Are You in a Play?
Quick Answer: No.
A common misconception, when people see us in a park, at a restaurant, or at a festival, is that we might all be part of a play. Although some of our members participate in performances, the majority of SCA members are not in a play but are enjoying historical recreation through the clothing (or “garb”), the props of daily living (whether that is making cloth on a loom or working on a blacksmith’s anvil), and the food of the middle ages (everyone loves to eat).
The nature of our events is often “open to the public” and we welcome those interested in watching and learning what we do. There are rarely any set “performance times” even at our tournaments, and people are encouraged to wear clothing from “period” (typically clothes from Europe between 1000 and 1650) and learn arts, crafts, sciences, dances, and martial arts of the period.
Among other things, we do:
Archery, Armoring, Astronomy, Basketry, Beadwork, Belly dancing, Brewing, Calligraphy, Camping, Chain mail, Chess, Cooking, Costuming, Dancing, Dollmaking, Drumming, Dyeing, Embroidery, Equestrian Arts [Jousting is only in a testing form right now, most Equestrian events have other games], Feasting, Felting, Fencing, Glassblowing, Hawking, Heraldry, Herbalism, Illumination, Knife making, Knitting, Lace making, Leatherworking, Linguistics, Merchanting, Newsletters, Painting, Research, Serving, Sewing, Shopping, Singing, Soap making, Spinning, Tent making, Theatre, Volunteering, Weaving, Woodworking.
Is this the Renaissance Faire?
Quick Answer: No.
“The Renaissance Faire” can be any number of other historical reenactment clubs, putting on a weekend (or several weekends) of performances, often with merchants/vendors, plays, processions, and displays. However, the SCA is unaffiliated with any of these Renn Faire reenactment societies.
Typically at a Renn Faire, the public pays an admission fee at the gate. There are set performance times at one or many stages. The participants in Faire are all in costume, the paying public is (usually) not in costume.
The SCA is a society that encourages individual participation. If a fee is charged at the gate to a tournament, it is usually restricted to SCA participants, and not the observing public who may wander by. A few events held by the SCA may charge a fee to the viewing public, or may be for members only, but these events are few and far between.
Unlike the Renn Faires, which typically focus on only Elizabethan England history (and any cultures likely to have come into contact with the Elizabethan court), the SCA has a broad focus including “pre-1600 Western Europe and contacting cultures.” You may find SCA members researching as early as the Roman Empire, the high Japanese court pre-1600, the Mongolian hordes, or the Sultan’s court. You’ll often see garb (the SCA word for “historical costume”) from every year between 1000 AD and 1600 AD.
Quick Answer: Yes, we’d love to!
The SCA is specifically a non-profit educational society, registered as a 501(c) corporation of California. Local chapters usually have teams of volunteers available to put on demos for schools and city festivals. Most chapters or groups prefer three months notice to schedule a demo. To find the local chapter in your area, try the main Society web page at http://www.sca.org and click on the link for SCA Groups . This link will take you to the “Kingdom” web pages for major regions throughout the world. Each Kingdom has links for finding local chapters in its borders.
Southern California, the Las Vegas area, and Hawaii are all a part of the Kingdom of Caid. You can find Caid’s web page at http://www.sca-caid.org/, and links to the various chapters throughout the Kingdom. Local chapters are often named Shires, Baronies, or Cantons. The San Fernando Valley is one chapter, called the Barony of Altavia.
If you would like to schedule a demo for your class or school, you should contact the “Chatelaine” or the “Seneschal” of a local branch. The Chatelaine is specifically in charge of working with newcomers to the SCA. The Seneschal is like the chapter “president” and is responsible for all legal paperwork, such as insurance and site-related requirements. Some branches may have an “Avant Courier” in charge of publicity for newspapers, radio, and community boards, and some branches may have a specific “Demo Coordinator” who works with the Chatelaine and the Seneschal.
How much does it cost to be a member?
Quick Answer: Not much, depending on what you choose
Most SCA members start out participating with their local Shire or Barony. Local participation costs nothing at all. You may wish to subscribe to your local newsletter, which may cost around $10/year. In Altavia, the local newsletter is called the FretKnot and subscriptions are free. To subscribe to the FretKnot, contact the Chronicler
As your participation grows, and includes attending events in neighboring chapters, you may want to start receiving your Kingdom newsletter. A subscription to your local Kingdom newsletter is included when you pay $45/year for a Society membership. Membership is handled exclusively (except for Australian membership) through the SCA, Inc. office in Milpitas, California. You can reach that office at:
P.O. Box 360789, Milpitas,
How often do you guys do this?
Quick Answer: Somewhere between every weekend and once a year or so.
Local events vary in frequency. The Barony of Altavia hosts between 4 or more events per year. You can find specific information about our events on the Events page.
We hold several workshops and practices each month. You can find specific information about these meetings on the Meetings page.
The Kingdom events that many SCA members attend are usually held on Saturdays. We are very fortunate in Southern California to have lovely weather nearly all year round, and typically you can find between 1-3 events every weekend. There are single-day tournaments, two-day events, and camping events for an entire weekend, over a 3-day holiday, or even longer. There are typically 1-2 events per year that are between 4-6 days long. Not everyone is available to attend the full 4-6 days, and it’s not unusual for someone to make just an afternoon of it.
Participation varies from individual to individual. This is a hobby, and does fit around members’ work schedules and family obligations. Regardless of how frequently you are able to attend events or workshops, you are always welcome. Extended absences are always understood.
Where do you do this stuff?
Quick Answer: Around the entire world, and probably in your hometown.
Around the world, there are about nineteen Kingdoms of SCA members and local branches. A link on the SCA Inc. main web page will connect you to the Geography of the SCA, where you can find your local Kingdom and then local branch.
But where do we hold events locally? Business meetings have been traditionally held in members’ living rooms or in large restaurants. Workshops have been in recreation rooms in apartment complexes, in parks, in living rooms, or in someone’s garage or backyard. Local tournaments are usually in a community park, such as Woolley Park Archery Center, Verdugo Park, and Veterans Park. Collegiums, full days devoted to classroom activities, are often held at local public schools or community colleges. High court events, such as the Coronation of a King and Queen, are often held in churches, community centers, or other public buildings.