Casa Firenzi Story Episode 4

My fourth and final submission to the Persona Challenge of summer 2022: developing a persona of a female entertainer who performs espionage in 1580 Florence for the family “Firenzi.”

My beloved mistress,
When you sent me, my sister, and my husband to the Pennsic Faire to listen for evidence of rebellion from the Barons and Baronesses of Atlantia, I never dreamed of witnessing such horrors.
As you said before we left, we would gain access to many gatherings under our guise as entertainers. We were, in fact, welcomed and left unescorted among many nobles and high ranking leaders
of the Kingdom of Atlantia and many of her cousin kingdoms. I prepared myself to hear the whispers of rebellion, and while that would have been heart wrenching to witness, my ears and soul witnessed much worse darkness flowing among the people of Pennsic Faire.

Your friend, the Queen of Atlantia, has nothing to worry about. The people of her kingdom are faithful to the crown above all else. There was, however, a more evil flow of rumor and gossip exchanged between the people of Atlantia. Never had I ever before known such worry and fear spoken between those portrayed as friends. Never had I ever before known such whispers of betrayal between neighbors.

Never had I ever known the population of a fairly ruled barony to fear the ultimate, heart wrenching insult – a threat to their supply of beer.

Brewed beverages are what keep a population happy and peaceful while great labors are demanded of them day after day. To threaten the supply of a barony’s beer barrels is so unthinkable I can hardly bear it.

My heart aches to report to you that your friends, the Baron and Baroness of Marinus, are at the center of this rumor. Also, their neighbors, the Baron and Baroness of Stierbach, are deeply steeped in flowing gossip. I disguised myself as a servant to listen to their tense conversation at Pennsic, and I overheard their discussion, nay panic, over the threat of their beer supplies.
My friend, Katherine, from the Kingdom of Aethlemearc, another comic actress engaged in spy work, confirmed hearing similar rumblings as she listened as well. Between both our efforts joined,
we can reliably report to you the following.

Upon the days of November 11, 12, and 13 in a city named Cortland, Virginia, their peoples will gather for war. Soldiers, archers, swordsmen, those that fight with rebated steel, and axe throwers
will flood the lands of the Barony of Marinus. They are rumored to eat the eggs of the devil, Persephone’s Pomegranates of Hades, and use some kind of dark magic to make a cake from cheese.
The dark cheese magic was said to come from the city of Istanbul or Constantinople. It’s unclear which. This great war will undoubtedly be held in a swamp if the lands of Cort are truly as moist as people say.

The last note of evidence I have for you is so fraught with danger I cannot risk it being read by even our trusted messenger from Casa Firenzi. I will include it below using the cypher you taught me named after the great Roman leader that will someday be worthy of a play written in iambic pentameter. But instead of his unlucky number as key, I shall remind you of my favorite color and hope you discover my meaning.

Below is a drawing I made of a spy master I met at Pennsic who taught me many more ways of hiding information. Please note the second drawing I made of the great leaders of Marinus and Stierbach. Their fear is real, and the threat to their beer supply is terrifying. I hope that our network of informants may serve to ease their pain.

In service to our Casa Firenzi and my beloved Marchesa Firenzi, does Sophia the Orange devote her heart and soul.

Hgxutkyy Mktkl joyroqky hkkx!


The English Spymaster teaching espionage at Pennsic

Marinus and Stierbach in a secret meeting at Pennsic





(A secret source for breaking the code of my message: )

Casa Firenzi Story2

Casa Firenzi Story – Episode 2 – work in progress

Script/Scenario for A Story Told By Video

Setting: The Rose Garden at Casa Firenzi
Characters: Manus the Rose Master and Sophia the Tutor

Setup/Argument: Sophia and Manus have fallen in love on the journey to Florence. They are working for the Marchese and Marchesa Firenzi and are stealing private moments in the rose garden at Casa Firenzi. Sophia is tutoring the family’s children. Manus is managing the gardens and building new gardens at Casa Firenzi.

Possible settings for recording video:

Manus is working in the rose garden. Sophia comes in to discuss something urgent. Manus is interested in exchanging a rose for a kiss.

Sophia’s students, the children of the Marchese and Marchesa Firenzi, are practicing three different styles of piva, an Italian dance step famous for having many variations.
She’s instructed the musicians to play 10 minutes straight of Petite Vrien so the children can practice their piva.

Sophia tells Manus that this morning the Marchesa asked her to accompany her at a dinner party tonight.
The other guests will be mothers and wives of a few other merchant families in Florence.
The Medici are not among the guests.

Sophia and Manus are excited but nervous because the last party Sophia attended with the Marchesa was not a simple dinner party.
The Marchesa asked Sophia to be especially attentive to listening to conversations. At home, the Marchesa quizzed Sophia on what she heard.
The Marchesa was pleased and told Sophia she wanted her to begin learning the art of observation.

Manus recounts being at dinners when visiting the University of Leiden when he heard a great many conversations he was not actually in if he just stood quietly.
They agree that survival in Florence often relied on who had information and the Marchesa may be grooming Sophia to assist in the family’s efforts to gather information.

Sophia and Manus discuss upcoming appointments with other tutors which may allow them to gather more information.
One of those tutors is Fabrizio who is working with a group of actors to produce a comedy play. They hope to bring that play to
the Casa Firenzi. If Fabrizio knows the art of observation, his troupe of actors might be a good addition to the artists supported by Casa Firenzi.

Sophia and Manus discuss the dangerous nature of spying and where their protection and risks lie.
They end with a kiss.

International Commedia dell’ Arte Day 2022 – Three shows!

This past month was a whirlwind of amazing Commedia rehearsals and prep leading up to February 25 – International Commedia dell’ Arte Day!

The Italian Cultural Association (“SAT” in Italian), is officially recognized by UNESCO as an NGO active in the field of Intangible Heritage. Every year, they host an online catalog of Commedia activities throughout the world on their website here.  SAT’s annual celebration is known as International Commedia dell’ Arte Day!

Since 2014, i Firenzi has annually performed a show as an approved part of this international catalog. In 2021, we hosted two online discussion panels due to COVID restrictions (First Panel, Second Panel)

THIS YEAR, i Firenzi performed a live in-person performance of “The Dog Servant”, a scenario written in the 16th century Italian commedia style by my good friend Michael McAfee.

i Firenzi "The Dog Servant"
But wait, there’s more! I also produced another show and played in another…

My Commedia All Stars Online troupe performed a livestream with Kal’s Korner of a scenario I wrote and directed titled “The People of Ravenna in Quarantine – Episode 2”

I played the role of Franceschina in the i Sebastiani production online of “The Faithful Friend” an adaptation of a Scala scenario, written and directed by my dear friend Catherine Crow!

The recording of the i Firenzi performance of “The Dog Servant” can be seen on our You Tube Channel here when we’re done processing it. You can currently see our first performance of the scenario from November 2021.

The recording of the Commedia All Stars livestream can be seen on Kalbardr’s Korner’s You Tube Channel here  The host, Richard “Kal” Harris, was an amazing livestream host for us!

The recording of the i Sebastiani production of “The Faithful Friend” is here.

You may notice that the three shows have very different styles.

  • The i Sebastiani production was an attempt to keep very closely to a style of Commedia as was done in the 16th century. They work hard at not using modern slang, using period authentic costumes, and keeping to the original scenario by Scala but adapted to a modern audience.
  • The i Firenzi production trades off some of the historic accuracy for more laughs. We also have more new actors since i Firenzi includes a mission of teaching Commedia.
  • The Commedia All Stars Online doesn’t completely throw historic accuracy out the window, we keep the tropes and characters, but we include “magic” that allows us to put the story in a modern context of people using Zoom and internet resources – for laughs.

Each performance has different styles, and they’re all Commedia with plenty of laughs!

In a completely separate event, some of my beloved teachers were part of a group interview that happened on the same day Commedia All Stars did our livestream:

World Commedia Day 2022 interviews from Bill and Barry’s Mini Commedia Fest online
You’ll see here:
1) My online commedia coach, Fabrizio Paladin
2) Barry Grantham who taught me Commedia at the UK Chalamie Easter School for Historic Performing Arts in 2019
3) Bill Tuck who came with his wife Barbara Segal to teach dance and music at the Known World Dance and Music Symposium in 2017 hosted by the Kingdom of Atlantia
4) and i Sebastiani!

For more information about Commedia, a starter kit for learning on your own, and more videos, see my troupe website:

Whose Cause Is It Anyway?

This group of friends gathered to support causes we believe in by producing livestreamed comedy improv shows! We produce shows at least once a month streamed to You Tube with links in the comments to a particular cause we support including links to politicians we support, personal PayPal links to personal fundraising causes, and charity organizations we believe in. We perform under the name “Whose Cause Is It Anyway” and also “Whose Election Is It Anyway” and “Whose Virus Is It Anyway?”

Whose Cause Is It Anyway GIF for May show

Causes we have supported include:

  1. Act Blue Fundraising for many candidates and issues we believe in:
  2. The Trevor Project in support of LGBTQ+ Youth
  3. Personal fundraising for a friend fighting cancer: PayPal via Mr.Wednesday1066 AT gmail DOT com
  4. Stacey Abrams Fair Fight Initiative
  5. Fredericksburg, VA Regional Food Bank

Our playlist of recorded shows is on You Tube here:

Troupe Members ebb and flow but informally include:

  • Amanda Catherine Mulder
  • Andrew Harasty
  • Bill “Dai” Sutton
  • Crystal Welch
  • Emilly Miller
  • Erica Harrah
  • Laura J. Parker
  • Mary Pruitt
  • Ben Coffee
  • Michael Greenstein
  • Romni Rossi
  • Thomas TJ Carani
  • And I, Lara Coutinho-Dean, produce, livestream, direct the troupe.

If you would like to ask for us to support a cause you believe in, please leave a comment here with an email address where we can reach you. Please also include the URL for people to use for sending in money and the reasons why you believe in this cause.


Commedia Movement Class Resources

Fabrizio Paladin

Capitano video: 

More Fabrizio videos:

Theater Classes Facebook page:


Barry Grantham

Barry at Chalemie School:

Review of Barry Grantham’s book “Playing Commedia”




Laugh and Donate

I am just one person, and this is one thing I can do to fight against the bad things I see happening!

I am organizing comedy shows online to support fundraising efforts for three key US Senate races in 2020:

Amy McGrath to beat Mitch McConnell for KY Senate
Jaime Harrison to beat Lindsey Graham for SC Senate
Cal Cunningham to beat Thom Tillis for NC Senate

Here is ONE LINK to supporting our efforts for these three on – a reliable grassroots fundraising organization supporting the democratic party nationwide:

(one link to rule them all and in the darkness bind them….)

Search on Facebook for my public feed under “Lara Coutinho” to see our comedy improv shows all through October! We will be running 2-3 comedy shows streaming live on Facebook each week through October! Share the link to this blog post, or the Facebook invites, or the ActBlue fundraising links!



Videos of Classes taught at eRUM – Royal University of the Midrealm

Thanks again to Andres and Oswyn and the rest of the staff of the Midrealm’s education branch for moving such great content online!

Here are the links to the classes I’ve taught for the online version of Royal University of the Midrealm (eRUM):

  • How to use Google Resources To Mimic A Website For Your SCA Hobby, 15 JUNE 20, 
  • Commedia dell’ Arte for the Audience, 11 MAY 20, Sophie,
  • Conflict Resolution for People (Not Heraldry), 11 MAY 20, Sophie,
  • Making Commedia dell’ Arte Happen in the SCA, 1 JUN 20, Sophie,
  • Taking the Teeth out of Stagefright, 8 JUN 20, Sophie and Lucia,
    • Second session of this class taught on OCT 11 – link to video TBA
  • My sister’s class “How To Create A Class From What You Already Know” was a class I was deeply involved in co-creating with her, she taught at Atlantia University on September 12 and at Royal University of the Midrealm on September 21. Here’s the link to the Midrealm class recording: 

More will come!



PS: I just have to add these links for other AMAZING classes taught and recorded at eRUM:

Sophie’s Class List with Handouts

My Classes

The Whole Enchilada

Class descriptions, click this link to see the whole spreadsheet including Class Title, Category, Description,  and link to handout:

Handouts Only

Handouts are available in this *View Only* but public sharing folder on Google Drive:  Let me know if you have trouble downloading.

Class Title List and if the class has a handout built by me, no handout, or I use someone else’s handout:

  1. Conflict Resolution Methods – People not Heraldry – MY HANDOUT
  2. Organizing Performing Arts in the SCA for Performers and Event Staff – MY HANDOUT
  3. Commedia dell’ Arte for NON actors – MY HANDOUT
  4. Commedia dell’ Arte – troupe management – NO HANDOUT
  5. Introduction to Commedia – MY HANDOUT
  6. Commedia Workshop 201 (Advanced) – NO HANDOUT
  7. Improvisation Skills for Commedia Characters – MY HANDOUT
  8. How to Perform Commedia Characters – NO HANDOUT
  9. How to Run an Iron Commedia Session – NO HANDOUT
  10. Iron Commedia Sessions – Intro to Commedia with rehearsal and performance. – NO HANDOUT
  11. How to Make Commedia Happen in your Local SCA Group – NO HANDOUT
  12. Period Commedia Performed for Modern Audiences – MY HANDOUT
  13. Commedia dell’ Arte by Barry Grantham – what I learned at the 5 day workshop by Barry Grantham in Oxford, England. – MY HANDOUT
  14. Late Period Theater, or Commedia & the English Renaissance (Co-Taught with Lady Meriorie Matheson) – NO HANDOUT
  15. SCA Dance Music – Sources both modern and historic – Lorenzo’s Handout!
  16. Pentamere Dances Instruction Package for Promoting Period Dance – Gwendolyn’s Handout!
  17. “IF David Bowie had lived back then.” – Terpsichore Book!
  18. Buffens Sword Dance from Arbeau – MY HANDOUT
  19. Queen Adelhait’s Pavane and other SCA Choreographies by Lady Sophia the Orange and Lord Johann von Solothurn – MY HANDOUT
  20. SCA Dance – The Dance Steps to ~30 dances – Terpsichore Book!
  21. Creating a Performing Group in the SCA – NO HANDOUT
  22. Improvisation Skills for SCA Life – MY HANDOUT
  23. Responsible Performing in the SCA – NO HANDOUT
  24. How to Create and Run a Kingdom Sized Performing Arts Program – NO HANDOUT
  25. Finding Research Materials for Performing Arts in the SCA – NO HANDOUT
  26. Bardic Circles 101; aka “Running and Participating in Bardic Circles.” – MY HANDOUT
  27. Performing Arts Best Practices – MY HANDOUT
  28. Performing Arts Feedback – MY HANDOUT
  29. Taking the Teeth Out of Stagefright – Efenwealt’s Handout!
  30. Performing Arts Roundatbles – NO HANDOUT

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