A few weekends each year, one Tempe couple travels back in time to the Renaissance era.
For more than a decade, Teri and Ron Krawitz have performed in the Arizona Renaissance Festival, an early European-themed arts and comedy festival featuring music, performances, crafts and food.
Teri is the mayor’s wife, whose duties include greeting guests and hosting the queen for tea. Eight years before attaining this high-society role, she roamed the streets of the festival as a peasant rag lady. “It’s my rags to riches story,” she says.
Ron is Einstein Newton, a character who conducts physics experiments in his workshop – his stage – to an audience made up primarily of children. “My character tries to understand the world he lives in and then explains it to other people,” Ron says.
Ron has been Einstein Newton for seven years; before that he was Sailor Isaac Baiter, a street performer.
The Krawitzes started rehearsing for this year’s festival in January and rehearsed four times a week until the festival began on President’s Day weekend. Although many of the day’s activities are rehearsed, improvisation plays a large role in the performance, Teri says.
Teri joined the festival’s cast after one visit. “I went one year and fell in love with it,” Teri says. “I decided I wanted to do it and the next year I auditioned for it.” That first year, Ron attended most weekends to take photographs and was asked by the entertainment director to join the cast the following year. “It took me about 15 seconds to know it was the right choice once I got there on a show day,” Ron says. “The only day I missed was the day my granddaughter was born.”
By day, Ron is a college professor who teaches computer programming and computer software at Devry University. Teri is a project manager for a Phoenix construction company. Since her debut at the festival, she has also performed in Tempe Little Theatre productions. Ron has built props for the festival and directs two children’s troupes. He served as the entertainment director of the Louisiana Renaissance Festival in 2000.
Both say working with the patrons is the best part, as well as with their fellow performers. “It’s given me the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life,” Teri says. Between the performers and craftsmen, there’s “all kinds of creative talent.”
This article first appeared in the March 5, 2004 issue of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.