Friday, September 23, 2011

Commedia del Arte Scenario - Wishing Whale Tale

The Jararvellir Fool's Guild's second inception decided we wanted to write our own scenario and lazzi. We went in-depth, choosing names and creating a scenario that could be appreciated by our anachronistic audience. I don't believe it ever got the chance to be performed, but it deserves to be viewed.

ca. 2003 Transcribed from a rediscovered journal.

Scenario conceived by Rascal (Pantalone/Capitano Fracaise), Faris, (Capitano Antonio) Matthew (Dottore D'Amore) Genvieve (Giovanna/Harlequinna) and Moi, Alienor (Columbina/Ursula)

Wishing Whale Tale

Scene I

Dottore needs a servant, he literally runs into Giovanna and ends up hiring her.

A Commission arrives from the Old Capitano Fracaise and Young Capitano Antonio for the Dottore; they each require a special potion.

Scene II

Packing Lazzi Each of the two Capitanos enters at separate times wanting their things packed in their shared trunk, they order Ursula to pack and every time they enter they remove something from their fellow and add what they want.

Capitano Fracaise old artillery tells Ursula, using "misfiring" puns that he needs Ursula to get a special potion from Dottore--he needs to find true love.

Scene III
Shopping LazziGiovanna and Dottore work the audience to find ingredients. Eventually they find they needed special container--a whale shaped bottle- with a previously planted member of the audience.

The Dottore and Giovanna meet up with Ursula and Capitano Fracaise.

Translation Lazzi - Giovanna and Ursula translate for Dottore and the Capitanos--Dottore is from Balogne and the Capitanos are from Verona. The translation is insulting and silly, the servants run away from being slapped once the Capitanos finally figure out they are speaking the same language anyway.

Capitano Antonio decides to "impress" some students. He also wants to be sure that Dottore will NOT tell Capitano Fracaise why he needs help.

The Dottore and Capitanos begin to order ridiculous things for their servants to do. The servants suggest the Capitanos could perhaps get their military physical from Dottore The servants run away to have fun.


Scene IV

Giovanna and Ursula return drunk, dragging along audience members.

The Capitanos and Dottore yell for servants who hide.

Physical Lazzi
The Capitanos physical consist of the Dottore examining them for afar, doing silly things and annoucing they could be pregnant. The Capitanos each get prescriptions for their need, Antonio still won't say what he needs help for.

The leave with the threat of blood letting and run off screaming, followed by Ursula

Giovanna stays to help with the potion lazzi

Potion preparation lazziDottore uses elaborate 'magic' to prepare his potion.

Giovanna is sent finally to give the potions to the Capitanos but she gets them confused because Dottore only had ONE bottle, the whale container. Ursula finds it funny and watches them.

Reaction Lazzi

Capitano Antonio spies Capitano Fracaise drinking "his" potion and attacks, drinks some from the whale jug himself. The two resolve to duel, but each get an uncontrollable hiccups and cannot continue.

Ursula takes away their weapons and offers them toothpicks instead and she fetches the Dottore

Giovanna is instructed to sit on Capitano Antonio to keep him from hiccuping. The Dottore intends to do the same to Capitano Fracaise but Capitano Fracaise says "no".

Giovanna jumps on Capitano Fracaise's back, eventually she ends up with one Capitano in a headlock and another in a foot lock. Ursulagets fed up and finally shouts "The Austrians are coming!" The Capitanos immediately get into attack mode and Giovanna goes flying. The immediate scare cures them of the hiccups.

Ursula reveals that Capitano Antonio now has been giving a potion to make him brave; Capitano Fracaise can find love and since there was just the ONE whale jug and ONE potion they each can get both. The Capitanos exit to search for women and battle. The Dottoreblames Giovanna for the confusion but takes credit for curing the Capitanos of the hiccups.

Ursula watches them all run off, picks up the forgotten whale jug, toasts the audiance, takes a sip, hiccups, giggles and struts off.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Alienor has moved

I have moved from the Barony of Jararvellir (Madison, Wisconsin) to the Shire of Panthervale (Central Vermont) with the arrival of parcels from storage spaces, I have found some of my old SCA works and files. I hope to update with some of them as I am able.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Major Events in Jewish Mysticism

Major Events in Jewish Mysticism
Year in BCE or CE

700 BCE
The Torah rediscovered by Josiah, King of Judah in Solomon's Temple.

6th century BCE- 1 CE
Second Temple period, first mystical beliefs formed under the name "Work of the Chariot" based on Ezekiel's vision of G-d's chariot.

5th Century BCE
Square Script adapted as preferred script for the writing of Torah scrolls.

200 BCE
Mystic scholars live in Qumran, which is now Jordon.

1 CE
Mystic tradition largely focuses on visionary experiences from the Hebrew Bible.

2 CE
Rabbi Akiva and his successor Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai have written treatise.
5th Century CE Rediscovery of Sefer ha Yetzirah, The Book of Creation legend says it was written by Abraham.

6th century CE
Rabbi Akiva's followers continue to study mystic tradition, including the model for the four rabbis who experienced the divine while living

939-1038 CE
Emphasis on out of body experiences according to the school of Hai Gaon. Unlike Akiva they focused on altered mental state.

11th Century
Solomon Ibn Gabirol names the tradition Kabbalah, Bachaya ben Joseph Ibn Pakuda writes The Book of Directions to the Duties of the Heart, believes in then "gates" of seeking G-d.

Spanish Kabbalist Moses de Leon brings the ancient traditions together with the current and creates The Zoharor Book of Splendor

13th century
Abraham Abulafia, a radical Kabbalist opens the practice to include Jewish women and gentiles. Considered precursor to "liberal" Kabbalah

15th-16th century
Kabbalists settle in Sefed, the Holy Land, calling themselves Chevarim (friends) under the leadership of Moses Cordovero

Kabbalah reaches its peak under the leadership of Isaac Luria, called the Ari (Lion). He devised a set of group meditations including instruction for breathing.

I used a variety of resources to put this timeline together. If you are interested, send me a message and I can give you a list of some of the probable ones I used. This was compiled about five years ago

Note: BCE=Before Common Era (scholarly form of BC)
CE=Common Era (scholarly for AD)

The Pheonix in Fading Summer

Somehow, I lost this poem. But I always intended it for the lovely shire of Shire of Rokeclif, Northshield, in La Crosse. Much love to that fair place.

For many long year the Pheonix has grown
And watched o’er the people here
Alas in the fading summer
For then, the Phoenix must die.

He has exploded with wings
And guarded the shire,
Full of love for the people below,
Alas that he must die.

His cries can be heard in the heartbeat of the people,
On the Fierce wings of Roacklif’s song
People he loves, and people he guards
For the will that he holds, but now he builds his pire.

When at last he lays down his head
The summer is at end,
And people gather in the Hall,
He sheds a tear as he vanishes in the ash and fire.

But anon, here he comes
In vibrant light!
Rekindled by the beacons of flame.
And that’s how the Phoenix lives!

A toast to the people of the Phoenix,
For his gift was the Autumn Rose,
For the day that he rose from the ashes—
He cried tears from which spring a rose.

Morley's Barley: It's More than Soup!

Now Is the Month of Maying
Lyrics by Sir Thomas Morley, Published, 1595,

Now is the month of Maying, when merry lads are playing!
Fa la la la la!
Each with his bonny lass, upon the greeny grass
fa la la la la!
The Spring, clad all in gladness, doth laugh at Winter's sadness!
Fa la la la la!
And to the bagpipes’ sound, the nymphs tread out the ground!
Fa la la la la!
Fie! Then why sit we musing, youth’s sweet delight refusing?
Fa la la la la!
Say, dainty nymphs and speak! Shall we play barley break?
Fa la la la la!

A brief study of the quaint phrase in the song Now is the Month of Maying." Say, dainty nymphs and speak! Shall we play barley break?"The song is a light-hearted one about the return of spring. Most of the lyrics are still easily understood today, apart from that last line. Since this issue at hand this month is springtime fun,
I thought to examine "barley break" and discovered it was a game along the same lines as "Red Rover" and amongst children it could be very innocent.  Among adults playing for flirtation however, the connotation is a bit different, akin to "a roll in the hay".

How to play "Barley Break" also called "Last Couple in Hell"¹

You need:
  •     Three male-female pairs
  •     A game field divided in three
There should be one couple standing on the right side of the field, one couple standing on the left side of the field and the remaining couple standing in the middle (Hell)

The Object of the Game:

The middle couple in “Hell” tries to catch the others as they run past so that they have to be in Hell. That couple use their clasped hands to catch the others. If caught,
that couple goes to the middle of the field.

The game was well known enough to be mentioned in The Two Noble Kinsmen by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. In Act Four, Scene 3 the Jailer's Daughter says “Faith, I'll tell you: sometime we go to barley-break, we of the blessed."

According to Gerald Massey, Sonnet 144 is all about this very game, proving its popularity and widespread usage.²

SONNET 144 by William Shakespeare
Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still:
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman colour'd ill.
To win me soon to hell*, my female evil
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend
Suspect I may, but not directly tell;
But being both from me, both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another's hell:
Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out.

From all that, in can be inferred that "Barley break" can be an innocent children's game or an adult game of flirtation and a metaphor for being captured by love. 


¹  Suzanne Lord  Music from the age of Shakespeare: a cultural history‎ (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 2003), 156.

² Gerald Massey. The Secret Drama of Shakespeare's Sonnets 1888 Edition..
( (accessed 3/30/2010) 134-137.