Chances are you’ve been to (or at least heard of) King Richard’s Faire, the Renaissance festival that’s more than three decades old, and that takes place each fall in Carver, MA – an event where regular folks can escape the dreariness of the everyday grind and enter a fantasy world of knights, jesters, queens, fools, big cats and fire eaters.
If you’ve been, you know that part of what makes the faire so immersive is not just the professional onstage and arena performers, but the sundry cast of characters you encounter in all corners of the venue, each with a unique persona, costume and quirks. They are the Villagers, who sign up each year as unpaid interns to hone their skills in acting and stage combat while also playing an integral role in bringing the faire to life. Each year, between 11 and 30 individuals of all ages join the Villager Program, which was previously called the Apprentice Program before cast director and Providence resident Adam Morris took the helm five years ago.
Adam, who studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music and built a career in
professional performance, changed the name and the structure of the program “because I wanted it to have more equality,” he says. “‘Apprentice’ feels like you have a master above you looking down, and I didn’t like that because the apprentices were working just as hard as anyone in the scenario cast, and I wanted to give them all of the same rights, responsibilities and recognition.”
Faire hours are long: 8am to 6pm every weekend day and two holidays from early September through October 22. The Villagers also commit to four weekends in August building up to the main event, where they craft their characters and work on costumes, improvisation and sword fighting.
Some Villagers have gone on to audition for and join the ensemble cast, but “that’s not the end goal,” Adam clarifies. “At one time it was a big thing, but this is a program where you can continue to hone your skills. You may find yourself going into another area of the faire, but the point is to enjoy yourself and keep learning, because there’s no ceiling on all of the things we’re teaching here.”