.

              Although William Wallace and King Edward are the characters people tend to think about, our story is really more about Robert the Bruce and the crossroads he stands at.  It was Robert the Bruce that the magic of Crossford brought to us this year to be put back on the right path.  William Wallace and King Edward are at no crossroads, they are set in their ways and know exactly what path they will take, but Robert, Robert can make a choice and has decisions to make.

               Watch our next preview video to get a window into what is going on in the mind of our lead character, and once again, congratulations to AJ Gagliardi and we look forward to seeing you in your kilt and blue face paint this year, bringing the village of Crossford to life.

Robert the Bruce Preview Video

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Taste of Things to Come - by Melissa L. E. Baker

This might not be appropriate for some of our youngest fans, there are some descriptions of battle scenes and such that really young kids might find disturbing.  Be aware.  Bigger kids, enjoy and read on.  ~The NJRF staff

On a brisk December day I woke groggily from my bed.  It was a Saturday, why was my alarm going off so early?  Ah, but wait, all of my battle clothes and two swords were sitting out on top of my suitcase.  It must mean that I was going to a film session for the New Jersey Renaissance Faire!
I got in my car (a PT Cruiser named Tom), started blasting Rammstein and Dragonforce, and found my mind drifting amongst the power chords to glorious days of battle.  I’ve been writing little snippets of stories for weeks.  I’ve been so excited about this plot, it’s been rushing my blood around my head like horses.  Whinnies and swords fill my brain most days.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve pictured war scenes just like what we filmed on that day in December.
It occurred me, at some point during this 45 minute drive that you - our adoring public - don’t see these battlefields like I do.  I mean, maybe some of you see battlefields in your heads as you pour another non-fat chai tea latte with extra sugar and hell, why not?, whipped cream.  Maybe black steeds ride screaming through your head as you tell that retail customer that you just restocked those sweaters yesterday, and yes, they ARE over there in the corner where you told her they were 10 minutes ago.
But, in case you don’t, I want to give you a sneak peek into my brain.  I want to paint for you exactly the way I see things so you can share in the excitement I feel about this upcoming faire season.  So, here you go my friends.  A preview.

I am about to tell you a story.  

I want you to see the battlefield before you.  It is early morning, just before sunrise, late in the 13th century.  The wind is cold and desolate.  There is green still, but it is a harsh green of scrub bushes and mosses that will not die.  The Welsh countryside is strewn with bodies, the earth drenched in their blood.  Crumpled men have fallen into heaps in various places, their dead faces glazed with frost on this crisp morning.  This was the final uprising, the last stand of a people who wanted a national identity and dared defy the English.
A man gazes down on the deep red scarring the hills of shabby green.  His head is heavy with the weight of the gold crown on his brow, but he bears the weight with practice and duty.  His dark eyes glimmer in small fires still alight at various points in the openness.  His pale face catches the first rays of dawn as they glaze the world redder still, and he is awash in the glowing crimson of glory and death.      
Edward Plantagenet stands on this field, proudly, with his wife Margaret by his side.  She holds his hand and cradles a baby against the harsh winds.  Edward looks out at the blood and knows he is victorious.  It is the same victory he has always known, in every battle.  Even when the outward war is lost, there is always something to be gained.  
In this grand case he will become the ruler of Wales.  His son, a boy of five, will soon be declared Prince of Wales.  English policy and order will come to the lawless fighting and brawling that Edward has seen the Welsh fall to.  And with it, peace shall reign in this land.  
Edward is well aware at what cost this peace has come.  But he is also aware of how deserving the Welsh were of a strong, righteous leader.  The Welsh will kneel before their new king, as so many have done before.  It is destiny.

We move several years later and I want you to see another battlefield, in a higher elevation.  It is just past dusk and the redness of the sunset has given way to a calm and simple blue as the last light fades into nothing.  There has been blood here too, but it has long been forgotten in the victory of the day.  A victory shared by a few men in kilts who gather round a community fire to celebrate.  
Soon after defeating the Welsh, the English had come to the Scottish lands to settle a dispute of leadership.   Rebellions began to rise.  But unlike the Welsh, the Scottish became more successful in their efforts.  
In the town of Lanark, not so long ago, a man stood his ground.  He killed the sheriff of the town, a sheriff sent by the English to control the populace and bend them to English laws.  The name of the sheriff will be forgotten.  The name of the man will not.
On this battlefield, that same man stands with a close force of friends.  His companions have fought off the English, uniting their varied clans like never before.  Another English raid has come and gone to a border village, and the soldiers were sent running.  The Scottish people will not be trampled under foot as the Welsh were.  They will fight for their honor and die by the sword to remain an independent nation.
William Wallace stands in the center of the group, remembering quietly the day he killed a single English sheriff.  The hands lovingly on his shoulders and rapped against his back are acknowledged, but not felt.  His light hair drags in his face and covers dirt, blood, and the woad paint dried on from battle.  The fire lends a glow to his ice blue eyes.  Eyes which silently accept the fate of tomorrow, and thank the world for the blessing of today.  Today has been long but well fought.  Tomorrow they will come again.  And the Scots will be ready.

It is 1302 and another battle rages, though it is hidden from sight.  The sun is warm and well into the sky, despite the chilly January air.  Cloaked and stooped, a figure burns internally with despair.  Behind the eyes of this man rushes a dark war that none can comprehend but himself.  
Robert de Bruce sits lonely in a cushioned chair, gazing out the window of an English palace.  He has been declared the ruler of Scotland, as is his right and inheritance, and peace has come to the land.  For now.  Wallace, by the Grace of God, has gone to France while a more permanent treaty can be established with the English king.  But rumors persist that Wallace will return before the summer and open the floodgates of war once again.  
Dark brows knit on a noble face.  If Robert concedes to the English, peace will reign in Scotland.  King Edward has established order in Wales, and that order has been kept for a number of years.  Scotland was once a lawless place, and a strong hand is certainly needed to keep the various clans in line.  With Edward’s backing, the peace will remain strong and unbroken.
But the people want a peace of their own making.  A peace of only Scottish rule, on Scottish land, led by capable Scottish lords.  The people love Robert as well, but Wallace speaks for them when he tells his friend that no good can come from English rule.  The Welsh are peaceful, but bent backwards by English demands.  It is only a matter of time when the crushing force of Edward’s rule begins to take its toll on the Scottish people as well.
A free Scotland or a peaceful Scotland.  It has been on his mind for weeks.  From the travel to the castle, to the nights spent in the king’s company.  In the soft tread of maiden footsteps and the trot and gallop of horses hooves on the hunt.  Robert’s all consuming thoughts are of his people and his decision.
He is at war with himself.  Constantly.  And he cannot see an end to it.

In 1560 we are in the peaceful village of Crossford.  The residents are fairing quite well.  The wind is bitter cold for January, but a constant supply of turnips have kept the denizens from starving. Animal feed has become somewhat scarce, but the local historians take it as a sign from God that there will not be another chicken stampede anytime soon.  Just before frost, two things of note occurred.  A small ship, manned by a single privateer, docked just before the ports froze over.  The colors of Ireland fly from the proud single mast and all the village is abuzz with the visitation of mysterious Captain Conrad Sullivan to the sleepy town.
Also, of recent note, is the news that the Duke and Duchess had gone on visitation to relatives in Scotland.  Why anyone would want to travel across the border at such a ghastly time of year is speculated by young and old.  Though rumors persist of some strange happenings just before the new year, including an attempt on the beloved Duke’s own life, most have taken to the simple notion that Lord Hugh and Lady Elizabeth are settling a land dispute on the border and will return shortly to their castle, weather permitting.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Preview Video for 2013 Season

          We have posted a new video in our series of preview videos for the 2013 New Jersey Renaissance Faire.  About forty actors, stuntmen and friends of the New Jersey Renaissance Faire gathered on the snowy day of December 29 and got into costume, and carried swords and cudgels in the freezing snow and wind to put the finishing touches on this preview video that is the best we have shot so far.  

           The first video we put out was from the point of view of William Wallace, the Scottish rebel and hero of this year's New Jersey Renaissance Faire.  This video is from the point of view of his enemy, the English King, Edward Plantagenet.  Enter the mind of the king in this video and see the world from his point of view as you prepare yourself for the 2013 season of the New Jersey Renaissance Faire.  

The 2013 New Jersey Renaissance Faire will be held at Liberty Lake in Columbus, New Jersey, Saturday and Sunday June 1st and 2nd and 8th and 9th from 11 AM until 6 PM rain or shine.