Today, while a bunch of my friends were visiting Victorian England at the Dickens Fair (FB), I was visiting a different historical reenactment: Tumbleweed Township (FB). When asked to describe what Tumbleweed is, the best explanation is: Take a RenFaire and move it to Western America in the 1880s. In many ways, that was what was literally done: Tumbleweed is produced by the same team that produces the new Nottingham Festival (FB), in the same location, with many of the same vendors, the week after the two week Nottingham Festival.
The first year, Tumbleweed was a bit unsure of itself. It was damp and cold, and the layout was odd. But it survived to a second year, which is a good thing.
The layout this year was similar to Nottingham two weeks previous — no big surprise there. There seemed to be slightly more artisans, although a number that were there the first year (notably, the folks where I got my hat and my Yucca walking stick) were not back, and a number did not say from Nottingham (again, not a complete surprise, as some vendors wouldn’t work as well in the Old West setting). There was a reasonably good variety — some food (although more is really needed, especially for those gluten free), a number of knives and metal work, boots, costumes, jewelry, perfume, and such. There were no stave or pottery vendors. I hope the vendors did well enough to justify their return next year, and that more vendors join them.
I watched a bit of a few shows. They had the same problem that Nottingham did: they needed more musical acts. There were a few, and a number of storytellers and historical reenactments. There was a shootout and a land grab, and loads of games for the kids (including horseshoes).
I tend to like Tumbleweed a bit more, perhaps because the time period is a lot more accessible and accepting. By that, I mean that many of the historical attitudes towards minorities and other religions that were present in Elizabethan and even Victorian England are less present than in the Old West. There are still problematic attitudes towards Native Americans and Women, but that will exist in almost any historical reenactment because, well, you know, history. But the costuming is also more accessible — jeans, suspenders, a flannel shirt and a western hat work well, and there are much fewer anachronisms in costuming (except for the steampunks, but even they fit in a bit better because Jules Verne is about the same time).
Still, I would really like Tumbleweed to succeed a bit more. They may need to embrace the time of year a bit more: we’re talking mid-to-late November, so incorporating some Winter holidays could work. Bring in “A Mulholland Christmas Carol” — not only is it roughly time and theme appropriate, it is area appropriate given the Township is in Simi Valley.
Of course, you can spread the word as well, and even come on Sunday. Tickets are available at the gate or online (where they are cheaper). More information is on their website (and note that unlike that Big Festival at the Dam Site, parking is easy and free).
Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) [the company formerly known as Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB)], the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre(FB) in the West Adams district, and a mini-subscription at the Saroya [the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.
Tomorrow, it’s Spamilton at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (FB) on Sunday. Thanksgiving Weekend will bring Something Rotten at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). November concludes with the Anat Cohen Tentet at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB) and Levi (a new Sherman Brothers musical) at LA Community College Caminito Theatre (FB).
December starts with ACSAC 2017 in Orlando FL. As soon as we return, we’ve got Pacific Overtures at Chromolume Theatre (FB) and the Colburn Orchestra at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB). The weekend encompassing Chanukah sees us back at the Saroya (FB) for the Klezmatics (FB). We also hope to squeeze in a performance of A Christmas Story at the Canyon Theatre Guild (FB). Of course there will also be the obligatory Christmas Day movie — who knows — perhaps it’ll be the upcoming The Greatest Showman.
Right now, early 2018 is pretty open, with only a few weekends taken by shows at the Pantages and Actors Co-Op. I did just pick up tickets for Candide at LA Opera (FB). But that will likely fill up as Chromolume announces their dates, and announcements are received on interesting shows. Currently, we’re booking all the way out in mid to late 2018! We may also be adding a CTG subscription, given their recent announcements regarding the next season.
As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-Lemons, Musicals in LA, @ This Stage, Footlights, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.