Going REALLY old-school: ‘Ren fest’ feeds passion for acting, history (photos, video)

WHALLEY — When she puts on a corset, big hoop skirt and headdress this weekend, Alessandria Testani will morph into a queen of a certain vintage.

"It’s a very heavy costume but it’s very cool to wear," the North Surrey resident said as she prepared for the BC Renaissance Festival, held across the river in Maple Ridge.

The so-called "ren fest" is a four-day romp through the early-1500s history of characters such as King Henry VIII and his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, played by Testani in her first time participating in the event.

From Thursday to Sunday (June 11-14), Albion Fairgrounds will teem with the historically-influenced production, an all-ages place for jousting knights, sword fighting, music, theatre, period-specific games, rides, archery and more.

"It’s the ninth year for the festival, and it was in Langley for a few years, but I didn’t really know it existed until last year," said Testani, 20.

"I’ve been trying to make life work as an actress, and I’m very interested in history. So when I heard about this festival I got super excited because I love history and I love acting, and I auditioned right away and got one of the leads."

Testani’s younger sister, Katrina, 16, as Lady Anne Hastings, will also dress up for the festival, which involves 30 main cast members and several other costumed volunteers.

Fellow Surreyite Robert (Bob) French, who lives in the Guildford area, first got involved in the festival five years ago, as both cast and crew. He serves as the event’s volunteer co-ordinator and also does "roving improv" on the festival grounds.

"I take care of the games and rides and some other stuff, and I have five different outfits that I wear," French told the Now. "It’s a real highlight (of the year), for sure," he added. "It’s a lot of work but also a lot of fun, and it’s great to see kids involved, too."

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

 

The 2015 festival’s main storyline builds on last year’s action. The royal court returns to Steller’s Grove, with the king searching for Lord Norfolk.

"There are pirates based on historical characters and different lords from different lands, with lots of drama and intrigue," explained Testani, who doubles as the festival’s media co-ordinator.

"In our program book there’s a little key to indicate who’s who, because a lot of guests will come in costume, and people who are in the cast wears a little ribbon or crest (to separate them from the general public)…. We love and encourage people to come in costume. And it’s fun because some of them have nothing to do with the 1500s, because we’ve had Stormtroopers (from Star Wars) even come to the ren fest, which is great."

Up to 4,000 people attend the festival each year, Testani said.

"We have some people coming up from the States, Alberta, northern B.C., and the Island is huge for this, from all over," she said. "I know we have some people coming up from Texas this year…. A lot of those people get a weekend pass, which is smart because there’s a lot going on and different things to see at different times."

For admission rates and more festival details, visit Bcrenfest.com or call 778-926-3378.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

Just Posted

Surrey wants BNSF to slow Crescent trains

Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

Rail-safety forum planned for White Rock this Friday

Event to include municipal, federal, provincial governments

White Rock open house to discuss city’s aquifer protection plan

Examination of potential hazards includes increased population, climate change

‘Connecting Threads’ and more in Surrey Art Gallery’s fall shows

Free admission at opening reception and panel discussion Sunday afternoon

SFU unveils new lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Combination of MRI, MEG allows for ‘best possible windows’ intro brain function

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by B.C. animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for shelter and local municipal election

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

Most Read