[Bards] From Eleanor Fairchild - on Eisteddfod

willow Taylor willowjonbardc at juno.com
Wed Jan 7 16:17:07 PST 2004

Greetings from Duchess Willow de Wisp

I didn't complete mainly because I did not have the documentation. Story
telling is hard to document because it is an oral art form and once you
write it down it becomes a written art form. I did not have the time to
study the necessary anthropology to trace story telling back as far as I
could. Also to do it justice it would be about 15 pages of  peer reviewed
articles. To reproduce this differently for each piece I might feel like
performing was more than I was up to. I also get a little pissed off at
the unfairness of the judging form used in Ansteorra. If I do a piece  by
Bertain de Born translated by a expert in the field. I can't just state
that. I have to do more. I am not an expert on Old French. I can not
evaluate the translation. I have to trust my expert. If I want to do a
sonnet by Shakespeare I have to write a paper on him. I have to state 
elegantly on why he  is period. Now if I am writing a original sonnet I
can start with the assumption that Shakespeare is period and compare his
work and mine. I do not have to defend Shakespeare I only have to defend
my piece as to being Shakespearean like.  Because the second form of
documentation has a easier form , it can be more impressive. Original
work documentation  get more points, doing period work is rewarded less
than original work. 

Also there is the matter of the judges. You can  write the best piece of
Bullshit that have even been put out. I have seen it. That doesn't mean
your  piece reflects your documentation. I remember a Arts and Science a
long time ago. A lady put out a piece of documentation that supported
traditional story telling. Then she did her piece in a style that
reflected modern styles The Laurels were so impressed with the story that
they give her full points. When I discussed the documentation with her
she told me she knew that those Laurel didn't know a thing about folklore
so she just wrote to educate them. When we reach the level of Kingdom
Eisteddfod I don't believe we should be educating the judges. I think if
the judges can't tell the differences between period and non -period work
they should not be the judges. If we want to live up to the ideals of
authenticity we should limited pieces to period works and period styles,
with supporting documentation if necessary.  Hamlets's speech would not
need documentation for heaven sake, but original work based on it would.
An old poem from the 600 AD talking about Hector's balls might need to be
verified.(A bard used such a story for 3 years before he finally read the
intro. and discovered that it was a modern book.) We could make the
Eisteddfod sort of a contest of judged work. If you can not support it,
it is not preformed. Don't give points for the quality of the
documentation, just take things away if it is not there. 

I believe in the A&S and I believe in the documentation system there, but
the Eisteddfod was set up to do something different than the A&S. The
Eisteddfod is last existing vestige of the old Ansteorra. In the old days
we believed in studying the pre-17th world by creating a construct of a
feudal land and we would take roles reflecting this land. With our
individual studies we would teach each other by our interaction
(role-playing). The performers were a vital part of the system.
Performers would interject information about the culture we were studying
the same way performers interjected data in the time periods we were
studying. I have a period book that tells squires that they should listen
to storytellers telling tales about great knight if they want to learn
about knighthood. The original bards who set up the Eisteddfod did so to
promote the highest values of performing. It and the local Eisteddfod
were set up to promote a class of performers who treasured the historical
ideals of Ansteorra and had the skills to make period works and period
styles fun and entertaining to the people of Ansteorra. If you look at
the winners of the kingdom Eisteddfods you will discover many of them
have made period works and period styles fun for us all. Robin, Pendaran,
Antonio make late period works come alive. Harold Boderson and Cedrick
have thrilled us with early works. You folks have asked for my chivalric
stories when you were drunk. You must like them. The way the Eisteddfods
are being run now promotes entertaining. When we look at other kingdoms
whose "kingdom bards" con\competitions follow the A&S format we see
scholars, who don't entertain, winning, not performers who can open
windows into the past. I think we need different format to promote
different things. No one contest or format can do everything but when we
put them all together we get a better whole. 

Duchess Willow de Wisp
former Premier Bard

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