Entermnt-Stwds-art - 3/12/11
"Entertainment at SCA Events - Tips for Stewards" by mistress katherine kerr.
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.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
NOTE: See more of this author's work on her website at: http://webcentre.co.nz/kk
Entertainment at SCA Events
- Tips for Stewards
by Mistress katherine kerr
These quick tips derive from years of organizing entertainment activities and benefiting from the efforts of others, as well as from the contributions made by those who attended a Southron Gaard Entertainment Symposium.
(1) Match your publicity/announcements to your event
Entertainment can start right from the moment you announce your event. Consider how you are going to present the event to the populace, as that will affect their perceptions and expectations, and it can be used to heighten anticipation.
For example, the formal Pas d'Armes (http://webcentre.co.nz/kk/activities.htm#pas ) for Twelfth Night was announced with an equally formal challenge to the populace, which set the scene beautifully for how the stewards wished the event to be perceived - a chance to work within the traditions of high chivalry and pageantry. This distinguished it clearly, right from the start, as not being a basic tourney.
(2) Work with a theme in mind
Many Stewards pick a theme for an event, often relating to a time or place such as the Field of Cloth of Gold, or 12th-century Crusader. Consider how much you can relate to that theme, whether hall decorations, attendance tokens, presentation of the food, table/menu settings, background music. Themes provide a backbone, but you have to add meat, and even small touches in presentation can make an event much more enjoyable and memorable.
For example, the subtelties for our Beowulf feast were worked in with the excerpts from the Beowulf saga read out between courses - the severed arm, the melting sword, the gruesome head. The vegetable dishes were presented on a round platter in the form of a shield (peas and carrots quarterly, a cross and boss of mounded spiced barley). The tourney was in a holmgang format with shieldmen.
(3) Make sure you have the basics covered
Even if you're not interested in entertainments per se, there are some basic, readily organized things which you can easily do to help make an event, particularly a feast, more than just a fancy-dress party. These include:
· using banners to cover mundane items in a hall
· ensuring there is background music throughout a feast when appropriate
· providing a finger-washing bowl (eg rose petals, lavender, rosemary in warm water)
· having a herald announce the courses
Other things you might like to consider include:
· giving out simple attendance/payment tokens (eg. a string of beads, a strip of ribbon, finger braid, a stamped plaster disk, a small candle)
· making table runners or menus reflecting the theme of your event
· providing dance music, particularly for the most common dances
(4) Delegate, and take advantage of clearly defined roles and responsibilities
It helps greatly if your can work with people who understand the nature and intent of the event. This is particularly important in the larger, more formal or multi-day events where various roles are played by different people (eg Head Steward, Chief Cook, Tourney Marshal etc).
If you do want entertainment as part of the event, it can be useful to have an Entertainment Steward who can co-ordinate activities, organize the related resources and, on the day, communicate between "front of house" (ie the hall for a feast) and "back of house" (ie the kitchen) to ensure that neither impinges on the other.
If you know someone is good at something, whether singing, making "stuff" or simply being helpful, ask them to help. People do like to be asked, especially if it is in an area where they have some skill or interest, and this can be much more successful in gaining a positive response than a blanket call for assistance.
(5) Keep scheduled entertainments short and relevant
Not everyone wants to participate in interactive entertainment or to listen to long sagas. Make sure your scheduled entertainments, whether quizzes or plays, quests or performances, do not dominate an event, unless it is clearly understood by all beforehand that that is the purpose of the event.
Some ways of ensuring entertainments remain entertaining are to:
· limit the number of actual presentation pieces and timetable them so everyone knows what is expected of them
· ensure that the type of entertainment suits the site (eg a quiet story-teller needs an intimate setting rather than a large hall)
· have clear "victory conditions" for quests or ways of ending them suitably at your will so they don't drag on or frustrate participants
· ensure that there is good communication between the various people responsible for an event (ie so the kitchen people know court is running late, or so that a fill-in item of entertainment is available if a course needs to be delayed)
· be prepared to abandon an entertainment or idea if it won't work; this could happen for a number of reasons - compacted timetables, inclement weather, ill health - so save the idea for another day
(6) Look for ideas and keep notes
The SCA has been around for 40 years, and many excellent entertainments have been developed in that time. Add to this, records of period practices, historical novels, films, artwork, television documentaries, music, Scouting/Guiding manuals, craft books, Stefan's Florilegium, not to mention the boundless fields of the Internet, and there are myriad possible sources for ideas. Make notes, brainstorm with others, think laterally and you may come up with the event that brings people that much closer to the Dream.
How to Successfully Organize Entertainment for a SCA Event by Jheromyn le Bordar ben Mikiel
Resources for Medieval & Renaissance Entertainments
Stefan's Florilegium files
Copyright 2010 by Vicki Hyde. vicki at webcentre.co.nz. 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 is notified of the publication and if possible 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.