[This is an article from Cariadoc's Miscellany. The Miscellany is Copyright (c) by David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, 1988, 1990, 1992. For copying details, see the Miscellany Introduction.]

No Audience

One of the oldest traditions of the Society is the requirement that everyone present at an event make some attempt at period dress. To me, this symbolizes the idea that there is no audience-everyone present is a participant. That is an essential difference between an event and a play. We are all inside the medieval fantasy. Some of us may be playing medieval fighters or actors while others are playing medieval spectators, but we are all playing.

I am reminded of this tradition when I hear someone complain after an event that it was boring-there was not enough entertainment. Such complaints are, I think, based on a fundamentally mistaken view of what an event is. They assume it is a show put on by someone else for our entertainment and that it is therefore that someone's fault if we, sitting in the audience, are bored.

But there is no audience. An event is not a play; it is a stage, on which we all are players. The hosts provide a place, a framework, decoration, usually food. The rest is up to you.

If you are a musician, find other musicians and go play something. If you are a story teller, find some bored people and tell them stories. Start a game of nine man's morris. Gossip with some of your friends about the doings of others. Start an interesting conversation about something your persona might have talked about. Ask the fighter who has just taken off his armor to explain that beautiful blow that he won the fight with.

If you cannot play an instrument, or sing, or tell a story or a poem, or play a period game, and are too shy to gossip, or start conversations or ask questions of fighters, do not despair. Somewhere in the building someone is cooking dinner, or setting up the hall for court, or doing some other of the myriad things necessary to maintain the framework of the event. Another pair of hands will almost certainly be welcome. However shy you are, after an hour and a half of deboning chickens you should find it easy enough to strike up a conversation with your fellow workers.

Some time ago, I attended an event accompanied by an energetic eleven-year-old. Shortly after we arrived, he vanished. On further inquiry, I discovered that he had volunteered to help someone with something. When I asked him about it, he explained that he had discovered he had more fun that way.

The people who bear the load, who make the Society work, are the people who create the events, write the poems, tell the stories, sing the songs, sew the clothing. If you have just spent two hours deboning chickens then you are bearing your share of the load. If you are a card carrying member of the SCA Incorporated and come to every event expecting to be entertained, you are part of the load being born.

"What do you call the last man out of the kitchen at an event?"

"Your Majesty"

Old joke.


(This was published in The Gargoyle's Tongue in 1988)

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir