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Firecrawling-art - 3/7/08


"Fyrecrawling 101" by THL Thomas Whitehart, aka True Thomas the Storyteller.


NOTE: See also the files: Bardic-Guide-art, bardic-msg, Entrtng-n-SCA-art, storytelling-art, Tales-o-Teror-art, Jestrs-Mumrs-lnks, Hornbook-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Find more of this author's articles and links on his webpage:



Fyrecrawling 101

by THL Thomas Whitehart, aka True Thomas the Storyteller



"I am he who sets the head aflame with inspiration!"-Taliesin


Performing in the SCA is a unique experience. Some of my most treasured moments have come from times when I was "fyrecrawling" or playing with my fellow SCAdians.  I heartily recommend adding the "wandering performer" skill to your performing abilities. There are a LOT of good reasons. Think of it this way- there would be no SCA if it were not for the minstrels, storytellers, and troubadors of old.  They were  the ones who created the legends of King Arthur, El Cid, Beowulf and so on.  They were the ones who inspired. And that inspiration was so powerful, that hundreds of years later, a group of people in Berkeley decided they wanted to recreate that dream.


And here we are.  So when we introduce a song or story, or share something with someone new, we are keeping the dream alive.  Some other reasons- as  a performer, we need to challenge ourselves. To keep our chops hot, to be relevant, to work with a wide variety of audiences and material.  When you walk up to a strange group of people, and attempt to entertain, you are doing something that has been done for hundreds of years. In a way, its probably one of most period things happening at a war. You are saying to yourself that I have gifts I want to share. That while I may not be perfect, I am going to do my best to entertain, in my own way.   I can promise you this╔it may not be an easy path, but it is one that is immensely rewarding.  You will make friends, develop your craft, learn new skills, and learn what your art means to you.




  1. Believe in      yourself.
  2. Know that      people want to be entertained
  3. Not every      gig is going to be a winner.
    2. Get out       with as much dignity as possible
    4. Don't       immediately beat yourself up- analyze it 3 days later
    6. Tweak,       and get out there and do it again
  4. Perfect      your craft- practice-practice-practice. Learn from others. Get training      outside the SCA
  5. Love what      you do.
  6. Learn to      read your audience
  7. Do not      limit yourself or your audience.
  8. Believe in      the power of your craft, and your heritage
  9. Take care      of your audience and supporters
  10. Always      leave them wanting more.


Tips for performing for SCA Audiences


  1. Learn to      read your audience
  2. Ask Questions.      Who/What/Where/Why
  3. Establish      Repoire
  4. The right      stuff for the right crowd.
  5. Lead with      the Funny (Haha, A-ha, aaaah)
  6. Control      your environment.
  7. Have      polished pieces
  8. Audience      participations (songs, stories, leading questions- their performers)
  9. Brevity is      the sole of wit- Keep it Tight!
  10. Play to      your connections, bring the others in.
  11. Work in the      moment.
  12. Thank      them. Thank them, and Praise them Elsewhere.


Bardic Etiquette


  1. Don't muck      it up for other performers. Don't be a Diva, or a Rhinobard.
  2. Talk to      your fellow performers, and support our supporters.
  3. Avoid the      Neanderthals, and warn your fellow bards.
  4. Don't kill      the audience, don't use up all the oxygen, don't step on a baby bard.
  5. Support the      small's and the small audiences.
  6. Never trash      a fellow bard openly, and always, always, say good.
  7. Know that      you have real power. Never misuse it, and always think thrice before      Satire.
  8. Always do      your best to help newbies along.
  9. No swiping      without permission (songs, schtick, sweethearts, etc.)
  10. Always,      Always, be polite╔.(on stage.)
  11. Become a      producer!  Teach what you know. Learn to coach.
  12. Use your      power to promote the good.  Support our Sponsors╔Remember those who are      not there.
  13. Be Dynamic,      Be Different. What makes you Unique? Know your Personae
  14. Have a      varied repertoire.
  15. Learn from      your fellow performers. Bring a new piece every war to share.


Performing at War-


  2. Don't      perform if you are not feeling well, etc.
  3. Always      enquire, "ho the camp"Be ready to bail.
  4. Travel with      buddies (it will help in the beginning)
  5. Dress warm,      bring plenty of water, Have at least 3 pieces down pat.
  6. Know how to      open,
    1. Acknowledge       their gift
    3. Acknowledge       the moment
    5. Make it       count!
  1. Know how to      project your voice, and use it.
  2. Know how to      work a room/fire/what have you. (Get True to demonstrate╔)
  3. Know the      tools of the trade. (Voice, Physicality, Metalanguage)
  4. Dress for      success
  5. The empty      chair by the fire is full of smoke
  6. Always ask      before you take a chair.
  7. Carry      flashlights. Water. A staff.
  8. Avoid the      horn of plenty.
  9. Carry gifts
  10. Brag on      folks
  11. Know how to      work in the round. Match your timing to the mood.
  12. Play to      your audience. (Symbols, etc. etc.)- Go for the Agreement. Keep the dream.
  13. Short Sets.      (Plan them!) Learn the rhythm of a good gig.
  14. Minimum      Fiddle time. (and how to cover)
  15. Minimum      apologies. Acknowledge when you screw up, and get right back up.
  16. Props      (hat's, etc. etc.)
  17. Tools      (staff, lights, cup, music bag, chair, musical instrument, etc.)
  18. Learn the      Bawdy beautiful, the Classic, the Ethnic.
  19. Know how to      close
    1. Acknowledge       their thanks
    3. Promote       the dream.




When all around you is dark, and smoke fills the air

When you walk underneath the stars, hear the laughter of distant fires, snatches of songs and the thumping of drums

When you walk from camp to camp, peering in the darkness at the silhouette of one group or another,

When you gaze up at the stars, and realize that you are the inheritor of the legends, lore and songs, of thousands of Bards and storytellers who came before you, and that the songs and stories of love, passion, wit and wonder are yours to nurture and share,

When you finish a song or Story and hear their whispers╔.

"Ohhhh. Well done" "HUZZAH""sniff, wipe.."

and you see the fire reflected back in their eyes, full of the glories and the stories╔.

When the children call out your name, when people say

"Who is that? Is that You? Oh my god, have a seat╔.

When the evening grows cold, and you pull your cloak round,

Remember as you gaze around at the hundreds of fires╔

At the fires you have not been to╔.

and for whom you must go, to account for you and your craft honorably

At the fires you have been to╔and for whom you must reinvent yourself

At the fires barely twinkling, at the lonely twos and fews

You are the voice

The Spirit of what we once were, and what we can be.

All the spirits of the past did this for you╔

All the futures that will be, are waiting for what you have to give

Give of yourself, and believe in the magic╔

The singers and storytellers of old are walking in the dark next to you,

they have given you treasures, and ask only that you care

Fill yourself,  and pour forth, so that the next generation

can be born and inspired.

The mead of poetry, the fire of passion, the music of life

We are the keepers of the flame of inspiration





THL Thomas Whitehart

(aka True Thomas the Storyteller)



Copyright 2008 by True Thomas, 663 Fowler Ave., Newbury Park, CA 91320. <Truethomas (at) sbcglobal.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org