Laurel’s Prize Tourney – Mistress Lakshmi’s Challenge

Lakshmi’s Laurel Challenge

I challenge all bards, storytellers, devadasis, dancers, musicians and other artists of the stage, circle or tavern thusly…

Please bring to the Laurel’s Challenge a moment out of time for us to enjoy.  Instead of explaining your art, please be your art.  Pick a piece of performing artistry and present it as you would if you lived in the day it was made.  Bring as much creativity to bear as possible to making the audience feel as if they have been transported to a magic moment of an SCA era.

This challenge was inspired by Mistress Anne, who said to me once that storytelling was how she can make the magic happen.  She said that while she can’t always be perfectly “period” or avoid all modern things, when she tells a story she can make medieval happen.  In surrendering to that all too brief moment when a story is told and the listeners can relax and listen, both storyteller and listener are just as they would have been – the worries and tools of the modern world can slip away and we enjoy something ancient and yet just as good then as it is now.

Some basic guidance:

  • Any time within the SCA periods is welcome – please pick just one.
  • Any place within the SCA periods is welcome (just one!) – keep in mind, I’m not a European myself, I love all cultures and am glad to see anything of the medieval era from anywhere
  • Historic compositions or original creations in a historic style and format are welcome
  • Please keep the total time on stage to 10 minutes or less.
    • Less is more than fine
    • Keep in mind that the challenge is to engage the audience, not outlive them
  • A specific profession, culture, or context within that single time and single place.  You can be a king entertaining his court, a devadasi entertaining her temple and god, a storyteller in an inn making his way in the world, a shepherdess singing to some sheep – the nature of the performance doesn’t matter, only that you know and intentionally create a person and a reason for performing.  Note – I don’t care about the bio of your persona, only that you understand the context in which the performance is given.
  • This can be one person or many, I don’t mind ensembles.
  • Ponder the whys, wheres, whos, whats and hows of the performance in creating it.  The questions are limitless, but here’s a few to get you started:
    • Why are you performing?
    • Where are you performing?
    • Who would the audience be?
    • What would you be wearing?
    • Would you have other tools for performing?
    • What would your space be?
    • What would your audience be like?
    • How will you amuse your audience?
    • What does the audience want from you?
    • What is good vs. bad or funny vs. sad in the eyes of the people you would be performing for?
  • Think a bit, as well, on what you may need to do as a person of the modern world to bring the audience into this world.  How do you provoke a medieval mindset and response in a modern audience?
  • From start to finish, bring us (the audience) to your space… some general thoughts:
    • Prepare and cool down after off stage the way you would in your chosen place and time
    • Enter and exit the way you would have
    • Have the clothing, instruments and other artifacts that would be appropriate
    • Perform your piece as you would have
    • Thank the audience as you would have
    • If you mess up… mess up as you would have… or apologize (or not!) as you would have…
    • … don’t let this list limit you…

In letting the worries of the modern world slip away on the day of the challenge, I’d appreciate it if you could send me information about what you’ll be doing ahead of time.  It will let me organize for the performances and make sure we can enjoy each one.

Please write up the following:

  • Your persona(s), and group name if you have one
  • The piece
  • Approximate length (from entrance to exit)
  • Music playback needs – please send tracks or bring a player.
  • Space needs (floor space, chairs, tables, etc.)
  • The time & place
  • The performing art (acting, dancing, playing music, storytelling, etc)
  • Info about the piece – title, context of the performance and performer
  • Thoughts on how best to appreciate the piece
  • Thoughts on who the audience would be and how they may be physically arranged (should we sit in a ring on the floor? stand in a crowded hall?)
  • Any tech needs – please keep these to a minimum – but if you need someone to something quickly to help with the performance, I’ll do what I can.
  • Any traditional documentation and references you’d like to give me.  I appreciate knowing you’ve got some references, but I don’t need a long dissertation.

Plan for the day of:

Stay tuned for the time of the challenge.  I’ll send out the order of performers at least 1 day prior to the challenge, but please plan to be available for the length of the challenge and after.  I’ll ask each performer to perform, so we can do all performing as a block with all audience welcome.

After the performances are done, I’d like to do a quick round robin chat among all performers and the audience to see how the experience was from all perspectives.  Then I’d like set up time to talk privately and give thoughts/questions/feedback with each person/group privately.

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