Like/dislike with Jonathan Yoke, Renaissance Festival actor

'Duca di Ferrara' discusses skinny jeans, grains

  • Jonathan Yoke, an actor in the Maryland Renaissance Festival.
Jonathan Yoke, an actor in the Maryland Renaissance Festival. (Courtesy Jonathan Yoke…)
August 20, 2013

When some folks want to take a trip back in time, they read a book. Jonathan Yoke, a 25-year-old engineer, straps on a pair of tights and becomes Alfonso d'Este Duca di Ferrara.

As an actor in the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival, Yoke will perform as that 16th-century Italian nobleman and as Orlando, a knight in Charlemagne's service. (The fest runs weekends, Saturday through Oct. 20, at 1821 Crownsville Road, Annapolis; tickets $8-$22; 410-266-7304 or

The Butchers Hill resident has been acting since his sophomore year of college, when he appeared in Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus." The genre apparently caught Yoke's interest as he later auditioned for the Renaissance Festival and the rest is, well, history.

Yoke took time from his knightly duties to discuss grains, skinny jeans and talking really loudly.

Worst pet peeve? When people say they "hate drama." Usually, those people are the ones causing the most drama.

What song are you loving right now? "Sehnsucht" by Rammstein. Nothing like German Industrial to get you pumped up for the 16th century.

Last concert/gig you went to? The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Oregon Ridge Park.

Your worst habit? I'm loud. Really loud. I talk loud, I walk loud, and I laugh loud. I bang into things and I drop things. I've been told "be quiet" or "use your inside voice" for as long as I remember. Librarians and I do not get along. Luckily, good pipes comes in handy at the Fest.

Trend that has exceeded its natural lifespan? Grains.

Last movie you liked? The Avengers. Joss Whedon's best work so far, and that's a high bar.

Favorite food at the Renn Fest? Steak on a stake. Delicious, fast, meaty and exactly the type of food my character eats!

Favorite Renaissance Festival actor (their character) other than your own?

Grace Hatfield. Most of the villagers have some sort of mental ailment, but hers is particularly egregious. Her quiet, measured voice, crazy eyes and gentle rocking make one think of a slumbering volcano that could erupt at any moment. When Grace speaks the tension in her voice is palpable. She ought to have a warning sign on her that says "Danger Do Not Touch."

TV show you can't get enough of? "Firefly." It only lasted one season, but, like every browncoat, I wish there had been more. Serenity was a poor salve for that longing.

Favorite and most-loathed fashion statement? On women, I love heels and wedges, and I hate any kind of dress or skirt that flares out from just below the bust. On men, I think skinny jeans look terrible (unless you're a rock star). I like three-piece suits and bowties.

Last great meal you had? 1 pound of pork ribs at Chap's Pit Beef on Pulaski. So much delicious meat.

Favorite place to get a drink in Baltimore? The Horse With No Name on Boston St. They have an arcade!

Favorite part of the festival? The other actors and the vendors. Everyone is so happy to work here and so committed to making it a great experience for all of our patrons.

Favorite thing about Baltimore? It has character! Lots and lots (and lots) of character.

Best advice you ever got? Pick something and do it.

As told to Adam Gutekunst

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