Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Students Join the King’s Court for Renaissance Faire’s Winter Ball

Students join hands to participate in group dances at the annual ball. Photo by Sailor Harris

Shimmering tulle skirts and Renaissance-style YouTube covers of “Toxic,” “Poker Face” and traditional European folk music filled the Reid Ballroom on Jan. 26 at the Renaissance Faire’s second annual Winter Ball. The Renaissance Faire Planning Committee presented six dances taught before and during the ball. Efforts like these and others are at the forefront of the Renaissance Faire Planning Committee’s focus when organizing school-wide events. 

The Committee’s lessons for all six dances meant that even a reporter with two left feet could join in on the fun. In addition to dancing, the event included a brief mystery and characters performed by the organizers. The Planning Committee also arranged for the All Faiths Room in Reid to act as a quiet space if any attendees felt overwhelmed. Co-President of the Committee, Olivia Wing, emphasized the Committee’s consideration of accessibility when planning the event. 

“We’re trying to improve our accessibility this semester, the ball will have a designated quiet space for anybody who is feeling overwhelmed,” Wing said. “We’ll also have earplugs available, and we’ve done our best to accommodate all the food and dietary restrictions we’ve received on our surveys.”

The Winter Ball, which was introduced as an official Renaissance Faire event in 2023, reflects the group’s hopes to revive the Faire on a post-COVID-19 campus. A campus club for over 50 years, the Whitman College Renaissance Faire looked different before the pandemic hit college campuses. According to Wing, the Faire was close to ordering a camel in 2018 but had to start from scratch after Whitman moved to virtual for the pandemic. 

“The last couple years we’ve just been trying to get it back to where it was,” Wing said.

The Planning Committee has organized ways to increase student engagement with events like the Winter Ball, and they also seek to revive their campus presence. Available on Instagram and Presence, the Planning Committee has additionally taken to social media to advertise upcoming events. The Committee’s Co-President, Alistair Gannholm, envisions an expansive campus presence for the future with the return of the Renaissance Faire. 

“We would like it to be something that everyone at Whitman can enjoy, something that everyone at Whitman does enjoy and something that everyone knows about,” Gannholm said. 

Amidst their efforts to open accessibility with events like the Winter Ball, the Renaissance Faire also represents intersecting interests for students at Whitman College. Like the variety of dances presented at the ball, the Faire provides a variety of roles and ways to engage with the Committee for future events.

“If you’re interested in acting and improv or theater, or performance of any kind, Ren Faire has a place for you. If you’re interested in sewing and cosplay, Ren Faire has a place for you,” Wing said. “If you’re interested in history, weapons or blacksmithing; if you’re interested in competing with your friends in a game of capture the flag with foam swords, Ren Faire is also your place.” 

This idea was echoed by the ball’s attendees, including Junior Theater major Paige Yanny. Yanny attended the first Winter Ball as well as the most recent and enjoyed the community present at the event because of the theatrical elements planned by the Renaissance Faire Planning Committee. Aside from dancing, the group presented a practiced fight scene and a thrilling mystery of thievery in the king’s court. 

“I love [Ren Faire events] because they’re wonderful and improv-based, and people are in character at them which I love,” Yanny said. “I’ve been to their Faire, which I think is fun because they get all the vendors to come and once again everyone’s in character even as they’re selling at the Faire.” 

For Yanny, the Winter Ball represents the intersecting interests that draw people into the Faire and other events which Wing explained. Amidst a community full of costumes, masques and old-fashioned fun, the Renaissance Faire and Planning Committee invites students with a multitude of backgrounds to embrace their interests at future events like the Murder Mystery Dinner and the Faire itself. 

 

Alistair Gannholm works for The Wire as an opinion columnist.

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