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Topic: For SCA Magicians
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 20, 2017 01:26PM)
Hi all.

I am curious as to the current state of performance magic in the SCA. As much as I would like to, I rarely have an opportunity to travel out of kingdom. And though I have been in SCA off and on for almost 35 years, I have never had a chance to attend Pennsic or Gulf Wars. More than 15 years ago I got to see the Tinkers at Estrella, but of course magic is not their primary focus.

I will start. I have lived in Calontir since 1987, but I am not aware of there ever having been any performance magicians in my kingdom. Several years ago I taught a class on performance magic, but that was before I started actually learning how to do things. I got my start in Meridies in 1982, an on one occasion I saw a magician perform in court in Grey Niche (Memphis). I have also read some of the Pennsic programs and am aware that at least at one time Pennsic included classes on performance magic.

So, how goes it?

HLT
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 23, 2017 04:56PM)
Okay.

Perhaps I phrased the question wrong. First, I am aware of other similar threads, I understand why people would not want to rehash what's already been said. Fair enough.

I will refine the question to these:

(1) Is there still a group of magicians that gather at Pennsic (or any other war, or in any kingdom) to critique, help, instruct, etc., others

(2) Are there others (beyond Master Payne, who by his own testimony has not "played" in two decades) who have received awards (such as Laurel, GOA, AOA, etc.) for performance magic?

I would love to know the answers to these questions as well as anything else volunteered.

HLT
Message: Posted by: medievalmagician (Jan 23, 2017 05:45PM)
It would be interesting to see the results of your questions.

I am in The Kingdom of An Tir. I have not yet been performing any type of magic at events. My 20+ years in the SCA have been more focused on the heavy fighting. I do want to start spending time with magic at events though.
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Jan 24, 2017 08:30AM)
Http://www.soothsayersguild.org/
This is kinda neat that this kingdom does a group of soothsayers.
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Jan 24, 2017 08:38AM)
Maybe you will have to spearhead the movement to do so. If I was at one of these events I would like to see a magic show or even a close up magician.
There are a lot of cool ideas you can come up with for something like this, I would just go FULL MERLIN!!!!
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 24, 2017 11:55AM)
Thank you for the responses.

As for me, I have been studying performance magic for more than ten years, I have dabbled the last four, and since January have been working towards going "FULL MERLIN!!!" I have been working on my sleight of hand abilities, focusing on the cup and balls. I also have a handful of self-working "tricks" with ropes and cards. Also, I have "invented" a disappearing bag based on the bag in Mark Wilson's book; it can transform one item into another without any risk of the first item falling out! I will be working on developing routines that may be ready by my local war (Lilies) in June.

"Spearheading" is a bit ambitious. And I am definitely not ready for prime time as far as magic is concerned. Nevertheless, I am hoping to bring at least an awareness in my kingdom to the fact that performance magic was a very common, ie. period, thing. We have our Kingdom A&S soon, and I am planning to write a research paper for it.

It has been more than ten years since I have been to a "foreign" war, although my kingdom definitely travels--Gulf Wars and Pennsic. If I can make either of these (probably not this year), I will put out a call so other magicians can get together. May this will grow into a "movement"!

HLT
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Jan 24, 2017 12:03PM)
This post made me a little interested in checking out my local SCA....Only a 14 min drive they have a beginners night every month. I like Ren fairs but really have never participated only gone as a observer. Everyone that I have gone to kinda make me what to join in on the fun.
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 24, 2017 12:05PM)
MedievalMagician,

An Tir is a long ways away for this Calontiri!

Yeah, I have been in SCA "forever" too, and its only been recently that I have been focused on performance magic. I had a friend who has since passed on who "re-invented" himself. He was a Master-at-Arms, but in his later SCA career he got interested in music and established a local music group (he was a Pelican, by the way). For about four years we had a very active group, performed at a couple of local venues (including a high school opening of Camelot) and a feast at a nearby out-of-kingdom shire. Three of our members played with the northwest Arkansas orchestra. Unfortunately, he developed health issues, one of our best musicians moved, another who had never really been SCA stopped playing, and the third had a very stressful life and hence had to back away. Nevertheless, the experience allow me to move from someone who dabbled in the recorder to someone who was pretty decent. These days I generally play while wiling away time at events, and I generally play for feasts by my local shire.

I guess the point I am making is that it is never too late to pursue ones interests.

HLT
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 24, 2017 12:18PM)
Friend,

Concerning the soothsayer's guild, one of my primary activities is teaching classes. I am definitely not interested in "practicing" magic per se, but I am very interested in its role in medieval culture; however, I am interested in knowing how "real" magic was done in period. Hence, for at least ten years I have been teaching classes on topics related to "magic." These would include classes on astronomy, astrology, performance magic (both legerdemain and automatons), the role of fossils in medieval life. I have done extensive research in medieval lapidaries, and will be soon offering classes on gemstones and their powers. I have recently taught classes on medieval "vampires," ghosts, werewolves, witches, and "serial killers." However, what recognition I have received in the arts and sciences has been due to embroidery, costuming, related classes, etc.

So, when all is said, I hope to utilize my fairly broad knowledge of period "magic" to enhance my performance magic. As I have said elsewhere, one of my aspirations is to develop myself as a minstrel, and hence my active interest in learning to "do magic."

HLT
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 24, 2017 12:35PM)
Friend,

I hope you enjoy your trip into the Middle Ages. It can be wonderful, especially in the beginning.

However, a few things to understand--first, like any other group (workplace, family, hobbyists, etc.), it consists of people, with all their ambitions, flaws, etc. This of course means politics. Don't let this get you down!

Second, the most important thing is to have fun! Yes, there are awards, and it is very hard not to get caught up in "award fever", ie. becoming overly concerned about recognition. But in the end none of that matters! Avoid that trap; have fun!

Third, there is one set of "rules" followed in SCA. There are guidelines, but every kingdom does SCA differently. And every shire or barony (ie. local group) is different.

Fourth, a big part of having fun is making friends. These friends may not be local. So when you can, travel. Travel both within the kingdom, and without. Especially try to attend to closest big war--this will give you a very different perspective on what it to be in SCA. SCA is not just your shire, and it is not just your kingdom.

If you have questions, I will be happy to answer them.

HL Henry Percivale Kempe, aka Henry le Tregetour
Shiremarch of Grimfells
Kingdom of Calontir

Been SCAing since 1982 (on and off)
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 24, 2017 12:37PM)
Big correction to what I just said:

There is NOT one set of "rules" followed in SCA!

HLT
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Jan 24, 2017 12:49PM)
Thanks I think this will be something to check out, too bad they don't battle with Lightsabers....
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 24, 2017 02:11PM)
Yeah, light sabers--not quite period.

But, SCA is nerd-heaven. You will definitely find Star Wars fans. And late at night, don't be surprised if someone does pull out a light saber!

I am glad this is helpful.

Let me say a few other things.

When you do meet them, don't tell them that some guy said this is what SCA is like. They may have strong opinions, and it is good to listen to what they have to say. Of course, if you live in Calontir (Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, NW Arkansas), feel free to say you spoke with me and I gave you encouragement. Most people will probably say "Who?", but there are a lot of people in kingdom who know me.

You WILL meet people who don't like the idea of magic (who probably have no idea that performance magic IS period), or who will say NOTHING after 1600 is "period." The best thing to do is not argue with them, make a mental note of who these people are, and go find people who are fun. By the way, when I first became involved in SCA in 1982, there was still a big debate as to whether the cut-off date was 1600 or 1650. One of the most important early period magic manuals, Hocus Pocus Junior, dates from the 1630s, but all evidence indicates its the tricks it contains were identical to ones performed before 1600.

How to deal with the naysayers:

(1) Performance magic was very much a part of the repertoire of minstrels, and there is testimony dating back to the 1100s indicating this. Furthermore, the cup and balls dates back at least to the time of the ancient Romans, and maybe even the ancient Egyptians.

(2) With regards to sources, although they are the best sources for period magic we have, in the short run it is best not to mention Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft (1590s)(witches!), or The Art of Juggling and Hocus Pocus Junior (the latter two are post-1600). As you become the "expert" on performance magic in period, then you can bring these into the discussion.

(3) Here are sources that document performance magic in period (pre-1600):

Milbourne and Maurine Christopher, The Illustrated History of Magic

John Southard, The Medieval English Minstrel

Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages

Kurt Volkmann, The Oldest Deception [consists of period pictures of the cup and balls]

Read them! Photocopy relevant sections! Share these!

These books will lay any claims to performance magic not being period, or being something only witches would do. {Yeah, it is really stupid that you might have to do this sort of thing, but like I said, any group of human beings will have its share of know-it-alls!]

(4) Once you have established yourself as the "expert," then you can begin discussing the "controversial" texts (Discoverie, Art, HPJ)

(5) There are many tricks done in period that are still done in the present day. For the time being, concentrate on these, so you can make a strong claim towards doing "period" magic. And as you will be the expert, you can fudge a little, ie. most rope tricks even if not documented were probably figured out by bored magicians well before 1600. And card tricks are period--especially after 1500. Use Highlanders for these; they have basic "period" depictions and are wax coated. Avoid obviously out-of-period routines.

(6) As cool as the Soothsayers guild looks, avoid anything related to "real" magic. ie. astrology, palmistry (which is period!), tarot, etc. If these are avenues you want to explore in the future, great. Just remember, most people are not aware of period performance magic.

(7) Don't overwhelm anybody with your abilities. A little bit at a time is much better than a master performance. If the opportunity presents itself, volunteer to teach a class on period performance magic. In this context, you could mention the "controversial texts."

(8) SCA has "personas." A persona is basically a way to ground yourself in terms of your interests, ie. you are a 12th century English minstrel. Some people take these very seriously; other people don't. It's up to you.

(9) SCA does have a hierarchy. This is established through the system of awards, which are bestowed by the King and Queen (you get a new set of these every six months). Your newcomers meeting will tell you about this. Be respectful and courteous, but don't let the hierarchy get in the way of your enjoying things.

(10) Good luck, and have fun. Let me know how it works out.

HLT
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Jan 24, 2017 02:34PM)
Wow thanks for all of the info..... I will most likely avoid performing any magic if I go. I was more interesting in maybe some of the other stuff but thought it would be neat to have a period show or at least the appearance of something roughly period. I do attend a magic club monthly and currently working on performing my magic more. The show I have now is not related to this sort of performance. I also do a little bit of writing and have just been in a real writing slump lately, so trying to find some inspiration to get me going.
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 24, 2017 03:49PM)
Friend,

Sorry to overwhelm you. What I've written is just a few things to be aware of. Hopefully the people you meet will be cool. The annoying people are the minority.

If you want to show a few tricks, that's not really a problem. Just don't overwhelm them. Let them know that in your readings you've become aware that magic tricks were commonly performed for entertainment, and since you think the Middle Ages (Renaissance, or whatever) is cool, here you are.

You are also going to find people who will appreciate what you do regardless of whether it is period. Those are the "fun" people I am talking about. There are people who are very interested in authenticity--me included--but don't expect everybody to be like them. A wonderful thing about SCA is it allows people to explore an almost endless number of interests.

Here is a quick list of period tricks:

cup and balls
identify card (nothing fancy on your shuffling; avoid card flourishes)
four aces
many basic coin tricks
cut-and-restored rope
quarter disappearing from handkerchief
knotted handkerchief (you tie a knot in a handkerchief, then pull and it disappears. In Mark Wilson, Discoverie and Hocus Pocus!)
burned thread--take a thread, burn it, take the ashes, and voila--it reappears!
disappears (usually grain) in boxes
trade places (disappear from one box and reappear in another)

Any basic sleight of hand routines. It is okay not to have absolutely period stuff the first time you show up. Bicycle cards are fine. The Highlander cards and other "period" things are something to aspire to, not something you have to have immediately.

The tricks from Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft as well as whole copies of Hocus Pocus Junior and The Art of Juggling (prior to 1800 "juggling" referred to magic tricks, not what we call juggling) are available on the internet.

HLT
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 24, 2017 04:09PM)
Finally, just take what I've said with a grain of salt.

In my own road I don't plan to be exclusively authentic. I very much agree with Master Payne's philosophy concerning entertainment vs. strict authenticity. If you haven't already, get a copy of his "Sometimes the Jokes Are Just for Me," available on LuLu. I really like his idea of taking non-period props and dressing them up to make them look period.

Most people are just interested in being entertained.

Unless authenticity is your "thing", then don't worry over much.

HLT
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Jan 25, 2017 07:27PM)
I just found this thread. Things are pretty slow on the Periods and Styles board, so I seldom check in more than monthly.

I've been involved in the SCA off and on for about 21 years now. (Egad! Has it really been that long?) My main thing is the fighting. When I started, West Kingdom still considered two layers of untreated carpet or one layer of treated carpet to be adequate knee protection. Treatment of the carpet was not clear. I wanted to get into the fencing, went so far as to purchase the needed schlager weapons and start the sewing of protective garments, then Jade banned fencing and claimed he would keep winning Crown to keep banning it because fencing is inherently unsafe. (But carpet is going to protect those knees, eh?) I got into full armored combat instead and I still love it. I hope to get a couple of repairs done this weekend and get to fighter practice. Been missing it (full time student, full time dad, living in a place that takes a lot of work).

The one time I tried to do magic in an SCA setting, the down side of nerdiness showed up. Everyone wanted to dissect how the trick was done rather than just enjoy the performance. It is an issue that comes up with SCAdians sometimes. Everyone here will tell you that it is audience management, and there's something to that, but at some level the people in my local group just don't care much for magic. They like embroidery, cooking exotic and nasty food, and fighting. Events are made up of an embroidery class, a nasty feast, and a tournament. With plenty of "down time" in between. Introducing something different is almost comical because the old guard almost trips over themselves to tell you why you can't do that. Nowadays I just fight. And never go to events.

My advice is a little different from Henry's and I will put it down to regional differences. Don't say a thing about sources for the material you use, but know a little about them. In particular, know the title of Prevost's Clever and Pleasant Inventions, from 1584. Look over Breugel's famous woodcut Fall of the Magician Hermogenes and see how many tricks are represented there (as well as stuff that is associated with magicians of the time, like puppets and acrobatics). The few people who may try to challenge you on authenticity will normally be wearing such inauthentic clothing that all you have to do is ask "so precise period accuracy is that important to you?" and look them up and down, then raise an eyebrow. I find that the folks who really love dressing well are also very forgiving of those whose efforts may lack perfect documentation. An odd double standard exists for those who try to impose authenticity on others.

I have and enjoy Payne's book. I really look forward to his eventual medieval book. If it ever happens.

In the end, the SCA can be a lot of fun, but don't expect it to be what it claims (historical reenactment). If you try to live up to the SCA's big claim, you will find frustration and disappointment. If you assume it is a medieval themed costume party with a range of interests represented, you have a decent chance of having a great time. I would love to see good magic in the SCA, but I don't know how many folks feel that way.

-Patrick
Message: Posted by: Payne (Jan 26, 2017 01:38AM)
Well it seems that things in the SCA have changed quite a bit since I stopped “playing” twenty years ago, back in A.S. XXX.

I got involved in the SCA in 1981 (A.S. XV) and nearly received my AA at my second event for entertaining the Prince and Princess children with magic while they attended Court. They held off giving me an award that day because I hadn’t been around long enough. But I would receive it a year later and be elevated to the Rank of Laurel four years later.

I never performed magic at Tournaments but was in high demand all around the Kingdom for feasts and revels. Once a remote Shire even flew me in for a Yule feast.
My performances were always well received and I never suffered from audiences trying to figure out the secrets to the tricks.

Back then the only resource available was the Dover Reprint of Scott’s Discoverie of Witchcraft and a couple of private press reprints of period Magic Books. Most of which were beyond the reach of my meager income. Hermetic Presses edition of Prevost’s Clever and Pleasant Inventions wouldn’t be published until I left the SCA. Ironically it was my involvement with the SCA that lead to this publication of Prevost’s work as that is where I met the translator whom I later introduced to Mr. Minch.

I had few resources at my disposal, and even less funds to purchase new props with. I learned to modify the existing effects in my repertoire. I was more interested in giving them a period look and feel than I was in being historically accurate. Since no one was well versed in the early history of magic back then. Few ever questioned the authenticity of my material. So no one could really put forth too many objections when my name came up in the Laurel council.

My suggestion is just start performing. Get booked at a feast and see how it goes. Concentrate on the entertainment side, be loud, visible and most importantly, entertaining.

It worked for me
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 26, 2017 01:56PM)
Thank you Payne and Mr. Woolery for weighing in. I certainly did not intend this to be a Henry Show! (TM)--LOL

I think Payne's approach would work very well in my kingdom, and I think MW's cautionary note is applicable as well. But I think the problem is not simply an SCA thing. It is the type of thing that any budding magician encounters--whom do I perform for, where do I do it, how do I go about it, etc.

I think we all agree that there are annoying know-it-alls wherever one goes; SCA awards unfortunately have a way to reinforce their beliefs that they know much more than they do. But "mundanely" I am an academically trained historian, and I have seen my share of Ph.D.s that are pretty much "piled higher and deeper," ie. egotistical people who take their recognition too seriously, who see it as some type of warrant to look down upon others. As I said, it is part of the human condition.

This is what I am thinking for my own approach.

(1) Actually learn to do magic and create some routines (I have been doing a lot of work on my cup and balls this month, my French drop is looking pretty good. I have several "self-working" tricks that once I develop a routine I think would go over well).
(2) My first step into the public--write a research paper on period performance magic for the upcoming Kingdom A&S. As I've said previously, a few years ago I taught a class on performance magic and it was received well by the handful of students attending. I've got the research done, and I just need to put pen to paper. Besides the fact that I love researching and writing, this paper should put to rest any argument that performance magic is not period. Also, teach the above mentioned class more often.
(3) Get feedback from some of my Laurel friends with regards to when and where I might do magic, as well as tips on how to improve my performance.
(4) Begin to perform in public, starting very small. With regards to this, I am a pretty fair (I don't know I would call it good) recorder player, and have experience performing solo in public--I typically perform at local feasts and during down time at events. My kingdom has a local war--Lilies--that gets about two thousand attendees and lasts about nine days. I can volunteer my entertainment at small encampments, especially friends.
(5) As I develop my skills, then one good venue would be to volunteer to give a show for children. Also, enter contests. Another way is somehow blend my music with my magic. Essentially, I can play my music, if I get a small crowd, I will ask if they may be interested in "seeing some magic."

So that is my plan, as it is.

Thanks to Payne's example, I have bought a Sucker's Box. It is small and not of the greatest workmanship, so I am thinking of building my own larger version. Still, what I have now will do for the time being. Now all I have to do is figure out a routine.

HTL
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 26, 2017 02:18PM)
In response to the carpet armor--yes, those were the days.

I got in right after they stopped using freon cans for helmets. There was still plenty of carpet armor, but not for knees. They allowed hockey gloves and hockey "armor" for knees.

A great thing about SCA is how things have developed towards authenticity, whether it is in armor, clothing, etc. Resources for research have grown exponentially. But of course this is a two-edged sword. SCA has become a "rich" man's hobby, compared to some of the alternative groups.

I view it as an historical "recreation" group as opposed to a "reenactment group" (we don't "reenact" anything!). But even calling it "recreation" is a big stretch. I think "re-creation" might be a better word.

There are a lot of things not to like in SCA, but as I've said before, you will find those in any group of people, especially organizations. My advice--and I don't follow it all the time (understatement), is to do what you enjoy doing, do it for yourself, and don't worry about awards. I think aspirations are great--it is all right to want to be king/queen, a Knight, a Laurel, etc. (do people actually want to be Pelicans?). But it is not worth ones time to spend so much time focused on the awards.

I really love the Fall of Hermogenes. It just has so much happening in it. If I ever do a Renaissance Faire, I am going to point to it and the Hieronymous Bosch paintings as justifications for my costume. (I am late 12th, early 13th century, and the tunics in the paintings are pretty much the same as one might find in my period). And Hermogenes's hat is almost identical to the Phrygian hat which was ubiquitous in my time period.

HTL
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 26, 2017 02:31PM)
Yes, this is my third post in about a thirty minute span(I am just having fun).

Patrick,

I think your comments illustrate one of the problems--captivity to the local group (which I guess is pretty endemic to Alaska--few groups spread way apart). The solution to this (a lot easier said than done) is to travel outside the group.

I really think some of the best venues for the performance of magic are the large wars--Pennsic, Gulf Wars, Estrella, Great Western War, Lilies, etc. These are environments which actually have "streets" where street performers can perform, or they have stages. Of course, again, it's a pretty far drive from Alaska to Gulf Port, Mississippi!

By the way, my biggest claim to fame is my embroidery. It has been the cornerstone of what recognition I have received (GOA level arts award). But no offense taken--I completely understand (I think) what you are saying. The truth is where I live the tendency is to pigeon hole people. You do good X and you become someone who does X. When you do something besides X, some people get confused.

Oh well, I guess I will have my fun anyway.

HLT, who will go back to work!
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Jan 27, 2017 12:02PM)
I had a chance to do a cup and ball routine this morning.

I have posted details in Ever So Sleightly--Never forget the fourth ball!

HLT
Message: Posted by: medievalmagician (Jan 27, 2017 01:49PM)
Back when I was fighting multiple times a week, my main focus was fighting...my hands we're usually banged up and caloused plus my mundane job was of being a copier technician so my hands usually were dirty and cut as well.
I'm not fighting nearly as much anymore, I was recognized as a Knight about 18 years ago and have been Prince of a Principality 4 times now. I was also recognized as a Pelican a couple years ago, not something I was trying to accomplish, an indirect result of some projects I had been involved in over the years.

Now I want to bring magic in, more for my entertainment. I'm am not too concerned about historical accuracy, most of my friends would say 'Burn him, he's a witch' as far as being accurate goes. Most of the circle I am around would not be criticizing about authenticity unless I was entering some Bardic or A&S competition.
Message: Posted by: Habbrock (Mar 10, 2017 02:24PM)
I am in Artemesia and have been doing magic here for 6 years or so. I have a Golden Maple Leaf (one step above AA) for my magic and a few other awards. I am the only performing magician in the Kingdom. Happy to connect with other magicians.
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Mar 10, 2017 03:11PM)
Nice to meet you as well.

I have been lurking around for a few years, so I have read some of your previous posts.

Congratulations and keep up the good work. Maybe someday you will be a laurel, and then you can get some apprentices to spread the "gospel"!

HLT
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Mar 18, 2017 09:14PM)
Before we had kids, my wife and I did travel. The next closest group was 360 miles away. To get anything else, I have to leave the state, so either take a plane or drive through a foreign country. Not worth it to me.

I love good embroidery I don't enjoy doing it, but do appreciate skill and visual balance. However, for a group that claims all sorts of crafts, skills, and activities, the events are remarkably dull, being an embroidery session, a feast, and a tourney. Not worth the time and money for me. I gave up on changing the local group about 12 years ago. Long, sad story.

One of my personal daydreams is still to put together an entire act from Hocus Pocus Jr. Just for fun. But I don't have a venue, so I have never done the work.

In another five years or so I should be able to leave Alaska so things may be very different wherever I end up.

Patrick
Message: Posted by: malaki (Mar 30, 2017 04:57PM)
Ah, yes - I too remember the old "carpet beast" with the freon helm and hockey pads. Those were the days when the SCA was a cheep weekend away from the world of mundanity and the 20th century! I have been doing this since 1977, at the third annual Medieval Fair inNorman, OK. Your posts have inspired me to respond - please excuse the space taken.

Here in Ansteorra, magicians face the trials you folks have listed as well, but add into that bible belt and you really have to watch what you say and how you perform. I had volunteered to teach a class, "Magic 101, a history of early magical performances" at a king's college. Afterword I was informed that the kingdom had caught wind of my class and sent an observer to make sure I wasn't teaching witchcraft! <some people's children...>

My persona was born in 1261, in Swansea, Wales. My persona's father was a merchant who traveled with the Polo family, to China. I, as a youngster, came along. I spent 20 years in service to Kubilai Kahn, as one of his court magicians, and traveled across the kingdom to verify reports of magical performances/incidents, bringing the knowledge back to the capitol, to serve the Great Kahn.

This persona has given me direction, for costuming, the type of magic, and even the look of my camp. Researching the subject lead to my writing and publishing the Timeline of Magic (the Laurels did not seem too interested in my documentation, so to not waste the time I had spent, I published it - the Oklahoma City library said that they saw it as a landmark publication on the subject). When I started writing it, I quickly realized that the further back in time you go, the harder it is to distinguish between illusion, science and religion/belief systems, so I took a holistic approach. If I could find a date associated with it from a decent source, it was assimilated into the book, which has about 20 pages of sources listed.

The first several years of playing in the SCA consisted of trying to look "mostly harmless". I found that the way to acquire people's trust was to become acquainted with the minister of children and offer your services - you would be surprised how many "big kids" show up! Feasts are an excellent venue, but the angles are an issue. I find that to perform specifically for the Head Table gives you a captive audience and will earn a reputation for you amongst the Royal Family. The Chinese garb that I wear acts as a backdrop, shielding slights from people at bad angles (other tables). Bardic circles are not the best venue, unless they are looking for some variety as a break. Don't try to compete against the bards. The best success I have had performing in the SCA is going from camp fire to camp fire after dark. Do not rely on anything that requires recognition of color, but using a bright color & dark for contrast works well. Effects such as the linking rings (c 100 BCE) are beautiful in the firelight! The best show that I have ever done was by request at a coronation. It was here that I presented my working Sword in the Stone. At that performance I also managed to peg a flashpot with a flashpaper comet from about 25' away, setting it off when the glowplug failed. The most theatrical coronation I have ever seen (I do have plans for presenting the Sword of State, rising from the water of a lake. Casting a spell would allow the Prince to walk on the surface of the water to retrieve it! A bit more of an investment than the Sword in the Stone, but for a summer coronation, it would be great!

When I finally decided against trying to get awards, and that I was there to have a good time and to share it with other's as well, I have had a much better time going to events. I make most of my effects so that they look period, but I do not only do period effects. Cutting off one's nose or finger dies not really pass as entertainment today. Even though they are acting as though it is the Middle Ages, they still have the temperament of today's viewer.

In the immortal words of Arthur C. Clarke,
"Any science sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic".

This is now my philosophy for magic in the SCA. If they do not know how it is done, and you are not showing them something that is blatantly NOT period, the question becomes:
"Did it look period, and was the audience entertained?"

BTW, to sound more period in your speech, seek out a recording called "Speaking Forsoothly". <sp> This is a recording made to help people who work Medieval & Renaissance fairs, so they sound more the part. It really helped when I took a creative writing class and wrote of the SCA in persona.

One last thing - I am one of the founding members of the Household of Wizard's Keep. We are a collection of personas who practice and art or craft which, in the Middle Ages, would be considered as magical or mystical in nature. I would be happy to post our charter if you are interested in joining or creating one of your own. I really didn't think I had this much to say...
Message: Posted by: Steve_Mollett (Apr 2, 2017 02:22PM)
I've done drawing room shows, busking/mountebank shows, cups and balls demos/classes and fire eating.
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Apr 3, 2017 12:27PM)
Malaki,

Wonderful post.

Thank you so much!

Henry
Message: Posted by: Moderncelt (Apr 3, 2017 11:35PM)
Dr Henry Best is out of the Midrealm, has his Laurel in performance magic, is at Gulf Wars and Pensic yearly teaching and performing. I believe he is taking this summer for his bucket list and busking in Europe.
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Apr 4, 2017 09:59AM)
[quote]On Apr 3, 2017, Moderncelt wrote:
Dr Henry Best is out of the Midrealm, has his Laurel in performance magic, is at Gulf Wars and Pensic yearly teaching and performing. I believe he is taking this summer for his bucket list and busking in Europe. [/quote]

I am glad to hear this.

Getting to "foreign wars" has been difficult for me for the past 15 years, but knowing there is someone actively teaching performance magic at such venues is great news.

Thanks.

HLT
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Apr 4, 2017 10:00AM)
[quote]On Apr 2, 2017, Steve_Mollett wrote:
I've done drawing room shows, busking/mountebank shows, cups and balls demos/classes and fire eating. [/quote]

So how long have you been doing this, SCA and otherwise?

HLT
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Apr 4, 2017 10:09AM)
Patrick,

I am sorry about the delay in getting back to you.

From previous posts I knew you lived in Alaska. Traveling 360 miles for an event is a bit much, unless it lasts several days. Actually, I have done that before. My family is from West Texas (not the town), about halfway between Lubbock and Abilene. Think very rural, isolated, arid--lots of rattlesnakes, stickers, cactus, "horny toads," tumbleweeds, etc. It is paradise!

A friend of mine who makes a living as a merchant was going there, so I caught a ride. It was a good event, well attended, with TRM in attendance. I thought it was cool to attend an event (it was just west of Abilene) where I had spent so much time as a kid, especially given it was in the middle of nowhere.

I hope you can relocate sooner than later. Being in a shire that just doesn't fit you, especially given the options, must really s--k.

Henry
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Apr 5, 2017 11:13AM)
I am back in school at my mid-40s age to get qualified to get out. SCA is not a priority at the moment. However, I would enjoy involvement if I can get it when I move outside.

My sister in law lives in Fort Worth. I grew up Outside, so I agree that cactus, tumbleweed, horn toads, and sand are lovely. That said, I want to live somewhere in between. Idaho has more of the climate I enjoy. I don't want 6 months of winter or 6 months of summer. I also need certain amenities wherever I settle. Tribal Belly Dance actually comes ahead of SCA on my list.

Back on topic, how many folks here are used to seeing live entertainment at events? Not just the participatory activities, which includes dancing, but performances meant to be viewed by an audience? Due to isolation, I recognize that my local group is not typical, so it is impossible to generalize, but there is no local performance culture to speak of. I once was at an event where a couple of men were playing live music and the autocrat (I have always hated this term, but what are you gonna do?) started playing music on a boom box to drown them out. Not because she meant to be rude, as far as I am aware, but because she just did not understand the whole etiquette of performers and audiences. I just wonder how well other places embrace live entertainment.

Patrick
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Dec 7, 2017 03:46PM)
Hello Patrick,

I have been a hiatus the past six months. However, I can answer your question with regards to my kingdom Calontir.

First, we have a lot of participatory music--post revel and fire circles. These are integral parts of at least half of our events. We also have participatory music focused mainly on ballroom dancing. And of course we sometimes have performances at feasts. I have been doing that (playing my recorder) locally for several years. Unfortunately there is not really a lot beyond that.

Now in my opinion music is one of the most important sources of ambience. Especially for newer people (and a lot of people who have been in twenty, thirty, and more years), it is a means of transforming what is a bunch of people with rattan covered sticks and funny looking clothes into the fantasy of the Middle Ages. At every event I try to perform outside the common strictures of performances, ie. sometimes at a lunch gathering or just sitting whiling away the time. Over the years there have been others who have actually performed, setting themselves up some place where passers by can hear the music. Unfortunately, that is comparatively rare, even at our war during June.

Of course, I would love to see entertainers performing outside the standard strictures to become a fixture at our events. This would go beyond music and include trained animals, juggling, magic, etc., all part of the medieval minstrel's repertoire (they were about much more than song and music!)

This summer I taught two classes related to performance magic. One was a history, another was more about what magicians actually did. I think the history class had one attendee, and the other two (three including one man's young daughter). There was also a boy interested in learning magic, which unfortunately is not what I was doing. This is an class I will be trying to develop over the next year or two. I am also trying to put together a basic children's magic show oriented towards 6-10 year olds for our war next summer.

So is it worth spending my time this way? I think it is. The point is to reach that one person for whom this sets off the spark to learn more. I think we must lower our expectations and be satisfied with the couple of students who are interested. I have developed and taught about three dozen different classes in my 30+ years, at our war this summer teaching 13 sessions of 10 classes. Sometimes I get a bunch of students, sometimes 1 or none. Although it really boosts the ego when you get 8 or 10 students, some of my best sessions are just one-on-one. The most important thing is when someone takes up where you left off.

So that's it.

Henry
Message: Posted by: HenryleTregetour (Dec 19, 2017 09:27AM)
One thing I will add--our fire circles consist both of group songs and performances by individuals. The bulk of the singing is the former, but it does give one the chance for an audience.

Again, other than that there really isn't a lot of entertainment going on, especially on the pathways and in the market.

HLT