We were in the New New Woods this year; I heard a fair amount of grumbling about how dense and hilly they were, but they frankly reminded me a lot of the Old Old Woods. (Back in the day, I was a scout for the Barony-in-Exile of Branswatch, AKA the Filthy Greenshirts, so I have fond memories of woods battles.) I was hanging around the resurrection point for the second half of the Woods Battle -- we had a couple of sendings-to-vigil to do, so I needed to be around to herald.
Every 20 minutes or so, one or t'other of Their Majesties would get killed and sent back to the res point, deliver a rousing speech to the troops and plunge back into the fray. These did nothing but get bigger and more dramatic, urging the troops into one more push. (In the end, we won decisively, after one final push to get everyone back to the line and stop the Midrealm advance.)
And the result was closer to *living* a Shakespeare play than I've ever seen before. I was the audience, almost able to hear Henry's Chorus explaining the battle to me, apologizing for the fact that the battle was too large, too grand to show on this small stage. But the playwright substituted these moments, these invocations into battle, the stakes transmuted into speech, the few warriors visible to me representing the larger body off-stage doing the real work.
It's no surprise that Marguerite could give such great speeches, but it was also the moment when it seemed that Edward truly found his voice, letting his passion for the fight come through to the crowd. And the result sent a real chill through me. The SCA has rare moments where everything feels just a bit realer, where the membrane of time and circumstance between us and the periods we recreate becomes thin. This was the closest I've felt in some years...