All right folks! Put on your party hats and reading glasses, as I’m about to fulfill today’s word count with a rundown on yesterday’s event, the Tournament of Ymir. (For those wondering what this is, or thinking that perhaps this crazy organization sounds like fun, check out www.SCA.org.)
But first, a prologue. This past week, I’ve been staying up way too late preparing for the event. I completed my first knitting project made of silk at a super tiny gauge (about 15 stitches per inch/6 stitches per cm). I bound off the last stitch at two in the morning on Friday, then sewed all day Friday because I’m on a mission to get better at sewing and having more authentic garb, and of course managed to sew several seams in the wrong direction (insert mighty cussing). That finished up at about 2 in the morning the day of the event, and I’d prefer if no one looked too closely at the uneven shoulders of the sideless surcote, or the unfinished inside seams of the surcote or the cote. Oh. And then I remembered I needed documentation for my project … and to lay out the things I needed to bring the next day.
I’m not as young as I once was, and somewhere in my marathon garb session, I lost my phone (I buried it in a garb tote and didn’t find it until Rob was rummaging around trying to find it in the morning.) This meant I had no alarm set and woke up right around the time I had planned on leaving. Rob and I got the kids, got the car packed, managed to bring most of what I had meant to bring. (There are advantages to laying things out the night before … Rob … Just saying.)
We got on the road and drove a ways – long enough for me to finish weaving in the ends on my knitting project, because it’s not a real event unless you’re finishing up something on the way there.
Knitting project, a silk relic pouch based on extant examples of medieval knitted items … and Spike the Atlantian seahorse. 😀
Upon arrival, we trolled in (basically paid the entrance fee and got our token for the site), then headed to the A&S competition area. At this point, we were late enough that I figured I could take some time, as we had missed morning court (more on this later). I dropped off my project with Mistress Michel Almond de Champagne, admired the beautiful works on display, chatted with several folks, and finally decided it was time to meander down to the list field and meet up with some of the other ladies from the Canton of Attilium so we could get some practice in. Lo and behold, as we left the building, we ran into Katie, Jess, and Brittany. Perfect!
We moseyed on down to the list field and found a tent full of familiar faces. At this point, I was realizing how incredibly warm the day was turning, and contemplated removing the surcote, because I was sweating. At this point, I was still not feeling really put together, sweaty already, had a bunch of stuff that still needed to be in places, had forgotten to bring the linen for my veil/kerchief to hide the short purple hair … Ladybug and Baby Bug were squirmy and excited because YAY OUTSIDE!!, and I was still trying to switch into extrovert mode … and then I received news I had been called into court. Oh crap. Yeah, sorry, I’ll just hide over — nope. Michele Servideo Stech spotted me and suddenly I was kneeling in front of the Baron and Baroness, the former who immediately appropriated Baby Bug, and heard Her Excellency talking about some magical person who liked to do arts and science and had lots of projects and roped other people into doing stuff … then admitted me (WHAT??) into the Order of the Boreas. Which was SO AWESOME, PEOPLE. There was beautiful bling and a beautiful scroll, both by Mistress Michel. They will be framed and displayed with pride, especially the illustration of the Hellenistic figure Nyx. As Mistress Michel later explained, Nyx stays up at night, working and thinking and dreaming. Hm …. Sounds familiar …
Beautiful medallion and artwork by Mistress Michel Almond de Champagne.
As I stood, kind of blown away, I did have the presence of mind to retrieve my youngest child from the Baron. But as I walked away, there was some laughter. Ladybug had decided to get in on the action, and as I was walking away with Baby Bug, she had headed on up for some quality time with Their Excellencies. Finally, both children in hand, we headed off into the sunset … Just kidding. We found a spot to get some rehearsing in.
What were we rehearsing, you ask? Well, glad you wanted to know! Some of the ladies of the Canton of Attilium had been talking about wanting to start doing some music. So we decided to write a song for Coronation. I contributed the melody, Katie contributed the lyrics, Ashley (who we are trying hard to recruit) contributed the arrangement, and Jess and Brittany contributed their beautiful voices. Together, we put together a song about the Siege of Paris (since the theme of the event was Vikings versus the French.) Katie and I dressed in early French fashion. Brittany and Jess dress in Viking garb. The song was set up so two lines of the verse were sung by the French, two by the Vikings, and then we came together on the chorus, which goes:
In the hearth a fire burns
Beckoning their safe return.
At the dawn I long to see
Loved ones marching home to me.
We’d been practicing this for several weeks, and were able to perform it at the 2pm performing arts gathering. I will have to see if I can find some video and upload it. For my part, I have missed singing as part of a group, and these ladies are so very talented that it was a pleasure. We are planning to put something together for Coronation! So stay tuned …
Speaking of Coronation, I had been talking with Baroness Sophie the Orange of the commedia dell’arte group I Firenzi, and my friend Michele, who is an ATS belly dancer and quite a talented one, about putting together something for Coronation. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I think we are going to have some fun at that event. Also, during the conversation, we were talking with Catherine Ambrose and I think somehow I volunteered to help with A&S Coordination for performing arts for that event. And by think, I mean, I definitely said I would do it. Because I like planning and coordinating stuff, and I think I can be helpful.
After the performance was over, I had to miss the commedia show, “The Doge’s Swan,” in order to be back up at the A&S competition. Rob, who had taken the kids for a break and some lunch and car naps, had to get his French burnt mead over to the brewing competition. Ah, the curse of having too many fun things to do.
At the A&S competition, which was a bit of a Viking pillage event (or dirty Santa), every artist received a ticket. When their ticket was pulled, they got to pick with A&S piece they wanted to go home with. My ticket got chosen first (which just shows that it was actually my lucky day), and I picked a beautiful icon of St. Germaine painted by Brian Sears. Perhaps it was my fierce French visage, but nobody else pillaged it from me, and it is now hanging on my wall above the baker’s rack. This was one of the most well-attended A&S displays/competitions I’ve seen, and I hope people are fired up to continue to participate. Many kudos to Mistress Michel for coming up with the unique idea and her excellent organization and publicizing of the event.
Next, Rob came to tell me that he hadn’t won the brewing event, and worse luck, the Kingdom Brewer had brought the same kind of mead project. This was kind of a bummer, but since we have more mead at home, was still all around a win, I think. (Keep reading, more about this later…)
The next big thing was going to be our I Firenzi meets Shakespeare production of Twelfth Night. But before I get there, a few things I wanted to mention that were awesome:
*Michele and Sylvie dancing with zills in the recreation hall, and teaching the little girls who gathered around some basic moves in an impromptu dance class.
*The ladies who joined us at the A&S performance. I unfortunately did not get the name of the song they sang about the duty of the crown, but it was beautiful and moving. And those riddles … Odin dad jokes, I tell you…
*Bambi, the most wonderful and gracious and hospitable. Right when I needed a miracle, she brewed many cups of Turkish coffee, which were in themselves little miracles.
*Visiting with Kat in the A&S area, where she worked on her spinning wheel and I got a chance to talk geeky fiber talk with her and another lady whose name escapes me (that’s what names do with me).
*A gentleman, Markus, whose daughter ran around and around with Ladybug until they were laughing and falling down. I love SCA kids. We hope to see you at another event!
*The graciousness of our Baron and Baroness and the Baron and Baroness of Black Diamond. Sometimes in the SCA, you have leaders and you have authority figures, and in our baronies, we are lucky to have good leaders and human beings in those positions of authority. I am thankful.
We were planning to duck out to eat before Court, but I’m glad we stayed. The Attilium folks grabbed a patch of grass so the kids could run around. Rob went to court (which was just a few yards away, held outdoors in the beautiful weather.) To his surprise, he was called up to receive an honorary mention for his mead! He received a token of a glass bottle shaped like a bunch of grapes. He was glad of the opportunity to talk shop with some fellow brewers and vintners, and I believe is already planning a short mead for Coronation …
We ended up heading off site for some dinner, and then came back for …. Twelfth Night!
(INSERT DRAMATIC MUSICAL CUE)
So, some back ground on this production. I had mentioned to Sophie that I enjoy Shakespeare and had been around it and studied it, and she had answered that she loved Shakespeare, but never had the chance to do it and was trepidatious because it was different from commedia improvisational techniques. So, I invited her to a Sweet Tea Shakespeare LIT show
, and she immediately saw the possibilities.
Baroness Sophie is a giant whirlwind of energy and intention, as well as a source of mentorship and coaching, not just in theater and commedia, but in the SCA, in performing arts coordination, and being open to learning more and more and trying new things. She offered me something that was incredibly risky and generous – the chance to direct her troupe in my adaptation of the script of 12th Night.
Along the way, I grew in my ability to teach and lead, to work with artists deeply experienced in a craft not my own, and bringing Shakespeare’s text to life with a bit of a commedia dell’arte flavor. I think at some point in the process, every member of the troupe individually expressed some sort of trepidation (and believe me, there were moments I was filled with self-doubt and imposter syndrome), but all through that time Sophie was a rock. A rock with some fart jokes, of course, because this IS Shakespeare.
So, the night of Ymir, feast finished up. We set up the “stage” – the commedia curtain – and gathered props and costumes. Master Efenwalt and his incredibly talented and awesome family joined us to play music. (THEY PUT TOGETHER A GALLIARD VERSION OF “BEAT IT” BY MICHAEL JACKSON!!! So cool and perfect….) We all took a deep breath … and plunged in.
The beauty of live theater is that anything can happen. And in this production, I’m pretty sure everything that could DID happen. We had a fart joke that barely anyone laughed at — and a vulgar Elizabethan pun that at least one person in the audience found totally hilarious. There were some moments in the improv that I almost fell over laughing because they were so far above anything we’d seen in rehearsal (Gina Towey, our Viola, had my spleen working overtime, and my side in stitches, with her frog speech.) And yet, every time fate/life/the late hour threw us a curveball, our actors hit it out of the park. If we had to have a beginning of a journey of performing Shakespeare together, I couldn’t have asked for a better one. I hope we get to do it again soon!
So now we are home, back to the mundane world. There is much laundry to be washed, garb to be finished, and plans for next event to start. I apologize if I missed anyone’s name or left anyone out. If I did, feel free to share what I did not in the comments or just over a beer the next time we meet again in the DREAM.
Teresa of Attilium