[Bards] Let's Talk About Bardic Circles ...

Gerald Norris jerryn at houston.rr.com
Thu May 20 20:51:53 PDT 2004

1) Favorite - Pick, pass or play - gives everyone most of a chance to
perform.  Gives those who don't want to perform a chance to ask for their
favorite pieces from their favorite bards.  Gives bards a chance to rest.
What's not to like?   Least favorite?  One that insists that everyone try to
perform bardic, by telling stories of their first event or whatever.   Some
people just aren't performers, storytellers, or poets, and they know it.
Give them the chance to bow out gracefully!  However, the reverse hostage
theater last weekend at Loch Guardian was puhretty entertaining!

2)  Themes?  Only if you're running your bardic competition at the circle.
Challenges?  They're okay if the person is up for it, but for the most part
bardic circles shouldn't be run as competitions.  One of the problems with
keeping a circle interesting is getting everyone involved.  Sure, the
individual performances are pretty, but you have to throw some sing-a-longs
in to keep everyone's interest.  But that brings us to ....

3) First - bardic circles shouldn't be considered performance venues;
instead they should be considered a place to relax, sing some songs, tell
some jokes, stories, etc.  If everyone is expected to behave as if they were
at a concert, then it's no longer a bardic circle.  If someone gets up and
starts doing a piece and goes into too many "wait", "Uhm", "uhhhh"s, then
ask if they would mind performing the piece at a later date when they've had
a chance to work it out a little more.  If they start getting snotty, start
up "Wild Rover".  It's a loud song, will drown them out, and everyone knows
the chorus (or will by the end of the song) and will be thankful to have
moved on to something that reminds them to breathe once in a while.  Silly
is good, if that's what you're going for, but the best circles I've been to
have some of each added in.  Breathtaking performances followed by
side-splitting hilarity followed by Eleanor's "Sad Song", which sorta
combines both in a twisted kind of way.

I prefer to think of myself as "hosting" bardic circles when such things
happen rather than "running" it.  I try to provide some drink for those who
need it, and usually a torch or fire (weather permitting (that means that it
doesn't rain or the low isn't going to be in the high 80s).  If things
aren't going fast enough, I'll try to call on some people to perform if I
know of them.  If I'm a "guest" at the circle, I still don't mind calling on
people if things slow down.  Plenty of seating is a good thing too, but
sometimes it's hard to do.

My two pence worth.  Now.  Go.  Teach!

  -----Original Message-----
  From: bards-bounces at ansteorra.org [mailto:bards-bounces at ansteorra.org]On
Behalf Of Snorri Hallsson
  Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2004 12:35 PM
  To: bards at ansteorra.org
  Subject: [Bards] Let's Talk About Bardic Circles ...

  Greetings my fellow bards:

  I will be teaching a class at Steppes Warlord on "How (Not) to Host a
Bardic Circle."  The class is scheduled for 11:00 am on Saturday and will
take place wherever the event steward tells me to.  If "experience" is the
lesson learned by one's own failures and "wisdom" is the lesson learned by
the failures of others, then I invite one and all to come and be wizened
from my own personal experience!

  (This is a slightly serious, but mostly tongue-in-cheek class.  However,
you should be able to walk away with some useful information, or you can use
the handout as a firestarter.)

  However, in making my final preparations on this class, I'd like to enlist
the help of my fellow entertainers, who I trust to have more success in this
venue than I.  If you're so inclined, please answer the following questions:

  1.                   What's your favorite and least favorite bardic circle
format, and why?  (For instance: pass & play, where a candle is passed from
person to person and the holder of the candle either performs, requests a
performance from another, or passes the candle to the next person.)

  2.                   Do you set a "theme" for the circle beforehand?  If
so, what do you do to keep a circle on track?  Is there a point where you
let a themed bardic run itself?  (For instance: a bardic circle at a melee
event may have a "war" theme but the majority of attendees want to hear and
are performing romantic or bawdy pieces - what do you do?)

  3.                   (The $64 question!)  What do you do to save your
circle when someone performs a circle-killing piece?  (For instance: Joe
Schmo has decided, after maybe one or two too many, that he is a legendary
bard and decides to perform the one piece he knows, a 45-minute epic
punctuated by off-key choruses and a liberal helping of "Um," "Uh," and "No,
wait ." - people are getting quickly distracted and frustrated with Joe -
how do you handle the situation to get the circle going again?)

  There, that should get you guys talking for a couple days, I hope.
Otherwise my class might be shorter than I'd like it to be.

  Health and fortune,

  HL Snorri Hallsson

  snorri at houston.rr.com

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