The Minnesota SkyVault Theatre Company of Rochester: An expanded presence at this year’s Minnesota Renaissance Festival
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival and The Minnesota SkyVault Theatre Company are expanding their 12 month partnership heading into this year’s Festival, which opens August 22 on its grounds in Shakopee.
SkyVault, recipients of The Bottomless Hat/Best New Act Award at last year’s Renaissance Festival, was tapped in March to occupy a brand new themed area, Sherwood Forest. The woodland area had served for the past several years as a Fairywing Forest.
Carr Hagerman, Artistic Director for the Festival, recruited additional SkyVault cast members for 2015 based on a variety of factors, including the success of the group last year, the relationship that’s developed between theTwin Cities and Rochester organizations, and “what our groups have in common,” said Hagerman. “SkyVault’s outdoor performance experience and interactive performance style lend themselves perfectly to both stage and street performing at the Festival. The musical and acting skills of the cast are superb. They were a hands down choice for the Bottomless Hat Award last year.”
AN EXPANDING RELATIONSHIP
Minnesota’s Renaissance Festival will be moving to a new location, in the next couple of years. “We’re incorporating SkyVault’s involvement with us into our planning. We see them as a long-term and integral part of the Festival going forward,” said Hagerman. “We’d like to get back to some of our theatre roots, and this troupe came along at the right time for that.”
Daved Driscoll, directing SkyVault’s involvement in the Festival, provided training in June to a group of 30 Renaissance Festival actors, each with various amounts of acting experience.
MINSTREL WAGON & SKYVAULT, THE ELDERS
Members of last year’s SkyVault troupe are returning this year for stage and street performing. They’ll bring along their redesigned minstrel wagon, used for Shakespeare in the Park performances, to serve as their stage on Festival grounds.
Cast members (ages 16 – 23) will perform original music from this year’s production of Romeo and Juliet, as well as original music from past Shakespeare productions. They will also perform brief scenes from a variety of Shakespeare plays. A CD of their original music will be launched in Shakopee.
SHERWOOD FOREST & SKYVAULT, THE APPRENTICES
Since June 15, twenty two youth (ages 6-14) have been working their way through a seven-week boot camp preparing them for the rigors of 8-hour performance days at the Renaissance Festival.
The cast is receiving training in SkyVault’s signature performance style including the following skills: observing, listening, interacting with other ensemble actors, physical acting, ensemble performance, music, audience interaction, improvisation, and outdoor performance.
They’re rehearsing outside, since that’s where they’ll be performing, and they’re doing a lot more in their seven week, five hour training days:
- They’ve each selected one sonnet-length poem and one monologue to learn, recite, and understand. They’re spending time talking about the language used by the poet and the effect of the language.
- They’ve each chosen at least one Renaissance-type instrument to play: ukulele, flute, recorder, bambard, violin, guitar, balalaika. With help from some local musicians, they’re taking what they know about their instruments, learning from each other and putting it all together.
- Joey Ray, a University of Minnesota gymnastics Hall of Famer and dentist in Adams, MN, teaches the cast gymnastics & tumbling twice a week and they finish each day with a workout: pushups, sit ups, running, and planks. SkyVault members lead and join them in various aspects of the training as well.
- Every Thursday the group meets at Central Park (a change from their usual Soldier’s Field Parkvenue) dressed in Charlie Chaplin garb. They practice the acting style of the silent film great — learning the fine art of communicating without words and with facial expressions – and practice their craft on the crowds at Rochester’s Thursdays on First.
- The cast has watched and studied several Charlie Chaplin short movies, as well as the 1938 classic Errol Flynn movie The Adventures of Robin Hood. The latter inspired discussion and skits about the story – its heroes, villains, plot – to move the cast toward their roles as Sherwood Forest peasants, outlaws, craftsmen, & minstrels.
- On July 10 the entire boot camp cast traveled to the Festival grounds to scout out their Sherwood Forest area.
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival begins its 45th season on Saturday, August 22, and ends on October 4, 2015. The Festival is open weekends; Labor Day and Festival Friday, October 2, 2015 from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., rain or shine. Visit www.renaissancefest.com or call 952.445.7361 for more information. The SkyVault troupes will perform every Festival day.