“Oh, but your majesty,” the lady in the court called. “If you would be ever so kind to the ladies…”.
Her plea, to perform a medieval court dance, won over the consent of the King. One step back, three steps forward, turn. She lay her left hand on her partner’s right, gazed out towards her audience and curtsied.
For the last eight weekends, junior Anne Stevens has taken on a medieval kind of metamorphosis. From 7:40 a.m. to 9 p.m., she plays the role of Elizabeth Holland, a lady waiting in the royal court, at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.
Stevens’s alter-ego, Holland, has an attitude to match her fiery hair. Clad in an emerald and gold-plated gown she designed herself, she dances with her royal counterparts and sings of princesses and mermaids.
“When I’m Elizabeth Holland, I get to be somebody who I’m not,” Stevens said. “Beth does a lot of the things that I think, but can’t say. I get to be sassy and a little bit mean in ways that I think wouldn’t be appreciated in modern day society.”
Weekends in May through August consisted of rehearsals for Stevens. Spending her Saturdays and Sundays at the Community of Christ Church in Independence, she learned court dances and practiced Elizabethan dialect. They learned to swap you for thou, and there for yonder.
Besides these rehearsals, Stevens’ involvement in the Coterie Theater downtown and the theater program at East prepared her for the Festival. Here, she read Grimm’s fairystyles and learned the art of improvisation.
“Anne is very expressive and unique,” theater teacher Tom DeFeo said. “She understands a lot about time period and the gypsy aspect of life.”
One commoner at the Faire just so happens to be Stevens’ father, Jake Winship. He describes his character as a middle class merchant, and although her social status transcends his, he doesn’t mind paying heed to his daughter.
“She really loves the fact that she’s a lady in the court and I’m a mere commoner,” Winship said. “So I have to revere her.”
With a kilt business keeping them anchored in Bonner Springs every fall, Winship had reason to take Stevens to the Renaissance Festival as a baby. But, after their business dwindled, they stopped.
“I was kind of born at the Ren Fest, so I grew up listening to these stories,” Stevens said. “But I didn’t have any memories of them, so I wanted to make my own.”
And memories she’s making. Although it’s only her second year, she plans to return to the Festival next year.
“My acting’s really fluid because of [the Faire]”, Stevens said. “It’s definitely made me more expressive and outgoing.”