Yesterday at Cooks and Bards

The Known World Bardic Congress and Cooks Collegium consists of two full days of, not surprisingly, bardic and cooking classes taught by folks from nearly every kingdom in the SCA Known World. With over a hundred classes and only eight time slots in the weekend, choosing was HARD. In the end, I tried to strike a balance by selecting half cooking classes and half bardic. The sheer amount of research, scope, and breadth presented in the cooking classes was mind boggling, but it was in two of the bardic classes that I finally understood and, more importantly, felt the true meaning of the SCA as a family.

As a voice herald and a fledgling bard, it’s my job to get up in front of people. Naturally, I am plagued by stage fright and prone to brain lock. Looking for guidance on how to avoid being rooted to a spot while speaking, I attended a morning class on Movement for Actors, taught by Master Ravasz Janos of Calontir. During a demonstration of what not to do, he pointed out that, as an audience member, he’s really rooting for the performer to succeed. For the first time, I began to believe that an SCA audience could be filled with that kind of person, though I still didn’t think I was cool enough for most of them.

In the afternoon, I went to the Overcoming Stagefright class, taught by Lady Ragan Tosgair of Northshield, looking for some more tools to add to my kit. Ragan echoed Ravasz’s point, explaining that stage fright is really nothing more than the brain judging itself harshly. Well, yes, I knew that. What I didn’t know was how to get past it; how not to project that negativity onto the audience before they’d even had a chance to see me. To this she said, picture the person who most represents unconditional love and support in the audience and focus on that.

Picturing my grandfather and my dad was easy. They’d be smiling no matter what I did. As I began to fill in the rest of the chairs in my head, I realized the seats were full of people I’d met at SCA events. The reason the SCA is such a strong family is because it’s a safe place to explore and learn and grow. OHH. I can have attacks of low self esteem and it’s okay. I can screw up a line and it’s OKAY. The light bulb came on at last and the fear drained away.

Later that evening I heralded the Jararvellir and Northshield courts in front of over a hundred people. I was still a little nervous because I wanted to do well and give people a good show, but the fear and the shaking were gone. I was, for the most part, relaxed. And I was funny. Me. I made a crowd of people laugh. In my heart of hearts, that’s all I really wanted.

(Inspired by the energy at the event, I wrote this filk of Lizzie Borden by The Chad Mitchell Trio at the event for the Bardic Challenge.)

Yesterday at Cooks and Bards
This tiny wee lass died
But I got Lord Amadon
On a charge of homicide
Some folks say he didn’t do it
Others say of course he did
But they all agree
A Lord of Bees
Is a problem kind of kid

‘Cause you can’t make
Four kinds of mead
And invite me to drink it
And then expect
I’ll be able to walk
No you can’t make
Four kinds of mead
And ask me to critique it
At ninety pounds
Just outline me in chalk

Yesterday at Cooks and Bards
This serving lass expired
But I got Lord Balthazar
And the assassins that he hired
Some folks say he couldn’t do it
Others say of course he could
But they all do feel
If you’re gonna keel
By feasting would be good

‘Cause you can’t make
A four course meal
And invite me to eat it
Assuming that
My belly is a cave
No you can’t make
A four course meal
With tarts, flan, sops, and comfit

And pate
And duck eggs
And greens
And pork loin
And aspic
And fish heads
And ravioli
And with all…

You might as well
Just roll me to my grave

Yesterday at Cooks and Bards
This simple bard was killed
But I got Lord Alexander
Though he’s clearly very skilled
Some folks say he wouldn’t do it
Others say of course he would
But they all do say
A fiddler fae
Is never up to good

‘Cause you can’t play
A wondrous tune
Then vanish in the night
Not even if your wife
Will vent her spleen
No you can’t leave
Us hanging on
A sweet midsummer night
That kind of thing
Is bound to cause a scene

Now it wasn’t done for pleasure
And it wasn’t done for spite
And it wasn’t done because
The lady wasn’t very bright
I’d always done the slightest thing
That mom and papa bid
They said “Try it! What’s the worst that could happen?”
So that’s exactly what I did!