Category Archives: sideshow

The final, final wrap post

I did the Phantoms Feast – Circus of Darkness at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. For those that don’t know it’s a Halloween style show with lots of blood and some scary things. Typically it runs two or three weekends after the end of the Renaissance Festival depending on when Halloween falls. It’s a 90 minute dinner show held in the feast hall and usually sells out every performance, seating somewhere between 105-120 people.

I hadn’t intended to do it when the entertainment director was looking for acts back in September, but my former partner, Dr. Dumpé, thought it would be something we could do together and so I agreed. Less than a week later Dr. Dumpé had to drop out because of another conflicting event that was already booked. The entertainment director sent me a frantic email asking if I was still available. I talked to him the following weekend and he explained that I would just need to do my act and I could be done for the evening. It didn’t sound too bad so I agreed.

Two rehearsals and four shows total, not a huge drain on my time and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might have been. Now that I think about it, I don’t think they ever did get my name right in the show. Lots of Magnificent’s and Stupendous’s, but I think only once did the name come out right, Marvelous Matt! Overall, I had fun, even the one night where it got near freezing. You see I don’t wear shoes, I was doing my whole act barefoot since I was walking on broken glass. Trying to remember lines and asides while you are in front of an audience is nerve wracking. But knowing that if you take your time and don’t mumble through it, the audience will eat it up. And they did. Of the four shows I think there may have been one where the audience started getting out of hand yelling at the stage. That was the one time I got to use any of my anti-heckling lines all season, and it felt good to be that prepared.

The best thing about the experience is, it took me out of my comfort zone ever so slightly. I now have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t as a solo act when it comes to some of the sideshow stunts I’ve done, especially the glass. I heard many good things about the show, and my act, from management and I even got several compliments from the entertainment director on the final night, which I unfortunately missed hearing because I had a second event to go to.

Would I do it again? I don’t know. Even with the minimal time commitment it was more than I had intended to do after Faire was over. It wasn’t terrible and I did have fun, and I got to meet some nice people outside of the characters created for the Renaissance Festival. Yeah, I still don’t know…

Bonus: I got to keep my Circus of Darkness “poster”. It’s actually printed on vinyl banner material and looks pretty cool. I designed the central image and the office added the Circus of Darkness header and footer, I’ll try to add a pic later on.

 

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Circus of Darkness

BOO!

I was asked to do the Phantom’s Feast out at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival grounds this year. The theme is a take on an evil circus. Not much in the way of rehearsals and this past weekend was the first two of four performances. During the show I’m walking on a bed of broken glass and, of course, the straitjacket. Before this show I hadn’t done the glass in over a year so I didn’t have a script in my head. After the Wednesday rehearsal the director asked me if I could make the glass more ominous and to not change anything with the jacket. (Can you tell which one I perfected in over 85 performances this season?) So all day Thursday I’m working the routine in my head, trying to remember lines and the little things that make it more than a stunt. Thursday’s rehearsal went much better since I had managed to cobble together bits and pieces of the routine from my memory.

Friday ended up being the coldest day of the fall season so far. It was also the first public show for Circus of Darkness. It was not a full house but it was close. I happen to be the first “act” in the show and just before showtime I checked the temperature…36 degrees. I do my whole act barefoot since I walk on the glass then do the jacket. I saw many familiar faces audience and I kind of regret that I die and am unable to ask them what they thought of the show.  I am not required to stick around after my act, well, because I’m dead. I was so glad to get home and warm up after that night.

Saturday was much warmer at showtime (59 degrees), and this show was a full house. I attempted something new in getting my volunteer, and everybody seemed to really enjoy what I was doing. Much laughter and gasping, and an occasional heckler but nothing I couldn’t handle. Big gasps when death reached out it’s cold hand and I collapsed.

I talked to a few of the waitstaff before I left and they said everybody seemed to really be focused on what I was doing, and one waitress said she was asked to move out of the way by a patron, for the first time she could remember, so that they could see what I was doing. I felt real good hearing that.

Of course, since I was dead I went home.