Chapel Hill Software Engineer Performs Every Year at the Carolina Renaissance Festival

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Norman Chislom steps into the role of “Keplar, The Wanderer” for eight weekends this fall

Norman Chislom as "Keplar, the Wanderer"

By Anna-Rhesa Versola | Photo courtesy of Ron Tencati

For eight weekends this fall, Norman Chislom, 42, will push away from his office desk and become a performer at the Carolina Renaissance Festival in Huntersville, North Carolina. The software engineer at Investors Title (a financial services company in Chapel Hill) goes by the name of “Keplar, The Wanderer.”

From Sept. 30 until Nov. 19, Norman will change into a period costume, slip into a different persona and play the mandolin, the Indian tabla drum and the oud, which is an Arabic lute.

Norman and his wife, Rebecca Moses, were teenagers in Charlotte when they first started going to Renaissance fairs together. “At first, it was kind of a lark or something that would be funny,” Norman says about his audition 10 years ago. “I thought I might try this out and maybe do it for a season or so.”

After landing the chance to perform, Norman applied his computer handle, Keplar, to a fictional character based on his own West African and Egyptian ancestry mixed with English and Welsh background. “There’s kind of a disbelief at first,” Norman says of people finding out about his hobby. “But to people who know me, it kind of makes sense. We’re kind of in a weird intersection of a cosplay event and a historical reenactment. I joke with my wife about how I saw a medieval assassin and a character from “Star Trek” having lunch together. That’s a very common occurrence [at the festival].”

Daughter Victoria Chislom, 13, loves the fairs. “She’s asking me every year if she’s old enough to audition,” he says. “She’s interested in fantasy, fairies, magic and things of that nature.”

The atmosphere at a Renaissance festival encourages attendees to interact with characters and performers. “You can talk to anybody in the village, like my character,” Norman says. “[Visitors] really become interested when it clicks that the whole [experience] is very interactive. And the people I work with are just very passionate about bringing the [Renaissance] world to life. That definitely keeps me coming back year after year.” 

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