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Weekend Best Bet: Sebastopol Renaissance Faire

September 20, 2012

Sebastopol Renaissance Faire returnsThis has long been a Bay Area tradition, and for many years was honored in a scrub oak grove off Route 37 near Sears Point. The faire is a spontaneous costume drama set in the 1600s, but seeded with professional actors, singers, and dancers. And what is it about that period that’s so compelling? It’s the mixture of high and low; courtly on the one hand; naughty on the other. It’s the pageantry and pomp, the easy class distinctions between wenches and ladies; knights and heathen. But at the faire, humor rules, even as some people go to enormous lengths to capture the look and spirit of the time.

But make no mistake: It’s very child-oriented. If you’ve never gone, it’s a must. And while they only encourage you to attempt a costume, you’ll find you have more fun if you make the effort. Even a small effort: A hat with a plume; leather boots of some kind; a billowy shirt. Think of a character in Shakespeare: Falstaff is always popular. And don’t forget to bow your head to passersby and say, “my lady.” A lot of bowing and scraping goes a long way. It’s stage theater on demand — literally. Music provided by Brass Farthing, and Kate Price on hammered dulcimer. Also, great food, games, dancing, a joust, and, of course, the queen and her courtiers. If you go with it, if you suspend disbelief, it is a great, great escape.

Read more about Much Ado About the Sebastopol Renaissace Faire. Sept. 22- 23, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sun.), $5 -$18 advance ($2 more at the entrance).

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is