Renaissance Faire workers are organizing to overthrow their exploitative king

King Richard's Faire is the largest Renaissance Faire in New England. It was originally founded in 1972 by concert producer Dick Shapiro, whose family still runs the operation to these days. But according to a recent viral Reddit post, the success of the Faire—which reportedly nets over $400,000 per day—is largely due to—you guessed it!—sketchy labor exploitations!

I really wish people would care more about King's Faire Inc. paying everyone in entertainment & operations as contractors when they're clearly qualified as temp W4 employees, since the show literally doesn't operate without them (and it's a MASSIVE IF that they get paid at all; all the villagers you see milling around are unpaid, all they get is free admission. That's it. Not even free food).

And as the cherry on top, if there's a rain day, NOBODY gets paid. Except the Shapiros, of course; they'll happily issue you a rain check for admission on a different day, but just imagine how much raw profit they're still seeing from folks who never use that rain check…after all, no refunds! 😉

Absolute greed; they absolutely rake in their total cost of payroll on opening day alone, & still have the gall to stiff these performers & ops workers because they "didn't work that day".

For most folks in operations or entertainment, they're not making any more than $70/day or thereabouts. I've only had eyes on a couple dozen contracts, but they're all around that mark.

The first staff from entertainment & ops management show up around 8:00AM & leave around 7:30PM. That works out to less than SIX dollars an hour.

To be fair: I cannot verify any of the claims made in the original post, nor the subsequent discussions. But as a former playwriting fellow at a major Massachusetts theatre who's married to a theatre director, I do know quite a few actors—and I've never met a one of them who has anything good to say about ol' King Richard. (Anecdotally, I did the work the door for an audition session for the Faire some 16 years ago or so, and everyone I met who was working there in an official capacity was indeed a prick.)

But even those personal biases aside: it's always beautiful to see the peasants rise up to overthrow the bastard king.

If you want more details, there is a call to action for organizing at the end of the Reddit post.