[Bards] Performing in court

PBW PBW_RN at peoplepc.com
Wed Feb 21 20:54:30 PST 2007

> This is a question--well, a series of
> questions--particularly for the veteran bards and
> entertainers out there, but open to anyone who has
> advice to offer.

I'll offer what little I can share.


 >Do you announce yourself, or just launch right into your performance?

Since often SCA events have attendees from other areas who dont/wont know me 
I usually introduce myself with something along the lines of "I am Lady 
Magdalia Mac an Ghabhann, I hail from the Shire of Loch Ruadh"...  of course 
it also depends again on the venue and the tone of the court. The more 
formal the court the more formal I am, the more laid back the court the more 
laid back I am.

>If an interruption occurs, do you bow out or try harder to hold the 
>audience's attention?

It depends on the interruption. Is the interruption rude populace? Then I 
usually adjust my performance to perform to those who are interested, this 
may just be shifting and performing for Their Majesties or Their 
Excellencies, or it might be a small band of populace. Was the interruption 
someone returning to court? Sometimes Their Majesties or Their Excellencies 
will wish to bestow an honor upon a member of the populace and that 
individual is not readily available. As a bard you may be asked to entertain 
while everyone waits for a Herald to retrieve that person, if the 
interruption is that person returning then I would cut my performance short 
and thank those present for the opportunity. If your in the middle of a 
story a quick " and to hear how Sir Knight saved the Fair Maid come to the 
bardic circle tonight at 8pm!" and grin, bow and exit.

>How best do you walk the thin line between doing what has been asked of 
>you, and inflicting yourself on a captive audience that may not be entirely 
>interested?  Is it simply the
> job of a good bard to make sure they *are* interested?

Knowing your audience is the key. Is everyone restless because the court has 
been long or its been hot or <insert adverse situation here>? Then that 
would not be the time to delve into a 10-minute story. That would be a good 
time for a short upbeat, maybe even silly, story/song. If the populace is 
restless instead of performing a "show piece" maybe doing something the 
populace can join in on would be best, something that's either easy to 
recognize and most folks at least already know the chorus or something that's 
simple with an easy to follow and learn chorus.

> I'm not asking for specific answers to that whole barrage of questions, 
> but it's dawned on me that I don't even know how much I don't know.

I have been in the SCA over 13 years now and still feel I am learning. My 
answers are far from specific but maybe they can shed some light for you.

> I had my first experience with court performance last weekend, and I'd 
> like to be better prepared next time.  Any thoughts from those wiser and 
> more seasoned than myself would be very much >appreciated.

If I could give two pieces of advice it would be (1) have a few things handy 
in your repertoire' that you can call on at any time under any circumstance 
and that you know "like the back of your hand" and (2) never take your shoes 
off during court or you will get called on! <grin> It never fails, I would 
think I didn't have to do anything in court so would get comfortable and 
take off my shoes and yep...  get called upon in court for something!

I hope this helps!

Lady Magdalia Mac an Ghabhann

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