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henry

Cool SCA event

We spent yesterday at Beowulf: The Event. No fighting, no dancing, no fencing, just food and a tag-team recitation of Beowulf in its entirety (in modern English translations), although a few bits were also done in Old English to give the audience a feel of how that would sound.

The hall had been prepared to feel (if you didn't look too closely) like a Scandinavian mead-hall during a long winter night. Curtains were hung to block out most of the sunlight from the windows, and the overhead lights were off, so the only light was fire-colored (variously from colored electric lights and Sterno flames), and everyone sat on wooden benches around a long central "firepit". A structure of thick "wooden" beams (actually cardboard or plastic tubes, but painted with wood grain, knotholes, cracks, and runic graffiti) appeared to hold up the ceiling.

The poem started around 1:00 PM and continued, with potty breaks and a dinner break, until around 9:00 PM. Each of twenty or thirty different performers from five different Kingdoms took a segment, each in his or her own idiomatic style, so the event also served as a showcase for the storyteller's art. Most declaimed in prose, walking up and down the hall around the firepit, a few chanted or sang, a few accompanied themselves on frame drums or harps. The audience were encouraged to chime in when something especially dramatic happened, so there were sincere sighs and laments when an innocent victim got eaten, hisses when treachery was done, and cheers and foot-stomping when a good guy triumphed.

shalmestere and I weren't among the scheduled performers, although I had been asked to prepare one section as an "understudy". But we brought a Romanesque harp and a Parma-baptistry citole, and noodled around on the earliest repertoire we could summon to memory whenever there was a break between storytellers -- Cantigas de Santa Maria, Carmina Burana, etc. We, like most of the hundred or so people in attendance, abandoned our usual SCA outfits and wore some attempt at pre-1200 clothing -- in our cases, costumes left over from the St. Nicholas play we put on six years ago.

I don't know that this was the most "medieval moment" or the most enjoyable event I've had in thirty years in the SCA, but it was certainly in the top 5%. Once in a while one is reminded that things like this can be done.
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I love that a focused, high-persona (?) event was attended by so many enthusiastic/satisfied people. Stretches the definition of ''successful event''.

Sorry that I could not also be there 8)
All weekend I wished I could be in three places at once. *sigh* Maybe once I'm flush again, I can try to do something like this for El Cantar de Mio Cid.

This Looks like a good infection to catch...

I've heard ruminations from various quarters about doing similar events revolving around Cantrbury Tales, the lais of Marie de France, and one other that escapes me. (Personally, I was pondering a 'Decameron Day' with stories all day, an early-ish feast and then a 15-cent. Italian ball, maybe). 8)