[Bards] Re:Bardic and Performing Arts

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Wed Apr 12 09:34:38 PDT 2006

I'm not sure I'm following this thread.  If I understand it, the initial 
complaints were:
   1. Too much emphasis on competition, and
   2. There were no bards in the Gulf War competition.

Am I missing something here?  It can't be both, can it?

There were performances every night at Gulf War, all over the site, with 
some excellent venues, including the extremely warm welcome always given to 
bards by House Falconrose, the free beer parties offered by the Trimarian 
camp, and the most incredible English pub, with scheduled times for top 
performers announced in advance.

It was open bardcraft at its best, with no competitions -- just enthusiastic 
audiences listening to wandering bards.  I had a great time performing, and 
heard some great performers.

It's true that Ansteorra has less of this than it used to.  What's the 
solution?  Host a bardic circle.

Yes, you, the bard who wants it to happen.  Years ago , we had the crutch of 
the College of Bards holding events for us, plus a few people who focused on 
it.  You could always count on a circle organized with decorations, 
refreshments and largesse, sponsored by Maggie or Willow.  Now we have to do 
it ourselves.  But the answer to "I want more X" is to do the work to make X 

While many events have competitions, almost all camping events have 
non-competitive performances.  As somebody pointed out,  the best 
performances often happen at the site of the competition after it's over.  I 
will point out that this venue was in fact provided by the competition.

But if you want bardic circles, then build a fire or other venue, bring out 
something to drink, and start performing.  I suspect there have been events 
with several bards wandering around looking for a place to perform, and many 
people wishing there were performances to hear, and nobody building the 

Yes, there is no longer a separate bardic category for Gulf War -- just as 
there have never been separate categories for embroidery, calligraphy, 
brewing, woodwork, or left-handed barbed-wire weaving.  And by the way, 
since each side had two kingdoms this year, each kingdom only provided five 
arts entries instead of the usual ten.  Since there are more than five kinds 
of artists, some types didn't get represented this year.  Very few 
performers came to the Kingdom A&S to try for it -- only two, as I remember, 
and Rhiannon Redwulf was one of the chosen alternates.

The Laurels try to judge each art fairly, on its own merits.  A great bardic 
piece will get a higher overall score than a merely very good broach, 
regardless of initial ooh-factor..  I judged the performances at A&S this 
year, and the average scores compared well with the static arts.  But do you 
expect a bardic piece to be chosen as one of the top five works in the 
kingdom, when no former Premier Bard entered?  There were no pieces by 
Finnican, Pendaran, Antonia, Tiggy, Robin, etc.  The "understandable 
reasons" that embroiderers and weavers were chosen instead of bards is that 
the best embroiderers and weavers were there with their best works.  I've 
certainly heard, and judged, bardic pieces that could have been in the top 
five.  If one of Ansteorra's best performances had been heard, I'd have 
given it a high enough score to go to Gulf War.  But I did see some of our 
best metalwork, embroidery, woodcuts, etc.

(One of our best bards did enter, but she didn't do her best -- I've heard 
her do the same song much better.)

Next year we are back to ten artists.  It will be easier for a bard or two 
to be chosen -- but the way for bards to be chosen is to show up and do 
their best work.

I guess the overall point I'm trying to make is that things aren't that bad, 
and we can make them better.  We can do more good with a thread about the 
circle we're holding at next week's event than one complaining about the 
lack of non-performance venues.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin

By the way, the Steppes Eisteddfod is coming up -- at Steppes Warlord, on 
Memorial Day weekend..  This competition is usually a great venue.  Late 
Sunday night, we get fifty or sixty people listening, and twenty or more 

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