Master Kali as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2003
It is with great sadness that the Gazette reports that Master Kali Harlansson of Gotland passed away on March 12, 2015 after a long illness. Kali was well known for his gifts as a story teller and was a beloved member of the Barony of Carolingia. “Tell us a story, Uncle Kali” was the frequent request as people would sit at his feet and wait for him to speak.
“I remember Kali Harlansson as a warm, humorous, gentle and courteous man,” wrote Countess Elspeth. “So courteous, and gentle, that he, being very tall, would usually drop to his knees, with a grin and a twinkle in his eye, so that we could converse at an equal level. I always found this charming, and when I was in a position to do so, I presented Kali Harlansson with my Queens Order of Courtesy.”
Kali was best known for his story-telling and for this work was made a Companion of the Laurel by Their Majesties Kelson and Geneviere. “Kali had the gift of breathing life into stories that were a thousand years old,” wrote Master Alexsandr Yevsha. “When he told a section of an Edda or a Saga it was a fresh as this season’s television. When he talked about ancient political rivalries he made them as captivating as any modern political scandal”.
Master Kali as Oberon and his wife, Mistress Caryl, as Titania in 1982
Kali shared his gift for words, wry sense of humor and deep love of history in the All That column that he wrote for the Carolingian Miniscule and can still be accessed on here. He taught and encouraged others, formally and informally. Mistress Gwendolyn of Middlemarch remembered his engaging and amusing lectures at the Carolingian Medieval Universities, in particular “Conjugation: The Verb and You” in which he illustrated the verb “to nibble” with small squeaking mice.
Over the years, Kali performed in and directed many plays in the SCA. He was Oberon in the first full length Shakespearean production staged in Carolingia in 1982. Twenty-one years later, he performed again in Midsummer Night’s Dream as Bottom. Baron Fergus MacRae, who directed him in the latter production, remembered Kali as an actor who was “a wonderful man to work with who always brought a warmth to rehearsal and unexpected depths to his roles.”
Kali supported the East through his work in the seneschalate also. He served as seneschal of the Barony of Carolingia and the Canton of the Towers, as well as Central Region Deputy Seneschal. “When I was elected seneschal,” said Mistress Catrin o’r Rhyd For, “one of the first things I did was talk to Kali. He generously shared his time and experience. Whenever I needed advice, he was always there with his gentle bits of wisdom and keen observations.”
Master Kali’s Laurel scroll by Mistress Rhonwen, inspired by Aldhelm’s “Riddles,” England, 10th century, and a Gospel, Northumbria, 8th century. The Skald-drapa praise poem by Lady Susanna la Flor was inspired by “The Head-Ransom,” c.935
Early in his SCA career Kali became thegn to then Master Vissevald, along with Johan von Traubenberg and Kobayashi Yutaka. This proved to be two more than Master Vissevald’s lady wife was willing to keep straight, so she addressed them all as “Thegn 1A”. While this was the cause of some confusion for others, it was oddly true that the thegns themselves always knew which one she was addressing.
Master Steffan of Silverwing put words to the loss felt by so many Easterners in this way. “In the early days, although he probably didn’t know it, and would have been surprised by it, he was a mentor to me just by being who he was, an example of How to Be in the world, around other people.”
Kali is survived by his wife, Mistress Caryl de Trecesson, and his children David and Bethany. Messages of condolence may be left at this website, where the obituary can also be read. Details on the memorial service are not yet available, but requests for notice can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Memorial donations may be made to the American Brain Tumor Association (www.abta.org) or to the Unitarian Universalist Association (www.uua.org).