Conflict Resolution Starter Kit

Conflict Resolution Starter Kit

(For conflicts between two people – not heraldry)

By Lara Coutinho-Dean (SCA: Baroness Sophia the Orange)

***NEW*** Video Recording of class taught at eRUM: Conflict Resolution for People (Not Heraldry), 11 MAY 20, Sophie,

This blog post introduces my class on my Conflict Resolution Starter Kit. I have been teaching this class since mid-2017 in the SCA. I have practiced this method of resolving conflicts between people for 20+ years as part of my participation in the Woman Within program. To share this method as a class, I added perspective from a respected business leadership organization, “The Conscious Leadership Group” and a respected book “Critical Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler.

Why listen to me? I have some training and 20+ years of experience in support groups. I’m not a professional mental health practitioner. I am an enthusiastic amateur. I care deeply about the emotional suffering people go through, and I have had some success myself in healing my own emotional wounds. I have witnessed many more people also heal their own emotional wounds, so I believe 100% that healing can be achieved. Teaching this very basic method of resolving personal conflicts is a small but effective tool that can help emotional healing, so I strive to share it as best I can.

The primary group I volunteer with is the Woman Within International organization ( and its brother organization the ManKind Project (  My parents both helped to create the chapters of these organizations in Indianapolis in the early 1990’s. My sister and husband are both active participants. Many of my dearest friends were found in these groups. These groups create safe spaces, training opportunities, and communities of people dedicated to personal emotional growth. If you’d like to know more, please ask me.

I have been a Woman Within member since February 1999 and an Empowerment Circles member since 1999. I have co-created three Empowerment Circles in Indianapolis, IN, Fairfax, VA, and Raleigh, NC.

Woman Within workshops that have provided me training include: Woman Within Training Weekend, Women Empowering Women, Circle Intensive Training, Women In Leadership, Money Shadow, Warrior Monk, Shadow Work (multiple workshops), Woman Within Archetypes & Wholeness workshop,  Woman Within Staff Training; 12 workshops serving as staff for Woman Within Training Weekend (roles served: Nurturer, Rituals, Music, Regional Informational Meeting manager), and I often serve as a local Homecoming Ceremony Leader.

Why does a conflict resolution method matter?

The new SCA Bully Policy published in 2017 raised my own awareness of the need for this skill set to be taught more in the SCA community. The relevant policy is in this version of the SCA Organizational Handbook updated August 12, 2018 at this link: 

The process for Grievances and Sanction is in Section X of the SCA Organizational Handbook. Section A is General, Section B is Grievances.  Part 1 is Principles and part 2 is Procedures. The following is an excerpt:

“2. Procedures 

  1. Try to work things out face-to-face. When someone does something that interferes with your appreciation of the Society in a way you can’t ignore, or that seems to be contrary to the rules, talk it over. Explain the problem as you see it and listen to the reply. (Likewise, if someone comes to you, listen carefully before you frame your answer.) Hopefully this will resolve the matter.”

This very first step described in this handbook is critical. It can feel overwhelming to go back and talk to someone you’ve just had a conflict with.  In many circumstances, one conversation can really clear up a conflict, and this is where one could use my Conflict Resolution Starter Kit. This conversation remains informal and outside the official reporting chain of SCA Officers. I offer that officers could use this method in formally mediated conversations deeper into the complaint resolution process if they choose. My class is 100% unofficial and not approved by any SCA entity. This is just one method of holding a conversation that I suggest could help in a heavily charged emotional situation.

Anyone can use it at any time. Seasonal holidays and family gatherings are times when conflicts can be eased by using tools like this.

Specifically for the SCA community: In all kingdoms, very strong recommendations exist for at least one attempt at a personal one-on-one conversation to resolve conflicts before reporting a conflict to an officer. This method is useful for the day-to-day interactions between SCA participants that commonly create conflict. This method is NOT intended for sexual harassment, hate crimes, bigotry, and other severe offenses. This method is intended for friends and friendly acquaintances working together in our SCA community to work together more smoothly.

This method does rely on some expectations that need to be shared by both parties:

  1. Both parties must want to clear up the conflict.
  2. Both parties must be ready to make an attempt at resolution.
  3. Both parties must be available to give this conversation their total attention for some agreed amount of time. (I recommend at least a 1/2 hour.)

It is critical that you, if you are initiating this resolution conversation, take time to figure yourself out first. Consider seriously what you need in this relationship. What do you need to remove this “pebble in your shoe?” Here are some possible ways to describe what you need:

  • I need to understand better why that argument happened.
  • I just need to say what my side of the story is.
  • I need to ask you to hear what I have to say and acknowledge it.
  • I need to ask for an apology from you.
  • I need to ask you to stop a certain behavior.

You cannot control the other person, but you can ask for change. Asking makes it possible for your relationship to change for the better. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. If you get an answer of “No”, then at least you know where you stand. You can make choices about how you interact with the other person from a more knowledgeable perspective in the future.

This method is a tool, not a magic potion. It will take some work on the part of both parties to use the tool to clear up the junk between them. It will take some work for each individual to figure out what they need, ask for what they need, accept the response, and then move on and let go.

This technique is a place to start. It may be all you need or it may be a door into the next step. That could be a long journey. It is, however, a very good place to start when you feel overwhelmed.

If this method doesn’t ring true for you, by all means, move on to the next tool that might help you. This is one that pops up in many emotional management environments. This method and similar variations have been viewed as successful by numerous organizations. (Just do an online search for “Crucial Conversations” to see the wide breadth of organizations using that book.)  Try it on for size. Consider practicing it with a friend before you try it on someone you’re in conflict with.

I am an enthusiastic amateur so use of my methods are 100% at your own risk. I’m acting as a concerned citizen of my community when offering this information. I guarantee nothing. I do my best to help, and pain-free success is not guaranteed.

Please read my class handout available at this link ( )  , watch the Conscious Leadership Group’s video (  , and explore more from the web pages at:

I am teaching this class online for the first time on December 17, 2019 at 8:00pm using for an online conference room. You can join in via your home computer, smartphone, or call in via regular phone for an audio-only experience. Please use the following links and numbers:

Join Zoom Meeting

Dial by phone for audio only
+1 646 876 9923

Meeting ID: 466 668 444


If you would like to know the next time I am going to teach this class, in person or online, please email me at orangesophie AT gmail DOT com.

Thank you and good luck out there, 

Lara Coutinho-Dean / Baroness Sophia the Orange

Manus and Sophia are running for Baron and Baroness of Windmasters’ Hill

Today, the announcements went out in the form of a Baronial Newsletter supplement including the Letters of Intent for all the folks volunteering to be candidates for the positions of Baron and Baroness of Windmasters’ Hill.

That includes us! We did it three years ago, and we are volunteering again.

Our letter of intent is posted on our website here:

We also added a supplement page with the questions posed to us three years ago by Master Gaston, Master Geoffrey, and Mistress Michel. We included a few updates based on the past three years of additional perspective:

Our contact information is included in our Letter of Intent in case anyone has questions, comments, or encouragement for us.

In Service,


My event schedule for 2018+

I’m working hard at created more healthy balance in my life. That means making time for more activities that feed my soul and heal my body. My health has deteriorated leading up to my 45th birthday this summer, so my time management must shift towards self care on all levels. Hence, careful selection of SCA events to attend.

Here’s my SCA event list for 2018+ where I hope to see my friends and perform some Commedia or dance or something:

June 16- Summer Atlantia University
June 23- Return To Crecy
June 30- Performers Revel South
July 29-Aug 11- Pennsic
September 15- Fall Atlantia University
September 21-23- Known World Commedia Symposium
October 19-21- War of the Wings
November 17- Buckston Birthday
December 1- Unevent


  • January 12 – Atlantia Twelfth Night
  • February 2 – Atlantia Winter University
  • February 23 – Ymir

March 2019 and forward – TBD.   KASF depends on where it’s held.

If it’s not on this list, and it’s an SCA event, I won’t be there.


I *am* looking for events to attend in the world of improvisational acting and Shakespeare experiences. These hobbies feed my soul and I need more of them.

Commedia All Stars troupe at Pennsic

What is the Commedia All Stars troupe?

At Pennsic 43 (2014), I created the first production of the Commedia All Stars troupe at Pennsic. It was a significant experiment. My goal was to gather anyone who wanted to play commedia at Pennsic and produce a Commedia dell’ Arte play entirely *at* Pennsic.  No rehearsal ahead of time. The goal was to see if we could do it.

I did get a lot of help.

We gathered 18 players from 4 different kingdoms and 7 different commedia troupes!

It took a lot of work.

The folks that created that first All Stars production were all gambling that it would be successful. We had no guarantee we’d be able to have fun as well as produce a high-quality commedia dell’ arte play. And it had to be funny. It’s no fun if the audience isn’t laughing.

We did succeed! You can see the result on this You Tube video:  Watch until the end to see the long list of credits!

That first scenario was titled “The Power of Negative Thinking” written by Lady Luceta di Cosimo of I Genisii.  Luceta went on to write all the following All Stars scenarios:

  1. Pennsic 43 – 2014 – The Power of Negative Thinking
  2. Pennsic 44 – 2015 – The Long Lost Treasure
  3. Pennsic 45 – 2016 – Arlecchino of La Mancha
  4. Pennsic 46 – 2017 – The Philosopher’s Brick

All the videos can be seen on this page:

As we have developed the All Stars program over the past 4 years, we have grown. All the participants in the All Stars troupe are also contributing to spreading commedia by teaching, running more commedia at home, or publishing written works on commedia.  This group exists for more than just doing commedia for fun. We support the expansion of commedia by modeling excellence in commedia and helping others learn commedia too.

The name “All Stars” began as 100% marketing. I was making a significant gamble that first year trying to create a Pennsic-only commedia troupe, so I used every tool in my toolbox, including branding.  Of all the possible names, “All Stars” was the most catchy and attention getting.  Other possible names considered include the following:

  • Known World Commedia Players
  • i Sophini
  • i Arancioni
  • i Rosi Lioni (This would have been a continuation of a series of Pennsic-only commedia plays I did within my household, Red Winged Lion, for a few years.)

The name “All Stars” has taken on additional meaning over the years. This troupe is not populated by the most talented, ranked, vetted, or perfected Commedia players in the world. This troupe is populated by the most teamwork-oriented players that can be gathered at Pennsic. Each one of the players in All Stars is a uniquely contributing member who also supports their fellow commedia players. They also take on the extra task of supporting commedia by teaching, running, or writing about commedia. They do more than just let the Capocomico take them on a ride of fun. They all pitch in, give back, and support each other. Each one of the All Stars players is a star in their own right but part of a team.  There are no divas that float above the rest. Every single person’s contribution is part of a magnificent collaboration. That’s what makes this group All Stars.

This year, 2018, I am stretching again and using online auditions to get a head start on seeing the players in action. We’re also going to have some online rehearsals using Zoom conference calls. This year’s scenario writing is underway with the magnificent Honorable Lady Luceta di Cosimo, and auditions will begin soon.

This year, rehearsals are moving from the Pennsic Amphitheater to the Atlantia Royal Encampment. The Pennsic Performing Arts program has grown so much that the huge chunk of time that All Stars needs for rehearsal just wasn’t practical to keep in the Amphitheater. So, the current Majesties of my beloved Atlantia, Detrich and Una, granted us permission to set up a rehearsal tent in Atlantia Royal camp for Commedia All Stars.  Thanks again to their most magnanimous Majesties of Atlantia! Vivant!  (Thanks also to Detrich’s squire Carrick for working out the logistics with me!)

This year, rehearsals will be carefully scheduled in order to allow players to also participate in the fencing activities during the day. (There is a mysterious connection between commedia and SCA rapier fighting that has yet to be understood.)  We have a 3 hour block for rehearsals between 9:00am – 12:00noon. Each player will be expected to be there during 2 of those hours depending on their role. Some will be there from 9:00 – 11:00 and some will be there from 10:00 – 12:00.  This is intended to reduce the amount of time each player is sitting around waiting for their turn to rehearse as well as allow more flexibility for players to participate in other Pennsic activities. The exact schedule will be determined after auditions and casting. Rehearsals are still a total of 6 Pennsic days: Middle Saturday through and including War Thursday. The show is War Thursday night, 9:30pm, at the Performing Arts Tent.

If you’re interested in auditioning for the Commedia All Stars troupe 2018, please email me via orangesophie AT gmail DOT com and let me know what kind of role you’d like to play. I’ll also ask you how you’d like to contribute back to the commedia community: teaching, directing, or publishing. I will be asking you to fill out this form to kick off the process:

This project could not be as much fun and as successful as it has been without the significant support of two amazing people: Luceta di Cosimo and Manus MacDhai.  Luceta not only writes all our scenarios but she also has helped me research period commedia deeply and repeatedly. She’s incredible at helping me understand the sources we have to figure out what commedia was like in the 16th century.  Manus is my beloved husband who has neglected his rose garden way too often to come play commedia with me. He is the Logistics & Technical Manager for our marriage and our commedia troupes. I couldn’t make commedia happen without him. So, I publicly thank Luceta and Manus for their unique and critical contributions to the All Stars troupe!

Additional loving thanks go to members of the i Sebastiani troupe who have served as coaches for All Stars over the years: Master Anton of Winteroak, Mistress Rhonwen ap Glonwy, Master Frtiz, and Lord Harold Longfellow. Super huge thanks also to Duke Steffan Glaube of Lochac for priceless directing assistance!  We have also benefited from classes taught by Lady Katrusha and Lord Tristan, so thanks to them too!

A final thank you to the audiences that come to the All Stars shows at Pennsic! Without an audience, it would just be another rehearsal!

With mountains of gratitude,

Baroness Sophia the Orange

Founder and Capocomico of the All Stars Commedia Troupe