Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 31

Georgians AT WORK By H.M. Cauley
Meet Bryan Thompson:
IK the Troll King
I
n 1992, Bryan Thompson went to his first Georgia
Renaissance Festival in Fairburn, and it was love at
first smoked turkey leg.
" I realized, after going four weekends in a row, that
if I didn't get a job there, I'd spend all my money, " the
52-year-old Snellville resident says.
He found a solution: kilt up and join the crew of
Scottish characters who entertain the crowds.
" The next year, I was wearing a kilt with a sword
and everything, " says Thompson, who claims Scottish
ancestry. " I dyed my hair red, then dyed my beard to
match and started talkin' with an accent. "
But after three years, Thompson decided the
festival needed a more intriguing character. After a
torrential rain turned part of the performance area into
an eyesore, he thought it would make the perfect habitat
for a troll.
" I suddenly realized they didn't have anyone playing
a troll, " he says. " When I shared my idea, everyone
was laughing so hard that they encouraged me to
audition the character. "
The rest is history. Since 1996, Thompson, a graphic
designer and production specialist for a Roswell print
shop, has been on the Renaissance fair circuit in Georgia
and Tennessee as " IK Eunni Pu, " whose titles include
King of the Trolls, Lord of Autumn and Earl of Grey.
Along with an unusual name, Thompson gave his
troll character unusual traits. His inspiration came from
wanting to make people laugh. Later, he reworked the
classic folk tale " Three Billy Goats Gruff " from the troll's
perspective. In his version, those who want to cross the
troll's bridge represent expectations, worry and fear, and
when he tells it, the tale always ends with a moral.
" I thought a lot about what it means to be
something that isn't human and wanted to flip the
narrative, " he says. " In literature, trolls are either stupid
or mean. IK wasn't there the day trolls learned to scare
people. And he's not an idiot. I had to break some norms to make him
slightly alien. "
Part of IK's otherness comes from the costume Thompson created:
a headdress of yarn, a pair of wildebeest horns and a tunic with sleeves
that resemble dragon scales. His custom-made boots were constructed
purely for comfort because Thompson typically spends seven-hour
stretches on his feet, posing for pictures, wandering the fairgrounds to
chat with guests and telling twisted fairy tales to rapt audiences of kids.
" The majority of my interactions are with children, and I take
that very seriously, " he says. " I give out little plastic, glow-in-the-dark
'dream' stones and tell them they'll help keep the bad dreams away.
I've actually gotten messages from parents telling me how well they
worked! "
H.M. Cauley is a freelance writer from Atlanta.
What does a troll sound like? Check out IK's show at 9 p.m. every
Thursday on Twitch, an interactive livestreaming service, at bit.ly/iktales.
That's when Thompson dons his IK persona and reads fairy tales-but be
warned! They aren't for the faint of heart.
" I got hold of some fi rst editions of the [Brothers] Grimm tales that
are not the Disney versions, " he says.
IK will appear at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival in Arrington,
Tenn., May 7-8, 14-15, 21-22 and 28-30. For details, visit tnrenfest.com.
You also can visit with him at Rock City Gardens in Lookout
Mountain during Rocktoberfest each weekend in October. Visit
seerockcity.com/events/rocktoberfest for information.
www.georgiamagazine.org
31
COURTESY BRYAN THOMPSON
COURTESY SEE ROCK CITY
http://www.bit.ly/iktales http://www.tnrenfest.com http://www.seerockcity.com/events/rocktoberfest http://www.georgiamagazine.org

Georgia Magazine - May 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - May 2022

Contents
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 4
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 5
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