Arts & Entertainment

Renaissance fair gives everyone chance to be a kid

If a pirate's life is what you seek, then come walk the plank at Howard Amon Park in Richland.

The 23rd annual Ye Merrie Greenwood Renaissance Faire is setting up by the Columbia River this month with the likes of pirates, knights, damsels and dancers.

"I've always enjoyed being a pirate," said Brian Beaulac of the Puget Sound Pirates/Pacific NW Privateers. "It's just fascinating and it's fun and that's what it's all about for both the adults and the kids. At what point do we stop being kids? I'm 55 and I'm still a kid."

This will be the second year that a pirate group has been at the faire, Beaulac said.

For those who feel like Beaulac -- who goes by Capt. Jonathan Edward Savage -- you don't want to miss Renaissance Faire festivities, which are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 27-28.

"At a Renaissance faire, you're guaranteed to see something just completely otherworldly," said Alex Mickschl of the Animul Howse Puppet Theatre.

The people behind the faire are the Ye Merrie Greenwood Players, who bring Elizabethan England alive through song, dance, costuming and environmental theatre.

Highlights include Middle Eastern dancing by Troupe Du Soleil Middle, magic by Payne's Natural Magick's, juggling by William Barr, a live blacksmith group called The Monger's Guild and more. The Seattle Knights, Fighters and Jousting group will also take part in the event, accompanying the iconic faire celebrity, Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I.

Mickschl originally started out as a knight on horseback about 14 years ago. When his daughter Alexandria, 8, and son Ryker, 7, were younger, he went with puppets.

"We like to put on a show where we perform stories of old, like Grimm fairy tales and those kind of things. We kind of try and put a comedic spin on it for entertaining kids. We also like to do some improv shows where we interact with the audience and get ideas from them and try to perform them based on their ideas."

Beaulac started out as a knight and worked his way up to jousting. When the heavy chain mail and plate armor became too physically demanding, he decided to become a pirate.

"It's just a different world," he said. "Why do people go to movie theaters? It's an escape from reality, but here you get to interact with them -- it's not just the big screen; it's not just television."

Beaulac said his favorite part about being a pirate is entertaining the kids.

"Adults have seen it and done it and know the difference between reality and make believe -- the kids don't," he said. "When you show up standing in front of them in full pirate regalia with a real steel sword and they haven't quite got to the point where they understand this is just make-believe. ... Just the look on their face when their jaws hit the floor."

Capt. Savage will be joined by 18 to 25 other pirates who will fire their cannons at 10 a.m. each day when the gates open and again at 5:30 p.m. when the gates close. The group will have gun shows and whip demonstrations throughout the weekend and can be found courtside by the queen after 3:30 p.m.

"The kids can walk into my tent and pick up a 10-pound cannonball," Beaulac said. "We have all these displays, we have a spy glass, the tools they used to navigate the ships -- the knots they would use to secure the sails or lift cargo or do whatever. We have all these kinds of stuff so people can come in and we want them to look and touch and ask questions and learn. That's what it's all about, teaching or educating them through entertainment.

"The actors spend an entire year practicing and studying and working just for these two days to go out and entertain everyone. If you want to step back into 1581, here's your chance."

More information

Cost is $9 for one-day tickets for adults/teens, $7 seniors/children 5-12, free for children under 5. Two-day tickets cost $12 for adults/teens, $9 seniors/children 5-12 and free for children under 5.

Two-day family passes for two adults and two children, ages 5-12, are $38.

For more information, go to http://home.comcast.net/~greenwood_players/index.htm.

*Bethany Lee: 582-1465; blee@tricityherald.com

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