ROBIN’S BACK IN THE HOOD ON SAT. IN ELMIRA

The Twelfth Night is the theme for this year’s Robin in the Hood Me­dieval Fes­ti­val, set for Satur­day in Gib­son Park

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - VERON­ICA REINER

AC­TORS STAR­RING IN THE Robin in the Hood Me­dieval Fes­ti­val have been train­ing since Fe­bru­ary to per­fect their stage com­bat abil­ity. The ed­u­ca­tional and en­ter­tain­ing event takes place this week­end.

More than fun and games – and more than swing­ing a sword at ran­dom – the com­bat skills in­volve in­dus­try standard stage-com­bat train­ing. That’s es­sen­tial given that all the weapons in use are real.

“Of course it’s all chore­ographed, so you have to learn your moves, and then you have to prac­tice them, and then you speed it up, and speed it up and speed it up as you go,” explained as­sis­tant di­rec­tor Chris Duncan. “It’s just like the peo­ple in the movies. They’re us­ing the same type of stage com­bat that we use. The ex­act same num­ber­ing sys­tem and all that. The peo­ple in Strat­ford would be go­ing through the same train­ing we’ve gone through, so our guys could ac­tu­ally go to Strat­ford and set a fight with the peo­ple there be­cause it’s the same cod­ing.”

There are ap­prox­i­mately 105 ac­tors who act in the fes­ti­val this year. Through­out the 18 years of the fes­ti­val, that num­ber has var­ied.

“Some are more ex­pe­ri­enced than others,” said Shayna Mead­ows, pro­mo­tions co­or­di­na­tor for the fes­ti­val. “Ac­tors in our fes­ti­val are any­where from eight-years-old to adults. Some have no ex­pe­ri­ence; some have lots of ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The ac­tors are clearly com­prised of all shapes and sizes, as well as com­ing from all dif­fer­ent ar­eas.

“There have been a lot from Elmira, a lot of the high school stu­dents come over,” said Duncan. “And it’s, you know, es­pe­cially with theatre groups. But we have peo­ple from Mis­sis­sauga, Kitch­ener, Water­loo, Welles­ley. And we have some peo­ple from Guelph. Peo­ple hear about it, and they want to come and do it.”

Six of the ac­tors have starred in the fes­ti­val ev­ery year since the begin­ning in 2001. It’s in their best in­ter­est to be care­ful with the props.

“They’re us­ing real weapons,” explained Duncan. “Those are real swords and real quar­ter­staffs.”

The fes­ti­val is sep­a­rated into two days. The Fri­day is an ed­u­ca­tional day for fourth-grade stu­dents that are lo­cated within an hour of the lo­ca­tion.

“Most of the ac­tors do dra­matic fights for the fes­ti­val, and there’s a set of tour­na­ments that we go through,” said Chris Lub­berts, who’s taken part for eight years. “We have some fights, but on Fri­day there’s the ed­u­ca­tion day. About 1,000 Grade 4s come through, and a bunch of peo­ple ed­u­cate them on me­dieval life.

The ed­u­ca­tional top­ics on Fri­day are all me­dieval themed, such as sto­ry­telling, me­dieval jobs, and me­dieval medicine. Each topic is about 20 min­utes long be­fore mov­ing on to the next sta­tion. The sec­ond day is geared to­wards a se­ries of tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing a dis­play of chore­ographed fights with a plot at­tached, as well as an archery tour­na­ment.

“The king is in debt to an Ital­ian bank, so we’re all fight­ing to make sure we keep our ti­tles and ev­ery­thing like that,” Denise Pet­coff, an ac­tor in the play of nine years, said of the plot­line. “It’s the Twelfth Night. Who­ever wins the en­tire tour­na­ment be­comes the Twelfth Night of the realm. But they’re of­fer­ing up Robin Hood’s land as part of the prize. So Robin Hood and Will Scar­lett are try­ing to win this year – they want to keep their land.”

“It’s like the ul­ti­mate tax war, es­sen­tially,” added Sara Brown, a mu­sic ma­jor and ac­tor in the play for

six years. “We’re mostly adults; we’re re­ally nerdy adults. A lot of us are long­time friends.”

The fes­ti­val will take place at Gib­son Park on First Street in Elmira start­ing at 10 a.m. un­til 5 p.m. Tick­ets cost $5 per per­son or $15 per fam­ily. June 9 is the day avail­able to the pub­lic, and tick­ets tend to sell out ev­ery year, with about 1,500 to 2,000 peo­ple com­ing through on the Satur­day. Pets are al­lowed as long as they are on a leash and cleaned up af­ter. Any­one in­ter­ested in more in­for­ma­tion can visit www.robininthe­hood.com.

[VERON­ICA REINER / THE OB­SERVER]

Ac­tors demon­strate their stage com­bat train­ing in a dress re­hearsal at Gib­son Park on Sun­day. The Robin in the Hood Me­dieval Fes­ti­val will take place there this week­end, the 18th out­ing for the pop­u­lar event.

[VERON­ICA REINER / THE OB­SERVER]

Ac­tors have been train­ing since Fe­bru­ary to per­fect their skills in ad­vance of this week’s fes­ti­val. Among the cast are Chris Lub­berts, Ni­cole Pet­coff and Sarah Brown. Fol­low­ing an ed­u­ca­tion day aimed at area school kids, the fes­tiv­i­ties open up to the pub­lic Satur­day in Elmira’s Gib­son Park.

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