[Ansteorra] painting fencing masks

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Tue Mar 29 11:21:49 PDT 2011

As a performer, I have a love/hate relationship with feast hall performances
for all the pros and cons mentioned.  Nothing compares to commanding the
attention of the hall, bringing a tear, touching a heart, a belly
laugh...making magic.  No tragicomedy was ever written that captures the
melancholy one feels during a feast gone wrong (or as Duke Michael once told
me in the middle of two choruses, "Lucais, you're dying out there!"

My best feast hall performance was delivered, not to the entire hall, but
privately to each individual lady in the hall.  I was asked, as herald, to
announce to the feast patrons that the ladies bathrooms were plugged-up and
overflowing, smelly, and now closed.  Ladies would have to go to the porta
privies up the hill.

Frankly, I found the topic far too delicate to yell aloud between the barley
soup and the meat pies and announce to the masses, but clearly recognized
the importance of the message.

So I began in one corner, begged a lady's ear and her pardon, and in a soft
voice, advised her "It appears the privy has become dysfunctional," and that
she would need adequate time to stroll to the privies up the hill.  Then I
moved to the next table and repeated in a low voice, the same conversation.
If there were several ladies at one table, I spoke to them collectively but
asked the lords to divert their eyes and ears so as not to cause
embarrassment.  I also instructed the lords to provide escort or entourage
as the ladies may need.  It was a lengthy journey and ladies should not be

By the time I got to the fifth or sixth table, laughter was coming from the
tables I'd visited as they watched the reaction and response to each next
table I approached.  Yet, each time I whispered the information, privately
and respectfully, and as though I was completely unaware of the building

Soon it was apparent to the rest of the hall that something was going on as
laughter spread from the corner like spilled wine on a tablecloth.  Tables
ahead of me began to follow my moves and curiously anticipate my arrival at
their table.  In a Quixotic detachment, I remained aloof to the chatter in
the hall, and delivered the private message individually.

As I thanked and bowed to the last lady, the hall erupted with laughter and
greeted me with a standing ovation.  And I never said "Oyez!" nor raised my
voice above a whisper in an ear.


-----Original Message-----
From: ansteorra-bounces+lucaisdubelier=pcsok.com at lists.ansteorra.org
[mailto:ansteorra-bounces+lucaisdubelier=pcsok.com at lists.ansteorra.org] On
Behalf Of barrett1 at cox.net
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2011 4:31 PM
To: Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc.
Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] Bardic At Feast lurkers

Not only is empathy for the audience an issue in feast performances (or any
other time), but the performer has difficulties as well, even if they are
amazingly fun with a ton of talent and people love to hear them. I've been
lucky (very lucky) enough to hold an audience during a feast, and even with
complete attention and silence, the clatter of flatware and mugs multipled
by 20-40 tables is a cacophony, not to mention the servers needing to ask
questions while seeing to everyone.

The only feasts I have good memories of were;
A.) smaller affairs, feasts of less than 3 dozen people, and 
B.) I was asked to perform. 

Standing on your own in the larger feasts of today is seen by many as an
unwelcome intrusion, a version of "attack barding" that comes with large
amounts of cheese and herbed butter.

Feast performance used to be considered the baptism by fire, the test of a
"true" performer, that if you could entertain a feast, you were a performer
to be reckoned with. Now it is considered the sign of a newer performer,
still trying to find their style and confidence.

I would love to see more entertainment at feasts, in the form of visuals,
like acrobats, fire-eaters, dancers or magicians, or more atmospheric
entertainment, such as our deeply loved musicians or a choir, even a single
singer, might provide. A solitary vocal performer who needs the audience to
listen in order to be effective should consider more acceptable venues.

These are my opinions, born of my experience. Some of that experience
consisted of sitting in trees with a bottle of whiskey admiring corsets from
a unique vantage point, but the rest helped me arrive at this conclusion.


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