Hiring the Wychwood Warriors
Wychwood has put on displays for all manner of audiences, from those attending college balls to kindergarten and school children. We have also helped film and stage directors seeking actors or extras for their productions. We try never to turn down a request, although being a small group our availability may be restricted by how many of our members can make the required dates and times.
Displays are usually tailored to the request at hand and can range from a couple of us simply turning up in authentic kit and answering questions about our equipment and the Anglo-Saxon period to fully scripted and rehearsed scenes based on actual or mythical events, or full days of activities and workshops for classes of schoolchildren. Such displays normally involve some sort of combat demonstration, although this is by no means obligatory.
In 2006 we spent a day at Great Milton primary school, giving years 5 and 6 a taste of Saxon and Viking life. After a display of a merchant's stall and ensuing fight, the children took part in lots of activities, including making pouches, jewellery and authentic food, playing hnefetafl and trying on our clothes and armour. We finished the day with a dramatic interpretation of Beowulf (with plenty of gory details). We had a fantastic time and our then president Emanwel gained his own fanclub who wanted to admire his shinyness.
We have also visited other schools around Oxfordshire for activity days and brief displays at fetes.
Stage & film
Our stage and film work is equally varied. We have put on several short plays at college balls in Oxford (recently we did a King Arthur themed play for the Green College summer 2007 event) and also appeared in a number of films, ranging from local history projects to productions for national television. Hiring re-enactors to help with productions is a well-established practice in Britain. We come in when a company requires main performers or extras for a period production. Unlike untrained extras, we are already familiar with techniques, costume and equipment. So far film productions in which Wychwood members took part include gems such as:
— Rape & Pillage, a local history film about the village of Whitchurch on Thames, 2006
— The Real Macbeth, Spire Films for Channel 4, New Year's Day 2001
— The Nearly Complete And Utter History Of Everything, BBC 2, 1999
— The University Show, The Oxford Channel, 1999
— Prince Valiant, Constantin Films/Paramount, 1996
— Food and Drink, Bazal Productions for BBC 2, 1995
— The Detectives (Fur Coat, No Knickers), Celador Productions for BBC1, 1995
— Alfred the Great, Cromwell Productions, 1994
— The Viking Wars, Cromwell Productions, 1993
In 2006, we also trained the lead actors in a student production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Some of us also had great fun adding live steel combat to the fight scenes!
Apart from appearing in productions ourselves, Wychwood members are also available to help with and give advice on various practical aspects of the production, such as:
— Costume design
— Fight choreography (most historical period styles as well as modern fencing)
— Prop design and manufacture (items such as shields, swords, armour, accessories etc.)
We may also hire out weapons and costumes to Oxford productions.
Although we are not qualified professionals, we always work from published or museum sources, and will tell you if any advice we give is the result of our own experimentation or interpretation. At the same time, we will always be the first to admit gaps in our knowledge, and in such an event will try to put you in touch with someone who knows more.
Please feel free to get in touch with us with any request, question or idea you might have. We welcome any and all enquiries!