Creatures of Castlefest: Hans

In Creatures of Castlefest, we want to put the wondrous creatures, that are part of the world of Castlefest, in the spotlight. From visitor to entertainer, from exhibitor to volunteer. What moves them and which role does Castlefest play in their lives? This week: Hans, also known as Johannes de Nar.

Since 1999, you can find me at events, festivals and more as Johannes de Nar [Johannes the jester]. It all started as a job at Archeon. When the festivals in the Netherlands arose, I was asked to perform there as well. I can proudly say I have been at Castlefest since the start. Sometimes I attend as a jester, other times I’m involved with the Heathen Gang and their roles around the Wicker Ritual.

Besides entertaining, spirituality has a big role in my life too. To find each other in this during the current times, we have online meetings from time to time. During Castlefest, I’m often involved in the activities of the Heathen Gang. You notice their spot is a place where people come to recharge during the festival. People hang around as a break from their festival day, but also to prepare themselves for a new year in the ‘real’ world.

Throughout the years I have had many different roles during and around the festival. It’s very special to have a new perspective every time. One time you arrive at a complete festival, another time you are there beforehand and carry materials and help setting up tents.
Also, the festival days themselves are never the same, both as an entertainer and with the Heathen Gang. Sometimes you mostly see familiar faces, but sometimes you meet someone and guide them through the festival. When on the Wicker Watch you provide support and lend an ear to people who offer something to the Wickerman. Other times you’re backstage and support the people after the ritual. It’s noticeable how the power of the Wicker can be underestimated. It is gratifying to be a part of it.

It is special how different a festival like Castelfest, with so many creative people, can be. All the while, there are recurring elements that all have taken on a life of its own. Like for example the ‘horror’path, offline tinder and the fruit salad. That last one started when someone asked me if I could juggle with fruits. My answer: Yes, of course! Should I do that as a jester or as a pineapple?
That was the start of the fruit suits. The first time I brought them to Castlefest, Mark needed some convincing. Now the strawberry suit and the rest of the fruit salads are indelible on Sunday!

Because I have been there since the first year, I have seen Castlefest grow. I think it’s important for festivals to grow. When it doesn’t grow and changes, it stagnates. Then nothing would happen. That growth also creates space for new ideas. As a jester, I often use the festival Friday for testing new costumes and acts.

I also love new additions to the program, like the yoga workshops at the Meadow Fields. I hope more and more creative elements will be added. It results in being able to indulge in the Castlefest magic even more. That magic is something we make together. Each year when I’m asked to come, I think to myself what I want to do that year and how I can add to that magic.

Castlefest and other events turn, in a beautiful way, to what some people may call escapism. It’s becoming more popular, also due to games like Magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons - I play the latter one twice a week online. I feel like that during the last years the mentality shifts from escaping from the real world to creating a new world. We don’t long to escape but want to create a world together in which we would want to live. It’s not all fantasy, as the world is real, as you can touch it. Just like Johannes de Nar. You can touch him, hear him and interact with him.
This is a big part of fantasy. Fantasy is my life and I love to see how it’s expanding more and more.

I’m a creator, I love to create. The videos I post in the Castlefest Fanpage are small examples of that. I make these together with Patrick Schoonderbeek. We have found each other as creators and in having the same humour. For instance, we have visualized what ‘10 second DnD’ would look like and ‘10 second mini painting’. You can find these on TikTok (ancient.gaming) and YouTube (Ancient Gaming).

The videos and other activities of Hans and Patrick are part of the Johannes de Nar Foundation:

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