Monday, March 05, 2007

Historic Interpreter versus Re-enactor

You may have seen me use those terms in past postings. I make a clear distinction between the two.

Re-enactor - is what you are when you are at a closed event with just other re-enactors at it. Generally everyone you see will have some shared framework that is understood.

Historic Interpreter - is what you are when you work in front of the general public. Now there is a very good chance that you are interacting with people who DO NOT have any concept of the historical frame work at all.

The skills of a Historic Interpreter are quite different and much more demanding than that required inside a closed re-enactment. Quite frankly (as someone who trains Living History Interpreters), I find the approach to this fundamental aspect of public presentation sadly lacking in many highly visible * Re-enactment * groups.

For most re-enactors, the stress is placed on physical accuracy of equipment. (Often enforced by 'authenticity officers' who rarely understand the implications of the artifact samples selected.)

For the historic interpreter the stress is on communication method. What does the visitor's question really MEAN - as opposed to what on surface the question may appear. (That cabbage question was really about what kinds of foods were available in the Viking Age - and if ancient cabbage looked like modern supermarket cabbage. It could have been the lead in to a highly successful long conversation if handled correctly. This would have resulted in not only a better educated visitor - but one who would have ended up very pleased with their interactions in camp.)
One of the most effective physical presentations I ever saw used absolutely no actual object at all (in Dublin at the reconstruction based on Woods Quay as it turned out).

For those interested in improving their public presentation skills, I refer you to :

'Past into Present' by Stacy Roth
University of North Carolina Press, 1998

No comments:


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

COPYRIGHT NOTICE - All posted text and images @ Darrell Markewitz.
No duplication, in whole or in part, is permitted without the author's expressed written permission.
For a detailed copyright statement : go HERE