minstrel: Re: Knowne World Bardic Circle/ Atlantian Royal..

Harold Feld hfeld at ids2.idsonline.com
Thu Jul 24 16:46:19 PDT 1997

At 11:34 PM 7/23/97, Douglas Young wrote:
>> >Subject:     minstrel: Re: Knowne World Bardic Circle/ Atlantian Royal...
>> >Sent:        24/7/97 5:10 am
>> >Received:    24/7/97 8:07 am
>> >From:        Ed Hopkins, Ed.Hopkins at MCI.Com
>> >To:          THL Bryce de Byram, griffaud at hearts.tez.net
>> >CC:          The Minstrel List, minstrel at pbm.com
>> >
>> Also, what is an 'excessively long' story? Do you time them, or what till
>> people fall asleep or what? :)
>> Martin o' Lyos
>> Outer Stormhold, Lochac, West.
>I've always been of the opinion that a two minute story is
>too long if you don't captivate your audience and 20 minutes
>is not too long if you can hold the tension that long.  I
>do Bertram's Casey at the Crown  and The Witch of the Westmerland
>and both take over 5 minutes.  Anything longer I wouldn't try.

To give a somewhat serious answer to what may have been intended as a
jocular inquiry, it depends.

If the expectation is that you have aperformance slot, you can do what you
want.  I have stories that are 45 minutes to an hour long.  I save these
for when someone says: perform for this long.

Other than in a performance slot where you have a set time, you need to
balance a number of factors: (1) the audience, (2) courtesy to other
performers, (3) any expectations that are shared.

In a typical SCA bardic circle, everyone wants his/her shot.  It is very
rude to go one forever -- even if you are God's gift to storytelling --
because it means other people will not get their own turn to perform.  In
mundane storytelling circles, 8-10 minutes is considered the maximum length
for a "storyswap" type story.

This is not a hard and fast rule, however.  If you are at a circle where
folks are prepared to settle for the ling-haul, then you can get away with
longer tales.  However, it is important to have a sense of your own
abilities as a story-teller.  Do not try a long tale on your first outing,
before you have a sense of whether you can pull it off.  A few words of
advice on the longer stories:

1) time yourself before telling the tale.  I personally get so wrapped up
in my story-telling that I lose track of time.  This is a bad thing,
because you end up being rude without knowing what you are doing.  If you
time your stories while you practice (you do practice, right?), keep in
mind that audience interaction is likely to increase storytelling time
somewhat, but you will get at least a certain sense of the length.

2) Have a device to shorten the story.  If the audience starts nodding off,
you want to at least make a graceful exit. If nothing else, say: 'but this
tale has gone on over-long and I will not tax your patience further' at a
cliff-hanger.  If they tell you to continue, allow yourself to be
over-ruled. :-)

3) Have a goblet of water or some other favored potable handy.  You will
dry out your throat.  Consider the most dramatic moment to pause for drinks
*in advance*.  This can be used strategically to draw out tension.

4) Remeber, have fun, let the audience have fun, and let other tellers have fun.


Harold Feld
Yaakov HaMizrachi

"Do not ask 'Why are these days not as good as the days of old?' This
question is not prompted by wisdom." -Eccl.

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