Legendary Journeys
Legendary Journeys

Athens City Academy
of the Performing Bards
ACAOTPB Episode.jpg
Gabrielle Tells a Story
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 1
Setting Athens
In-Universe Date Year 1
(with flashbacks to Year 0)
Production # 76916
Filming Dates October 1995
Original Air-Date 22 January 1996
Written By R.J. Stewart &
Steven L. Sears
Directed By Jace Alexander
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 13 of 134
Order in Season 13 of 24
Order in Franchise 44 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts"
Next Episode in Series "A Fistful of Dinars"
Previous Episode in Franchise "Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts"
Next Episode in Franchise "Once a Hero"
Title Image

Gabrielle runs into another bard and he recommends that she apply for a place at the Athens Academy. But that means that she will have to leave Xena...


Gabrielle tells the story of "The Reckoning" to people in a tavern.

After Gabrielle enthralls the crowd in a local tavern with tales of Xena's heroic exploits, she is approached by a gentle young man named Orion, who asks if she's planning to participate in the Bard Competition at the Athens City Academy of the Performing Bards. When she learns that the top four contestants will be admitted as students to the Academy, she decides to audition, especially after Orion's father Polonius tells her that the Academy is definitely not for young ladies.

She bids Xena a bittersweet farewell and travels to Athens, where the tryouts are about to begin. There she manages to con her way onto the list of registrants after mesmerizing Orion and a group of other student hopefuls with a tale of the spectacular battle between Xena and the villainous Draco which took place in her village.

Later, as Gabrielle and the other contestants listen to the opening speech of Docenius, the head of the audition panel, a stranger leaps to the stage. Brandishing a sword, he stabs Docenius and escapes through a window. As the performance hall erupts in chaos, Docenius calmly gets to his feet and challenges his audience to take the event and turn it into a story. Angered by the manipulation, Gabrielle protests and goes into her bard mode to tell the story of Celesta's capture by Sisyphus and Death's ultimate release. Spellbound by her tale, the crowd bursts into spontaneous applause.

Orion is thrilled but Polonius, seeing her as formidable competition for his son, becomes extremely worried. When Gabrielle and a number of her fellow storytellers, including the pompous Euripides, the stuttering Twickenham and the animated Stallonus, gather in her room that night to practice their performances, she enthralls them again with stories about Xena.

The next day, when Orion asks her to critique his tale, she honestly tells him that his performance is being hampered by his obvious concern about the reaction of his audience. When he confesses that storytelling was pure joy for him as a child -- before his father began directing him -- she urges him to stop trying to please Polonius and to start pleasing himself instead.

Meanwhile, Polonius tells Academy registrar Kellos that Gabrielle conned her way into the competition and succeeds in getting her disqualified. As she begins to pack up to leave, however, her fellow entrants convince her to stay through the competition.

The following day, all those competing join together and refuse to continue without Gabrielle. The great bard Gastacis, acting as the senior judge, calls for her to tell a story and after she is finished, declares she must be reinstated.

Later, as the competition intensifies, a hypercritical Polonius angrily rehearses his son backstage until Orion flees in despair. When Gabrielle learns he has quit the competition, she convinces him he mustn't give up and urges him to start telling stories his way again, without the advice of his well-meaning but misguided father. Orion finally returns to the auditions, but tells his father to stop interfering. In the end, Orion is accepted to the Academy after a brilliant performance and reveals to Gabrielle that his real name is Homer.

"This will make a great story"

After an equally awesome audition, Gabrielle rejoins Xena and confides that even though she was also accepted, she'd rather be living life's adventures with Xena than telling stories about them as a bard.


The producers would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to Stanley Kubrick, Kirk Douglas and all those who were involved with the making of the film classic "SPARTACUS". Additional thanks to Steve Reeves.

Background Information[]

"“[By this point in the series] I already had a couple of love interests, and then [this] particular role – [Orion] – came up… so there was a choice on how to play it, whether it should be another quest for an experience in life romantically that Gabrielle would have, or someone who would just be a friend. I thought it would be a great way to show that men and women could have relationships, be friendly and compete with each other on an equal basis, so that created another aspect to Gabrielle.”"
― Renee O’Connor (Actor, Gabrielle)

Source: (Starlog Magazine #236 – April 1997) and many thanks to http://jacksonupperco.com/ for personally researched, and transcribed

"“R.J. and I were sitting in the House of Blues, trying to figure out what kind of a clip show to do, and I said we had a natural in the sense that Gabrielle is a bard and likes to tell stories. R.J. snapped his fingers and said, ‘What if she wants to go to the Academy and tell these stories?’ We then decided that it would be a competition, so we would hear stories from other people, and we didn’t want them to show Xena clips, because that would make them the equal of Gabrielle. With Stallonus, every time he talked, it was a fight scene from some cheesy Hercules movie. We then had to figure out our other characters, so we just went on until we figured what clips would fit each particular character, and then we said, ‘What story is Orion going to tell?’ because he has to tell the story that wins the competition, and I believe it was Rob who said, ‘Spartacus!’ It was the perfect piece for Orion, and we acknowledged Kirk Douglas’ award-winning role. I think it’s one of the most creative clip shows ever done.”"
― Steven L. Sears (Writer/Producer)

Source: (Starlog Magazine #236 – April 1997) and many thanks to http://jacksonupperco.com/ for personally researched, and transcribed

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Shooting Dates: October 24th, 1995 through October 27, 1995 (4 day shoot).
  • This episode was the 11th episode of the series to be filmed, but aired as episode 14.
  • The scene where Gabrielle drops all the scrolls from the registrar's table is actually very similar to something that occurred when Renee first audtitioned for Rob Tapert for a part in the "Hercules and the Lost Kingdom". She knocked some things off his desk and her game reaction to the situation helped to convince Mr Tapert that she had just the right qualities for the spunky Young Deianeira. Securing that role led directly to the part of Gabrielle, as the producers recalled her performance and pressed her into service when the original actress dropped out.
  • This episode contains clips from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episodes featuring Xena: Xena seducing Iolaus and turning him against Hercules,("'The Warrior Princess") and Xena saving the baby and running the gauntlet as a result, as well as killing Darphus ("The Gauntlet").
  • Dean O'Gorman would go on to play Young Iolaus in Season Four of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and on Young Hercules.

Key Events[]

  • Whilst the events in this episode take place, Xena sets events in motion for the Season 2 episode "The Execution".


  • This is the first "clip show" of the series.
  • This was the first "Xena-lite" episode.
  • Although the Trojan war ended in the previous episode, Homer is generally understood to have lived several centuries after the real war (assuming it ever happened).

Links and References[]

Guest Stars[]

  • Dean O'Gorman as Homer/Orion
  • Grahame Moore as Polonius
  • Andrew Thurtell as Twickenham
  • Joe Manning (credited as Joseph Manning) as Euripedes
  • Patrick Brunton as Stallonus
  • Alan de Malmanche (credited as Alan De Malmanche) as Docenius
  • Lori Dungey as Kellos
  • David Weatherley as Gastacius
  • Bernard Moody as Drunk (Athens City Academy)






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