Notes from the September 2009 Fellowship Salon

At the September AS 44 (2009) meeting of the
Fellowship of Philosophers, several Fellows did some Event Brainstorming.
We put together a list of types of events and activities that occur at
events, both common and rare. That list is given below, with further
annotations by me.

Eowyn Eilonwy of Alewife Brook
Chief Fellow of the Philosophers of Carolingia


EVENT ACTIVITIES AND THEMES

Most SCA events include several types of
activities, often with a few more prominent than the others. Some —
perhaps most — SCA activities can be stretched to be an event’s theme and
primary activity, or shrunk to be just a diversion for a small subset of
attendees. So this list starts with activities commonly done at events,
then continues through less common activities, segues into event types, and
then ends with a few considerations peripheral to the actual event. This
list is not guaranteed to be complete, but we hope it’s fairly
comprehensive.

  • Contact martial activities
    • Armored foot combat
    • Period Rapier
      • Both require suitable space, marshalls, and often list ministers.
      • Numerous forms of tourneys exist, including single and double
        elimination tourneys, pas d’armes, 12th-century style mass melees, William
        Marshall-style ransom tourneys….
      • People can fight solo or as members of teams. Teams can be named and
        given some kind of livery; this requires advance preparation (e.g. the
        Legends of Chivalry placards)
      • Another option is training for units of specified size (single person,
        small groups, larger groups….)
  • Non-contact martial activities
    • Thrown weapons
      • Requires suitable space and marshalls.
    • Target archery
      • Requires suitable space and marshalls.
      • Numerous forms of contests exist, including shooting at targets on an
        archery range, and at targets randomly positioned along a designated
        path.
  • Less common martial activities
    • Combat archery
    • Siege weapon operation
      • Both usually adjuncts to armored foot combat, but need more than
        ordinary tourney space.
    • Equestrian games
      • Require horse-suitable space and marshalls.
  • Cross-sport team competition
    • Requires an event where several type of SCA martial arts occur, and an
      organizer. Advance notice of how teams are to be formed and how the
      competition will work is desirable.
  • Food
    • Usually requires kitchen facilities and eating area, chief cook and
      assistants, cooking and serving equipment, raw materials, and often advance
      preparations.
    • Feast
      • Usually a late-afternoon or evening meal. Can be served to attendees
        seated at tables, or they can choose from a buffet. A served feast is
        usually the primary activity for its duration; a buffet may parallel with
        other activity.
      • Served feasts require servers — which can range from asking each table
        to send someone, to very formal period-style service.
      • Buffets should have some staff to replenish food as serving platters
        are emptied.
      • A potluck feast, with everyone bringing something, is an alternative
        when no kitchen is available.
      • One period nicety is to serve special dishes only to special diners —
        ceremonial heads, or winners of event contests.
    • Dayboard — A buffet, usually as lunch.
    • Sideboard — A buffet available in parallel with some other
      activity.
  • Arts and crafts
    • Informal work by artisans
      • Quiet hand crafts can be done under most circumstances.
    • Art displays
    • Art competitions
      • Both require space for artifact display. Competitions also require
        judges.
    • Fashion shows
      • Require suitable space and models to wear clothing.
  • Hanging around
    • Occurs in some fashion at every event. Can be done under most
      circumstances. Includes chatting together, quiet hand crafts, quiet
      spontaneous music, quiet gaming. If an event fills several rooms, then
      setting one aside for such quiet companionship is useful.
  • (European) Dancing
    • Requires suitable space and music, which can be recorded or live. A
      leader is recommended.
  • Period Games
    • Indoor games: card games, board games, etc.
      • Require suitable game materials and a reasonably quiet space.
    • Outdoor games: bocce and similar bowling games, tossing comets, races,
      tug of war, etc.

      • Require suitable space and game materials
  • Performances: played music, singing, storytelling, juggling, Middle
    Eastern dancing, magic show, etc.

    • All require suitable space for performer(s) and audience, and advance
      preparation. Format can range from formal, staged performance, through
      planned semi-formal “bardic circle”, with anyone interested in doing so
      invited to perform, to completely informal spontaneity from performer(s).
      Singing can also allow or request that all interested sing along with a
      trained group.
  • Theatrical productions: Shakespeare and other full-length plays,
    commedia dell’arte (semi-improvised), mummings, etc.

    • All require suitable space for players and audience, people to direct,
      act, and assist, settings, props, costumes, maybe music, and advance
      preparation. Full-length and commedia plays are often the primary activity
      during their duration; mummings are usually shorter and often an adjunct to
      some other activity.
  • Classes
    • Can range from informal and spontaneous, to formally scheduled.
      Scheduled classes, especially in quantity, usually require several
      different classrooms, and a scheduler, as well as teachers.
  • Court
    • Requires a ceremonial head to preside. Usually royalty or baron — but
      an event award ceremony without such nobility present is usually done in
      the same fashion, with the event autocrat or some other suitable person
      presiding.
    • The standard SCA court is run on the lines of an awards ceremony, so it
      needs suitable audience space.
    • Another option is to intersperse court actions with entertainment,
      possibly during a feast.
    • Some ceremonial heads have preferred “frosted mini-courts” — court
      declared wherever the head happens to be, with minimal entourage and notice
      to others, to do just a few items of business. Royalty who prefer this
      method will usually hold several mini-courts per event.
  • Merchanting
    • Requires suitable space at a site that allows such activity. If the
      merchanting space, tables, etc. are also to be used for some other event
      activity, allow enough time for the shift.
  • Period swap meet
    • Requires suitable space and an organizer. Those who have SCA-related
      stuff they don’t use bring it; those who need such stuff can take it.
      Should be announced in advance.
  • Auction
    • Usually done to raise funds for some stated purpose. Requires an
      organizer, suitable space to display the goods, and for a staged auction a
      caller. Alternatives are various forms of silent auction.
  • Order meetings
    • The order will usually (but not necessarily) want the awarding
      authority present. Requires reasonably private space. Should have
      pre-event notice to order members.
  • Camping
    • Requires suitable site and sanitary facilities. Camping events usually
      last at least a weekend. Can include outdoor activities by torchlight
      during the evenings.
  • War
    • Often done as a camping event. Usually involves two announced sides,
      though more are possible. Sides can be chosen or assigned — can be by SCA
      group, or let attendees choose an affiliation. Size can range from
      alliances of kingdoms, through one local group vs. another. It is
      preferable to announce in advance activities that count toward war points.
      Often includes some sort of opening and closing ceremonies, with the latter
      including an announcement of results.
  • Court of Love
    • Based on the courtly-love era game. Requires suitable space, a panel
      of judges — usually eminent ladies — and some advance preparation.
      Advocates — sometimes acting for themselves or identified others, but
      usually for anonymous clients — accuse or defend concerning breaking of
      the Laws of Love, as set down by Andreas Capellanus. The panel hands out
      trivial forfeits or joke punishments to those found guilty.
  • Scavanger hunt
    • Requires an organizer and advance preparation. Individuals or teams
      wander the event collecting specific listed items, signatures, etc., and
      then are judged on their resulting collection.
  • Quest
    • Requires suitable space, an organizer and helpers, and advance
      preparation; may also require props. Individuals or teams pass specified
      stations, engaging in some sort of test at each, and are judged on their
      set of results.
  • LARP-like activities
    • Require organizers, props, and advance preparation. Organizers set up
      a scenario, in which each participant has his own goals. Possible
      scenarios include a murder mystery, a unicorn hunt, arrival of the black
      plague….
  • The classic generic event
    • Includes fighting, dayboard or feast, dancing, and hanging around.
      Often also includes fencing, court, performances, and/or theater.
  • Fight/fence/shoot until you drop
    • An event focused on a specific martial art. Should have at least
      modest other activities available for non-combattants.
  • Frostbite tourney
    • An armored combat tourney event held during the winter months. Combat
      is done outside, so weather can present problems. Should have some indoor
      space for warming up in.
  • Dance and dessert revel
    • Usually an evening-only event, with just dancing and a dessert
      sideboard. Can include brief court and/or performances.
  • Ball
    • Usually longer than a dance and dessert event. Often has dance classes
      followed by minimally-taught dancing, with reasonably substantial food
      either between these activities or during dancing. Can include court and
      moderate-length performances.
  • Masked ball
    • Requires advance preparation by attendees. A ball with a masquerade
      theme, which should be announced in advance. Attendees are encouraged to
      wear disguises, at least during the dancing, until an unmasking moment.
      Usually includes some sort of contest for costumes following the theme,
      results of which are announced before the event ends.
  • Schola-type event
    • Includes numerous classes. These can be in tracks according to subject
      matter. Classes can focus on a general topic — e.g. info for newcomers,
      late-period Venice. Some classes may depend on suitable facilities —
      e.g. a kitchen for applied cookery. Usually long enough that some food
      (dayboard or feast) is desirable.
  • University of Carolingia
    • Perhaps unique to Carolingia. Requires a Rector (head lecturer), other
      lecturers, a Prevot des Marchands (merchant contact), and preferably a site
      that allows merchanting. Primary activity is one track of lecture classes
      given in persona by the lecturers — who often attend in alternate lecturer
      personae. This lecture series usually has one or two intervals, during
      which attendees adjourn to the Student Quarter (the
      outside-the-college-walls analog) which has booths staffed by local guilds
      and merchants selling their wares. Intervals may include brief
      performances.
    • Can be done stand-alone, or as an afternoon-only event paired with a
      nearby evening-only one, or have a feast, dancing, and perhaps court in the
      evening, or have an attached set of more schola-like classes on a second
      day.
  • Seasonal events
    • Events themed according to the season they are held. For instance:
    • St. Valentine’s feast and revel (February)
      • Usually includes dancing. Can include a Court of Love.
    • Feast of fools/Purim masquerade (March/April)
      • Attendees are encouraged to come in foolish disguises. Silly games and
        diversions are held. Requires advance preparation. A more generalized
        version is a Come As You Aren’t event, which can be held
        any time.
    • Mayday (late April/early May)
      • Usually includes outdoor games, a green man who kisses the ladies (or
        all those who are willing to be kissed) and then is chased by them, and a
        maypole dance.
    • Harvest Festival (Fall)
      • Should include a feast.
    • St. Nicholas Day/Yule Feast/Twelfth Night (December/January)
      • Usually includes period Christmas-time activities.
  • Childrens’ event
    • Usually focused on activities for minor children and their families.
      NOTA BENE: Now difficult to arrange, with the SCA Inc.’s
      current requirements concerning activities for minors.
  • Event focused on a particular time/place/culture
    • Pick a historical moment or era. Requires advance research and
      preparation. For instance:
    • Meadhall feast — Viking era theme
    • Inns of Court — late Tudor era theme
    • Feast of Divine Proportions — late-period Venice theme, with focus on
      the sciences
    • Le Poulet Gauche — theme of late-period middle-class French tavern
    • Dark Ages Village — early period theme.
      • An event of this type was considered for Sept. 2010, but encountered
        site problems. The theory was a camping weekend event, with crafts
        done/taught more or less in persona in cabins on site, children integrated
        as much as possible into adult activities; also armored foot combat
        etc.
  • Event with non-European focus
    • Pick a culture — possibilities include the Middle East, Japan, Russia,
      India, etc. Requires advance research and preparation. For instance:
    • Maslenitsa — Russian pre-Lent festival
    • Hafla — Middle Eastern dancing and drumming party
    • Moon Viewing — Japanese theme
  • Kingdom events
    • The East can be more or less desperate to find local groups willing to
      run these events, which are required by Eastern law. Many people from
      outside the local group will attend. All these events must be arranged
      with Kingdom officers as well as the usual local approvals.
    • Coronation
      • Includes lots of royal court. A feast is usually expected.
    • Crown Tournament
      • Includes a big tournament and royal court. A feast is usually
        expected. By Eastern law, this event is supposed to circulate among the
        regions of the East.
    • East Kingdom University
      • Includes lots of classes
    • Royal champions’ tourneys and contests
      • The East chooses champions — one each for the King and the Queen — in
        several types of SCA activities. Each field has a competition for new
        champions once a year — except for champions of armored foot combat, who
        sometimes are chosen twice a year. The competition event includes a
        tourney or contest in the specific activity, and royal court. A feast is
        usually expected.
    • Twelfth Night
      • Includes lots of court and a feast. Often includes performances, and
        sometimes dancing.
  • Knowne World Symposium
    • Sort of like an EKU but more so. A bunch of classes and meetings,
      usually more than one day long, focused on one aspect of SCA life —
      e.g. dancing, costuming, or fencing. Must be arranged with Corporate-level
      officers as well as the usual local approvals. Requires housing
      arrangements for attendees who travel from far away.

PERIPHERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Finding a site for the kind of event you want
to run isn’t always easy. Many people feel reluctant to cold-call possible
sites. Carolingia is slowly building a central directory of sites we have
used; the Seneschal can point potential autocrats at this, and can also
offer advice, including what sites have been recently used that might be
suitable for your event.

Certain rare types of large events may find
their best site option is a hotel. This involves dealing with the hotel
staff and with non-event-goers staying at the hotel. Such events should be
run after the model of science fiction and LARP conventions, which are
normally held at such facilities.

Crash Space: Attendees who come from far away
may need to stay over in the event area before and/or after the event; some
of them may prefer to stay in local people’s homes rather than in hotels.
For events which are expected to draw non-local attendees, it may be
helpful for the event to have a crash space coordinator to match crashers
with hosts willing to offer crash space — which can be as elaborate as a
spare bedroom or as basic as floor space to spread a sleeping bag on.

Post-revels: Events are supposed to be
attended more or less in persona — jarringly modern activities should be
avoided. But since many SCA people are friends outside the immediate
event, it can be hard to avoid falling into such activities. Therefore was
born the concept of the post-revel: a gathering after the
event proper, when attendees can let their hair down and talk about
computers, sing filk songs, eat chocolate candy and potato chips, etc.
Some post-revels are private parties, others more or less open to all event
attendees. Post-revels can be held:

  • at the event site after the event formally ends. For this, the site
    must be available for some hours after the formal event ends.
  • at some other site, often someone’s house. For this, the host must be
    willing to hold the post-revel. The host often provides modest
    refresments. The post-revel is construed as more or less open depending on
    who is informed that it will occur. If a post-revel is open to all event
    attendees, it should be announced during the event; fliers at the gate with
    directions are helpful.

Also, people often do some post-revel type
activities during the evenings of camping events.