GVSU Renaissance Fair features Knight of the Burning Pestle performance

Nicole Bobb

AUTHOR: Nicole Bobb

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The annual Grand Valley State University Shakespeare Festival and Renaissance Fair is back and welcomes people of all ages to enjoy bagpipers, sword-fighting demonstrations, face painting, dancing, crafts and much more. 

The GVSU Renaissance Fair is the longest running, completely student-run festival in the country and is held each late September and early October. The event is free to the public and features a variety of plays and performances, merchants, music and refreshments.

The fair is set to begin Saturday, Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. by the Cook Carillon Tower on the Allendale Campus.

A popular performance featured at the fair will be The Knight of the Burning Pestle, a play by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. This free performance will be presented Thursday, Oct. 6 at 4:30 p.m.

The style of the play is most similar to the work of Shakespeare. The audience can expect to hear old English, however the style should not take away from understanding of the play. 

“I believe the audience will he able to grasp the style the show is in,” said Ian Beek, an actor in the performance playing the role of “citizen”.”While it is in old English, we make the meanings of the [words] quite apparent though body language and other gestures.”

Audience members should be able to relate through the clever writing of the comedic play. 

“There’s no moral to the story whatsoever, it’s just a satirical comedy,” said Henry Morris, an actor in the performance as a prologue speaker. “There is somewhat of a crude joke in the idea of the pestle, if you know what a pestle is shaped sort of like.”

All of the performances are held outdoors without a traditional stage, meaning the actors must adapt to various conditions and environments while performing. 

“When we’re performing outdoors there is no backstage, and so every actor is on stage for the entire performance,” said Morris. “We also are, of course, way closer to the audience, which makes for a more intimate atmosphere.”

“The biggest change that the actors have to be able to handle with the show being outdoors is that the size of our performance space might change from show to show, depending on the size of the audience,” said Beek. 

All participants are encouraged to bring their own chairs, blankets and picnic supplies to settle in and enjoy the show.