chip and Holly norseman at voicenet.com
Tue Jul 29 07:20:34 PDT 1997

At 11:53 PM 7/28/97 -0400, Thomas wrote:
>I've been known to tell 3 or 4 twenty+ stories at one fire, and still get
>asked for more.  Any group that can't handle more than a 5 minute story,
>needs to go sit in front of their tv's...the age old art of storytelling was
>made for SCA fires, but pitiful little of it is being done (at least out
>here...) Would there even be an SCA without the stories and legends given to
>us by those ancient tellers?  Why not go to battle with the glories of
>Arthur/El Cid/Fionn Mac Cumhal/Cuchullain ringing in your head,  instead of
>the usual "so there I was,......"   (True) Thomas White Hart

Something in the tone of this bugged me.  While I appreciate and encourage
the bardic arts, including storytelling, I also recognize that not every
campfire or feast, or whatever, is the place for it. 

I don't think it's fair to say that a group who can't handle more than a 5
minute story is fit only for TV.  What if the group is a wide-spread of
friends who have only now been reunited after a long time apart?  Isn't it
reasonable that they want to talk to each other, rather than listening to a
wandering bard?  Maybe the next night, after they've had a chance to catch
up with each other, they'd be more willing to have some other entertainment.
Or maybe not.  Should you sneer at them because they don't care for that
particular sort of entertainment?  Not everyone is in the SCA for the exact
same things, you know.

I also think that many of our "so there I was..." tales are great!  And some
have become part of the SCA's own legend pool.  And I think it's wonderful
to have someone who "doesn't consider himself a bard" prove that actually,
he is a great storyteller.  While the glories of Arthur etc. are wonderful,
and I personally would love to hear more, I also place high value on the
growing pool of myths and legends from the SCA.

One last thing...if your performance numbers are correct, then you have
apparently monpolized the campfire for more than an hour and twenty minutes.
I personally feel that no matter how amazingly good a performer is, it's
going overboard for one person to take up that much performance time.
Certainly there may be times when it's okay...but it sounds like it's a
regular occurence.  I've been at non-bardic campfires where someone kept
interrupting a general flow of conversation with extremely long stories to
tell, as well as bardic circles where one or two performers completely
monopolized the circle, leaving shyer and politer bards to twiddle their
thumbs for two hours.  Both are bad experiences for at least some of those
there.  As a result, I am *extremely* circumspect in how much I perform; at
any given campfire or circle, even if I'm the only bard there, I never
perform one piece after another, and after I've performed two or three
pieces, I only perform on request.  It's so easy, in the enthusiasm to try
out a new piece or to sing that song you love, to dominate a group and not
realize that others might like a chance also (or that the group in general
would like to just talk for a while).  Even pausing and asking can't always
suffice, as many bards (especially newish ones) find they just can't push
themselves forward, but need a little encouragement.  For that reason I
really favor the sort of circle that has the performances rotate around the
circle, or where one host requests pieces from the various performers.  

I'm not trying to say that you, Thomas, have dominated an unwilling group
this way; I can't know that, having never seen you perform.  But I would be
leery of blithely urging various unknown storytellers to tell lots of 20+
minute stories and to heck with those groups that didn't want that.  Maybe
you didn't mean your post that way, but that is how it sounded to me.

Linette de Gallardon

P.S.  If you're at Pennsic the first week, please come down sometime to
House Silverkeep on Howard's Fenway (block E15); I'd love to hear some of
your tales, and/or debate performance practice with you. 

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