Safe, authentic, entertaining battles.

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Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:41 pm

Ghost wrote:What I was trying to suggest is that we should avoid using liveries at actual WOTR battle re-enactments of persons that were not there eg Gloucester, Tudor, Somerset, Oxford, Hastings etc liveries at Blore - and yes troops with no livery would be more "authentic" than those in the incorrect one - but the use of generic sashes etc would have benefits in assisting the public in identifying whos on who side and the same for those on the field


Oh, in that case I agree completely. I shall approriately chastise my inner pedant!


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Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:43 pm

RottenCad wrote:May I therefore put in a plea to battle organisers for a dress rehearsal as part of the commanders' meetings ? It really, REALLY works!


I worked really well at the last Twinwoods a few years back. Tim even got a round of applause from the re-enactors watching his "Reduced Re-enactment Company" performace that morning.


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Postby Man from Coventry » Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:46 pm

May I therefore put in a plea to battle organisers for a dress rehearsal as part of the commanders' meetings ? It really, REALLY works!


A walk over has been an integral part of many WOTRF events, however I have to say that they haven't generally yielded great results as the attendees generally group captains don't take it that seriously.


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Postby Fox » Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:10 pm

Man from Coventry wrote:
May I therefore put in a plea to battle organisers for a dress rehearsal as part of the commanders' meetings ? It really, REALLY works!


A walk over has been an integral part of many WOTRF events, however I have to say that they haven't generally yielded great results as the attendees generally group captains don't take it that seriously.


Colin Middleton wrote:I worked really well at the last Twinwoods a few years back. Tim even got a round of applause from the re-enactors watching his "Reduced Re-enactment Company" performace that morning.


The answer as clearly demonstrated on that occasion was: don't take it seriously. People remember funny stuff much better.



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Postby Ghost » Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:35 pm

In the old days (here i go again) saturday was always the dress rehearsal with no public present - organisers then cottoned on that they could charge twice and started the two day event.

suppose this is the reson why sunday battle is always better organised than saturday


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Postby Stephen Dobson / Rab » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:41 pm

A very interesting thread.

I'm all for anything which improves 'flavour' for the crowd, and reduces on-field ego or excessive 'pizza' behaviour (trans. 'ham and cheese'). More varied terrain (hedgerows, pavises etc as mentioned earlier), would be good. So would a variety in life-expectancy of combatants.

I don't have anything else useful to add at this point, but I shall be following this with interest and chipping in where appropriate as I think this sort of discussion is a couple of years overdue.

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Postby StaffordCleggy » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:04 pm

Perhaps it is an idea whose time has finally come simply because we are all somewhat older now?

The idea of wading in, having about you with a lump of metal has now lost it's lustre & we want more out of our participation than 'he's got more bruises than me!'

Just an observation....


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Postby Cat » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:04 pm

Walkthroughs are a good laugh, and as Fox says, people remember things that have amused them. The other thing with the walkthroughs is that they can get an audience of interested non-commanders (vis, the troops) who as well as laughing will also remember some of the plot, thus helping some of the cats to become self-herding.


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Postby the real lord duvet » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:18 pm

Cat wrote:Walkthroughs are a good laugh, and as Fox says, people remember things that have amused them. The other thing with the walkthroughs is that they can get an audience of interested non-commanders (vis, the troops) who as well as laughing will also remember some of the plot, thus helping some of the cats to become self-herding.


its handy if the PBI learn where not to go during the battle and when not to go there.



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Postby zauberdachs » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:45 pm

We should all bear in the mind that the ideas raised in this thread don't simply apply to the WOTR period, though I understand those who only do WOTR focusing on that in detail.

"The three push and then it's over" is very common throughout the mid medieval period that I do most often and I've seen it in a great deal of then early and late medieval re-enactment that I occasionally do. Anything that can be done to add variety or entertainment value to this format can only be a good thing.

So what are the common to all period ideas?

1. Battlefield scenery
2. An attempt to more closely reflect what is known happened at the actual battle
3. A larger variety of casualties and action as the result of some more random system of combat fatalities


what else?


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Postby guthrie » Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:39 pm

Since the title was "safe, authentic and entertaining battles", I think you also need to include good narration- people need someone to make a few suggestions as to whom to cheer for, and explain what is going on.

Chants, and yells always help. As do some battlefield tactics, although they are more for the re-enactors than the public.



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Postby Brand » Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:31 pm

If you want to WOW the audience then you have scripted- 'left flank goes down hill most fight till hit and die' (Hastings 2006) It looked awesome but most reenactors don't like playing dead for an hour :!:

Alternatives?

One idea, especially for cramped battlefields (Tewkes last year e.g.) is send out lines of soldiers and hold back 1/2 the force in reserve. The fighters engage till they get a good hit and go down or fight till they disengage.

Corpses stay behind. Reserves advance through first force and one side steps 'carefully :!: ' over fallen to meet opposition, after they do same some wounded can be collected on their return and 'treated' or return to service.

Advantages of this are:- less packed in so less risky (so many 'friendly butt' hits last year!), also if it's less packed it's safer to die (less chance of trampling!).
Slightly more clashes in total plus, more water breaks.

Easier for commanders and H+S to see what's going on.
Far too often fighters ignore hits IMHO this is down to commanders and group training- if one of my guys starts ignoring hits he faces banning from shows. The fact is this is such a critical issue that I take that line- having watched displays where people fight till their tired and should by rights go home in a bucket I can definately say it looks totally pants and has been compared by MOPs to Wrestling! (wont name events though!)

Of course armour makes a big difference but remember a good hit with a poleaxe/ bill will still shatter bones!

Don't forget- if someone has the grace to go down at the appropriate time treat them nicely! If you can, take the time to cut their throat (whilst saying cheers and checking their comfy :D ) and search for their loot (just don't wander off with it!

Now projectile weapons! (My the fun we had forming a que for that hand gunner last year!

Bombardments often occur between or before engagements so no-one notices if you get back up before the off- they definitely do notice when no-one is going down.

Again over to commanders- if there is a cannon opposite you encourage 3/4 of your soldiers to throw themselves to the ground when it fires- it's fun and looks good!

Similar for hand guns except obviously individuals. As for arrows- if they go near you you can always fall over and get back up later.

It's the details which make it real- watching 2 compnies of musketeers last year firing volley after volley at each other before marching off (no casualties!) left me nearly crying :cry:



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Sat Jun 07, 2008 6:37 pm

It was incidents such as that which made me give up on the ECW.

Then again whilst doing ACW and "immune" to death I stood alone as six rebs fired off at me.

I screamed like a banshee and then when the smoke cleared before the crowd I looked around me all kinda confused and checked myself over.

Meantime those dirty Rebs all look at each other in confusion then start to reload like mad.

I charge at them, stop, give fire, one goes down, carry on charging, stop one fires again (another lucky miss) I carry on my charge and "bayonet him" (which is damn difficult when you havn't got one fitted), the others run off. I stop take out a hip flask and take a long drink before the boss yells at me for lazing around doing nothing-the crowd seemed to like that, and my outraged protests the most.

Now thats a war story.


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Postby the real lord duvet » Sat Jun 07, 2008 8:35 pm

spectacular deaths!


i've got a special one when th sten gun jams in front of the crowd.

I drop it on its sling, pull out the khukri and charge at the germans screaming and then do the full bullets and dieing trick. I might end up on the floor for the rest of the battle but with a jamming sten I wouldn't be taking much part anyway so I might as well go out centre stage!



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Postby Colin Middleton » Sun Jun 08, 2008 5:44 pm

Just a thought on the bombardment thing. Should you tell the fighters where the fire will be falling so that they know they're in the firing line. Some of our old members tell of a battle where 3 swordsmen come across a handgunner who fires at them in despiration (they'd previously agreed that the handgunners look at you and nod if you're to take the hit). Two of the swordsmen died, leaving the one in the middle unharmed :shock:


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Postby James The Archer » Sun Jun 08, 2008 8:09 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:Just a thought on the bombardment thing. Should you tell the fighters where the fire will be falling so that they know they're in the firing line. Some of our old members tell of a battle where 3 swordsmen come across a handgunner who fires at them in despiration (they'd previously agreed that the handgunners look at you and nod if you're to take the hit). Two of the swordsmen died, leaving the one in the middle unharmed :shock:

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Sun Jun 08, 2008 8:38 pm

I've seen knackered ECW foot regts decimated by a lone retreating cavalryman with a pistol late in the battle on a hot summers day. :oops:


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Postby the real lord duvet » Sun Jun 08, 2008 9:25 pm

for guns its simple really.

you should all know when your standing in front of a cannon. then again - maybe not. not even if you're resting your *rse on the loaded barrel sometimes.



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Postby Fox » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:26 am

Colin Middleton wrote:Two of the swordsmen died, leaving the one in the middle unharmed :shock:


Gravel shot: you never know where it's gonna go. :wink:



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Postby Ghost » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:35 am

[quoteJust a thought on the bombardment thing. Should you tell the fighters where the fire will be falling so that they know they're in the firing line. Some of our old members tell of a battle where 3 swordsmen come across a handgunner who fires at them in despiration Two of the swordsmen died, leaving the one in the middle unharmed :shock:[/quote]

Bosworth Several years ago - part of our bill line decided that on the next volley from the opposing cannon that several of them would drop dead - moments later sounds of cannon fire ant the three/four of them duly threw themslves to the ground - only to instantlyrealise that they were our guns at the other end of the field :roll:


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Postby gregory23b » Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:02 pm

Foxie

"so that blocks of men could be identified (or in the case of Barnet, misidentified Wink "

Which was down to similar (in the poor visibility) liveries of one lot and the enemy.

----

As to 'home side' away 'team', I am not convinced of that, it is a simplification and could be a dilution of the range of identifiers which marked this period, ie its major point of interest and key aspect of the 'WOTR' was the mis-use of livery/commission of array by certain noble parties in the first instance. Something that was dismantled in the 16thc as a result of this period.

To turn it into generic medieval is to lose the plot IMHO. Certainly have clearer set-ups, but maybe try to organise the 'battles' ie units in threes each side and each 'battle' has a simillar livery - whether it be coats, tabards or bends or combos off all of those.

This becomes a point of interest in its own right and very pertinent to the period.

For those that don;t want to perform, simple solution, have a private event, pay for the hire and logistics of a self-contained event, as the SCA do. For those that do not want to 'pay' for the privilege then attend public events and do the decent thing and pretend to do what you talk to the public about.

It is not rocket science, you either 'pretend' and enjoy it or you do your own private thing, there are merits in both cases, but if you only do MOP based events then you need to buck up, because without the MOPS and their interest you don't get events to go to and in some cases your group kit is the less as a result.

Hats off to Alan for trying to address this and despite naysayers in terms of apparent dishonesty, most reenactors, if presented with an idea in a decent way would probably go for it. Not only that, if people think things don't change I ask those hoary old veterans of the WOTR scene to cast an eye back to 1985 and compare it with today, an overall vast improvement in kit and numbers and on-field combat practice.


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Postby Fox » Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:50 pm

gregory23b wrote:For those that don;t want to perform, simple solution, have a private event, pay for the hire and logistics of a self-contained event, as the SCA do. For those that do not want to 'pay' for the privilege then attend public events and do the decent thing and pretend to do what you talk to the public about.

It is not rocket science, you either 'pretend' and enjoy it or you do your own private thing, there are merits in both cases, but if you only do MOP based events then you need to buck up, because without the MOPS and their interest you don't get events to go to and in some cases your group kit is the less as a result.


Surely there's a quandry in that approach too, since the vast majority of the public want to be entertained, rather than educated.

The two are not mutually exclusive, but they are sometimes conflicting.

You have to accept that re-enactment is compromise of what event organisers want, what the different flavours of re-enactors want, what our integrity suggests we should do and what the public want to see.



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Postby gregory23b » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:06 pm

I accept that some venue hosts also have little knowledge or expectation than the bums on seats and smiling faces, relying a lot on the expertise and imagination of the contracted group, some hosts are very well informed and have specific needs from groups and dictate the set up accordingly. EH Festival of History is anything but entertaining but has clearly defined historical presentational goals.

As you say entertainment and education are not mutually exclusive, but any 'reenactment' of a given period is educational (to some degree) by default, if it be about the kit or weapons etc, so the educational part is built-in. We do not need flip charts and commentary to the minute detail, but in the same way that WW2 orders fo battle and kit are different from WW1 ones (eg) and rightly portrayed as such we owe it to the period and the public to at least make sure the key elements are maintained. The public wont suffer any loss of entertainment value at all, otherwise we may as well just do some generic cod medieval pageant thing to make the public smile and we can at least do away with any debate as to tactics, clothing etc if we are not to attempt to follow them through to the actual field, battle or otherwise.


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Postby Fox » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:14 pm

gregory23b wrote:....otherwise we may as well just do some generic cod medieval pageant thing to make the public smile and we can at least do away with any debate as to tactics, clothing etc if we are not to attempt to follow them through to the actual field, battle or otherwise.


I do take part in a number of "generic cod medieval pageant thing"s. They are very entertaining, fun to do and raise lots of money for charity.

I still think there is a place for them. And also for more instructive events.

And that doesn't mean we shouldn't be improving our knowledge.

We can either put this into practice and improve our accuracy at some events; but at very least we can provide accurate information to the MOP who asks questions afterwards. I'm often asked "Was [x] really like that?" I like to be able to give the correct answer.



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Postby Jenn » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:23 pm

Surely the very fact that the public are there at all does mean that they have interest in learning something about the period or else they would be elsewhere. We, therefore, have a responsiblity to them to get it as right as we can given all the constraints mentioned.
I never fight - because I always play a woman but I have watched many, many , many battles and to be honest the main thing about many of them as someone who is watching (as none of you do on regular basis remember) is that they are often too long. I know there are good reasons for much of this but given that we do not have the numbers on the field to portray the great battles accurately perhaps skirmishs etc maybe the way to go - shorter sharper and more of interest to the public without the long build up and long waits?



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Postby gregory23b » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:37 pm

"I do take part in a number of "generic cod medieval pageant thing"s. They are very entertaining, fun to do and raise lots of money for charity. "

I have also done so, that does not mean that a well presented and as historically accepted battle reenactment is any the less entertaining or valuable in fund-raising because of it.

Contrary to popular belief, the public are not directly instrumental in dictating the nature of such shows, reenactors were, or at least set the ground rules down some time back. The demand for them as being entertaining and offering built-in historical education was in the main driven by people like Howard Giles, without whose reenactment and heritage background, we might have far fewer castles to play in. There was a time when very few groups were allowed to play in places we take for granted and that was down to people like Howard choosing those who could match the criteria rather than pandering to 'accepted' ideas of what was entertaining in a historical setting.


I have never seen the need to separate a 'good' (definitions welcome) portrayal from entertainment, unless the entertainment is specified as history non-specific comedy or stage acts. If entertainment is offering a sense of enjoyment at viewing the spectacle, a sense of interest and a bit of speculation, then many 'good' portrayals do that already and are proof of it. EH FoH has a large attendance of public, who presumably want a day out, that does not mean the groups attending are 'anything goes' because EH events has a remit to answer to historical topics.


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Postby Fox » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:38 pm

Jenn wrote:Surely the very fact that the public are there at all does mean that they have interest in learning something about the period or else they would be elsewhere.

No, often it means they have children with a Disney type interest in knights and castles.
Sometimes that grows into something better, but the fact that Medieval Times in the States is heaving full of people tells you that your assumption doesn't have to hold true.


gregory23b wrote:I have also done so, that does not mean that a well presented and as historically accepted battle reenactment is any the less entertaining or valuable in fund-raising because of it.

Often an organiser is grateful for anyone who'll turn up, and whether we wish it or not there are many, many medieval re-enactors out there who haven't put much effort in.
On top of that, getting numbers of re-enactors is often considered more valuable than restricting the period.


gregory23b wrote:Contrary to popular belief, the public are not directly instrumental in dictating the nature of such shows, reenactors were, or at least set the ground rules down some time back. The demand for them as being entertaining and offering built-in historical education was in the main driven by people like Howard Giles, without whose reenactment and heritage background, we might have far fewer castles to play in.


It's more complex than that, and I see an increasing expectation for re-enactors to lay on a theatrical show, often with slightly pantomime elements to entertain the kids; this is driven by the organisers or the site.

Certainly the fact that re-enactors are a free resource allows them to dicatate some of the terms; I also note that growth in the hobby has allowed organisers to draw a sharper line on what they think is acceptable.



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Postby Jenn » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:30 pm

What I meant was by that often by taking their children's disney type interest in castle/knights (and yours at 8 was much more advanced?) Their parents/carers have chosen to visit a heritage site run by someone like EH/national trust who have a remit as previously mentioned to present historical topics.
We, therefore can use this interest and present our battles as correctly as possible thereby educating them and I see no conflict between the two it is perfectly possible to be both educational and interesting (I certainly seek to to do that in camp). By keeping it short, and keeping things moving - no long waits - no long battles.
Last edited by Jenn on Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Postby m300572 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:36 pm

Certainly the fact that re-enactors are a free resource


Do you not charge for events?


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Postby Phil the Grips » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:41 pm

Fox wrote:Certainly the fact that re-enactors are a free resource allows them to dicatate some of the terms; I also note that growth in the hobby has allowed organisers to draw a sharper line on what they think is acceptable.
I think the differnce between "fayres" and "reenactment" is coming through again. Most societies charge so reenactors are not free and the organiser always dictates the event as they are the ones with the cash and the contracts. The society can negotiate and set variables but ultimately the final decision is with the contractor/employer.

re-reading all this thread I find it strange that many of the ideas suggested here are seen as "new"- most of this stuff( running away, scripts, plotting, narration, early deaths,walkthroughs,fortifications and prop scenery etc) were considered the standard when I was reenacting in the 90s- the competitive stuff was left to the Circles of Treachery after the main bash and the morning training sessions, or even in the evening long after the punters had gone.


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