Yesterday I got to participate in an SCA dream made real: the first ever Feast of St. Nicholas in Queen Elizabeth’s Court, in my adoptive Barony of Concordia. Lady Olivia Baker, my friend and sometime collaborator and voice teacher, was able to realize her vision of a day-long, full immersion Elizabethan event, with the help of many hands in and out of Concordia. I want to take a moment to share my recollections of the event while they’re fresh in my mind. (My thanks to everyone who made it happen, only a few of whom will be mentioned here.)
The event included a sumptuous multi-course (and multi-tiered) feast, which emulated period practice of providing different levels of experience depending on where you were seated: “above the salt” (the “good seats”), “below the salt” (the “cheap seats”), and staff (the “help”). There was no level where you weren’t going to experience fantastic food and entertainment, and I considered this a cool (if possibly controversial) twist. There was entertainment throughout the day: live musicians, period choral music and solo singers during the second course, a mock fencing bout, and a masque (the Elizabethan equivalent of a modern musical: singing, dancing, and a scripted story). I contributed some of the lute songs I’ve been learning during the live music, and sang with the choir and performed a couple of solo pieces. I enjoyed the chance to work with (and finally meet!) my friend Solveig Bjornsdottir from Malagentia in Maine, who did a phenomenal job organizing the choral music, and whipping us into shape with only 90 minutes of live rehearsal. (Kudos to my fellow singers, who included the lovely Cecelia, formerly known as Kirsa who sang with me and Olivia at a past Pennsic concert, and my erstwhile competitor Robert of Anglespur.)
Like so many events with lofty and challenging goals being attempted for the first time, there was evidence of the need for Scadians to adapt to changing conditions on the ground, and they did so with the nimbleness and valor we have come to count on. The day overall was splendid, and may I what a joy it was seeing so many of my friends stepping into my persona’s culture? Being surrounded on all sides by sexy, sexy Elizabethans made me one very happy Drake. Repressed English sensuality desperately trying to escape its tightly-corseted bounds is a form of opulence that plays out at in indoor SCA event in ways that a Renaissance Faire (with all due respect) cannot capture.
I know that this isn’t something that the barony could do more than once every few years or so, but I do hope it’s something we will get to experience again.