Sarah Krusleski" />
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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Fairy skills put to market

Escorting wenches and barbarians is all in a day’s work for political science junior Blair Ault.

As the Texas Renaissance Festival entertainment and marketing assistant, her duties include writing copy for collectable programs, directing scenarios for actors and planning promotions with local shops and conventions.

After one Texas Renaissance Festival performer treated the then 10-year-old Ault to a tour of the grounds, she joined the performance troop as one of Cinderella’s stepsisters.

For the next three years Ault found a niche as a fairy. She spoke in rhyme and gave fairy dust to small children.

"Your target audience is children because they are the ones that are really excited to see you," Ault said.

Ault even fainted when someone said they didn’t believe in fairies until members of the cast revived her with a vigorous round of clapping. Folk tales claim a declaration of disbelief from spoiled children mortally wounds fairies unless true believers clap.

"It’s really hard to concentrate and be a fairy," Ault said.

For her last performance, Ault played a German woman. Her group broke away from strict portrayal of the period by raving whenever techno music played.

"It may not fit, but the audience likes it," Ault said.

After taking a break from performing at the festival to study at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and then the University of Houston, Ault returned to the festival in 2006 as a marketing intern and was hired into her current position.

Challenges of the position include explaining attractions of the festival to newcomers.

"It’s sort of engaging people with the idea that this is a 16th century village. People can watch glassworks, comedy acts, wander around gardens. It really is an experience, and people don’t seem to understand that," Ault said.

Other challenges emerged within the company this year.

When the iconic actress who played Titania, queen of the fairies, became pregnant, the Texas Renaissance Festival administration axed her character from 2008 programming. Replacing the actress was not an option.

"She was a very iconic image, like her wings looked a certain way, she looked a certain way. People really knew her as Titania," Ault said.

The disappearance of the fairy queen will be woven into the scenario as the fairies struggle with running their own kingdom.

"I think we should attack the elves and take all of their gold," Ault said.

An Elf Court was added to the festival’s 2008 programming. The elf cast struggles to define their characters’ identities and to create a storyline.

"They’re torn between being Lord of the Rings elves and Keebler elves," Ault said.

While Ault believes a light-hearted approach to elfdom suits the nature of the festival, the elf cast wishes to "be earth people with tools and farming."

"Our director is probably going to have enough of that this week and be like, ‘OK, guys, think Keebler,’" Ault said.

Despite its challenges, Ault’s experience at the Texas Renaissance Festival cemented her plans for a future in the entertainment industry.

"It’s like being a grown-up, but a grown-up that gets to play with a lot of toys," she said.

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