A Proposal For Playing A Provost's Prize At Rowany Festival 2000


CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

This is a proposal for how we wish to play our Provost's prize at Festival 2000. The 'we' in this case being Silfren (Zebee) and ibn Jelal (Richard).

Firstly, we would like to base the proceedings on the documented methods used by the London Masters of Defense, as this is the model used for the West Kingdom Guild of Fence. There are many elements here that would make for great theatrical display, and would provide an excellent opportunity for the Guild to advertise itself.

Secondly, there is the requirements set down under West Kingdom rules which we must also try to comply with. These provide a framework that must be met for advancement within the Guild.

Lastly, there are several real world considerations which we must take into account, and modify the format to make for a manageable method of conducting the prize.

This proposal is divided up so that the reader can get an understanding of the requirements we are trying to meet, an idea of how we are trying to harmonise the different ideas, whilst making for an entertaining spectacle.


THE PERIOD METHOD / BACKGROUND

From [http://www.iceweasel.org/lmod.html]:

After arriving at the prize site, there was an intentional delay in activity while speeches were made: words were spoken by the Prizor, the answerers to his challenge, and the 'sticklers' or seconds. This tended to be a long drawn out process that continued on until enough money was thrown on stage. Drummers then drummed until the crowd was relatively quiet. The Prizor's master then read the bill of challenge, introducing the Prizor, the answerers and sticklers by name and accomplishment. The four ancient masters then announced "the first bout at such and such a weapon." The prizor fought two bouts per weapon per answerer, fighting each weapon against all answerers before starting with the next weapon. Four challengers and 3 weapons at 2 passes per weapon would mean about 24 passes for the prize. Many prizes had more challengers and weapons, and could conceivably have 70 or more passes. The four ancient masters then announced the next form, and so on. It is possible that more money was collected during the breaks. At the end of the prize, the four ancient masters decided and announced the result during a flurry of drums. The Company then recessed back to Blackfriar's where the Prizor would take the necessary oaths and pay appropriate fees.

Here are most of the rules for the playing of prizes:

The order for playing of a provosts Prize

To play a provost's prize, the candidate had to do the following:

  1. ask master to play
  2. master & FS/candidate go to the 4 ancient masters
  3. if the 4 masters agree, they pick a day
  4. must play at 2 handed sword, back sword and staff against all provosts who come
  5. must notify at own cost all provosts within 60 miles of the site of the prize 4 weeks before the prize there is a penalty of 5 shillings PER unwarned provost paid to the ancient masters
  6. if no provosts within 20 miles of the site can come to the prize and the candidate has not given the proper 4 weeks notice to those beyond the 20 miles, the candidate must pay 1/2 travel cost for those outer provosts nb: this contradicts [f.16 of Sloane] which states that any provost more than 20 miles gets 1/2 travel cost regardless
  7. must pay the duties set before him
  8. cannot keep a school within 7 miles of any master without permission
  9. cannot teach any scholar who doesn't swear to his master
  10. must pay master 2d. for every scholar taught and 2d. to each of the 4 ancient masters
  11. must show his books quarterly
  12. must go to any prize within 60 miles with proper warning, or get permission not to go penalty for non-attendance: 6s, 8d. must be sick or on queen's business to not attend
  13. not play masters prize for 7 years (5 yrs mentioned elsewhere)

THE WK RULES REQUIREMENTS

From the Charter of the Royal Guild of Fence of the Kingdom of the West:

Each of these ranks save Guild Master of Fence can be attained through diligent study and application of the Rules of the Guild which can be found published here and in the Rules of Rapier Combat in the Kingdom of the West. No member may make their Prize for advancement without the consent of one or other Guild Masters, Provosts or Journeymen who shall deem them ready as laid out in the statues of this charter.

In addition to qualify for each rank a candidate must play their prize against at least two opponents who have already attained to Rank being sought. These opponents and the Guild Master of Fence or Provost conducting the examination must agree the candidate has fulfilled the requirements for qualification to the new Rank.

A failed Prize may not be re-fought until a full three months has elapsed since the most recent failed attempt.


OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

SPECTATOR APPEAL

Time, entertainment value, comfort. These are three areas which we feel will be vital for maintaining spectator appeal.

Time is one of the major considerations. If the Royalty, as Guild patrons, is present, anything more than an hour is going to be an excessive demand on their time. Thus, we will need to keep the actual Prize playing, including all the theatrical introductions, to a time frame of about 60 to 90 minutes. This is also probably about the duration we could expect to maintain the interest of the general spectating public. This will also mean that we will need to run both Prizes concurrently. If they are run sequentially they will become boring for the general public and Royalty alike.

Entertainment value is just as important. One of the main reasons for doing this is to provide entertainment for Royalty and public. Thus, a series of long technical fights will not be interesting. A set of short fights, followed by a break with some intervening entertainers will be. We also would like to incorporate as much pageantry as we can, as this also adds to the visual appeal. Basically, we would like to think of this as an opportunity to advertise all the good things about the Guild, and show something that is not a "poor imitation of a Heavy Tourney".

Comfort is something we also need to consider. We will have to encourage the public to bring their own chairs, but we feel that the Guild should provide the comfort necessities for the Royalty, OUR patrons. Thus we envisage some form of lounging area where members of the Guild attend to their needs, basically feeding and watering them.


FATIGUE

Whilst Zebee and Richard will make every attempt to prepare ourselves physically for this Prize playing, as we are both in full time employment, we can not dedicate vast quantities of time to physical conditioning training such as would be undertaken by an serious competition fencer. Thus it is going to be important to develop a system that allows a restricted number of bouts to be undertaken, whilst providing maximum number of bouts in a specified time frame for thoroughness. It's important that the prospective Provosts be able to complete the challenge of the Prize, whilst providing enough interest for spectators and examining Provosts alike.


GENERAL DISCUSSION

The period method is basically where we got the idea of the Provost elect (us) only using the 3 weapons forms noted, but all opponents can use whatever weapon forms they want to use. When we wrote the challenge, we selected the 3 weapons forms we get to use most, and because they are fairly representative of most offensive or defensive forms. It's a matter of juggling the time constraints with trying to demonstrate all round ability.

Also the WK rules wording says "from the following list" (this is for free scholar, replace fibreglass rapier with schlager for Provost)

Defensive: buckler, cloak, hat, mail glove, baton

Offensive: offhand fibreglass dagger (main gauche), additional fibreglass rapier.

Our impression from this is that you have to demonstrate offensive and defensive ability, but it doesn't specifically state you have to use every single item when you play your prize.

One idea we do have is if the Ancient Masters do want us to demonstrate all weapons forms, is to run through the Provost challenges as per the challenge. Then have an Ancient Master or 2 step up and direct us to face them using one of the unused weapons forms. It's good theatrics, and will help finish in a reasonable time frame. Sort of frame it as "the final exam" type thing. The over riding reason for performing this public Prize playing, is to generally raise the awareness of the Guild within the general SCA population.


THE PROPOSAL

THE FORMAT

A challenge will be issued to all Provosts in the Guild, via notification in the respective newsletters, and Pegasus. Flyers for the challenge will also be posted around Festival site. The Challenge is listed below.

All Provosts and Masters will have to contact the Journeymen before Festival to signal their intention to attend. At Festival itself, they should contact the Ancient Guild Masters so that they can be added to the list of Provost examiners. This will allow for the examiners draw to be done before the Prize playing, and not waste any time during the Prize playing. the Ancient Guild Masters should be contacted before Opening Court.

On the day of the Prize playing, the Guild members will assemble together and form a procession to the site of the Prize playing. At the Prize site, the Guild Masters shall greet the Royalty as our Patrons, and take their places. The Guild Masters will then call the 2 Journeymen forward, along with their training Master (Peter). Peter will then read aloud the Challenge to all present, and introduce the 2 Journeymen to the Ancient Guild Masters. The Lord Guild Master of Fence will then admonish the 2 journeymen to remember the honour of the Guild and their training master, to fight to the best of their ability, and to remember all their training.

The 2 journeymen will then venture to their respective field to be inspected by the Marshall. The Guild masters will then call forward the examining Provosts for each field, who will then present themselves to the Marshall. The Lord Guild Master will then introduce the examining provost to each journeyman in turn, then start the bouts simultaneously. At the end of the examination period, the Lord Guild Master shall call a halt. Each Provost will then return to the Ancient Guild Masters, quietly give their appraisal, and return to their seat. The bouts shall continue with the remaining examiners through each weapon form, until completion. The weapon forms for the Journeymen shall be single sword, sword and dagger, sword and buckler. Examining Provosts shall be free to use any weapon form they choose.

As this is a "School" scenario, the following hit convention shall apply. Each fencer shall call all bows they receive. ie "Good leg" or "Good chest". If an arm blow is received, the fencer will treat this as per standard conventions. If an incapacitating blow is received (head or chest), the fencer will call the blow, and bouting will stop. As per our school conventions, blows to the upper leg (above the knee) are treated as incapacitating, blows below the knee will be called as good but no other penalty. The fencers then move back, come en garde and start again. The marshal will only need to recommence a bout if a hold occurs.

Blow calling conventions can be changed for particular bouts at the Guildmaster's pleasure.


THE CHALLENGE

For the newsletters:

BE IT KNOWN, to all that profess skill at arms that we, Pietro di Roma, Maestro di Scherma, and by permission of the Ancient Guild Masters of Fence, do give leave and licence to our Journeymen, Baroness Silfren the Singer and Sayyid ibn Jelal, to play their Provost's Prize against all Provosts and Masters in their subtle mystery at these weapons, viz: rapier, rapier and dagger, and rapier and buckler. These are to give notice that our said Journeymen will be at Rowany Festival on Friday, after Opening Court, to perform and do their utter most for the achievement and bearing away of the prize.

For more information or to signal your intention to attend, please contact said Journeymen; Baroness Silfren the Singer (Zebee Johnson) PH: (02) 9718 9009; Sayyid ibn Jelal (Richard Cullinan) PH: (02) 9798 8751 or (0407) 917 497 or follow the link from http://www.zip.com.au/~zebee/.

GOD SAVE THE CROWN AND CORONET.

For the Festival flyers:

BE IT KNOWN, to all that profess skill at arms that we, Pietro di Roma, Maestro di Scherma, and by permission of the Ancient Guild Masters of Fence, do give leave and licence to our Journeymen, Baroness Silfren the Singer and Sayyid ibn Jelal, to play their Provost's Prize against all Provosts and Masters in their subtle mystery at these weapons, viz: rapier, rapier and dagger, and rapier and buckler. These are to give notice that our said Journeymen will be present on Friday, after opening court of Rowany Festival, to perform and do their utter most for the achievement and bearing away of the prize.

To signal your intention to attend and be included as an examiner, you must contact the Ancient Guild Masters of Fence in the Politarchopolis campsite before the Opening Court of Rowany Festival.

GOD SAVE THE CROWN AND CORONET.


THE LOGISTICS

Assuming 12 Provosts (likely) and a testing period of an hour, that's 5 minutes per Provost. Due to the time restraints, we'd like to see 1 pass each weapon per Provost, 1 minute (preferable) or 2 minutes (maximum) for each pass. Continue for the duration of the time, not until someone takes an injury. Each person shall acknowledge all good shots as they happen.

We will be asking for a list of Provosts from the Principality Rapier Marshall, so that we can confirm each person's current Guild rank.

If there are more than 12 Provosts presenting themselves as examiners, there will be a slight change to the arrangements. Instead of having every provost examine both Journeymen in all three weapons, we will have 12 passes in each weapon form.

The list of Provosts will be made via a hat draw, and we shall cycle through the list on one person, and fill the slots in order against each slot for the Journeyman. You just repeat the list until the end, but the Provost will face whatever weapon form they happen to be slotted against. We will use the same list on the other field but start it half way down, and fill the slots for the other field accordingly.

To give an example:

We have 12 slots for each weapon form against 2 Journeymen, and 14 Provosts (P1 - P14) present for the examination. The draw will be done as follows:

Bout

SILFREN

IBN JELAL

Rapier

Rapier and Dagger

Rapier and Buckler

Rapier

Rapier and Dagger

Rapier and Buckler

1

P 1

P 13

P 11

P 8

P 6

P 4

2

P 2

P 14

P 12

P 9

P 7

P 5

3

P 3

P 1

P 13

P 10

P 8

P 6

4

P 4

P 2

P 14

P 11

P 9

P 7

5

P 5

P 3

P 1

P 12

P 10

P 8

6

P 6

P 4

P 2

P 13

P 11

P 9

7

P 7

P 5

P 3

P 14

P 12

P 10

8

P 8

P 6

P 4

P 1

P 13

P 11

9

P 9

P 7

P 5

P 2

P 14

P 12

10

P 10

P 8

P 6

P 3

P 1

P 13

11

P 11

P 9

P 7

P 4

P 2

P 14

12

P 12

P 10

P 8

P 5

P 3

P 1

The use of the Village Green has been secured from the Festival Stewards. The actual fighting areas will be set up as follows. Firstly we have the table at the bottom end with the Ancient Guild Masters and Peter as our "Head Examiners". The Royalty we be seated on the opposite (top) side to the Guild Masters. We then have all the Provosts seated behind or to the side of the Guild Masters watching. One of the Guild Masters keeps the list and calls forward the first Provost examiner for each of us and tells the Provosts' whom to next stand ready. The Provost enters the field, is quickly checked by the Marshall, who signals the Head Guild Master that all is ready. The Head Guild Master then calls:

"Baroness Silfren, in this pass you shall be examined in <weapons form> for your Prize. Your examiner is Provost <name>."

(Repeat for ibn Jelal)

<to both fields> "Salute the Crown" <all salute>. "Remembering the honour of our Guild, commence!" At the end of the time period, the Ancient Guild Master than calls a halt (a bell might work), we stop, shake hands, the Provost leaves and quietly reports to the Ancient Guild Masters, the next enters, repeat! We should also maybe grab a quick drink between each bout, and have a short break between each weapon form. We intend to arrange entertainment for each short break period.


PROPOSED ENTERTAINMENT

We are hoping to have players, jugglers, and refreshments available during the weapons forms. However, these details have not been finalised at the time of writing. Please contact Zebee or Richard if you wish to volunteer your services.


MORE INFORMATION

If you have any further queries please direct them to:

Zebee Johnson (Baroness Silfren the Singer)
PH: (02) 9718 9009
Email: zebee@zip.com.au

OR

Richard Cullinan (Sayyid ibn Jelal)
PH: (02) 9798 8751 or (0407) 917 497
Email: rcull@ozemail.com.au

All Provosts intending to present as examiners should contact either of the above, to ensure that you are included on the Examiners list.