[Bards] Performance in the SCA
Darius of the Bells
masterdarius at earthlink.net
Sat Jan 25 06:20:12 PST 2003
Well now there's a can o'worms in the fire! As Finnican stated these are my
opinions and views and that's all.
If you happen to locate that mythical line betwixt entertainment and
authenticity keep an eye on it, the bugger likes to shift one way or another
without notice. Basicaly like any art that line really depends on your
audience. Where one group might just assume listen to modern songs that put
them in mind of what they think period should have been like, the next may
respond more to an Elizabethan broadside. the majority of people in
Ansteorra tend to fall some where in between.
I have been to very few local competitions (read Barony, Shire, etc)where
Docs were required. Oral Intro's have generaly been accepted. These are the
type I like to play in. Most of my peices are original based on either SCA
history or things that "might have happened" in period. I try to maintain a
level of research in these to keep both parts of my audience happy. for
those who want modern entertainment I generaly try to put on a good show.
Vocal intonation, gestures, expresions, the whole gambit of modern
For those who want a more period feel I try to get my facts strait (ie there
are no Welshmen named Paddy O'Rielly) and also try to bring in some of the
more period performance techniques such as audience interaction (no fourth
wall in a circle) and including construced meters and cadences into stories
as well as poems and songs. Overall however most of my work would suffer on
the Judging forms because I write for the modern ear many times discarding
period forms for those more familliar. I liken it to cooking, period cooking
can be absolutly delightfull but only a small cross section of people are
actually enjoy it if I spice it as it would have been in the 14th century.
Our Pallate has changed and we expect to be served what we are accustomed to
However if you are preparing for the performance segment at Kingdom A&S or
Gulf War, then you had best have your bibliography in order and be prepared
to have it grilled without any bbq sauce. Having a biblio that shows that
you found 4 books that say this piece was written in period is good, but you
can go farther and judges sitting on these competions want you to. some
questions may be:
What Language was it in?, (English you say...Have you ever heard period
How has Translation/ Translitteration changed the meter and cadence of the
How may it have changed the Meaning?
For what occasions would this have been performed? (general entertainment,
liturgical, wedding, funerals, etc)
Who would have performed it ? (we all know that in Elizabethan troupes males
played the female parts, yes?)
What are you doing different than the period presentation of this piece and
When you get your Judging form remember that even with these forms Judging
of any art is subjective. Your presentation, complexity, Overall impression
scores are all based soley on these judges opinion and/or mood this day.
Tomorrow judging the same piece you might get a different score.
If you disagree with a score ask the judges why they gave it to you. they
may be seeing something you simply missed. Just do it nicely. Judges in
these competitions have a hard job. they take it on knowing they will
probably be making some one along the line unhappy but they still try their
best. It's a hard job and it's even harder to make a choice of several good
competitors. In the end, only one person can win in a titled competition.
The rest have to accept the choice the judges made weather they like it or
not. It's hard to be on either side of the judges table. At the close of the
day it should be the audience that walks away happy. If you give everything
you've got to whatever you are performing you will meet this goal.
The greatest compliment I have recieved was while speaking to a gentle about
bards we had seen. He described how impressed he was with one of the
performances that day and could not remember who did it, just that he
completely believed the character being portrayed. It happened to be my
performance and I was humbled by the effect I had upon him.
Any way there's my 9 pence on the subject (wow am I long winded or what?!)
Darius of the Bells
> I have never participated in a performance-oriented
> competition in the SCA where documentation is
> required. I'm posting this message to solicit
> from all of you, and especially those who judge these
> competitions, what we are striving for in the SCA as
> far as performance and where the line is between
> entertainment value and periodicity in both
> competition and SCA music/performance in general.
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