Performing for High Table
by Dagonell the Juggler

For the sake of simplicity, I am making three assumptions in this article.

WHEN THE ENTERTAINMENT IS ORGANIZED :

If there is someone listed in the kingdom newsletter as being in charge of entertainment for the event, write to them. Introduce yourself, tell him what kind of performer you are (juggler, harpist, singer, etc.), how long your performance is, whether you wish to perform for the entire hall or just high table, any conditions you need (a level floor space for your hammered dulcimer, enough light to read music by, etc.) and when you expect to arrive on site. You may wish to include a self-addressed stamped postcard for his reply.

When you arrive on site, ask the troll to point out the MC to you. Introduce yourself, tell him where your equipment (if any) is, how many people are needed to carry it up to high table, how long you need to prepare (psyche yourself up, tune your instrument, etc.), and where you will be seated during the feast. If the seating chart isn't up yet, tell him whether you're on-board or off-board and inform him when you do get a seat. Remember, he has to find you in a room lit only by candles.

When the MC tells you that you're on next, gather your equipment together as quickly as possible and do whatever set up is needed for your performance. If you have something bulky like a harp or a hammered dulcimer and high table is on a stage, it might actually be better to set up behind high table as the area is front is usually just wide enough for a server.

Make sure the MC knows how to pronounce your name. If you have a name that's difficult to pronounce you may wish to give him either a phonetic or a shortened form of it. Try to stand one step behind and to the side when he is speaking to high table so that you are visible to high table but not upstaging him. If he is standing on the stairs to the stage, stand to the side of the foot of the stairs. If you do have your equipment on stage behind high table, stand by it. He will direct their attention to you. Wait quietly while the MC talks. Bow to the royalty when he mentions your name. Do not speak until the MC bows and turns to walk away. Address high table by their correct titles. (If you do not know them, ask the MC beforehand). Give a brief introduction of your act. This should be two sentences at the most. For example:

"Your majesties, I would like to perform a Scottish love ballad titled, "Band of Shearers". It was traditionally sung in late summer and early autumn during sheep clipping season."

You do not have to give your name as the MC has already introduced you. Work out your introduction ahead of time so that there are no surprises in it. Please note in the above example, I said "clipping" as "sheep shearing season" can be a tongue twister. Having a prepared statement also eliminates the awkwardness of fumbling for words.

If you perform for high table at various events, sooner or later someone will approach the king while you are performing, whisper in his ear and the king will leave in the middle of your performance. If you are in the way, get out of it! Otherwise, keep performing. Urgent business requiring his personal attention has obviously come up. His leaving is NOT an insult to your performance. Your stopping however, would be an insult to the rest of high table, telling them in essence, that they don't matter.

When you have finished your performance, bow, gather your equipment and leave. There may be other acts following you. If your gear is too bulky to carry off, move it out of harm's way and retrieve it later.

WHEN THE ENTERTAINMENT IS NOT ORGANIZED:

Check with autocrat during the day to make sure that performing for high table is permitted. During the feast, make all preparations for performing your act. During a lull in the activity at high table, approach, stop at a respectful distance in front of high table and wait. When you make eye contact with the king, bow and make eye contact again. Wait. You have just told the king, "I am not a server passing by, I am someone who wishes to speak to you." When the king is not talking to advisors, knights, autocrats, etc. he will gesture you forward. DO NOT approach high table until you have been summoned. Address him by the proper title, introduce yourself and ask permission to perform. For example:

Your majesty, I am Dagonell the Juggler. With your permission, I would like to sing a song for you.

If he says no, take it with good grace, smile, bow and leave. There may be something coming up and there isn't time for him to hear your song. If he says yes, proceed as previously outlined. Good luck!

[mailbox] Comments to: salley@niktow.canisius.edu
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