Participants in the SCA all have what is called a persona -
we are each pretending to be someone who could have lived in the Middle
Ages or the Renaissance. These personas give us a good way to focus the
historical research we want to do - for instance, what would a persona
have worn? How would they have made a living? What would they have eaten?
The list goes on and on.
Some people really get deeply into the research for their persona - they
will only wear clothes that their persona might have worn, they will only
talk about things at SCA events that their persona would have been
interested in, they will only behave at SCA events the way their persona
would have behaved, etc. Other people don't really focus on the persona
very much beyond choosing a medieval name for themselves.
If you are going to play in the SCA, you will need a persona of your very
own. There are some guidelines to follow:
-You cannot be anybody who actually existed in the past. You can only be
someone who could have existed (i.e. a totally fictional person).
-Your persona must be from a time covered by the SCA's period of history -
anytime from about the fall of Rome to the death of Queen Elizabeth I of
-Your persona must be from somewhere in Western Europe, or from an area
which had contact with Western Europe during the SCA time period.
-Your persona needs a name! Yes, you too can have your very own
weird-sounding name for people to address you as at events. More on naming
your persona further below.
Deciding on a Persona
So...how do you decide who your persona is going to be? The
possibilities are almost endless. How about an 8th-century Viking? Or a
Renaissance Italian? You could be a peasant from 10th-century England, a
15th-century Granadan Moor, or a 13th-century Mongol. The list goes on
(and on, and on...)! How to choose?
Some people find that they are mostly interested in just one time and
place, for example, Elizabethan England. This makes it easy to choose a
persona! But others find that they're interested in all kinds of times and
places which are covered by the SCA. Others may like the look of one style
of costume, but be interested in researching another culture - for
instance, someone who really likes the look of Italian Renaissance
clothing but who is interested in the Viking culture. Others don't really
care - they are only generally interested in the Middle Ages and the
Renaissance and just want to pick a name and get on with it.
The important thing to remember when deciding on a persona is that it's
not a restriction. For example, just because your persona is a Mongol
raiding Galicia at the beginning of the 13th century doesn't mean you
can't do lots of research about the Burgundians. And just because your
persona is from Elizabethan England doesn't mean you have to dress in
Elizabethan costume all the time. The persona is a tool for focusing your
research - you choose how much you want to use that tool.
The other thing to remember is that you can always change your mind! If
you realize down the road that you really want to be a different persona,
there's nothing that says you can't change. The only thing to remember,
though, is that if you do change your persona, it might take awhile before
everyone around you gets used to the change, especially if you've been in
the SCA a long time.
You've probably realized by now that choosing a persona requires a little
bit of research. It's tough to decide that you're interested in a time or
place if you don't know anything about it! So go to your local library and
do a little reading.
Another great resource to use when hunting for a persona is the experience
and knowledge of other people in the SCA. They may have some neat
suggestions for you. Or, if you know that you want your persona to be from
a culture that has certain characteristics, they will probably be able to
suggest a few cultures you might like.