Performance

Jed O'Connor joconnor at mailer.fsu.edu
Thu Sep 21 16:12:30 PDT 1995


My, my! It's interesting to read about your divisions of court hall and 
camp, Brett, but my primary concern is that I be heard. If I be not heard, I 
be not appreciated in the least, and I shudna waste me breath.

In Trimaris, where it is nearly always swelteringly hot, evil but necessary 
ceiling fans completely strip any hall of whatever humble acoustics it might 
have laid claim to; so do feasters (even at the head table) if they are a) 
ravenously hungry, or b) intoxicated, or c) bottom-sore from being cooped up 
too damn long; and so do kitchen staff if they are in the midst of a bustle 
or shamelessly flirting with receptive feastgoers--itself a potentially 
powerful form of entertainment not to be disregarded since it also indicates 
the temperament of the audience.

Maybe things are different where you live, but hereabouts the king rarely 
shushes the audience; generally that is the province of heralds who 
misguidedly believe that they are performing a useful service or obnoxious 
loudmouths who are entirely too eager to demonstrate the capacity of their 
lungs and vocal chords in a life-and-death struggle to demonstrate their 
alpha superiority to those around them. Not a pretty or idealistic picture 
of my homeland, I guess, but pretty accurate for all that. All this "oyez! 
pray shut up, good gentles and heed yon bard, thank you for your attention!" 
is guaranteed to alienate the newer members to the bardic experience before 
it even begins. Fie upon it!

Because of these prevailing conditions, I request when possible that heralds 
and others do not shout on my behalf. After being announced, I take my 
stance or my seat (I often play seated), and I play a game I call "wait for 
it." Because my work is pretty well known to be of high quality, there are 
usually enough people in the audience who encourage their table-mates to be 
receptive. If the hall does not settle sufficiently, I am prepared at all 
times to cancel my performance in good graces and perform around the camp at 
a later time in more intimate settings.

If the group is somewhat attentive or very attentive but in a bad acoustic 
setting, I will sing something short, loud, and rousing, period or modern, 
it matters not. If the conditions are optimal, I will sing whatever seems 
best in my repertoire (usually my latest serious piece) knowing that it is 
unlikely I will be audible to the far reaches of the hall. If the conditions 
are perfect, by definition I am neither in a hall nor at feast, and the 
point is moot. (Perfect conditions for my best performances are these:
 
On still, cool night,
with heavens bright,
then twenty might
share bardic sight
to hearts' delight
when I recite
in robes of white
by candlelight.

(You see, Ioseph of Locksley, you have at least one brother of the pale 
persuasion. In this kingdom I am the white bard as you are in yours.)

--Jed

P.S. TOUT LE MONDE: I will only be conversant for a day or two longer before 
taking a well earned two-week holiday. Pray do not misconstrue my silence as 
rudeness to your company.







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