[Bards] Kingdom A&S

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Tue Feb 6 07:32:54 PST 2007

Clara asked some very good questions.  I'll try to give a more-or-less 
complete answer:

> Greetings unto the list!
> So, there are only three performance entries
> pre-registered for Kingdom A&S. That's a bit
> depressing.

Why is that depressing?  How many potters will there be?  How many armorers? 
This number looks out of place because you are not comparing bards to 
seamstresses or to jewelery makers, but to all other artists combined.

We had fifteen entered in Eisteddfod last month.  Is there any other art 
form that will have appreciably more than that in its biggest kingdom venue?

> Is there any particular reason? How would the bardic
> community feel about the possibility of merging
> Eisteddfod and Kingdom A&S?

It sounds so good in theory, doesn't it?  I think everyone has considered 
this at some time or another.  But it doesn't stand up to careful analysis 
of what it would actually entail.  While they are both the kingdom's highest 
venue for certain kinds of artists, these events are incompatible in intent, 
flavor, and format.

First of all, it would detract from kingdom A&S for all people who want to 
hear the bards and look at the creative works.  At A&S, we all have an 
opportunity to look at all the art from all the artists.  If Eisteddfod is 
there as well, then anybody who attends Eisteddfod misses the opportunity to 
wander around and spend serious time at all the tables.  Years ago, as Baron 
of the Steppes, we tried combining the Steppes Artisan and Steppes bardic 
competition at a single event.  The result was that the baron never got to 
see the works on tables, and the baroness never got to hear the bard's 
performances.  Observing each of these two events requires full-time focus. 
As long as the judges want to see all the art presented, it can't be done.

Specifically, the judges who focus on the tables cannot spend all day 
listening to the bards.  It is currently possible for static arts Laurels to 
attend the kingdom Eisteddfod.  Hold it at the same time that they are 
judging the other entries, and their Laurel duty would *require* them to 
never watch the kingdom's premier bardic venue.  It would require me to 
never look at what is one the tables.  Last Kingdom A&S, only two Laurels 
saw people's performances.  At last month's Eisteddfod, several more were 
watching.  At Stargate Yule, when they've had both together, the bardic 
Laurels see the bards, and the static Laurels look over the tables.

Secondly, it means that the bards themselves cannot look at the artistic 
works, and that artists who want to watch Eisteddfod cannot sit by their 
tables getting feedback.  It would cause a deeper division between the 
artisans and the performers.

Thirdly, Kingdom Eisteddfod has its own history and its own traditions --  
both period and Ansteorran.  An Eisteddfod is an actual period event; 
Kingdom A&S is an SCA-created modern science-fair-style event.  I don't 
object to that fact -- we did it because it's the best way we can come up 
with to showcase the works of our artisans.  But the event, by its very 
nature, has no persona and no period ambiance -- and no art being done. 
Performing to an audience is the authentic, period way of performing, and 
the best way to judge it.  But while putting a dress on a form or a scroll 
on a table is the best way to judge them, that's not the way to use them in 
medieval and Renaissance times.  The essential diffeence is this.  Bards 
being judged are currently doing their art; artisans being judging are 
sitting nexct to completed art they did before the event.  Bards perform at 
Eisteddfod, but seamstresses don't sew there.  Throughout Eisteddfod, I am a 
Renaissance bard, performing and listening to other bards.  Throughout 
Kingdom A&S, I am a 21st century re-enactor, sitting next to art I already 
finished, or observing and judging re-enactment art.  No resemblance. 
Dumping traditions and persona in favor of a more mundane atmosphere is not 
going to appeal to the sort of people who become bards.

Fourth, Kingdom A&S is a horrible venue for bards, because there is no 
audience -- just the two or three judges.  A good bard is feeding off the 
audience and making adjustments throughout the performance.  Performing for 
judges alone isn't really performance; it's the equivalent of making a dress 
that nobody will ever wear, or cooking food that nobody will ever eat.

By contrast, there were anywhere from thirty to fifty people listening to 
the bards at kingdom Eisteddfod.  At the worst, least attended Eisteddfods, 
there has always been an audience -- people who are there just to hear you 
perform.  That is the number one thing bards want, and Kingdom A&S simply 
doesn't provide it.

I have performed at Kingdom A&S -- once.  I have no particular desire to do 
so again.  I have entered Eisteddfod many times, and will do so every time I 
can.  It's fun.

The fact is that Kingdom Eisteddfod was originally part of something the 
bards created for themselves because the kingdom structures -- including 
Kingdom A&S -- didn't serve the needs of the bardic community.  It was 
created by bards, supported by bards, run by bards.  And it worked, and 
grew.  It serves the community as it is, in a way that Kingdom A&S doesn't 
and never has.  If it got folded into Kingdom A&S, within a few years the 
bards would create a new venue that served their needs, created by bards, 
supported by bards, run by bards.

Finally -- look at one salient fact.  Three bards entered Kingdom A&S; while 
fifteen bards entered Kingdom Eisteddfod.  To support the bards, you don't 
try to re-make the more popular venue into the less popular one.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin 

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