Faire actors discuss their medieval counterparts


Alex Mrazek plays Emperor Fabulous in the 21st annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire this weekend at the Alachua County Fairgrounds.

AARON DAYE / The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 12:36 a.m.

Facts

Faire continues this weekend

  • What: The 21st annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire
  • When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday,
  • Where: Alachua County Fairgrounds, 2900 NE 39th Ave.
  • Tickets: $12 for adults, $5 for ages 5-17. Friday admission is half price with discounted prices for school groups. Advance ticket sales at Omni Bookstore and Domino's Pizza locations.

  • By day Kirstin Coker is a senior at Buchholz High School, where she hustles to six classes, hangs out with her friends and attends drama team rehearsals.
    By night she is Queen Guinevere, wife of King Arthur, the desired prize of General Septimus and the pawn of Emperor Fabulous I.
    Coker, 17, is just one of several actors who stars in the 21st Annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire's living chessboard, in which human chess pieces fight opponents to advance on the board.
    Coker, a drama team member since her freshman year, attended fair auditions after the Thieves' Guilde, a volunteer acting troupe, encouraged students to try out.
    Originally Coker wanted to help with character work and set design, but was encouraged to audition and landed the role of Guinevere.
    "I wasn't expecting to get it," Coker said about winning the part. "I had gone in to help the directors with character work, but I didn't expect to come out with one of the leads."
    The entire cast has been practicing since September for the production of "Romani Ite Domum," or "The Fight For Freedom."
    In the script, Guinevere is captured by the Romans and offered as the prize to the tournament winner. Arthur and his followers battle against Fabulous, Septimus and the Romans to fight for Britain and Guinevere.
    Coker directs the characters' moves during the first of the two chessboards, she said. Characters battle each other during the tournaments, but Coker doesn't do any fighting.
    That's where Arthur, played by Ian Tullis, comes in.
    Arthur must rescue his queen, and Tullis, who studied stage combat in college, provides the fighting skills.
    "I've always been a person (who) was interested in real combat, but that's not good," Tullis said. "The stage is a medium to do the fighting but not be as violent."
    Tullis, 24, manages a Pizza Hut restaurant when he's not re-enacting the battles of yore. He said he finds similarities between his job as a manager and that of King Arthur.
    "(Arthur) has that commanding factor," Tullis said. "People will do what he says."
    But one person who won't listen to King Arthur is Emperor Fabulous I, played by Alex Mrazek.
    Mrazek, 22, is a theater performance senior at the University of Florida and recently had a role in "Ragtime." cq His role as Fabulous, the snobbish ruler who does whatever he wants, draws elements from Mrazek's personality. The actor and his character both like to be the center of attention and talk with their hands, he said.
    "I take a lot of my basic movements and exaggerate them even more," Mrazek said.
    Fabulous may be emperor, but the power behind the throne is actually Septimus, played by Scott West.
    This will be West's first leading role, but he is a six-year veteran of the Thieves' Guilde.
    West, 22, said he is an easy going kind of person compared to Septimus. Playing someone evil was a challenge.
    "I had to find something I really hated deep down inside and turn it into everyone around me," he said.West learned about King Arthur legends by researching past script proposals.
    This show will take the audience back to an earlier time period in Arthur's history, he said.f-z How will history unfold? Will Arthur rescue Guinevere, or will Septimus rule? Will Emperor Fabulous remain, well fabulous?
    These questions and more will be answered at the living chessboard.
    "(Fairgoers) are going to see a show like they haven't seen in quite a while," West said. "There are incredible actors and great fight scenes, and I'm excited to be a part of it."

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