Posted by Lanea on Monday, October 10th, 2016
My favorite annual event is not happening this year, so we put our heads together and decided to re-allocate that vacation time to maximize fun and insanity and limit my opportunities to mope. Coincidentally, some friends asked me to write something unusual for them, so I spent a great deal of time researching Sarmatian and Bastarnae run-ins with the Illyrian Roman regimes in the later ancient world.
In the midst of all that research, I taught my Early Period Embroidery and Weave Structures classes at Atlantia University in Mid-September. I had an amazing time. I’ve been teaching at SCA events for years, but that was the first time I’d taught at a University, and it was great to have an auditorium and a projector rather than having to lug crates of books with me, risking damage to the books and to my own poor back. I had amazing groups of students for both classes. I get such a rush from nerdy discussion of archaeological finds and experimental archaeology.
And then I polished up the new creation and we headed down to Alabama. All of that research of mine came together in a Coronation ceremony for our friends who just stepped up in Meridies. We kept the material on lock down so the ceremony could have the greatest impact, and I think our work paid off. Now that it’s all said and done, I can confidently say this is one of the most enjoyable, successful collaborative Bardic projects I’ve ever taken part in. In short, Barthelemy and Oda wanted to do something unusual for their coronation. Because I have always essentially hidden in a cave, anything I produce for an elevation or other ceremony in the SCA winds up being unusual, because I am rarely exposed to things like elevations. I am also focused on a far earlier period in history than most of the SCA, so I have more facility with the ancient world than most. They asked for an origin story that would tie in their two personae and explain how they ended up wearing crowns and having a Sarmatian reign.
Initially, I worried I wouldn’t be able to unite everything in a reasonable narrative, but their flexibility allowed me to pinpoint and work from a long-term alliance between Sarmatians and Bastarnae in the Balkans. A number of Preachain’s southern members are in a household called the Bastarnae based on that ancient Germano-Scythian people, so that discovery delighted me–I loved the idea of some of my nearest and dearest with us on that stage. Once the research was done and my Muse started knocking, it was pretty clear that Roma–the Goddess who embodies “Roman-ness” and Istro, the God of the Danube, would be the philosophical governors of the two sides of our story. We settled on a ritual drama for the Ceremony, with nods to Ancient Greek theater and Shakespeare. I generally build packets that include my notes and bibliographies when I work on projects like this, so I shared my notes out to the Royals as well as a few of the other principal players to allow them to request that I include or exclude certain things. I did all of the speaking, so we didn’t have to ask anyone else to memorize lines, and we’re lucky enough to have friends who are amazing costumers and actors who could help make everything work on the day.
I’m proud of what we came up with: I composed a free verse poem that begins with a recitation of the historical record rewritten with my style and biases. We then had a break for a song to mark out where our invention began, and then I continued with the story of Barthelemy and Oda and how they managed to seize the crowns. For the actual ceremony, we had one dear friend of mine representing Roma and another dear friend as Istro/Danube, so the Romans and Barbarians (Bastarnae and Sarmatians) each had a god on a plinth to protect and rely on. Each of the tribes and the Romans had a small group of actors to portray their actions. The song they chose for the break is called Road to Rome, and it’s a huge favorite of mine. We did a few quick run-throughs for blocking and lighting, and the excellent stage manager primed the audience to be ready for something different. The Ceremony itself went off without a hitch. All of the actors did a great job, and the singer who punctuated that break sounded amazing. The whole weekend was fantastic. Many friends from all over Meridies came out, and everyone was so welcoming to Alherin and me. I couldn’t pick a nicer home away from home that Meridies.
If you want to read or hear the ceremony, here is the packet, complete with audio file.
Now we’re home for a few days before we head south again for War of the Wings. I’m lucky to have such great house sitters, and I’m glad the puppy hasn’t disowned us yet. And I need sleep. And for clothes to dry faster so I can pack them again.