In a time of no television, radio, or smart phones, with the theaters and bearbaiting arenas almost all outdoors and only open during the day, entertainments were an extremely popular way to pass the time. After the fighting is over and the food is eaten, Bandes events become entertainment venues. Outdoor sporting-like activities are played during the day, mixed in with military activities such as drill, fencing, archery and shooting. Games of all kinds were very popular, both during the day and at night. A few of the more popular entertainments are as follows.
Games includes both indoor and outdoor activities. Indoor games can be card games, dice games, board games or others. The rules for all games in period were subject to local variation and could change from day-to-day, or even hand-to-hand, not unlike a modern poker game. If you are unsure of the rules, ask before it begins; you may discover that the others each have different rules in mind.
A Note on Gambling
Games were not only fun to play, they indulged the extremely popular Elizabethan pastime of gambling. Elizabethans were known to gamble on any- and everything. People would bet on which way a fly would go once it took off from the table. In order to join in, you’ll need either your own coin or to borrow from the money changer, who will give you coins to game with. Coins are purchased by the Company and distributed to members and guests. Periodically, members are asked to return some coins to refill the Company coffers.
You are going to have to learn to play Goose, no way to avoid it. And it’s going to cost you – a lot. Think of it as Monopoly, except more cutthroat and played with your own money. Goose, like Monopoly, also requires a marker, which you must provide. You should keep some small period item (button, pin, toy, etc.) in your pouch to use at the Goose board.
A trick-taking card game played with three cards to each player. Simple rules, no math involved.
Whichever player takes two of three tricks, wins the pot. This is the easiest game for beginners to learn.
Similar to modern poker, this card game is fairly complicated, with period hands that do not exactly
correspond to poker hands. Cheat sheets are used.
Other popular indoor games include Shovegroat and Tables (backgammon).
Similar to badminton, this game is played with wooden paddles called “battledores”. There are usually some to lend, but you should plan on getting your own. This game can accommodate two to twenty (or more) players. “The more, the merrier” is our motto.
A period version of golf and similar to field hockey. This has become popular of late and is reminiscent of the Atlantian game of Cambock. The rules are still being worked out and are usually made up on the spot.
Similar to rugby or soccer, the Bandes doesn’t play it as much as when we were younger (ah, youth).
One of the Elizabethan pastimes was to attend the bear garden and watch dogs try to tear the bear apart before it killed them. We pay homage to that with our own version. Once you see it, you’ll understand.
Versions of croquet and bocce are also played. Many other games were played in period; should you be familiar with one, or learn about it in your research, make sure to bring it to an event and teach others to play.
Music was popular in period and everyone would join in singing the hit tunes, regardless of ability. The Bandes have recreated that activity, with great enthusiasm, if not talent. New members will eventually learn the standards — Amaryllis, Jolly Broom Man, Of All the Birds — so you might as well start on them now. The Company periodically puts out songbooks with lyrics, as well as compilation CD’s of songs. Ask the Education Officer for a copy of either.
Instruments from the period can be used, although more often modern versions are what you find
(guitars, rather than lutes, for instance). People who can play instruments are encouraged to learn the period songs and to introduce new ones as well. We do not sing or play songs written later than 1620 and therefore avoid most folksongs and 19th Century sea shanties.
While dance was a very popular pastime in period, sadly, the Bandes doesn’t allow it.
No, seriously, it is allowed, just not often done, the Company having lost its dancing master to an ague (start your research now and look it up). Should you be interested in dance, you can (try to) get everyone involved. Don’t be surprised if it turns into Campball.
Entertainment Items – Highly recommended
musical instrument (period)