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Persona-Build-art - 2/24/99


"Building A Persona" by Pamela Hewitt, the Harper.


NOTE: See also the files: persona-art, persona-msg, personas-msg, names-msg, mottoes1-msg, Barbrn-Persona-art, Persona-f-Beg-art, Som-Per-Ideas-art, Vikng-Persona-wsh.





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



First published March 1998 in the Shire of Tempio's Newsletter, "The Dream



Building A Persona

by Pamela Hewitt, the Harper


Building a persona can be difficult, especially when the focus of so

many events is upon what is happening on the list field. We may  get so

involved  with putting up our tents and surviving in the great outdoors

that we forget about our personas.  I know I forget.  Most of us don't

have  time to do a great deal of  research,  so sketching out a  plan to

develop your persona is a good  idea.  The first step is to select a

period of history that you already know something about or that you want

to know more about.  Coming up with garb and a name are relatively easy,

but what then.


  1) Using A Historical Person As A Focal Point: SCA guidelines indicate

that you cannot choose a  historical character as your persona, but this

does not preclude your using a specific historical character as  a focus

for  your persona.  You may have been a member of  a historical

person's  household.  Young people were frequently sent to the houses of

noble relatives to complete their education.  You might have been a

secretary or a lady-in-waiting, who provided service to the household

and  received room, board, a clothing allowance and a modest gift each

year.  You may wish to refer to your historical person as your

"Patron,"  this implies mutually rendered service  or monetary support

without the subservient implications of  Master or Mistress.


  2) Display Your Training: Generally, a young man would have studied the

arts of war and hunting, while a young woman would have studied the

management of a large house hold. But that doesn't mean that your

persona has to be limited to gender specific tasks. You might have been

trained by A Master of Horse, Lord crusty Warrior or your Mistress

Fussalot may have taught you a great deal about herbs and brewing. You

might want to share some portion of your training with others. Remember

to avoid patronization. "My mistress was ever so much into brewing, have

you done a bit of that yourself?" You don't want to run your 3 hour

lecture on a topic, if the person you are talking to happens to have a

master's thesis in the subject. Further, don't be an Arts and Science

bore, be guided by your audiences questions and do give them an

opportunity to enter the conversation. You might learn something from



  3) Use Household Gossip:  As a member of a historic person's household

you may have an insider's view. For example you might have found Richard

the III a sympathetic and compassionate person to members of his

household and dismiss his historical bad press as slanders.  The

Countess of Shrewsbury may have been Queen Elizabeth I's

lady-in-waiting, but did she really say all those dreadful things about

her to Mary Queen of Scots. What  is your persona's opinion?


  4) Use Historical Gossip:  Your knowledge of  historical events needs

only to be very  general.  If you have been living out in the country ,

you won't know the latest news or court gossip. Unless you are a master

spy and a member of a spy ring, it is unlikely that you will  know the

intimate details of  what is going on at every court in Europe.

However, You might have a correspondent at the French or Spanish Court

who keeps you up to date on the latest news there.      5) Know Your

Geography:  Locate  your Historical person's  holdings on a map.  (The

Counties of Britain: A Tudor Atlas by John Speed, can provide period

maps.)   You may want to impress people by rattling off these estates.

Studying photographs of the buildings which will allow you to brag about

the  architectural wonders  of  these holdings.  You can exclaim on the

size of  a great  hall or the beauty of  a garden.  These buildings may

have been the scene of an historic event such as a royal visit.  There

may be first hand accounts in your historic person's correspondence.


  Does your patron's castle command a militarily strategic position?

For example,  Edinburgh Castle is built upon a huge rock mass that

commands the country side.  Its use goes back as far as the Picts and

the Romans.  Many castles are locate along the Rhine river.  Their

primary purpose was to extort tolls from boat traffic on the river. Some

early Manor houses had military defenses such as moats as well as secret

escape routes.  As a soldier you may have an interest in such things.


  6) Your Personal Experiences:  While a historic person can help you

focus in upon your persona's period,  you can transform your personal

experiences into your persona's history with a little imagination and

ingenuity.  You  can also use family stories about you or your brothers

and sister's doings  to create persona stories.   Little boys fell out

of trees and  teased their sisters as much yesterday as today.  Family

pets such as puppies chewed up shoes,  shredded papers and rolled in

dead things back then too.  Your childhood friends can be transformed

into your persona's friends.  Childhood escapades can be transformed

into persona stories.


  7) Getting Into Persona:  For most people, just putting on their garb

gets them into their persona. It is hard not to swagger when you strap

on a sword and dagger. But many  people approach their persona as a

dramatic role and may give it dimension: A) By Using Language:  Many

choose to use Shakespearian English and expressions or even Chaucerian

English  to built their character. Other's may effect a French accent or

use Latin quotations.  B)Using Body Language: Method actors frequently

use tricks such as jutting out a jaw to establish an character's

belligerence or  raising their chin and tensing their neck muscles to

emphasis their character's anxiety.  Your persona may choose to use

similar body language to communicate.  How would King Henry VIII's

Assistant Captain of the Guard  carry himself?   Would he copy King

Henry's straddled legs hands on hips stance?  Would he mumble his

commands? Would he look around to see if people were looking at him to

see how handsome he was ?  Your persona can be as close to yourself or

as far away from yourself as you choose. C) By Using  "A Bit OF

Business:"   Have some idea of something  amusing to do to draw

attention to your persona.  Be prepared with appropriate and witty

comments. For example:  At  Lyoness a Lord posing as a physician was

carrying around a  glass jar displaying  "leeches" (segments of gummy

worms).  These he dispensed with appropriate comments to inquiring

ladies and lords.  William the Bear, disguised as a barbarian leading a

puppy said:  "I found him on the road.  I'm taking him home for dinner,

I'm woking the dog, etc."  Having a conversation with the baboon skull

on someone staff can be fun, if a little disconcerting.   It is these

sort of encounters that makes an event memorable and fun.


  8) Choosing Your Garb: A glance in an art history book may very quickly

give you documentation for your garb. These may be more readily

available to you than  books on the history  of costuming which were

also compiled by researchers examining art works..   If you do not wish

to wear court dress,  look  for what people wore as ''country

clothes."   Elizabethan Costuming For the Years 1550-1580 by Janet

Winter and Carolyn Savoy has a lot of  practical ideas for creating

country clothing that is comfortable.  Price wise this book is a lot

cheaper than most patterns and provides a whole wardrobe for both lord

and lady.  You will find your reception at events improves with the

authenticity and quality of your garb.   Always wash your garb in cold

water and Woolite.  Treat it with respect. Your garb is one of the most

easily recognized  portions of your persona.


  9) Introducing Your Persona:  When you have sketched out your persona,

be sure to start introducing him/her at events.  Don't feel awkward

introducing yourself to people you already know, they will enjoy the

joke as much as you do. If  you are trying to develop a new persona and

have a new name, always pass yourself off  as your former persona's

cousin, brother, etc.  "Oh, him! He's my idiot cousin from..."   When

introducing your persona  relate something amusing or an interesting

fact about yourself.  Names such as Stephen, the Juggler are self

explanatory.  Ethal, the Unready naturally brings to mind the

question:"Unready for what."    Perhaps  have a short story to support

your boast or explain your talent.  Be brief. Be funny, if that's your

style. Having finished your piece ask your  listener to introduce

himself.  Allowing others to exercise their personas will make you a

popular person.



Copyright 1998 by Pamela Hewitt, the Harper, Pamela Keightley Hughes, 3305 Pecan Drive, Temple, TX  76502-2341. e-mail: shughes at vvm.com (2 "v"s not a "w")

Permission granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided

author is credited and 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