My Golden Swan documentation
My Scholars of St. Thomas documentation
Coming from a theatre background, I have always been drawn to the art and science of persona development, whether in D&D, LARPing or the SCA.
And just what is persona development?
Simply put, it is the creation of an historically accurate character through the research and re-creation of clothing, food, culture, activity, philosophy, religion and sometimes even habitat and language. It can be as simple or as complex as the player chooses, but it is arguably as close as the SCA comes to living history. It is, within limits, the Middle Ages as they were, not "the way they ought to have been". Done properly, persona development always requires a certain level of scholarly research into comparatively obscure subjects, but at least in the Kingdom of An Tir, where I currently reside, there are a number of outlets for those who feel they are up to the challenge.
I joined the SCA in 1987. After stage managing a live theatre production of James Goldman's The Lion In Winter, I was immediately smitten by the high romance and drama of the XII century, not to mention that most mercurial of personalities, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (or, as she was known to her countrymen, Alianor de Guasco). Therefore it was a no-brainer that my first persona was Alis Talairan de Perigord, a high-born noblewoman from the Dordogne, in service to Eleanor, her cousin.
he olden wan
In October of 2003, I successfully challenged the Tournament of the Golden Swan with this persona. Golden Swan is an intensive two-day persona development challenge open to all female personae from any culture that had contact with western Europe prior to 1600. Its purpose is to foster a deeper understanding and knowledge of the roles played by women in medieval and Renaissance societies.
Each Swan candidate enters twelve categories. Eight of these are mandatory, and include Persona Development, Skills and Technologies, Costuming, Needlework, Calligraphy, Everyday Life, Courtesy and Etiquette, and Inspirational Behaviour. The candidate must also choose 4 out of 6 of the following: Games and Pastimes, Bardic, Dance, Survival Skills, Habitat, Food. The candidate must remain in persona throughout the two-day event, and information regarding the potential Swan's knowledge is shared in round table discussion with judges, comprised of other Swans and other interested parties. A minimum of seven in each category is necessary to become a member of the Golden Swan.
Preparation for the tourney requires at least a year (but often more) of dedicated study, including time spent poring over books and manuscripts, making costumes and accessories and learning the stories and games and songs of the woman whose skin we must inhabit convincingly. A successful Golden Swan has acquired a level and depth of understanding of what a woman's life was like in a given time period that may be unequalled even in the highest academic circles.
he cholars of t. homas
The Golden Swan's counterpart, open to male personae, is the Scholars of St. Thomas Aquinas. Using the same format as Swan, Scholars requires the aspiring candidate to enter seven mandatory categories: Persona Creation, Calligraphy/Correspondence, Costuming, Daily Life/Livelihood, Handcraft, Skills/Scholarly Pursuits and Courtesy and Etiquette. In addition, the candidate must choose four of the six optional categories: Dancing, Games and Pastimes, Bardic Performance, Survival Techniques, Food and Habitat.
I entered this tournament with my male persona, Rajpal Ganeshan of Jodhpur. In order to avoid any overlap with regard to information and research, I made Rajpal as different from Alis as I could imagine. Aside from the obvious difference in gender, Rajpal is humbly-born, a middle-class incense maker and merchant, as well as a Hindu living in Akbar-era India (1570). I was successful, and became a Scholar in June of 2008, giving me the distinct honour of being both a Golden Swan and a Scholar of St. Thomas. I am--so far--the only person in the Kingdom of An Tir to hold both titles.
To see my documentation for both of these persona development challenges, click on the links below.
|Alis Talairan de Perigord - Golden Swan||
Rajpal Ganeshan of Jodhpur-St. Thomas
|Skills and Technology||Skills/Scholarly Pursuits|
|Games and Pastimes||Pastimes and Games|
|Survival Techniques||Bardic Performance|
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