Dressing the Character Profiles: IK, King of the Trolls!

22 Sep
I’m super excited to begin the Dressing the Character Profiles with IK, King of the Trolls, portrayed by actor/artist Bryan Thompson, out of Atlanta, GA! Bryan was nice enough to tell me all about this spectacular and popular character and the costuming that goes with it. His answers to the Dressing the Character Profile are below!

Behold IK, in all his majestic glory!

IK, King of the Trolls can currently been seen regularly at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, but makes rare appearances at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival as well, and even rarer appearances at some other Renaissance Festivals in the Southeastern United States.  Other appearances are at events such as DragonCon and ImagiCon, and on three occasions he’s officiated weddings.

Time and Place of Origin: Immortal, usable in any time period.  Trolls are traditionally associated with Norwegian mythology, but IK’s costume is more of a Celtic design, with many accents showing his connection to all things natural.  The costume is a mixture of earth tones and textures, from the wreath of sticks that is his nest-like crown, to the giant toes bursting out of his perpetually muddy boots.

  • Description of Costume: 

At the top of IK’s head is his crown, a wreath of sticks and eucalyptus, interwoven with silverly thread and tiny magical lights.  His crown sits onto of a massive mane of hair it a swirl of earth tones, which wraps around his rusty face marked with the royal face decorations of Trollish tradition.  His large tusks point skyward, toward eyes that appear almost human.  His shoulders are covered by a burgundy mantle, with gold trim, edged with green leaves, and turtle shells as pauldrons.  This is situated over a green jerkin with seed-like buttons, and dangling bits of bamboo and bone, and surrounded by a broad sturdy belt from which hangs a large pouch made from another turtle shell.  His arms are covered in striped stockings and shredded strips of ginger colored cloth.  Fingernails and toenails are made to look like they are dark iron.  His lower body is covered in light brown slashed breeches over chocolate brown tights, ending in muddy cavalier boots with HUGE feet bursting out of them.  Accessories include a large wooden tree trunk-like mug, the infamous “Ugly Stick”, and his sword by the name of “Fang”.

  • What are some of the resources you used for research/inspiration? 

The original inspiration for IK was, as silly as it sounds, a storm drain.  To keep this drain from being an eyesore on the site of the Georgia Renaissance Festival, a set of wooden bleachers was built over it, with a handicap access ramp, the effect made it look like a bridge with just enough room for me to get underneath.  It got my mind going, and eventually IK was born.  Visual,  character style and personality came from many sources.  Winston the Ogre from Time Bandits and Ludo from Labyrinth being the most obvious, but also drawing character traits from such inspirations as “My Neighbor Totoro” as well as researching various myths and legends about Trolls in general.  Add to all of this letting my imagination run wild and you have the King of Trolls that you see today!

  • What were you trying to convey with this costume?

A fundamental connection and interweaving of the character and nature itself combined with a heaping helping of whimsy.

Chillin' like a villian. Not that trolls are necessarily villians. I'm not racist against trolls, I swear.

  • Props/Accessories:

There are three accessories that go with the costume:

The Wooden Mug – which was hand crafted for me by Ed Hill, it’s one of a kind, and sadly Ed has retired from the business,  so it will be the last of it’s kind.
The Ugly Stick – a gift from a fan, it’s a club which has natural features that look like a bizarre face.
Fang, the sword – purchased at a Sword Vendor at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival.

  • Special considerations :

The main considerations have been washability and comfort.  The costume has changed greatly over the years, the character having grown and developed over a ten year period.  The idea has been to let the costume be a springboard for the character, a armature on which to base the portrayal and attract the eye of the audience.  All the while, working to streamline the costume to make it more and more comfortable in a variety of environments to work in.  It is a challenging costume to wear, and even more challenging to be witty and entertaining while wearing.  But the reactions of the audience makes it all worth it.

  • What is your single favorite piece of this costume?

That is a very difficult question to answer, for there are different parts of the costume that I love for different reasons.  But if I’m going to have to single things out, I’ll choose the crown as my favorite, and not just because it symbolizes IK’s sovereignty.  The 96 led lights are very bright, and their power source is very well hidden, so it helps to create an air of magic around IK, even in bright sunlight.  In addition, if I’m at a night venue, I need no flashlight, for I can see quite well all around me.

IK with Rhianna the Troll at a guest performance at the Scarborough Ren Fest

  • What is your LEAST favorite part of this costume? 

The least favorite part of the costume is that is it not well suited for hot weather.  I’ve discovered that in temperatures over 85 degrees, I am actually in considerable danger while in full costume, and without regular breaks to cool down, I am at risk for heat stroke or worse.  So, as it goes I require many breaks and constant water under those conditions, while I work to design more streamlining of the costume, to make it not as hot to wear.

  • Where did you get your shoes/boots? Would you recommend them?

I designed my feet/boots myself, having gone through many designs over the years until the current and most efficient design I have.  I gave my design to Carl Kyle to craft, and the result has been awesome.  I can even run in them if I have to, but as I understand, seeing IK running is a horrifying sight.  I only recommend having huge feet/boots if the character calls for it.  Walking in them takes some getting used to, and children like to stomp on them.

  • Did you make this costume or have it made?

I designed the cotume, but it is the work of many artisans.  I made the whole headdress/crown.  The jerkin and breeches were crafted by Bettina Foster of Castle Creations, the tusks were crafted by Darrell Phillips of Altered Realities, and the feet were crafted by Carl Kyle of Castle Creations.  Past costume pieces were made by Fiona Leonard, and Amy Wachtel.

  • What were some of the challenges you faced?

Apart from heat and unusual mobility issues, the greatest challenge is the suspension of disbelief.  In creating and playing a character that is of a fantastical nature one has to deal with an audience that by in large wants to prove that you are mearly an actor in a costume, so the REAL challenge is in finding the holes in your own improvisational armor, and being able to hide or defend them from any person who may try to disprove that the character is real.  Over the years, I’ve grown to get pretty good at this.

  • Please tell us about any jewelry, makeup, effects, or anything not already covered:

There are two necklaces IK wears, both are gifts from special friends with personal meaning.  One in particular is a cameo containing a lock of hair from a princess IK was not allowed to marry.  As for make-up, I use Ben Nye cake make-up to create IK’s face.  The design is roughly lion like, with crenalations beneath the lip and around the eyes.  The base is a brown called “Dark Ebony” and black is used for the rest.  The black make-up around the eyes is not only decorative, but also helps to cut down on glare.  As the day goes on, I tend to sweat a lot in the costume, and the make-up tends to get smeared and messed up, but for me that only adds to the character.


One Response to “Dressing the Character Profiles: IK, King of the Trolls!”

  1. Lady K September 23, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    A talented artist, and a treat of a character! What a wonderful article! -sends some love to the troll-

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