How do I go about joining your group?
It's not simply a matter of joining a "group." We are an entertainment company, which means that one must audition. As with any job, skills and prior experience are useful - in our case, we stress stage combat and equestrian abilities. If you have no formal theatrical training, but are willing to work hard and learn the ropes from the ground up, click the link above... and then visit our Employment page.
What is "theatrical jousting?"
"Theatrical jousting" is a term we invented to describe our style of performance, which includes not only mounted combat and choreographed ground battles but also a dramatic or comedic storyline to impart momentum and tension to the event. There's nothing wrong with traditional tournament jousting, but we chose early on to add the element of performance to allow for audience participation by providing heroes and villains to root for (or against).
Don't you do any "real" jousting?
"Real" is a relative term. We're not re-enactors; we are actor-stuntmen who are paid to provide an entertaining spectacle on schedule. Our shows may be choreographed, but we are really falling off our horses, really taking shield hits, and really fighting with real swords, axes, and so forth. We don't really want to hurt each other, mainly because we have to get up and do it again the next day. Also, while historically accurate jousting is certainly exciting, we've always believed that a 30-minute show can be much more thrilling with the addition of a dramatic storyline.
Why don't you wear full armor or ride draft horses?
Because we are depicting a mid-14th Century style of jousting. By this time, tournament jousting had evolved to a point where knights did not typically wear breast or back plates. Less armor enabled a knight to ride a smaller, faster horse. For modern dramatic purposes, faster horses look better, which is why we usually ride American Quarterhorses in our performances.
Doesn't your company have any female jousters?
A worthy question. Historically speaking, there were certainly some female knights (Spain's "Order of the Hatchet," for example), so why not female jousters today? Let's just say that we haven't had any... YET! The bottom line is that show business is still primarily a business; in our three decades of performing, no festival has overtly requested female jousters. Our shows often feature feminine squires or Mistresses of Arms, however.
Your swords are just aluminum props, right?
No. For the most part, we use genuine steel swords made by companies such as Starfire, though some of our knights occasionally use personal weaponry which might be made of something different, like titanium (which produces a nice spark when struck against a steel blade). While our shows are choreographed, swordplay is swordplay. Aluminum blades wouldn't last for 5 minutes; they're just too flimsy. The swords we use are typically blunted, however; bruises heal faster than amputations, after all.
What's wrong with aluminum?
Aluminum swords, while light in weight and easy to swing, are much too flimsy for the forceful combat that a typical sword must endure in our shows. Even under the best of conditions, it's difficult for a performer in the heat of combat to strike an opponent's sword correctly - which is to say, edge-to-edge or flat-to-flat rather than edge-to-flat. Aluminum swords, being so lightweight, tend to bend with very little force. (To see this happen firsthand, watch the swordfight in the Michael Crichton movie Westworld; the actors strike edge-to-flat, using way too much force; their swords bend like bananas and stay that way.)
Where do you buy your armor?
Lots of different places over the years. We make some of it ourselves - particularly greaves, gorgets, and spaulders or pauldrons - out of plate steel (usually 16 gauge). Much of our company stock was bought years ago or made to order by companies that have since gone out of business. It's hard to nail down a good source of plate armor these days (though it's a good deal easier to find quality chainmail than it used to be - check our Links page). Sometimes we sell off older bits of our stock armor at various shows, so keep your eyes open.
Are your horses real?
Yes, our horses are real. Kent adds, "If you don't believe it, we'll show your our feed bills." (Believe it or not, this is a question we are asked fairly often... and not always by children, either.) Visit the Steeds page to visit our four-legged pals.
I've heard that stunt people mistreat horses. Is this true?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. We love our horses. They are not equipment; they are our co-workers and our friends. It's amazing that people still ask this question, but they do. Their hearts are certainly in the right place, but think about it: even if we were heartless jerks who didn't feel any sentimental attachment to our animals, would we abuse the very creatures upon which our livelihood depends? In truth, our riders will often put themselves in harm's way in order to protect their trusty mount.
What performers will be appearing at ... ?
Alas, we cannot announce who will be performing with us at any given event. The nature of the business demands that our appearances be scheduled many months in advance, and while we do our best to ensure that our cast is in place, circumstances sometimes make it necessary for us to make personnel changes at the last minute (or even during an event... or a show day!). Occasionally, entire events get canceled on us... and even we don't find out until it's too late.
Will you put me in touch with ... ?
Sorry, but no. Privacy is as important to us as it is to any performer in the public eye. Some company members choose to have their e-mail addresses posted visibly upon the site; others choose not to be so accessible. Please refrain from sending third-party messages to the webmaster. If you have no contact info for a particular person, it's out of our hands.
How much can I expect to pay for an H-LAT appearance?
Hard to say without at least some discussion. Every show is custom-crafted to meet the requirements of a particular venue or event, and can therefore entail any number of performers, amounts of rehearsal, travel, etc. Your best bet is to call us on the toll-free Hero Hotline (1-888-404-HERO) and discuss your specific needs with our president, the fearless Kent Shelton.