Sunday, May 1, 2016

AoA for Léana Doucet

I admit, I don't know everyone. I just don't. So it is no wonder when this scroll assignment came across my desk that I said 'yes, but I don't know who that is!' Thankfully, the description of -why- she was getting the word was so brilliantly inspirational (as they all are, gosh darn it!) and so I knew this was a scroll I wanted to do.

...but I didn't think I had all the time I wanted for the wordsmithing. So I contacted the person who put in the request and words were eventually given to me. In French. Eep! So, then I had to start working on a translation because I don't know French but wanted to make sure the whole scroll had a proper feel to it.

Here are the words that were given to me by Sir Pellandres dit le Frère with a few little tweaks by Dame Bruinissende and Alys Mackyntoich to add in the names of the royalty where they best fit as well as the event place and date:

Il en est une dont les actes, quoique toujours silencieux, ne laissent aucun indifférent. Du chaos naissent l'ordre puis l'action. D'aucun ne savait ce qu'il devait faire, du coup il accompli de grandes choses. Un sourire en coin, elle sait son travail accompli. Certains voudraient la saisir et définir son influence. Nul ne peut ainsi la réduire. Revestant le haume, elle affronte sans doutes les ennemis du Roiaume et assiste à l'entrainement de ses troupes. Hors de la lice elle s'assure que non seulement sa propre personne, mais aussi sa suite, soient couverts de vestiments honorables. Ce sans oublier son amour pour la gens équine, les activités desquelles elle songe établir en ceste principauté et qu'elle introduit à qui veut l'entendre!  N'osant laisser un tel murmure s'élever trop haut et cherchant  plutôt a le transformer en clameurs de joie de la part de leur sujets, Nous, Kenric, Roi du Royaume d'Orient par le droit des armes, et Avelina, de par le même droit notre Reine, de par les ci-présentes lettres accordons à notre sujet Leana Dosquet le droit de porter les armes suivantes:

 Ainsi ordonné en ce 30 avril de la cinquantième année de notre Société dans notre baronnie du Havre des Glaces."

A space was saved where  arms could be placed when the time came that there were registered.

Here is the translation, to the best of my ability, from French into English:

There is one whose acts, though still silent, leave no one indifferent. Born into the chaos, she creates order in action. Where no one else may know what to do, she can accomplish a great many thing. Always with a smile, she goes to her work. Some would try to define its influence, but none may invalidate her labors. Wearing a great helm, she faces without doubt the enemies of the Kingdom and attends the training of its troops. From the lists she ensures that not only her own person, but also those around her, are clothed with honorable vestiments. Without forgetting love for equestrians, whose activities she feels important to the Kingdom, she teaches anyone who will listen! Not daring to leave such a murmur to grow too loud and instead seeking to turn it into joyful clamor from Their subjects, We, Kenric, King of the Kingdom of the East by right of arms, and Avelina, by the same right, Queen, by the following present letters grant Leana Dosquet the right to bear the following arms:

Dated April 30 in the fiftieth year of our Company in our Barony of Havre des Glaces."

The illumination of choice in inspiration comes from the Bible of Borso d'Este, circa 1455.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Order of the Bedchamber

So, I had decided if I had managed to get into the third round at King and Queen's Bardic, that I would put on my resume (and hope to get asked) to do an Order of the Bedchamber piece. We know, from documents of the court, that there were two Skomorokhi in Ivan the Terrible's Order of the Bedchamber (which was a list of all his retinue that did the home tasks that were necessary). And we also know from journals of visitors that Ivan often enjoyed having his Skomrokhi regale him with songs, poetry, byliny, and epic tales - whether they were true or not. Sometimes he would have them recite epics that were well known and loved. But Ivan also enjoyed getting drunk and wearing masks and doing improv with the Skomorokhi, so almost anything is up for grabs.

In either case, for quite some time now I have been taking notes on phrases that would make good 'Order of the Bedchamber' glory to the King type of praise piece. And that is what I offered to do. Although I didn't make it into the third round, I finally decided I would like to try my hand at arranging all the phrases and see if I could make a worthy praise poem for the soon to be King Kenric of the East, as he and his beautiful lady have always been an inspiration to me.

So, based off a variety of byliny, but mostly the Lay of Igor's Campaign, here is the praise piece for Kenric that I wrote, something that would rival the Skomorokhi tales that were told while Prince Ivan languished in his bathing tub in the afternoons.

O you guests, invited guests,
Honored guests, warrior guests.
You are to be told a wonderous thing.
A wonderful thing and it is no trifle.

I speak of our King Kenric.
Swaddled to the sound of trumpets,
Nursed beneath helmets,
Fed at the spear's point.
He has girded his mind with fortitude
And sharpened his heart with valor.

King Kenric will speed like an ermine into the rushes,
Like a white duck onto the water.
He will spring upon his swift horse
And leap from it like a white footed wolf.
He will speed towards the meadows of AEthelmearc
And fly like a falcon beneath the mists
Slaying geese and swans
For his morning, midday, and evening meals.

What is this noise?
What is this ringing I hear far away?

He shouts.
The earth rumbles.
The grass rustles.
The tents stir.

The East advances on the great plain with scarlet shields
Seeking honor for themselves and glory for their King.

The roads are known to them.
The ravines familiar to them.
Their bows are strung.
Their quivers open.
Their sabres whetted.
They race across the land like grey wolves.

But a like battle was never heard of.
From dawn till evening,
From evening till dawn.
Tempered arrows fly.
Sabres thunder against helmets.
Lances of steel crash amid the land.

A blood red glow will herald the dawn.
Black clouds come in from the East
and streaks of blue lightning quiver within them.
There will be a mighty thunder.
Rain will come-
A rain of arrows.
Here lances will break.
Here sabres will strike against foreign helmets.

Brave thoughts carry our minds to action- to war.

Horses neigh beyond the shires.
Glory rings out in the baronies.
Trumpets sound in the cantons.
Standards are raised in Tir Mara.
The countryside is happy.
The cities are joyful.

We praise the deeds of the past.
Glory to Brennan!
Glory to Caoilfhionn!
Now we must honor the present.
Glory to Kenric!
Glory to Avelina!
Long live the King and Queen!
Long live the retinue!

Glory to the East!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Klaus Winterhalter's Tyger's Combattant

I have never done a Tyger's Combattant before and, honestly, when I was given this assignment, I wasn't certain where to start. Fighting, in general, is one of the few parts of the SCA I don't know as much about as I would like, but having done one of the AoA level combat awards, I felt excited and confident that I could do this one justice!

When I typically start a scroll, I start by choosing the words that will inspire me and then choose the manuscript based on the words.

For words, I decided on a letter from Ermengard, Viscountess of Narbonne: To view the original letter, click here.

I worked with the words and eventually the scroll wording read as such:

"To Our most beloved populace, by grace of the East, the most illustrious King Brennan, and his gracious Queen Caoilfhionn, greetings, good health and the magnanimity of the Kingdom.

We desire to protect and defend the East and as necessary, We shall not resist the cries of many. It is said that Klaus Winterhalter does strive to deliver up to Us and Ours both commands and service at many times and places. As his arm has taken up the shield of protection and risen in aid of the East, many have willingly and constantly followed behind his arms and his teachings

We do not speak alone, but all our compatriots are consumed by ineffable joy that We see Our Kingdom, on which the vigor of the Eastern Kings and Queens have conferred the tokens of such honors, another is given such recognition.

Let his vigor therefore assume strength and enter into Our Order of the Tyger's Combatant with a strong arm to repress the boldness of Our enemies and give solace to the worthy hope of Our friends. So We conclude at Our time of the Mudthaw in the Barony of Settmour Swamp. Dated this day of April 2, A.S. L by Our very hands."

Once finished, I decided for an illumination choice the Psalter of Saint Louis, circa 1260. I decided to do the whole thing on parchment to give it more of an authentic feel instead of the watercolor paper I often like to use. Here is the final product:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

King and Queen's Bardic Champions

It is very important to me to start documenting my performances because I have been working so hard on all of them. I have been working hard on how to stand, how to talk, what to wear, what props to use, how to move, etc.

This past weekend, against previous decisions that my life had been too hectic, I decided that I would compete if for no other reason than to be given a venue in which to teach a little bit more about skomorokhi and what/how they did what they did.

For the first round, I did a piece I call The Brave Youth. I decided to incorporate a lot of the movement I learned taking classes from Antonio Fava as well as an extant find mask I had been wanting to make for a long time.

Here is the 13th century 'buffoon' mask, made of leather and found under the floor boards of a cobbler's shop that was excavated.

And here is the mask that I made, using the same measurements as the mask above (16 x 13 centimeters).

The card I handed to the judges with the documentation for my performance read as follows:

"The Brave Youth
Katrusha Skomorokha Negodieva `Doch

Mask based on late 13th century extant find.

"The first known recording of a Russian folktale was made in the sixteenth century by an Italian historian."
"While the east slavic folktale flourished as entertainment ... folktales were enjoyed among all social classes, including the tsar's family."
Johns, Andreas. Baba Yaga. Peter Lang Publishing: New York. 2004. Page 49.

In 1905, an excavation revealed burial mounds of the 11th -12th centuries that bear a striking resemblance to the tales of Baba Yaga, giving us reasonable cause to believe the skomorokhi told the stories to keep the bodies from being disturbed."

Here are a few photos from the performance to show some of the acrobatics used. I geared the performance hoping for children to come forward and enjoy it. I will post a video of the performance once they are available.

My second round piece I had decided on taking excerpts from the Izbornik, a book written around 1076. My documentation for it read:

"Parental Advice
Katrusha Skomorokha Negodieva `Doch

Excerpts from the Izbornik, circa 1076.

"The majority of the people were largely unaffected by the conversion (to Christianity) ... they continued to practice the ancient cult of their ancestors and to call upon the skomorokhi for spiritual guidance."

Zguta, Russel. Russian Minstrels. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1978. Page 15."

Here is what I read:

"Child, in your lifetime test your soul and see what is bad for her and do not give it to her, for not everything agrees with everyone, not every soul enjoys everything. Entice your soul with gladness and comfort your heart, and remove sorrow far from you so that you will not grow old too soon.

Do not be ashamed to stand against the current of the river, or submit yourself to a fool, or court the face of the powerful, but defend truth to the death.

Do not withhold your mercy even from the dead and do not fail those who weep; mourn with those who mourn and do not shrink from visiting the sick, because for those deeds you will be loved. A sweet throat multiplies friends, and a fair speaking tongue multiplies courtesies.

Child, from your youth up choose instruction, and until you turn grey you will find wisdom. Come to her like one who plows and sows and wait for her good crop. In cultivating her you will toil a little while, yet soon you will be eating the good things of her produce. She seems utterly intractable to the uninstructed and the faint of heart will not remain with her but leave; for wisdom is like her name and is not revealed to many.

Put your feet in her fetters and into her collar your neck; put your shoulder under her and carry her, and let her bonds be not to close. Come to her with all your soul and keep her ways with all your might Search out and seek, and she will become known to you. When you get hold of her, you will not let her go, for in the end you will find her rest: she will be changed into joy for you and her fetters will become for you a strong protection and her collar a robe of glory, for upon her is the beauty of gold, and her bonds are a braid of precious stone. You will put her on as a robe of glory and put a crown of gladness on your head.

If you wish, child, you will be instructed, and if you give it your soul, you will become clever; if you love to listen, you will live, and if you incline your ear, you will become wise. Child, stand in the multitude of elders, and if one is wise, cleave to him. Be willing to listen to every narrative, and the precept of insight will not escape you. If you see a wise man, rise early to visit him and let your feet wear out his doorstep.

Above all, child, remember this. Do not hide your wisdom, for wisdom will be recognized by your word. Be firm in your mind, and let your word be one."

Although I did not make it into the third round, I decided that I would begin documenting my resume as well. So my resume was written as such:

Katrusha Skomorokha Negodieva `Doch

A War Song (not period) written by another
" ... foreign influences enabled the skomorokhi to transform themselves ..." page 21

Order of the Bedchamber (period style) praise poem for the King created on the spot
"Of the 188 persons listed under the general heading of the Order of the Bedchamber ... two were skomorokhi." page 54-55

Traditional Russian historical piece (period style)
" ... skomorokhi became heirs to a rich body of oral heroic poetry ..." page 22

Sing-a-long (not period)
"... on occasion Ivan himself (Ivan the Terrible) took part in their (the smokorokhi) entertainments." page 55.

Zguta, Russell. Russian Minstrels. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1978.

The only other thing to explain is the clothing style choice. Skomorokhi, having been nearly banished by the church, took on a lot of repertoire as well as clothing styles from their European counterparts. They took inspiration from anywhere they could get it: Germany, Italy, Greece, China, etc. So I fashioned my garb after these descriptions and the few illuminations we can find of skomorkhi. And yes, there were female skomorokhi.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fava Class Day Five: Wrapping up

-There are androgenous masks that can be used by the lovers as social masks (or other un-masked characters) if they want to meet in secret for the purposes of intrigue.

-You can not pronounce the name of the masked person until it is obvious you know who they are.

-Always look away when another person is doing their aparte or you will simply appear like part of the audience

-Capitano boasts: make something so impossible that even the skeptic has to hang on your every word. Make mistakes as you talk so that you can laugh them off.

-Never look at a person face to face during an aparte

-Always take off intrigue mask in one simple motion, holding it gently by your side without showin the back of thumb through the eyes.

-Main business for pantalone and dottore is to speak of marriage (usually)

-Zanni and Pantalone are friends.

Pantalone's strategy for documents is simply 'agree or don't agree' and sign.
Dottore's strategy for documents is to make Pantalone appear like a fool/humiliated

A happy ending in commedia is to return to the beginning balance. AKA starting with a wedding, wedding gets interrupted, return to the wedding. Etc. Everyone happy.

It was a very short day with some teaching as the long part of the day was set aside for all of us, as one company, to do a canvaccio:

In Pantalone's house with Pantalone, Isabella, la Signora, Pedrolino, Columbina, and Zanni as well as Dottore and Flavio. Dottor and Pantalone are about to go through with the ceremony of engagement for Isabella and Flavio. There is a knock on the door: announcement of Capitano's (and his Zanni) entrance. Ceremony is interrupted and  Capitano produces a letter signed by Panalone promising Isabella to him for marriage. Everyone is confused. End scene.

Next scene: First is the duel of the two lovers. Then the duel of the old men. Then the duel of Signora/Pedrolino as she plots how to get the Capitano for herself. Then the desperate servants who just want the food from the ceremony. Then the Capitano and his Zanni talk about how they created the trick of the document. End scene.

Next scene: Engagement ceremony to begin between Capitano and Isabella. Dottore/Flavio are upset. Arrival of a mysterious woman (Columbina) and a baby (Zanni) who is searching for Capitano. Capitano admits to his trick and the engagement ceremony between Isabella and Flavio can happen once more.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fava Class Day Four: Pantalone, Dottore, Servetta, Infernato, and stage slaps


- old is NOT an ailiment. It is just a condition that happens. This does NOT mean that Pantalone acts old and decrepit. He merely has a slight body posture change because of age.

-Followed a full life: a lover- most likely in marriage where Isabella/Flavio whomever came from
a zanni: worked hard for a living
a capitano: lived through many wars
This means that Pantalone (and Dottore as well) may be old, but can have the same steps and motions as the other archtypes for a variety of reasons.

In stance:
-World weighs down on Pantalone from age which causes his knees to bend more, his back to round out and rolling his pelvis/belly outwards. He is -not- hunched over. He remains with a good vertical access. This pose will make your thighs burn if you do it right.

-keep loose in the wrists and ankles. Do not drag/shuffle feet. Pantalone may take small steps (almost heel to toe), but he is still filled with energy. Walks heel first.

-When excited, Pantalone will lift foot quickly off the ground as if floor is on fire and then slowly put it back down again. He will do the same kind of step when angry.

-keep elbows out and up. Never fully extend arm, but he can still point and move just fine.

-Loves money. Every coin has a name, a shape, a color, a story.

-Pantalone is not a thief. He will not steal money.

-If not wanting to pay a loan, Pantalone will suddenly remember that he is old (aka- can't hear, aching back, stiff knees, etc.)


-Also weighed down by the world, but it causes instead for his back to arch outward, sticking out his stomache and keeping his knees and arms very open and bent.

-Walks with a similar step to Pantalone, but because of being such a large man (always pictured as a very large man who loves his gastronomy), a nearly small hop has to be inserted just for the effort of getting him off the ground.  Shoulders and elbows will bounce with the hop steps as if a bird (if he is not gesturing)

-Very bombastic. Whole world is his chalk board to draw on, refer to, create visual diagrams with as he answers questions. In other words, he speaks with his hands and his words will change in tone and texture depending on what he is talking about, almost like onomonopiae. (AKA if he is describing how to cook sausage he may say 'then you *makes sounds of frying* and you CRANK up the heat')

-It is always dangerous to ask him a question. It will take him hour to explain anything. He will make up theories and loops and roads and cross himself and follow his own logic that no one else can.

-Often is seen wearing robes and really big hats.

-When he stops walking, he plants his feet with authority as if saying 'I am here, you stupid people. You should be glad I am here.'

Servetta (such as Columbina)

-stands like a more upright zanni. Walks similar to signora.

-Often loves a 2nd zanni

-Often has little flip kicks in her step in order to pop her skirt up

-no mask. Beautiful woman.

Infernato AKA the white face (such as Pedrolino)

-Often has no mask but a face dipped in flour with a small red dot for mouth

-wears crisp, clean, very rich silken white clothing and a red skull cap

-disgusted at dirt, unlike other zanni. Nose often in the air looking down at the other zanni and at filth (which horrifies him)

-More vertical than other zanni. Has a similar step feel as la signora

-feels more important/better than the other zanni

-seen as a master of ceremony and a beauty expert (described in class as seriously metrosexual)

-every movement is a zanni movement, but more graceful.

-servetta and infernato live in the house, unlike zanni who are more of a rent a worker.

-Last scene of a play usually has all weddings being announced. Make sure to invite the audience. This is when everyone gets a small moment to say something to the audience.

-the madness of love can be a time where the lovers can be something other than divas and serious. It can also make the audience cry.

List of stage slap styles taught: punch in the face, full face slapping, small face slaps, grabbing of hair, pulling of ear, pulling of nose, head butts, nose flick, eye gouge, tickling.

Today's cavaccio was:

La Signora is being primped by her faithful servant Pedrolino to prepare for the Capitano's visit. Her husband tries to see her but is turned away multiple times. In the mean time, Capitano slips into the room as the husband decides to disguise himself as a gift to get in the room. Once in the room, he catches the lovers and they quickly need to make a lie as to who the Capitano is.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Fava Class Day Three: Capitano and Signora

First let me start with Fava recommending searching for 'teatro del' whatever language you want to learn. He said that recording himself saying a sentence or two would just not be useful at all for understanding. He also did not feel comfortable recording any of his movements, which I completely respect, so continue to bear with my descriptions.


-Same stance as zanni: knees slightly bent, chest out, point and click head, etc, only allow more elasticity in movement. You are showing off, offering a wider stance and expanse with chest and legs.

-When moving, unlike the zanni, there is a pivot/hip torsion. It causes one to walk with more of a strut. Heel should always be the first thing that strikes the floor; move with conviction. Shoulder and opposite leg move when walking.

-Capitano was not always masked. The important features are the nose and mustache. There are times just a nose was put on and then blended in with make up, etc.

-Capitano shows as a man with dignity, but he has none.

-Capitano is filled with a good sense of humor. The lovers, on the other hand, have no sense of humor.

-Capitano laughs off danger unless it is an immediate threat: the war is right there, for example, or he sees his shadow or a mouse.

-kind of a bastard with a lot of bragging. Very easily able to exhibition  with other capitano.

-long names

-often names his sword a woman's name. The weapon is not animated, but he refers to it, looking at it and treating it with respect. Example "Back to battle I go. To fight. To protect. Rosaria, you shall keep me safe. Now. We go."

-Often refers to a horse, but one is never seen.

-Seen as a second lover, also known as the secret lovers or adventure lovers.

-Ways to carry a sword
on hip - traditional
under arm - british
over both shoulders - military
over one shoulder - gypsy
twirled in front - french

-finds good humor in everything - laughs at small mistakes/scares to prove he is good natured/not afraid

-can be afraid of own shadow, reflection, mouse, lover's husband, etc

-he will laugh off momentary fears. example, seeing his shadow. "Aaah! Oh. Haha."
Fears that "I will die" such as going off to fight in the war, he will hide himself or pretend to be someone/something else that would no longer be in such danger. Example: pretending to be sweeping the floor with his broom because no one would ever think a cleaner is dangerous enough to envoke a fight.

-speaks poetic, but ignorant. As if he were a first lover, but with the romantic logic of a zanni.

-his destiny is to fight

-he tries to look dangerous, but he's not
he tries to look powerful, but he's not
he tries to look rich, but he's not

La Signora

-Feet are almost in the shape of a T and walk more in a ballet position on the tips of the toes

-Nose is above the pride line which is a horizon mark. Looks down on everyone

-Arms out and floating because of very full skirts. Not out like wings, but comfortably out and up

-Again, torsion/pivot in the hips when walking

-acts very elegant with movements, tries to be poetic but is romantically naive

-very generous because it is her husband's wealth, but often will not look at or touch the servents

-very authoratative

-tries to look dangerous, and she is
tries to look powerful, and she is
tries to look rich, and she is

-Also is a second lover

-Seen as a young woman who was likely closer to being a zanni than a lover who was married to a pantalone. Either she is married or she is widowed.

-often her walk appears like a grand balancing act as she is often loaded with gold, jewels, large wigs, etc.

-A woman actor would normally start as a lover, and as she ages she would become la signora and then a masked character where age and sex would no longer play a factor on the stage.

-Commedia is NOT physical theater. Physical theater is acrobatics. There may be acrobatic moments, but it is not, fully, acrobatic/physical.

-a traditional set is a city. Often it was made of wood or paintings, two walls and a back, and no religious buildings would be seen.

-Humanist studies- studying new form of theater

-commedia starts the age of professional theater where actors get paid, stay in troupes, and have fixed characters.

-it was not practical to work all year in one place, many troupes traveled to various theaters. In this way, the props were more important than the sets.

-Sometimes the set is just a pedestal in the middle of the stage, but it has to have an importance. Things on stage have to be used for significant importance.

-a list of props in scenari never include any of the things that were traditionally for a character already.
-prop list is only for the particular comedy being read

-first time with a prop is exaggerated and then put back to normal. Example: la signora's wig often would have a theme the first time she is seen, such as war with cannons and such in it... and then it would be a normal wig after the fact.

-props have very precise functions. Know how your props move/work/what they are made of. All props are important. They should not drop on the floor accidentally. They can be thrown, but only with an intended reason (such as capitano tossing his sword so he wont be caught looking so dangerous). Things that are tossed in such a manner can/should be taken up by another character (example, zanni yawning and suddenly there is a sword in their hand. Where did that come from?) Every action with a prop needs to have a purpose.

-zanni and capitano are not always aware of each other

-capitano's servant is normally ruffano - AKA a ruffian

-how fear happens: First hear it. Then see it. Then shock. Then reaction to the fear.

-create disaster for visual effect, but everything is always in control

-final show is an agreement between professionals. Given an idea, each actor has a fixed character - they can create a show in 5 hours.

-Lovers are typically the only ones who can destroy props. Example: thinking their love no longer loves them, they can tear up a letter and have it rain down like snow. Poetic movement of the prop.

-Fixed types of characters: there are 4 archtypes and about 7-8 characters within them.

-Publicity for plays were mistaken as street performance because the publicity happened through parades of the characters.

-Only the best troupes would get play time in theaters.

-A sun was made with a sphere of glass filled with water with a torch behind it.

-Often used candles for lights in the theater

-Commedia is not miming. Props are needed for any object you may want/need in the comedy.

-use the darkness as a solid: it weighs on the characters and their body shows the weight. They have to fight through the darkness: Lovers protect their face by going feet first. Capitano is a hunter and goes nose first.

-commedia is just a moment in the life of a society

-if lovers fall into a severe suffering, such as the loss of a love, they can become mad. Madness shelters them and the are safe in their madness. They can be cured upon seeing their love again.

-The 7 deadly sins are NOT seen in commediay. Comedy is just under these. It is more comic not to have them.

Edit: ARGH I forgot today's canovacci (which I believe I have seen isebastiani perform):

Two lovers meet to plan for a secret elopement. Capitano and signora meet to plan for a secret tryst. That night, Flavio and Capitano get mixed up and climb into the wrong bedroom.