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Medieval Times Employees Vote to Unionize in New Jersey

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Lyndhurst, NJ — In 11th-century Spain, aristocrats trying to raise their hands on the Queen’s skirt after a royal feast may have been tortured in the Middle Ages.

But in the Medieval Times, right next to Route 3, dealing with such behavior has been accepted as part of the job for too long, and of several actresses who play the Queen at dinner and tournament attractions. One person, Monica Garsa, said.

Garza said management felt like a “diva” to demand additional security protocols after pointing out more and more bold actions from guests. Garza said management installed a chain to block access to her only after a violent ticket owner approached her throne and tried to yell at her microphone. rice field.

One of the reasons Lindhurst Castle’s queen, knights, servants, and stables decided to unite on Friday was to increase security in the castle, where the fall of a horse could be part of the job description. It was a request for other safety measures.

Unioning efforts, first Report by the Huffington PostOn Friday, employees voted 26-11 to join the US Variety Show Gein Guild. Medievalists join a variety of guild performers, including Radio City Rockets, circus performers, and character actors (such as Moulin and Aladdin) who play at Disneyland, California.

Employees are also looking for higher wages (Garza receives $ 20 per hour, followers start at about $ 14 per hour), and higher level people make them skilled workers. Wants to be treated like — a trained stuntman in a complex battle with a spear, sword, and ax, an experienced actor who does more than just read a line.

Medieval Times management did not respond to requests for comment. On Friday night, CEO Perico Montaner sent a note to employees outside New Jersey that the company would negotiate in good faith but would not agree except in the best interests. ..

“Collective bargaining is uncertain,” the memo said. “It can be more, the same, or less. There is no guarantee.”

“The big thing about the union is the basic respect,” said Garza, 25, a trained actor and self-proclaimed history geek. “People abuse you whenever you like, because they know you do it for free.”

Many performers eventually fall in love with the job, even if they didn’t initially dream of working in a concrete castle with its vast arm holes and an endless supply of tomato bisques. Former Marin, a former Elton John backup singer, and a musical theater student turned into a stuntman for the two-hour show, a former zookeeper, video game “Grand Theft Auto.”

“We have a lot of incompatibility,” said Sean Quigley, 33, a classic trained actor from London, laughing and not having to forge an English accent. (The show is technically set up in Spain, but the New Jersey audience isn’t grumpy.)

The Lindhurst show, ordered from its headquarters in Texas, is designed to follow the same structure every night. Visitors here wear the same paper crowns as Atlanta and Baltimore and eat the same four-course meal. Queens will be paid to say the same words as the company’s other nine castles, which were reported to have been visited by 1.5 million guests last year.

“Welcome to the hall of my ancestors, a good nobleman,” Garza says, riding a white Andalusian horse and boarding a sword-wielding screaming children’s arena.

The new story looks like this: After inheriting her territory, the Queen will hold a tournament in which six knights on her horses compete for the title they are proud of, but her power is a sneaky adviser planning to marry her. Is threatened by. Dialogues are often drowned out by the aforementioned screams and the hustle and bustle of “Serfs and Wenches” (Medieval Times-waiters). They are known to end the night with “cash or card, lady?”

For actors who can run the same script several times a week each year, lines begin to feel tattoos in their brains — so they find a way to entertain themselves.

“I’m doing a show where I’m secretly pretending to be in love with the Queen. I’m doing a show where I’m secretly in love with one of the knights,” said Marshal, the show’s host. Quigley, who plays the Lord, said. “To keep it fresh, you can tell another story in your head.”

After struggling to make a smooth transition between London’s West End and the New York theater scene, Quigley, who auditioned for a job at Medieval Times, also enjoys a variety of accents. He tried Cockney’s draw, played the entire show like Sean Connery, and made a voice like John Snow in “Game of Thrones.” A runner who tells him that the sound department cuts it out.

For Christopher Lucas, a video game voice actor who also appears in daytime soap opera, his improvised Frisson continues his worship of Orange from Valencia as the Queen’s slimy adviser during the scene. I’m approaching a place without hinges. For reasons that even Lucas doesn’t fully understand, the audience loves it and sometimes begins to chant — “Orange! Orange! Orange!” — And bring him fresh fruit on his next visit.

“As performers, these are the types you live in,” Lucas said.

Ultimately, the Medieval Times business, which began in Spain and arrived in the United States in 1983, revolves around knights parading the arena on horseback before jousts and duels.

Antonio Sanchez, 31, one of New Jersey’s most veteran knights, is disillusioned with the idea of ​​a long-term career in the U.S. Marine Corps after seeing it adopted by the Medieval Times on Facebook. I did. On a whim in 2014, he drove to Lindhurst Castle and set foot in the stables. And soon, he was messing around with the stalls and hugging his horse before showtime.

“I heard a crowd barking from behind the stables,” Sanchez recalled the moment he began dreaming of becoming a knight.

You don’t need horse experience to get a job. As a knight apprentice, men are trained for hundreds of hours, learning both how to ride and how to safely roll into the sand when a rival knight “knocks off” them.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met a horse before,” said Joe Devlin, 28, who started out as a follower after returning from Stint as a tour musician and was in desperate need of work. ..

The apprentice will learn the fighting choreography to protect himself with an aluminum shield and gradually focus on muscle memory.

Still, accidents happen. The fact that the show relies on a stable of about 20 horses adds an element of constant danger, and of the stables hired after losing the job of caring for livestock at a local zoo. Parnell Thompson said. In a noisy delight stage, there are many triggers that a horse can ghost, such as when the audience ignores the rules and slams a metal plate or bowl against the table.

Once, while Devlin was training, he broke his ankle and learned how to jump off a horse. And two-year knight Jonathan Beckus dealt with two head injuries, including his knee injury and bringing a wooden spear to his head. (Permanent employees have health insurance.)

One of the reasons the order is united is that 27-year-old trained stuntman Beckus is paid $ 21.50 per hour from $ 12 when he started working as a servant. Stated. “I’m a knight, but I’m also a human,” he said.

This is not the first time a union vote has been held at this castle. Similar efforts were made in 2006, with complaints primarily focused on the lack of employment security and the fear of servants becoming knights too soon. The vote slightly opposed the formation of the union.

Even before the vote on Friday, employees said they were seeing change. After the news of union activity was released Collection support From Governor Phil Murphy, Garza said management has set a stronger barrier to her throne.

Now the knights have bargaining power and they are planning to use it.

“Being a knight is the dream of every little child,” Sanchez said. “But I’m old, so fun doesn’t pay.”

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