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Re: Event garb in Persona

Poster: Corun MacAnndra <corun@access.digex.net>

Rosine wrote:
>Here's a question for discussion..... Since many of our events are
>"themed", i.e. MiddleEastern, Celtic, Japanese, etc.., which is
>preferable - coming as yourself in your persona's period garb, but
>thereby "jarring" the background, or trying to have one outfit that is
>correct to the time/place of the theme, and thereby being "out of

This is, for me at least, a very complex and multi-layered question, but I
must start from the back of it and work forward ("Oh no" I hear you say.
"He's about to get verbose again.).

First, the idea of 'persona'. I'm convinced that if you put a dozen SCA
folk in a room you will likely get more than that many opinions of what
this concept means. To put it into context, I'll explain what it means to
me. Understand that my background is that of a former actor
(semi-professional, non-union), and so I look at the idea of 'persona' much
the same way I look at creating a characterization for a given role. I take
my personal experiences and whip them together with the lines I'm given and
what I know about the play and its setting, and try to create what I think
is the mindset of the charater I'm to portray. What does this person think
when he's angry, sad, happy. What makes him laugh, cry, gasp, turn away in
disgust. What motivates him to kindness, lust, love, hate. All of these
things go into the 'persona' I create, who eventually struts and frets his
hour upon the stage. And so if, as the Bard says, life is a stage, and we
are re-creating facets of life from given time periods, we must extend our
knowledge of our own personal experiences and what we have learned about
life in that time period, and try to re-create a character or 'persona' who
becomes that which we wish to be when we put our clothing on and attend an
event. I have yet to see this kind of detail put into a persona by anyone
in the SCA, though I have heard stories of folks who do this and have been
to the Enchanted Ground. But more of that anon.

For most folk in the SCA, the 'persona' is simply a suit of clothes and
style of speaking or a set of mannerisms, some of which are not only not
appropriate to the period one is attempting to portray, but simply not
period at all. Sometimes these are merely an affectation borne of
minimalist research (often reading some Victorian novel and putting those
ideas into practice). Other times they are obviously 20th century ("Did you
catch last night's episode of B5?"). Ok, I'll admit that we're all 20th
century people and that we really live in the 20th century, and it's really
hard to leave that behind 100% of the time, even at a structured, themed
event. We're also not all actors (or even former actors) nor are we all
professional historians (nor even lay historians). We're made up of a
diverse cross section of the population with diverse interests, all trying
to have fun in a historical organization that covers, at a minimum, 900
years of history and dozens of different cultures. Afterall, how many 16th
century Frenchwomen had such ebony hued skin as Bambi? Or how many Mongols
have you met claiming an Irish/Welsh heritage? So the long and short of it
is that we cut each other a great deal of slack and just try to have as
much fun as possible given our individual interests and talents.

All of which leads me to the beginning of Rosine's question (What was that
again? Oh yeah, now I remember.). One of the things about the SCA that I
find most fascinating is the fact that it covers so many years and
cultures. When I first got into the SCA I wanted to be an early period
Celt. Why? Because a t-tunic is easy for someone unskilled at sewing to
make as opposed to say Elizabethan. Now I didn't know much about the early
period Celts beyond that I knew I had some mundane lineage to the Irish and
I wanted to pursue that. So I invented Corun. I didn't have much in the way
of time or enregy to devote to a lot of research, so his cover story is a
bit of a mish-mash. As the years passed I made some friends in the Horde
and eventually joined that household. I'd always had a fascination with
Chinese and Japanese culture (on top of the Irish/Celtic), and so I found a
nice niche in a household that devoted a lot of its time and energy to a
related culture, the Mongols. I began to do serious research and found out
a lot of really interesting things along the way. I'm still finding them
out, only now doing the research has become much more fun, and I'm able to
apply my growing skills as an artisan, craftsman and researcher to covering
more of the range the SCA offers.

So what all this means to me, and by way of actually answering the original
question, is that I can now go to a lot of different types of events and
try to at least dress the part if not actually act it when I know enough
about the culture to do it justice. Whan I joined the SCA I was no longer
stuck in the 20th century, and as I've learned more about various periods
of history and various cultures, I'm not stuck in any one of the centuries
in which we play.

The flip side of this (and I can hear Dafydd warming up in the background)
is the danger that one may not do any one period or culture sufficient
justice when one hops from period to period or culture to culture. To that
I say simply that it takes a very focused and talented individual to do any
one period or culture sufficient justice (Sufficient by my standards. Your
mileage may vary.), and that leads us right back to the beginning of this
diatribe of mine. Only in the Enchanted Ground have I seen even an attempt
at this kind of detail, and even Caridoc does not do a Middle Eastern
accent when he talks of the Franks who come into his camp, nor have I heard
him utter a syllable of any Middle Eastern language. 

The bottom line here is that each of us does what we can with the talents
and tools we have to work with, each unto his own measure. For some it will
be to attend only those events whose themes fall into their period of
study. For others, it is a whole spectrum of colour and culture. For me
personally it is to enjoy as much as I can. It's a huge buffet table filled
with many delights. To you all I say, enjoy (but bring a big plate and an
empty stomach).

In service,

     Corun MacAnndra   |   Dark Horde by birth   |   Moritu by choice
Though we are not now that strength, which in old days moved earth and heaven,
that which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by
and fates, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.
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