Day of the Decameron: Immersion from Literature
By Lilie Dubh inghean ui Mordha
When SCAdians talk about ‘time slips’ and ‘losing themselves in the medieval’ they are usually talking about small, short slips where everything comes together and they forget the 21st century exists.
This is getting harder and harder to do, as sites become harder to find that have even a smidgen of atmosphere, and people insist on having their phones with them, using them at will. Even seeing electric lights and hearing the modern world outside (car horns, airplanes) can break a good moment.
A literary immersion event can bring back those moments, and then some. While shutting out the 21st century all together might be impossible, Day of the Decameron is going to try and create as much of the 14th century Florentine atmosphere as it can.
The Event Steward, Mistress Sofya Gianetta di Trieste, is hard at work organizing and creating the site’s atmosphere. Utilizing the Mount Kisco, NY American Legion Hall that has been used in the past for an EK coronation and and EK A&S/Bardic Champions event, she is working on building a 14th century Florentine villa’s salon hall, where flowers, tables lain with white cloths, games such as backgammon and chess, wall hangings and light will bring the modern to bay.
Music features prominently in The Decameron, and newly made Royal Bard and Baroness, Margrethe la Fauvelle, has found several pieces that date from the time, and will be giving event-goers wafting, wonderful melodies. Ably aided by 6 or 7 musicians, Baroness Margrethe will indeed make people smile and sigh. Several stories also feature music, and performers will be incorporating this into their tales. Noble Juliana Bird, recently stepped down as Royal Bard, will be adding in a fun song to their tale, and Mistress Aife in Derthage will be adding music to her tale.
In the kitchens, Lord Friderich Grimme is laboring to create a menu from a single manuscript that will enhance the feeling of the day. His ideas for recipes such as roast duck, and herbed salat, and roasted new greens, served by liveried staff in the colors of Ostgardr, will give people the flavors of a spring 14th century day. The meals are even being planned as they would have been then – the main meal will be at midday, while a later meal will be lighter, and a last course will be sweets to end the day.
And of course there are the stories themselves, which are the main feature of the day. Performers from the EK College of Performers and from farther afield are rehearsing tales to tell – 18 tales from The Decameron in all. Directing these tales is Lady Lilie Dubh inghean ui Mordha, whose vision for the event began to take shape over 3 years ago. “Wanting to bring something of the 14th Century to life, and the Decameron was right there,” she said.
The Decameron is filled with tales of love, lust, pranks, scares, games of wit between the sexes, and political and social commentary on the time. Written just after the swath of the Black Death swept through Europe, the author was well aware of how people felt and thought. He was also well aware of the social norms of the time – stories of church leaders seducing women abound, and stories of women cuckholding husbands as well. Remembering that these are not modern tales should be any event goers thought. “The Decameron is of its time and place, and event goers should remember that we are not going to be politically correct or socially correct. You will hear adult tales, adult themes. And you will hear how Giovanni Boccaccio saw his world, a world of pleasures, sex, violence, secrets. He knew death – had seen it firsthand. The idea that one could die tomorrow figures hard into his writings,” says the event’s Artistic Director, Lilie Dubh. “Don’t think like a 21st century person here, think like someone from the later 14th century. You’ve seen death, and you want to celebrate life and living.”
Day of the Decameron will be an event to do that. Celebrating life, living and the joy that immersion into a time and place can bring. Turn off the phones, close your eyes. Open them. A 14th century villa in Tuscany awaits!
Day of the Decameron will take place on April 27th. Reservations are going fast! The hall is limited to 125!