[Bards] Bardic college Events

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Tue Oct 31 11:35:32 PST 2006

Annes wrote:

> I think it is really individual preference of the *performer* as
>  to the need for
> more or less time...I don't think that the audience really cares.

It's not merely a matter of preference.  There's some actual research 
involved.  As near as I can tell, in a lot of cultures, ten minutes is 
extremely short for any story above the level of a joke or bawdy story.

When I wrote my Canterbury Tale years ago, I ran against this issue.  Mine 
was slightly shorter than the least of Chaucer's, and *much* shorter than 
his average, and it still clocked in at slightly over ten minutes. 
Similarly, *The Baron* takes roughly 8 1/2 minutes to perform.  The Willow 
story takes anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes, depending on how much the 
audience gets into it.

By any rational standard, these are my top three pieces.  A five minute 
limit is a statement that most forms of period story, and all of Robin's 
best work, are not suitable for Ansteorra's Premier Bard.  I find that 
suggestion ... limiting.

> The audience is just looking for that surprise ending or that witty
> turn of phrase.

Well, some audiences are also looking for authentic period flavor, and many 
kinds of authentic, period flavor are not possible in five minutes.

It's just not true that no audiences look for Beowulf, Sir Orfeo, the Battle 
of Maldon, etc.

> *Why* isn't it held in the center of the main hall?

Because the event is Twelfth Night, and the main hall is used for what it's 
been used for at Twelfth Night for over a quarter of a century.

The Eisteddfod has no right to try to shut down the main part of an event 
whose roots pre-date the Principality of Ansteorra, and the bards, being 
people who cherish and respect our history and traditions, should not try to 
deny them.

> One might wonder then how the "period" bards did it.

They performed in a hall, at a time and place, in which the bardic 
entertainment was the major thing going on.

> *Any* competion that lasts 7 or more hours  (in my humble opinion) is
> about 3 to 4 hours to long!

Like Queen's Champion, Royal Huntsman, Stppes Warlord, etc.  Most of the 
greatest competitions take more than 3 or 4 hours.

> I don't see how storytelling is any different from say ...writing good
> poetry. Some poems are quite long (ie. Norse Eddas)  while others capture
> the mind and paint a picture with almost no words at all (Japanese Haiku). 
> I
> don't think that either style is "better" at being a poem than the other. 
> I
> don't think that stories are necessarily good if they are longer. I think
> its the *style* that the performer prefers.

It is the style that the form and the culture require.  I can't wroite a 
haiku about a great battle, or a limerick praising the honor, grace and 
beauty of the Queen.

> I've sat (and suffered) thru stories that dragged on intermeably to sort 
> of
> end somewhere...

So have I, and I sympathize.  But the problem of bad bards is not fixed by 
kicking good bards off the stage in five minutes.  Whatever the rule, the 
bad bards will get their share of the time.

> ...sometime. I, personally, *like* the challenge of trying to tell a good
> story in a short period of time. I absolutely *revel* in those sorts of
> challenge competitions where you are given a few words or a phase
> and told to go off and come back in 20 minutes with a story, poem or
> song that is 5 minutes or less.

I do too, and it's a worthy exercise, but shouldn't we also do what period 
bards did?

> I know what you mean about trying to take someone
> else's story and cutting it down to fit a required time slot but in that
> case, I would also advise to to pick a story with which you *can* do that.
> The ones you seem to prefer don't sound like that sort of story.

Unfortunately, this is equivalent to saying don't use persona, culture, 
research, or any other period consideration when choosing your pieces.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin

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