Meesteres Odriana vander Brugghe is proud to announce that at this year’s Ice Dragon Pentathlon, she will be awarding Het Bruggetje prize for Research. The prize will be $100 in cash, which the winner will receive when the results are announced in Ice Dragon court.
To win the prize, you must have the best documentation in any category of the Pent.
The choice will be based on the documentation portion of the judging criteria that is included in each category.
You will be entered automatically when you submit your entry to the Ice Dragon Pentathlon unless you would prefer to opt out.
Pentathlon judges will be asked to bring any excellent documentation to the attention of the judges’ panel.
The award will be decided by a panel of five judges drawn from the pool of Ice Dragon judges.
This prize is meant to encourage entrants to submit high-quality documentation along with their entries. If you need more information about the prize, or about how to increase the quality of your documentation, please contact Meesteres Odriana vander Brugghe via email at and she will connect you with resources. While she can not help you directly with your documentation, she would be happy to provide you with direction.
Meesteres Odriana very much looks forward to reading your research, and would be elated to award one of you The Prize! Not sure if you know Meesteres Odriana? Read more in her Populace in Focus article.
Anyone entering the Ice Dragon Pentathlon is automatically entered, you can decide to opt out but no further action is needed by the entrant. For more information on the general Arts & Sciences Pentathlon competition, please visit the Ice Dragon Pent website here.
Here begins the Report of the Court of Their Majesties Arnthor and Ceirech, King and Queen of Æthelmearc at the Æthelmearc Arts and Sciences Championship event in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael, joined by Their Excellencies of the Rhydderich Hael, jorundr hinn rotinn, Silver Buccle Herald, reporting.
Their Majesties gave leave to Their Excellencies of the Rhydderich Hael to conduct Their Court.
Their Majesties thanked everyone for inspiring them to learn about and try new things with the displays and entries this day.
Their Majesties invited Master Hrolfr a Fjarfelli and Mistress Elska a Fjarfelli, the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Ministers to discuss the competition results. The overall winner, and new King’s Arts and Sciences Champion, was THLady Fede di Fiore, for her maternity dress project. There were two youth who participated this day, John Robert, the overall youth champion, and Charlotte, both were presented with tokens to commemorate their participation. The populace choice was Baron Snorri skyti Bjarnarson.
Lady Marguerite de Neufchasteau was called before Their Majesties to discuss her actions on the fields of fencing, archery, and thrown weapons. Her growing skill has been brought to Their Majesties’ attention, thus They inducted her in the Order of the Golden Alce. Scroll illuminated by Arianna of Wynthrope, calligraphy by Jonathan Blaecstan, and words by Sadira bint Wassouf.
Their Majesties called for Lord Meuric ap Gwillam to present himself before Them. They had heard much of his artistic endeavors. Most especially his research into period hide glue. Thus they inducted him into the Order of the Sycamore. Scroll by Gesa von Wellenstein.
Mistress Cori Ghora was summoned before Their Majesties. Mistress Cori never stops. She is constantly serving the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, supporting the scribes, and serving as seneschal. This pleases Their Majesties, and with utmost gratitude They bestowed on Cori an Augmentation of Arms. Scroll by Sophie Davenport with words by Pádraig Ó Branduibh and Juliana Rosalia Dolce da Siena.
Her Majesty called Charlotte to attend Her. Her Majesty commended Charlotte’s skill and courage in playing the harp all day long as well as entering the competition today. For this Her Majesty named Charlotte Queen’s Inspiration for the day and gave her a token.
Their Majesties thanked the cooks for providing a tasty lunch and persevering through equipment issues. They further thanked those who helped dress Them for the event.
“Be honorable yourself if you wish to associate with honorable people.” ~Proverb
Sitting in the front row of every scored Tournament for Heavy Weapons, Fencing, or Equestrian activities is a person with a clipboard making sure that the rules are followed, the scoring is honest, and that everyone that came to fight that day gets onto the field. These are your Ministers of the List, typically referred to as the MOL.
The MOL is a warranted position, like a Marshal, so membership in SCA, Inc. is required to act as an MOL. There is no membership requirement to be in the training (MOLlet) program, but you would need a membership to become warranted. Warrants expire concurrently with your membership, so you would update your warrant information with the Kingdom MOL when you renewed your membership.
The value of having a dedicated group of people to do this is manifold:
Before an event, the Marshal in Charge works with the MOL to review the kind of tournament that they wish to run. The MOL can also assist in planning out a tournament by offering suggestions for format, including alternate plans that can be deployed if the number of anticipated fighters changes.
During the planning phase of the event is also when it is most helpful to the MOL to know just how many people they will need the day of the event so that everyone may arrive prepared and ready to go for the tournament(s) that day.
The day of a tournament, it frees up the Marshals to conduct inspections and run the tournament. It also ensures that the business of reviewing authorization credentials and providing authorization paperwork is conducted enough before the tournament so that the fighters can then focus on their pre-game activities.
What does an MOL do?
Before the tournament, the MOL may work with the Marshal in Charge (MIC) to determine the best format for the estimated number of fighters, if the MIC isn’t sure what kind of format they would like to run. The general preference is for the MOL to be engaged before the event is bid as a regular part of the event staff. Often, though, MOLs will be contacted after the event is bid and the MIC will have an idea of what kind of tournament they would like to run. You would then work with them to see what they are able to provide for you – usually a table, cover of some variety, and a chair – and what time they would like the tournament(s) to happen.
The day of the event, the MOL checks in fighters by viewing/confirming their authorization is current and to score the tournament. Tournament is used very broadly here, it can be anything from a simple bear pit to a double-elimination tournament. It doesn’t have to be Crown to be a tournament.
During the tournament, the primary job of an MOL is to keep score and help keep things moving. The MOL will then provide a list of winners based on what criteria has been determined for winning. The MIC is usually the one that announces the winners in court.
MOL is a job that requires focus and fairness. It’s the MOL’s job to make sure that the score is correct and the correct person is announced as winner. It just takes time to understand how to score a variety of formats. The focus of training is to make sure that you are comfortable with the scoring.
How do I become an MOL?
First, contact your local MOL or the Kingdom MOL to arrange a couple of visits to a table at a tournament. This will give you a better idea of what is involved and what you can expect. If you see that being an MOL is as awesome as it sounds, then you would arrange to become a MOLlet and work with a mentor to learn how to sign fighters in, check authorizations, and score the main tournament formats:
● Round Robin
● Bear Pit
This is done using on-the-job training and, if needed, a mock tournament can be held to run infrequently-used formats like double-elimination. There are also some online resources that you can use to learn/refresh your memory on how to run a variety of tournaments.
If you aren’t sure if this is something that you’d enjoy doing, please contact the Kingdom MOL, Odriana (email@example.com), and she will help you find a table to join so you can see what being an MOL looks like in action and see if it’s the right fit for you.
Archery has always been one of my more longer-term interests – as a teenager, I briefly shot Olympic-style archery, plus it’s how I found out about the SCA way back when; asking around for a place to shoot traditional-style longbow archery and finding the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn’s weekly practice. I vividly remember my husband saying after attending a handful of practices not to get too invested as he did not intend to drive me all over the place…! Boy, did he misread that situation… But then, during the plague, I was only one of many artisans who kinda sorta lost their groove and had a bit of a rough start getting back into things when events started happening again. Cycling back to my beginning, what really pulled me back to playing again was the archery range. Not only is it outside and people automatically keep their distance – especially since I shoot left-handed! – the ranges have become quite an interesting challenge and something to look forward to at many events.
Iron Will Junior posing with helpers THLord Bjarki and Akira Watanabe
Culminating this past weekend at Pax Interruptus, where I met my match and got foiled by Will, the Advancing Man. I shot at Will, but I did not get him… I must admit, while on the one hand I was disappointed to be eliminated from the finals that quickly, on the other, the visual of eight archers’ worth of arrows bouncing off a moving target wearing chain mail is quite a vivid sight to remember! The mastermind behind this target, and most of the ranges post-plague, is Baron Snorri skyti Bjarnarson from the Shire of Coppertree.
Baron Snorri has recently been elevated to the Scarlet Guard – the Kingdom’s grant-level award for prowess in archery – and of course he takes his job of promoting the arts of archery quite seriously. When I asked his thoughts on the archery community of Æthelmearc, he shared the following: “We’re lagging behind other kingdoms here, especially the East. We need our experienced shooters to come and shoot at practices and events, and our novice shooters to put in the hours of practice needed. Archery is first and foremost about prowess – no one calls light when you hit gold, and no one else gets to decide that your score was lacking in some subjective measure. It’s one thing to know, as a new archer, that Grand Master Bowmen exist in the SCA. That can seem unreal and unreachable, though! But when there’s one of them right next to you at practice, filling up the gold with shafts every round, you start to realize that it’s actually possible, it’s a real, attainable thing – this guy next to you on the range still puts on his pants one leg at a time, and if he can do it, you can too!”
And just as I enjoy upping my SCAdian game to make my wardrobe and brewing more plausibly period, Baron Snorri has a similar mindset in regards to archery. He feels that people doing archery in a medieval recreation society should actually be trying to do medieval plausible archery. “It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I’m a little bit of a purist (some would say a snob – and maybe, sometimes, justly) about shooting period bows and arrows in the SCA. So, to practice what I preach, I only shoot ‘period’ bows, and I only shoot ‘period’ arrows.” He puts “period” in quotes as he is well aware that what he is doing, and virtually everyone else shooting in the period divisions of the SCA, isn’t really shooting actual period equipment – just the draw weight itself is significantly lower and most bows, even period-looking horsebows, use modern glues and have fiberglass components.
To help the archery community define “period,” the Society Handbook includes a definition of a “period” bow and arrows for SCA context. The broad strokes are that the archer would shoot off their hand, meaning no cut-out rest in the riser (handle) of the bow, and shooting arrows with self-nocks, that is, the nock of the arrow is cut into the shaft of the arrow, rather than being a glued-on commercially-made plastic nock. Since all SCA archers have to shoot with wooden shafts and feather fletchings anyway, we’re already halfway, so this does not seem all that hard, right?
But in Baron Snorri’s experience, the vast majority of archers in the SCA cannot seem to quite get all the way there: most are still shooting what’s generally referred to as “traditional” or recurve archery equipment. In the before-time, pre-internet, it could be difficult to get a bow that met the period archery requirements. No one really made them outside of hobbyists, and the traditional archery scene in the USA is huge, so recurve types of bows are readily available – often at garage sales and secondhand shops for a near-pittance. But now that we have the internet, bows of a much more medieval form are available from a bunch of different places. Both horsebows and longbows that meet the SCA’s definition of “period,” as discussed above, can be had for around $100, and a dozen appropriate arrows can be had for as little as $40.
Now, certainly that’s not “let’s go try out archery” money for most people. For a beginner, telling them to fork out $150 to try out archery would most likely kill their interest immediately. But Baron Snorri is not trying to make the case that a beginning archer in the SCA should be shooting period gear – just like no one’s telling a fledgling fighter that they should be buying a $500 helmet before they can fight. But, just like with fighting, where when a fighter reaches a certain threshold of skill and time-in-grade, it’s time for them to surrender the ancient bascinet from the loaner pile and start looking at something that fits their own head and persona. And when archers reach a certain skill and dedication level, I feel like they ought to be looking to set down their Samick Sage or their 1978 Bear recurve, and start looking to move to a period longbow or horsebow.
He is unsure why many archers do not take their equipment to the next level (if you have an idea why, Baron Snorri asks to please reach out and tell him!). “My current working theory is, again, availability of equipment. Although availability of bows is largely a moot point now that vendors such as AliBow, Flagella Dei, Ringing Rocks Archery, and many others are selling longbows and horsebows that meet the SCA’s period requirements for very reasonable prices. However, availability of arrows may be an issue. Many, many archers in the SCA either make their own arrows, or personally know a person who is making their arrows for them, and if this is you, then you’re my target audience for this next section…” (see the first bullet point).
As the Scarlet Guard doesn’t have a “mission statement”, Baron Snorri made his own (which I think is worth sharing here):
It’s my duty as a member of the Scarlet Guard to:
Mentor new archers, whether by running practices, offering equipment to try, coaching, assisting with equipment acquisition, and teaching associated skills like fletching and leather working.
Challenge experienced archers by running challenging and exciting ranges, traveling to events that have archery, shooting in tournaments, and issuing personal challenges.
Represent the Kingdom of Æthelmearc and our archery community in a positive light, by competing for honors for our Kingdom in the Pennsic Champion’s Shoot, SSAC, GAT, GET, IKAC, and other inter-kingdom competitions.
Maintain my prowess by continuing to practice and improve in all disciplines: handbow, recurve, and crossbow.
Find and nurture archers to become new members of the Scarlet Guard, by taking Students.
To cycle back once again: Will the Advancing Man is both my nemesis, and a very well-done functional moving target. To entice other archers to challenge themselves against this wicked warrior – to shoot at Will! – I am letting you all know ahead of time this invader of our Sylvan Lands will make another appearance this coming weekend at Bog 3-Day! In the general shoot, the “easy” version is just a painted cardboard Viking warrior with a spear and a shield in the East Kingdom’s colors, attached to an upright backstop that’s about eight inches of closed-cell polyethylene foam on a 4-wheeled sled (want to make your own sled? Take a look at the Gallery of sled pics). Will the Advancing Man is shot as a 30 second timed end, with the sled starting about 40 yards out, and advancing to about 10-15 yards out. Hits to the warrior count for 3 points, hits to his shield or anything else are zero.
For the quarter finals, Iron Will Junior is something else: the cardboard Viking is removed and a “real” Viking is assembled by ‘dressing’ the backstop in a linen Bocksten tunic, a padded linen gambeson (worn backwards), and a real metal maille shirt. Snorri and his team added “arms” of duct-taped pool noodles with gloves on the ends, and a Styrofoam head. They glued a wig onto the head, and used expanding spray foam to securely attach a conical steel nasal helmet. The arms and head were attached to the body with 12” sticks of shaved rattan, just jammed between the layers of backstop foam. An old wooden shield was attached with a ratchet strap to cover his “legs.”
It is shot as a timed end in the same way as before, but at Pax all eight quarter finalists shot at the same time, with the four who stick the most shafts into him advancing to the semifinals.
Medieval armor piercing arrow heads, called bodkins, as available from 3 Rivers Archery Supply.
To give well-prepared ‘period’ archers a leg-up, Baron Snorri had posted in advance of Pax that he would allow non-target points for this portion of the shoot. He was disappointed to find that only THL Bjarki took him up on this, and he only brought rigging-cutters for the semi-finals (to cut the water-bags, another really cool target), not armor-piercing bodkin points for Iron Will Junior… As this was a brand-new target, I asked Baron Snorri how he thought it worked out: “I tested Iron Will Junior at home with a field point arrow shot at 20 yards from my 45-pound horsebow. I blew through the maille, actually destroying seven rings. I figured this would not be an issue for the other shooters. Spoiler: I was wrong. How it actually worked: less than half the shooters were able to pierce the maille. Some were unable to adjust and stuck no arrows – Forester Ælfric of the Midrealm was skilled enough to adjust his aim to the [tiny and helmeted] head and stuck two there. As this was meant to be an elimination round, that’s ultimately fine, but it’s a lot more fun if everyone can stick arrows!”
Will you do it again or tweak it? “One time is not a great test of anything. We’re going to run him exactly the same at Bog 3-Day this weekend and see how it goes. I do need to fix the “snowplow” on the front though. We put an angled piece of plywood on the front at the bottom, covered in 2’ insulation board foam and fake grass, so that no one shoots the tires (we don’t actually care about the tires, we shot one as a test and it was fine, because they’re not inflated tires – but if you shoot the wheels as it’s rolling, your arrows get broken), and the weight of the fully-armored Iron Will Junior pushed that down just enough that it dragged on the ground a tad and it bent. Minor adjustment is all it needs.”
What other archery events do you have planned? “In the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, I took over as Marshal-in-Charge from Naran Noyon of the Pennsic Period Bow Shoot. This will be the 8th Period Shoot at Pennsic, and it is running from 9 AM to noon on middle Saturday at the archery range. I have a collection of period targets from medieval Europe and Asia to shoot, and prizes for the best participants. We even have a fabulous period dayboard prepared by Baroness Oddkatla Jonsdottir and Baroness Annika Iosafova on the range immediately afterwards. It’s always a great time to come see all the different period missile weapons and garb everyone comes in.”
“Here’s a picture from the 6th Period Shoot: at least nine of those folks are Æthelmearcians, and we were fortunate that year to also be joined by Their Highnesses of Ealdomere. This shoot is an excellent time every year, and is always the highlight of my war. If the Archery Champion’s Shoot is the Super Bowl of SCA Archery, the Period Shoot is the Pro Bowl.”
Is there anything new happening in Kingdom? “This all JUST came together, and I’m SUPER EXCITED about it: the Æthelmearc Holiday Shoot! Big thanks to Master Denys the Decadent for finding the new site for the Holiday Shoot, and to THL Alrekr Bergsson for agreeing to be my co-Autocrat and setting this all up with his local shire, Hunter’s Home. I can’t even express how excited I am – HRH Arnthor is going to choose his next Archery Champion at this event, we’re going to have a HUGE prize table, the owners of the range are very excited to have us, and there are over EIGHTY targets at this indoor range to shoot at. We got a great price ($15 for members, NO CHARGE for non-shooters) and I’m ecstatic about this event. I’m expecting shooters from four or five kingdoms to be at this.”
And what about the very-near-future? Bog 3-Day this coming weekend! The archery range will include:
Woods hunt with 3D animals
Woods walk with a very challenging Spot Shoot
Some various flavors of bullseye targets at known distances, timed and untimed
A moving Advancing Man timed end
The eight best scores from all that will advance to the quarterfinals and shoot at Iron Will Junior, and the four who stick the most in him will advance to do falling water-bag duels!
Baron Snorri would like to thank the following gentles, who are always there to back him up: “Big shout-out to THLord Bjarki for always being game to help with whatever I’ve volunteered us for, as well as Lord Dalibor, Lord Halfdan, Lord Godzimir, Lord Gunnlaud, and everyone else in Ætt Skyti. I’m not a member of their household, but they’re always there to help and shoot.”
And thank you, Baron Snorri, for your help with this story but most importantly, for making the archery range something exciting to look forward to!
‹From the event steward for Iris Festival and Kingdom Equestrian Champs, With Iron Comet Challenge, THL Hara Kikumatsu.
The Barony Marche of the Debatable Lands Iron Comet Challenge, Japanese Iris Festival, and Kingdom Equestrian Champs event is only a few days away, on June 4th. We hope for a beautiful, fun-filled day.
Last minute reminders:
1. SCA Covid protocols as of the event date will be enforced. Please be prepared to show your vaccination record or proof of a negative Covid test upon arrival at the event or at event setup Friday evening.
2. No food will be served, so bring food and drink. No glass bottles please.
3. Remember sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, a chair to sit on and, if you have one, a pop-up for shade.
4. There is handicap accessible parking, next to handicap restrooms, and an all gender changing tent. There are also separate Lords & Ladies changing tents.
5. Service animals only (other than the horses). They must be on a leash.
Iron Comet Challenge Rules:
1. For adults to be eligible for the iron comet challenge, you must enter the A&S competition, and have fought in at least 3 of the four non-equestrian martial tournaments.
2. Scoring will be done by tournament winner get 10 points, second 9 points, etc for each of the tournaments. The scores are added.
3. Youth iron comet winner will be determined by a combined archery, thrown weapons, and arts and sciences tournaments score.
4. Youth scores are tallied for only the youth, not as part of adult scores.
A Little More on the Event:
Here is the event page: http://debatablelands.org/events/2022-06-04%20Japanese%20Iris%20Festival.php. The event will have fencing, thrown weapons, heavy fighting, and archery tournaments. In addition there is kingdom equestrian champion tournament for horses and riders. There is also a arts and sciences competition with no theme. There is an equestrian arts and sciences competition. In addition to the arts and sciences competition, there is a arts and sciences display with an Asian theme.
The combined iron comet challenge is combination of the results from all the non-equestrian competitions.
The event will be held in the horse arena at Brady’s Run, 121 Brady’s Run Rd, Beaver Falls, PA 15010. Preregistration is closed, but you can pay at the door with cash or check.
Adult Event Registration: $12
Adult Member Discount Event Registration: $7
Youth 17 and under are free.
This Saturday, June 4th, The Debatable Lands welcomes Their Majesties and Highnesses to our Japanese Iris Festival as Their Majesties hold The Kingdom Equestrian Championship! This event has something for everyone – martial activities of all types, and A&S. And yes, even jousting! Check out the event announcement.
Cost for the event is super affordable and family-friendly: Adult registration (non-member) is $12. Adult member registration is $7. People age 17 and under are FREE.
This event also features the IRON COMET CHALLEGE (see below) and of course, Royal and Baronial Courts. Here’s the schedule for the day (tentative):
Site opens – 9 am
Part 1 Equestrian Champs – 10:30 am
Fencing tournament – 11 am
Thrown Weapons tournament – 12 noon
Arts and Sciences Competition – 1 pm
Part 2 Equestrian Champs – 1:30 pm
Heavy tournament – 2 pm
Archery tournament – 3 pm
Jousting (weather permitting) – 4 pm
Court – 5:30 pm
Tear-down after court
Have questions? Check out these FAQs:
Q. What’s the Iron Comet Challenge?
All are welcome to participate in the separate fighting, fencing, archery, and thrown weapons tournaments, as well as an A&S competition (no theme).
But for those elite few who want to test their skills as well-rounded medievalists, you can enter the Iron Comet Challenge – enter at least 3 out of the 4 martial competitions, and the A&S competition (required, all levels welcome), and be an Iron Comet Challenger competing for the highest composite score. Who will prove to be the best of the best?
You welcome to come and enjoy the competitions separately without competing in the Iron Comet Challenge, of course.
Q. Tell me more about the Arts and Sciences activities.
The competition has no theme, and all are welcome to enter it.
We are lucky enough to also have an A&S display – if you choose, there is a theme of Asian Arts and Sciences to celebrate the Japanese Iris Festival! Displays not adhering to the theme are also welcome.
There will also be a poetry competition for Japanese forms of poetry, including haiku, tanka, and if we feel brave, collaborative forms such as renga and renku.
Q. Will there be event-provided food?
Not this time, no, due to the pandemic. The event will not provide food. But please do bring your own and enjoy a picnic! (No glass bottles)
Q. What else should I know to prepare for the day?
The event is outside, but the weather forecast looks beautiful! There are a couple of shelters but you may want to bring chairs and maybe a pop-up for a place to relax.
There are three public changing tents – lords, ladies, and all gender. The all gender changing tent is next to accessible parking and accessible restrooms.
All COVID protocols will be enforced, so please remember your vaccination card (or picture of it) and ID (membership card is fine) or else your proof of negative COVID test.
Other than horses, only service animals allowed.
Q. Tell me a little about the Equestrian stuff.
The event is only open on Saturday, but those with horses are welcome to arrive Friday night. Contact THL Gesa for details.
For the Equestrian Champs, there are games and riding before prince activities hosted by Aethelmearc current Kingdom Equestrian Champion Gozen. There is also an A&S element. Contact Mistress Gozen for details, or check out the Aethelmearc Equestrian Facebook page. Activities are part of the kingdom equestrian championship, but it is open to all riders. There is also a jousting tournament!!
Populace in Focus today features King’s Bardic Champion Master Morien MacBain and Queen’s Bardic Champion, The Honorable Lady Maggie Rue.
Could you give a little background about how and when you started performing as part of the Bardic Arts community?
Morien: I found the SCA back in ‘86. The very first event I went to, in what is now Ballachlagan, had a bardic circle, like pretty much all events did in those days. Lord, they were fun! Lots of Irish rebel music, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Con filk, dirty puns, blood, and iron stuff. Pure joy! The bards that had the greatest impact on me back then were Donnan the Solitary and Morgan Caer Graeme. I learned a great deal from them and miss those performances and those songs.
Maggie Rue: In the SCA, this was really my first performance. While I have hung out around a few Bardic circles among households and groups, I generally don’t sing; it occurred to me at the onset of this competition that I may not need to. Surprise!
What types of Bardic arts performances do you enjoy doing?What is your most / least favorable type of performance?
Morien: I’m still primarily a bardic circle guy. I like the informality of it, the lack of pressure, the faces in the firelight, the willing audience, and the “renao” (which is a wonderful Mandarin word for the noise, happy chatting, laughter, and activity of life happening that forms a backdrop to a performance). My least favorite would have to be live bardic competitions. You usually only get to do one piece, impostor syndrome kicks in, and my will to compete is safer if the other person is wearing armor! If I’m going to fight to win, I want it to be with weapons, not a bit of my heart.
Maggie Rue: Not a great singer and my improv skills are more action-related than a lot of speech. So, I’d go with memorizing an old poem or writing a new one and reciting it as first and foremost. Least favorite would be improving a song. I could be wrong though—enough immersion into a subject and I might get better. We’ll see.
Have you done any type of performance arts outside of the SCA?
Morien: Sure! I sang in the church choir for years when I was in middle and high school, which was the best vocal training I’ve had. I did the school musical every year, plus summer theater, which were usually musicals. I’ve sung in a few bars, once on a tiny stage where Patsy Cline sang when she was starting out. That felt like a church. No one threw anything. I’ve done poetry slams in clubs a couple times. Now I am a high school English teacher, so a lot of my work is essentially storytelling to a tough audience!
Maggie Rue: Yes, indeed. I performed for a time as a character in Jesus Christ Superstar in Middletown NY for a couple of years, doing chorus parts and dancing. I’ve done a number of high school performances as well. During my years as a Game Designer, I ran the convention circuits and had to talk up game products—spiels, really—and became really good at impromptu game sessions. In addition, my parents were both members of the Philadelphia Folk Song Society and I went to a number of music Festivals in my early years… You’d be surprised as to how many SCA songs I’ve heard before in other places in different interpretations.
How much time do you spend researching bardic performances and practicing in preparation for doing a performance?
Morien: Most of my research for the last few years has been on the poetry side of my bardic practice. I work in a wide variety of forms from different periods and cultures, so there is always more to learn! However, I don’t really practice singing enough. I have a playlist of songs I am working up and sing along with it in the car. I have attempted to learn the hard, and suck quite badly at that. I should learn to drum much better, so I could accompany myself on a bodhran. I think I’ll get to work on that…
Maggie Rue: Given this was my first real SCA-based performance, I took two weeks to prepare.
What SCA events / Bardic competitions have you performed in previously and what types of performance did you do?
Morien: I’ve done bardic circles all over, and I’ve taught classes on writing poetry at SCA Fifty Year, Pennsic, AEthelmearc Academy, and Atlantia University. I’ve done “Music in the Key of D”, a bardic contest hosted by the Chalk Man Pub at Pennsic a few times. I also sing battle hype songs with fighters while we are on our way to the battlefield at Pennsic to get our blood up. On these former occasions, I find you seldom go wrong with Irish or Scottish rebel music, or filthy rugby songs.
Maggie Rue: This is it.
When you chose to participate in the Quest to be Sylvan Bard, did you do a type of performance that you have done before, or did you come up with a completely new performance?
Morien: I broke out two I had written before, “The Green Fields of Pennsic”, and “The Ballad of Big Bad Jehan”. Both are staples of the campfire music I like.
Maggie Rue: So, I took a number of courses in college that were medieval in nature and “Chaucer” was one of them. The teacher insisted we learn a number of lines in Middle English, taking out his personal recordings from the library to learn the lilts and rhythms. Seventeen years later, I still hear his voice. What I performed for the competition was longer than what he had us memorize, though, so I had to go find some recordings on which to base my own performance.
How did it feel to do a performance via the online community versus doing a live performance at an event?
Morien: I loved it! I liked that I got to strike and vanish like Zorro and could just focus on what I was doing. The competitive side with all its nasty thoughts and lust to win did not make an appearance!
Maggie Rue: It was actually pretty comfortable.
Did you face any challenges with performing in the sylvan bard competition?
Morien: Yep! I am a goofball at tech, and my performance of “Big Bad Jehan” kept turning out badly because I didn’t understand how to make my phone work, so I wound up just sending in “Green Fields of Pennsic” by itself.
Maggie Rue: None
Being one of the sylvan bards within the kingdom, can you share your plans / ideas for keeping the bardic arts alive in the kingdom during your tenure?
Morien: Heck yeah! We are looking at maintaining the practice of monthly online bardic hangouts on the first Tuesday of each month of the year starting at 8 in the evenings. Rue will be handling the tech, rest assured, although I will try to learn it as well. We’re also looking at starting a sort of “Bardic Boot Camp”, an ongoing series of classes (both online and in person) on subjects like vocal training, storytelling, playing instruments, poetic composition, and so on. We’ve already started reaching out to teachers from across the kingdom and the known world, and people seem enthusiastic! Also, I plan to start a FB group that should be an ongoing poetry writing workshop combined with a book study circle on various forms and skills from beginner to advanced. I’m working up a syllabus for it, and reaching out to established poets to participate, although the focus will be on bringing new aspiring poets into the field. So, COVID or not, we’ll be helping people along! We will also be working to ensure that live bardic circles and performances happen at in-person events, never fear!
Maggie Rue: So, there’s been talk of having a Novice Day like the one they had in the East Kingdom, which I attended, and one of the biggest beefs was that there was no Novice Bardic competition. So, we’re changing that. In addition, I’m going to incorporate Bardic Arts in my other A&S specialties, researching and performing songs that would also be of interest to the Herbal and Apothecary Guild as well as the Assassins’ Guild. Master Morien and I will continue the Bardic Competitions and we’ve got plans to get the Bardic Arts everywhere.
What advice would you give to other populace who would like to pursue the quest to be involved in bardic arts and perform in bardic arts competitions?
Morien: Come join us for the First Tuesday Onlines! Join in! If you aren’t ready, just listen for a while, and then pipe in! Join the FB groups for “AEthelmearc College of Bards”, “SCA Bardic Arts”, “AEthelmearc Arts & Sciences”, and the FB group for “Bardic Boot Camp” and “AEthelmearc Poetry Workshop”, once I get them running! Perform anywhere you can. Make a playlist of songs you want to learn and sing along with them in the car at high volume! Do NOT worry about what you sound or look like. Don’t listen to the haters. Read, listen, and watch good performances not just as an audience, but as a crafter, see what they are doing, and how they are doing it. Remember that you can learn as much from a bad performance as from a good one. A poet is one on whom NOTHING is wasted. I have a FAT list of books for you to get into if you like! LET’S DO THIS!!
More advice! Remember, your performance begins from the moment you are called, and doesn’t end until you are off the stage. Entrances and exits matter! Also, when in doubt, pretend to be slightly drunk, or more drunk than you in fact are. People like a drunken bard, and if you mess up, they will forgive you and enjoy it. Schadenfreude!
Oh, and one more piece of advice: When composing, even if you aren’t working in a purely alliterative form like Anglos-Saxon or 14th-century Alliterative Revival or something, get that alliteration in there. It’s like salt in cooking. People may not notice it, but they WILL like it!
Maggie Rue: Just do it. Get involved with everything sooner or later. I have been on a tear these past few years of just reaching out and getting involved. Look where it landed me. I don’t care if all you know are nursery rhymes: give it a try. Can’t sing? Me, neither. Let’s go learn stuff together.
Interested in participating in Populace in Focus? Find out how below:
We are so very excited for you to join us on this year’s Journey Reimagined as we celebrate newcomers to the SCA, celebrate those embracing new skills, and celebrate the journeys each of us took to get into our beloved Dream.
Thank you to every teacher, artisan, zoom-moderator, attendee, and member of our wonderful Society for helping to make this event happen!
The Kingdom of Arts & Sciences will organize at 7pm this coming Tuesday, February 22, a virtual A&S Consultation Table. We will have several helping hands (and brains) available to help answer any questions in regards to documentation in general and entering in Ice Dragon in specific.
The discussion leader will be Elska, supported by THL Renata Rouge, THL Eleanor Godwin and Master Hrolfr á Fjárfelli.
If you know what you are being judged on, you know what you have to do to create a winning entry. Always ask for the judging criteria when you are thinking of entering a competition (or being asked to judge one).
To get the most out of this discussion, it would be beneficial to have a copy of the Kingdom evaluation Rubrics available to refer to.
The Kingdom Ministry of Arts & Sciences has added numerous resources to the KMOAS website to help those artisans new to A&S. Here you can read about what to expect when entering your first arts & sciences competition, as well as how to document an A&S entry effective and efficiently. We also offer the EZ-Doc documentation form if you are unsure how to start your project documentation.
Please bring questions that you have about any project you are working on – whether for the Online College of Three Ravens A&S competition or the Passing of the Ice Dragon Pentathlon!
We will post the Zoom Room as soon as we have it both on the event page as well as on the Æthelmearc Arts & Sciences group.
Yours in service,
Kingdom Ministry of Æthelmearc A&S deputy
The Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon, often shortened to the Pent, is an arts and sciences competition dating back to the second Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon, held in 1978. But what exactly is this Pent? We’ve all seen arts & sciences displays at events, perhaps even entered a competition or two ourselves, but apparently the Pent different? While it has had many forms over the years, the most recognizable and often used is the current format of multiple categories anyone can enter and win individually. But what is unusual is that the Pent also has an overall competition among those who have chosen to enter a minimum of five different categories. And true to its name – a pentathlon is a sport that includes five different athletics events – entering the arts & sciences Pent can be quite the endeavor!
A wealth of judges and Her Majesty Margerite Eisenwald admiring a Scribal entry, at the 2017 Ice Dragon Pent.
The challenge here is more one of creative time management than of pure skill. Most artisans can’t plan a whole year, or more, to work on five separate high-level entries. What makes the Pent fun is to find those one, two or three entries that are complex enough on their own that their research and creation can be spread around several categories. The real challenge is to figure out how! Researched a unique beverage? Enter a Research Paper as well as a drinkable brew. Created a garment from scratch? Enter your garment in Fabric Construction, but enter the process of making the yarn, with nicely presented samples, in Fiber Arts. If you are especially nifty, you could even take a swing at an Applied Research Paper by documenting the dye used to color the yarn!
The pinch is that only entries from completely separate categories count towards the Pent (see the website for a list of the official categories). Anyone can enter up to five entries in any category, but only your highest scoring entry in that category will score towards your overall Pent score. Thankfully, entrants are allowed to cross enter one entry into one additional category, phew! Made a bag with wood handles? Enter the bag as a whole in Fabric Construction (formerly Accessories) and cross-enter the handles in Woodworking – voila, two entries!
Applied Research “Vinegaroon” entry by Lord Snorri skyti Bjarnarson at the 2018 Ice Dragon Pent
A category close to my heart, and quite useful in teasing out five separate Pent categories I find, is Applied Research. Extremely well researched items too simple or modest to compete fairly in a more traditional category fall under this. A fun category – experimental archaeology on a small scale – it is also one that does not seem to be utilized very often and why I wanted to spotlight it here. Some of the examples that come to mind are my entry of six simple soap ball recipes, accompanied by a veritable compendium of medieval soap research and recipes, as well as the unique Vinegaroon experiment, accompanied by ‘please try it!’ samples for the judges and general populace.
Be aware that due to the anticipated length of research papers (nothing to do with the soap compendium, I am sure), the paper/research portion of the Applied Research entry must be submitted in advance (received electronically or postmarked by February 15, 2022).
From a small local arts & sciences competition, the Pent outgrew its locale quickly to become a competition with Kingdom impact. Although, initially, not the kingdom you might think. Back then, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, our Sylvan Kingdom was only in the early planning stages and Ice Dragon was the premiere A&S event of the East Kingdom. It drew people from up and down the East Coast and could get in excess of 200 entries (so many judges…)!
Some of the more memorable entries, according to Pent autocrat Cori: the tiny dead people by (now Mistress) Luceta and the real poison (by THL Rue). And then there was the time John the Artificer entered his ferrets (I wonder if the populace could pet them?) and the agricultural entry that was a miniature of a rabbit warren (did the ferrets have anything to do with that?!). And then there was (now Mistress) Alizaunde de Bregeuf from the East who entered her upper torso covered with real woad… probably did not have trouble finding judges for that one. And what do you think (now Master) Clewin and (now Mistress) Fredeburg entered, “made with all authentic materials and processes”? They entered their newborn baby! With documentation. I can not confirm first hand how detailed, though, that you’d have to ask them.
Table of beautiful Fabric Construction entries at the 2019 Ice Dragon Pent.
Ice Dragon Pentathlon is for young (very young…) and old, for the beginner and the accomplished; even for the competing as well as the artisan more interested in display. The Pent organizers always arrange for a dedicated Display area. They also gladly make room for the infamous Misfit Table, brain child of Master Thorpe, for those projects that didn’t quite do what they were supposed to do. Now, if only we could enter a Misfit Experiment as a 5th Pent project… wouldn’t that make for an intriguing entry!