So remember a few months ago, when I spoke about how amazing our new recruits were?

How wonderful and electric and magical the energy they brought to the rehearsal process was?

 Since then, they have had a nearly full summer at the Bristol Renaissance Faire , with our closing weekend on the horizon.    Over the past eight weeks, they have challenged themselves, they have gone bigger, they have been bolder and they have educated and entertained the people who have entered the encampment.   And last weekend…they graduated from the Bristol Academy of the Performing Arts and they are part of the the family.

They also experienced something that they didn’t know would occur, they were changed too.   Their lives and minds are now filled with experiences, stories and memories that they will never forget.

20431210_10203874928510039_2125279167489668291_nGoing into this summer, I really didn’t know what to expect, never doing anything with acting or becoming a different character. I was eager for a new life experience and ready for a new set of skills. I can say that over this summer the Faire has given me more than I ever expected. I’m more outgoing , willing to start conversations and keep them up , and more willing to trying things out of my comfort zone. The new “family” I have made because of this life changing experience has made me such a better person this summer. I will take all I learned not only to next summer’s faire but throughout my life!

– Matt/Josh Hancher (Edmund Chambers)

20229446_10154874095678546_5599738474492777616_oIn everything we’ve done, from the very first rehearsal to this past  weekend, I’ve always felt welcome.  You’ve all, and I include the other first years in this, had a smile or a joke or a sarcastic, self-deprecating statement no matter what we’re doing.  (Except in pike block.  No talking in pike block!)  Honestly, the group’s attitude has helped me feel at home in situations that I’d never been in before, and it’s helped quiet the nerves I had earlier this year.
I really hope every other cast in Faire is like this, because if not, they’re missing out on something really special.
– Ian Jones (Peter Stone)

As I sit here and look back at the past few months, I am truly amazed. That is the only way I can describe how I am feeling. When I auditioned, I thought so little of myself that I thought no one would ever want me in their cast, but damnit, I was gonna try! The wait for the letter stating weather or not I had received a role was unbearable. The day came and I received the letter in the mail stating that I would receive a call from my new director of the Guild of St. Michael, Chris Last. My heart started 20448989_10154887171673546_100416798532208257_opounding and I was overjoyed! When Chris called I think I told him that “I was so excited!” about 16 times. Here I was 38 and restarting my life.   I have suffered through depression and anxiety for so long that I did not think that I could do this. As the day came for the first meeting of the cast I was nervous, sure that they would see right through this veil of a smile I wore, that no everyone would see that I was a fraud. Then I saw that afternoon when we ate lunch and I was getting to know these people that I was about to begin this journey with and thought, am I truly this lucky?       When BAPA began, I was terrified that my body would not be able to handle the exercise, and that I would be too frightened to put myself out there. First day of rehearsals and you want me to march with what!!! I was scared to lift a pike let alone march with one. It took a few weekends, but when I first lifted that actual pike in my arm, I felt like a champion! When I learned what it meant to be a cantoneer, again my fear tried to take over. I told those inner demons to shut up and that I was gonna do this.   Every weekend I have learned more and more just how much I am capable of. Every week I look forward to seeing the faces of all of the wonderful people that have become another family to me. I know now that I have a net and I am not afraid to fail. The words are not always easy to put out there, but I have come to love this silly family. It has helped me to find the torch to fight back those inner demons, and I could not be more thankful. This has truly been the best summer of my life!   

– Leslie Tubbs (Winnifred Goode)

While this year was in no way my first “behind the curtain” experience with either GSM or simply with Bristol itself when I reflect on times before this year, such memories contained a sort of distance that comes only from an outsider’s perspective.  I had, honestly, imaged that this perspective would not change much.  I expected to learn some new bits on the Humanity disciplines, get some good stories of theatre, and add a couple of Facebook friends.  A lovely and fulfilling experience to be sure, but there would always be that veneer of being just once removed.  After all, even though I’d never considered myself shy, I don’t consider myself20615750_1820931531267163_1192892951313609550_oparticularly good with people either.  What changed with this year was an overwhelming sense of strange, yet wonderful familiarity.  It was new trappings, even new people.  Still, much of what GSM brought back into my life were emotions that I frequently only associated parts of my world long gone.  I was in their world, not just watching it.  At times, it made me emotional, melancholic, frustrated with myself.  But that’s what it means to really be in someone’s world.  It’s an invaluable thing.  So, I did get as I expected.  I learned new facts, skills, games and made new friends. However,  for what I truly learned from GSM… what I believe could not learn anywhere else is that no door in your life is really closed.  The things outside of it may look completely different, but the world is still there for you should you decide to come outside even just a few steps.    

– Amylin Hendrix-Ziegelbauer (Katherine Henry)

  “Just try it. At worst, you’ll hate it and never do it again. At best, you’ll love it and gain so many new friends.” For the past ten years I was a patron at Bristol. For the past ten years I have watched countless performers and ate countless turkey legs. For the past ten years I wanted to join. My friends, Amy and Andrew, told me for the longest time to join the Trayn’d Bandes of Bristol. For even longer, my former teacher told me to join the Trayn’d Bandes of Bristol. I always said “Maybe.” “Not this season.” 20988548_10154964807468546_2003810931330446305_o“Maybe next year.” I was scared and very nervous. I’m not very good at meeting new people and I was terrified of performing. Don’t get me wrong, I love performing, but joining Bristol and the Bandes was very different. After putting on my Brave Girl Pants™ I finally got in contact with Chris Last and I never looked back. He managed to get me registered to attend BAPA and the rest is history. Cliché, I know.  My experience with this wacky group of in jokes and movie quotes has been fantastic. I’ve learned many things about topics I honestly did not have that much of super interest in. But the more I learned, the more I grew to like it. As a performer I also learned how to be more present in my acting and I think I’m doing an okay job. There are a couple of people in the cast that I have gotten close to. Everyone has been so open, caring, and it was clear that they enjoyed what they did.  When I talk to other people from other casts one of the first things they say is “Oh GSM is fantastic! You’ll absolutely love it!”  They are right. 

– Ashley Byrd (Dorothy Fletcher)

 Life is made up of a whole series of interconnected moments. Choices that cascade and flow like a river. Sometimes the decisions that we make are like pebbles thrown into that river, the ripples created are small.

Other decisions we make are decidedly larger and “ripple” throughout every facet of life.

I look back upon the day, the hour, and the moment that I fatefully decided to pluck up the courage to email Chris about joining his cast. I hesitated. I wasn’t sure if this decision was for me. The thoughts flashed through my mind:

            I don’t know anybody.

21083154_10154964808528546_8108479788352587996_o          Is this something that I want to do?

            Will I regret it?

Despite these reservations, I pulled the trigger. I received a very nice email back from Chris, inviting me to the first meeting of the year, and at first, it was like rolling a boulder up a hill. I was nervous. I met a group of enthusiastic people that hadn’t seen the vast majority of each other for a year. They talked, and chatted to each other, catching up on each other’s lives. I introduced myself to a lot of people, and started to get an idea of the mad (in a good way) kind of people that I would end up spending a lot of my summer with. I left that meeting feeling better about my choice, but I still wasn’t sure of my choice. Surety was to come later.

As the summer began and I began my BAPA experience, I learned a lot of about acting and the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Throughout the rehearsal process, I learned something about myself and something about the group of people I would be spending a lot of time with. The entire experience as a whole prepared me for a deep and enriching experience that would last the whole summer.

Over the past 8 weekends, I feel like I’ve met and overturned each of my reservations that I initially had. So many strangers have become friends; each of whom I’ve shared moments with that are too numerous to count. But, a few of them include: putting on armor for smiling children, composing copious amounts of apologies in the forms of poems and songs, walking around Bristol and creating stories, and eating a lot of food with friends! There are so many reasons that I am thankful for the privilege to be a member of the Trayn’ed Bandes of Bristol! Truly, I can sum up my decision to join GSM in one word.


– Greg Fruin (Jerome Mander)

There you have it.   The 2017 recruits of the Trayn’d  Bandes of Bristol.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.