Monday, October 15, 2012

College of Performers

I have only been in the SCA for about five years now. I have touched in various different fields and have many things I truly enjoy. One of those things has been bardic.

No. Not bardic. Performing. I have enjoyed everything from telling stories around a fire to singing in a chorus of people to being part of the Pennsic play. Some day I also home to be an intermission for a commedia act. Performing, in all its aspects, has been something I have truly enjoyed.

From my understanding, some 20 years ago, the East Kingdom College of Bards became defunct. It sounds like, from asking around, there at a lot of reasons to college became defunct. One of the major reasons, and something that caused a huge split, is that the college was a 'college of bards' and kept very strictly to the idea of the Irish bard, and some performers would swear they are not bards. Instead, they would say they were actors or musicians or singers. But they were, most certainly, not bards.

Now, from what I hear, there were a lot of downfalls to the old college. One of them was the need for bards to be in 'levels' of performance ability. This means, there are people 'not as good as you' and people 'better than you' in a roster like chart. It could create a feeling of competition as opposed to the desired camaraderie.

I had heard bits and pieces of sparks trying to catch flame to rework and restart the college once again. I don't think I truly understood everything that was going on, but I really wanted to help as I wanted to feel that camaraderie that I knew so many others also wanted to feel.

So, although I had already heard quite a few whisperings and saw a bit of the hoped for charter and by-laws, I wanted to somehow get more involved. Like many others, I agreed and believed that what we needed was just to get it off the ground and from there things could be re-worked if they weren't working, etc.

I didn't realize how thickly I was going to involve myself, but I had certainly made sure to stand forward and offer my services if I could be of any help in any way. It was at Pennsic that things changed and, as it normally happens, it wasn't in a manner I could have predicted.

Baroness Sabine (the Chatelaine for the college) and I know each other fairly well and both have a similar love of perfume and were planning to have a get together on Monday of War Week. The question was posed, though, of whether there was a meeting for the college that day. If there was, I asked if I could come and was told I would certainly be welcome. So I wandered to ask Linette (the Provost for the college) if there was, in fact, going to be a meeting for the college. Linette, having been busy planning a Vigil for a member of her household, had forgotten about the meeting and began, quickly, to make signs which I offered to drop off at East Kingdom hospitality (since I was volunteering there anyway) as well as Bhakail (where the meeting was to be held) and, if we were lucky, also at the performing arts tent (since I was helping out with the play and hoped it wouldn't be an issue).

Of course because it was fairly last minute, I took it upon myself to also wander around Pennsic to the camps I knew held talented bards of the East and let them know about the meeting. Most, if not all I spoke with, did not know anything about the college or what the changes were (if any) and why I was so excited. So with each person I told about the meeting, I sat down for a good ten minutes to explain more to them about what I knew about the college and what I thought the college meeting was going to be about. A lot of it was going to be about deciding on Deans and other heads of the college. By the time I finished speaking with people, they seemed as eager and excited as I was. Those that were not able to make it, I promised I would speak with them about all we talked about and planned times/days to get together in order to do this.

The people that arrived at the meeting were very excited. Everyone wanted to know more about the college, talk about various aspects of the college, throw out names for the heads of colleges, etc. It was a very good conversation and although there was some nitpicking at things that was not helping move us forward, there were also a lot of things that did move us forward. Namely, the three heads of the college were voted on and names were discussed for Deans. We couldn't finalize Deans until they were spoken to, but at least we had ideas.

Two of the people I had suggested was Deonna and Pocket Bard (aka Katherine Ashwoode). Luckily I had run into Deonna and danced and talked with her briefly about the change in college and let her know her name was mentioned for Dean of music. She didn't have to decide right now and I just wanted to give her an overview, but certainly Linette would approach her to discuss with her in more detail. But she seemed to like the idea from the start and had time to mull it over before approached.

Pocket Bard was one of the people who I informed about the meeting who was unable to make it. So we had already planned to get together to discuss things after and I had mentioned to her, as well, that her name was mentioned. Again, a brief discussion of the college and letting her know she would most likely be approached later to discuss it in more detail.

After many emails and me frantically digging out people's phone numbers and making sure things would happen...

It wasn't long before we had all the heads of the college:

Mistress Deonna von Aachen - Music
Music includes everything from vocal to instrumental performances.
Lady Katherine Ashewode - Oral Traditions
Oral Traditions includes performance in persona, storytelling, etc.
Master Anton Winteroak - Theatrics
Theatrics includes acting, variety skills, setting the stage, etc.
Baron Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné - Letters (still being worked on)
Letters includes poetry, languages, etc.

Mistress Linette de Gallardon - Provost
The Provost resolves disputes.
Baroness Sabine de Kerbriant - Chatelaine
The Chatelaine promotes involvement.
Lord Tristan le Chanticler de Champaigne - Chancellor
The Chancellor attends to policies and compliance.

I was glad to have offered up two names that both accepted positions as Deans. Either way, this was just the beginning.

I started being forwarded on many college discussions for dead lines, things to fix, and how to get us chartered. I asked if they had someone making the scroll for the charter. Long answer, they knew people they could ask. Short answer, no. So I went to my contacts and got someone on board (and they did a fantastic job). With that stress out of the way, it was time for a new stress.

We needed to get royalty on board.

Now, the best time we could think of to do this was at Coronation. Not knowing how to handle this or the best way to go about getting something on the docket, I spoke with a friend of mine who was not only a previous queen but also a herald. She told me to just be frank with them, clear and precise. And so it wasn't long before I had sent an email to the Prince at the time.

I began to worry when I was informed others of the college had too, and suddenly I felt bad for bothering the Prince so much. So, I decided to approach the Queen (who I was at least friendly with and felt comfortable just talking to her on level) for advice. We chatted just about how I could go about getting this on the docket, getting it approved, getting it signed, who I could talk to without bothering the Prince or Princess again...

...and then we heard back from the Prince! We were accepted and we would be chartered at Coronation! The heads were all decided. The charter wording was finalized. The scroll was finished. We were all set!

And then came the heart ache that I couldn't be there. And the small discussion of a gift we could give to the soon to be King and Queen as a thank you. It was suggested that badges could be made and they could be offered to be the first members of the college. And I was asked to make the badges.

With two weeks remaining, I didn't have the ability to do what I wanted to do, but I did manage to make something I was really proud of.

A simple gold fabric with a gold embroidered stitch around the edging. A purple clarion was couched on and a gold thread finger loop braid was attached to make it easier to put take these on and off a belt without taking your belt off. They took some time (especially the beading) but I think they came out well.

The heraldry designed for the college is, in plain terms, a purple clarion on a gold field.

The final wording on the charter goes as follows:

Be it known that We, Edward King and Thyra Queen of the Eastern lands hereby invest the Royal College of Performers as a Guild of the Laurel Kingdom of the East.  The College will promote excellence and camaraderie in the arts while advancing our understanding of the Medieval and Renaissance periods of history through the study, composition, and practice of the historical performing arts and the celebration of the history and culture of our Society.  The College will establish bylaws for its prudent governance, and will pursue these above stated goals in accordance with those bylaws.

Done this 13th day of October anno societatus XLVII by our hand at this, Our first court on the day of Our Coronation,
Edward, Rex Thyra, Regina

Am I happy the college is finally underway? An emphatic YES! I have these visions and hopes and dreams for the college. I see all these talents all over and think about how if we were more organized, we could really do something... as a community.

I didn't realize that performers were missing that feeling of community until I found myself involved in two very specific things at Pennsic.

One was the play. And before the play, a few hours before, everyone was given badges and inducted into the players guild. Everyone hugged and smiled and laughed and patted each other on the back and it felt like a family.

The second... was watching a knighting ceremony for the first time. It wasn't like a laureling or a pelican. From where I stood, having arrived late, I was behind/off to the side of the King and Queen. I could see the tears in the other knights eyes. This wasn't just receiving an award. It was a welcoming into the family. I could barely hold back my tears.

And this is what I want to see with the college. That we support each other, help each other grow. We share our knowledge, and everyone feels they can ask anyone to teach them how to do something. That we become like a family. That we share a camaraderie that, when people are brought in... or when someone moves away... that our actions, our speeches, and how we do things could move people to tears.

I think that this college could be such a boon to the Kingdom. I was honored to be able to help so much with it and look forward to everything it can be. And I know if there is any further help needed or desired, I would like to help. Because although the going has been rough for many of us that have helped, it was all worth it. I have big dreams and see all the good that this college can be.

I am pleased to announce that the charter is official. As of October 13th, 2012... the East Kingdom College of Performers is now a recognized guild of the Kingdom! Vivat! Vivat! Vivat!