Monday, April 24, 2017

Shakespeare Day and the Vixens en Garde

This week we are going to visit one of my favorite groups from my visit to medieval/renaissance fairs, Vixens en Garde.  Readers of my post will remember I mention them anytime they are at a fair or event I attend.  I believe the first fair I saw them at was the New York Capitol District Renaissance Festival.

Vixen en Garde is a fighting, performance troupe who put on Shakespearian plays with an entertaining twist. Their performances consist of humor, whit combines with sword play and physical comedy.
Saratoga Springs Library

This past Sunday I had the privilege of seeing them perform at the Saratoga Springs Public Library (Saratoga Springs, NY). April 23 is the possible birth, and also anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.  The exact date of his birth is lost to history, but his day of baptism was April 26, 1564.  Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 at the age of 52.  The date of his birth (April 23) can be traced back to a scholars mistake in the 18th century; but, it has become the popular believe that he died on the same day as his birth, and it is also the day people celebrate St. George’s day.   

The reason for this mistake is the fact in Shakespeare’s time, people did not celebrate, or even know the date of their birth. The biggest date for them was the day they were baptized. This was an era of high infant mortality, so when a child was baptized there was a good possibility they would grow up (at least beyond as an infant, they still have to face plagues, diseases and infections of that era).  The earliest date referencing William Shakespeare was his baptism on April 26.

Persephone speaking to a young fan.
Since the library was celebrating the birth (or death) of William Shakespeare it made sense to have Vixens en Garde as guests.  There were three members of the group there, Athena, Persephone and Atlanta, you can read more about them on their website.
Panel discussion with the Vixens

This was different than some of the performances I have seen from the Vixens.  At the library they actually had a panel discussion before they put on their performance.  A moderator from the library asked the Vixens questions dealing from Shakespeare, to how, and why they perform.

As always, there performance was excellent, including audience participation.  It was unique to see them so close, instead of a stage a dozen feet or yards away.

Not a great picture, because of the lighting, but I like the shadow effect.

As I often say, if you get a chance to hire the Vixens en Garde for an event, jump on this opportunity.  They will entertain, and educate every age group.

Now for some sad information about the group.  The leader of this group was Alexandra Hastings, (AKA Calypso in the group).  In March she passed away after a courageous battle against cancer.

Others who knew her personally, can attest to her personality traits and believes.  All I can testify to is the person I knew her from the medieval/renaissance faires I attended.

Every time I wrote on this blog about the Vixens en Garde, she was so thankful for it. Her appreciation was heartfelt and she especially enjoyed when I wrote about other members in the group.

Also, I would see her take the time to speak to fans of their shows.  This was especially evident when it concerned children.  She took the extra time to speak to them, making them feel at home at these faires.
Calypso at the Mutton and Meade Festival

As much as I might, and others feel loss at her passing, this loss does not compare to her loved ones.  She left behind a husband and small son.  It is them that our sympathies and support should be addressed to.  Calypso was a wonderful, talented person, and because of her loss; there will be a dark cloud looming over the faires this year for everyone who knew her.

Next Time: A Medieval Spring.

W.A. Rusho is an author, historian and professional wrestler. You may contact him at his website or via email.


  1. Thank you for the history lesson on Shakespeare. I enjoy learning about the past- history was one of my favourite subjects. How interesting that people did not remember/acknowledge their birthdays so many years ago. I guess it did not hold the same importance.

  2. You always share such interesting historical information William, and this post is no exception. I learn something new with each post. Thank you!

  3. Interesting post, William. I have a close friend who is a huge fan of Shakespeare and each year at our writer's conferences, she plans a little performance with fellow enthusiasts. I'm sure she'd love the Vixens En Grade.

  4. How sad that your friend passed away at such a young age. At least you have the memories of her and her wonderful performances.

  5. Vixens en Garde sounds like a lovely team :) I was explaining to a friend about Shakespeare's date of birth and death this weekend as well.

  6. That's so interesting that people celebrated the day they were baptised as opposed to their day of birth. It is sad to hear how the leader passed away but it's great that you had the chance to see their shows and and be able to hold on to these memories.

  7. Sorry to hear that your friend passed away young. Like the sound of Vixens en Garde.