GVSU hosts lords, ladies, pirates

A merchant sells his goods during the Renaissance Festival

Nicole Lamson

A merchant sells his goods during the Renaissance Festival

Susie Skowronek

Mercenaries trailed a procession of lords and ladies under a cloudless sky when the Clock Tower struck noon Saturday.

Duchess Alice Ebwein, played by Lindsay Guynn, announced the opening of Grand Valley State University’s 15th annual Renaissance Faire, running Saturday and Sunday on the Kirkhof Center lawn.

Captain Pierce Bel, played by Luke Bannister, knighted two squires in front of the court.

“A knight’s sword smites the wicked, his shield defends the weak, his tongue speaks the truth, his heart holds truth, compassion and honor,” the captain said to each squire.

The continuing battle between the Order of the Cross and the Crown and the Pirates unfolded as the pirates demanded a two-months-late payment. Rather than pay the money, the Order of the Cross and the Crown arrested pirate captain Darcy Hale, played by Jessica Dick.

The duchess said she would teach the pirate captain manners in one hour at tea in the tavern. She invited her court and guests at the Renaissance Faire to join the event.

As visitors toured the merchants and viewed the entertainment, the village idiot Eliza Foster – played by Brianna Shahly – interrupted and said, “Have you met my pet banana, Jimmy?”

From the two stages – under the Clock Tower and on the lawn next to Kirkhof Center – the clanging of weaponry, the cheering huzzah and the singing of the festival lifted above the crowd. Classic Renaissance hits included the Pirate ditty, “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?” and the Beatles’ song, “All You Need Is Love,” included in the 2010 Greenshow.

At 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, a small group of students set magenta-painted blocks draped with fabric and covered in shop wares under the Clock Tower. Behind the blocks the students fixed six-foot black backdrops – the scenery for the 30-minute Greenshow “The Roaring Girl,” a 17th century play written by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker.

In its half-hour time slot, the play told the story of a couple’s scheme to get their parents’ approval of their marriage. The young man’s father disapproves of the choice in marriage partner, so the young man pretends to turn his affection to the masculine woman, Moll. He hopes to make his true love look better to his father in comparison to the Roaring Girl, Moll.

Tammy Schwarzkoff of Shelby Township came to the Renaissance Faire to see her daughter play Moll in the Greenshow. Schwarzkoff’s favorite part of the play came during the first scene of the third act when her daughter attacked a potential suitor with a sword and he defended himself with a cooking pot.

“They all did a good job,” Schwarzkoff said. “The costumes were amazing.”

Renaissance Faire president Tyler Wiedmeyer said most of the club members either own their costumes or borrow from older members.

Since the club began in 1995, its membership has grown from six members to about 70, and four of the founders return to participate in the live steel combat.

Wiedmeyer said the fighting is not choreographed and, in 2009, a fight between the Cross and the Crown and the Pirates ended in blood.

“Last year, a stage combat punch went awry, and we wound up with a bloody nose,” he said.

The festival president said people seemed to enjoy themselves, which is his favorite part of the Renaissance Faire.

“I like to see the looks on people’s faces,” he said.

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