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The Joys of First Person Interpretation. By Timothy Brown

When people converse, magic happens: they learn about each other. When you are
impersonating someone else, the other is learning about that other person. This is what
historic interpreters do; teach people about another time by being someone else. It is like
acting, but more – the first person interpreter actually does the things as they were done in
their particular era. So, when an interpreter converses with a visitor, they are not really
acting; they have become that person. The visitor has stepped into a different world.
First person takes a lot of work because the persona (or character) has to be developed.
Famous historic people are a little easier because they are “historic” – there are records
about them. The average “Joe” has few to no such records. Therefore, such personae
need to be built. An interpreter may have a name and location, but what did that person
experience at the age of five? This is where one has to step away from documented
history (since there is none on that age), and do some improvisation. This is what
Character Development entails. The interpreter has to “fill in the gaps” while remaining
within the historical context. It is certainly challenging, but very rewarding.
Over time, the interpreter is able to convince others that they are that person – that is the
goal. This comes through, what I call, “honing your character.” Honing takes time – and
practice. I personally have developed five such characters, two of which are used at the
Historic Village at Allaire: the Captain of Militia, and a Blacksmith (I’m now currently
working on the Harness Maker.) The bottom line is that when you have brought your
character/persona to life, and have convinced visitors that you are “real,” there is a real
sense of accomplishment and joy, knowing that the visitor leaves having been not only
educated, but also entertained. During last Christmas Lantern Tours, I had a grandmother
convinced that I had been a Constable aboard a steam ship on the Hudson – her
granddaughter set her straight. Again, through development and practice, a not only
plausible, but believable character can be presented to the public. And the goal is to draw
the interest of visitors – so that they tell their friends and want to come back.

News from the Collection – October

Last month we learned about the Tilt Top Table/Bench in the Foreman’s Cottage, The Tape Loom and the Stitching Pony and the sausage stuffer – check last month’s blog if you missed it! Some new developments in the Village are well worth a mention. The Foreman’s Cottage is receiving a face lift courtesy, in part,

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News from the Collection

The Historical Village at Allaire is the caretaker of an extensive collection of historical objects from the 19th century – our collection is literally all around you!  Each of our historic buildings contains objects that were used by our ancestors in their daily lives – circa 1836. Although we try to stay true to the

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America’s Pastime: Then to Now

Flowers are budding, birds are flying home, and baseball season is back! For nearly 200 years, Americans have anticipated spring and baseball side by side. Even though our national pastime has remained a consistent favorite from generation to generation, it has also undergone some pretty drastic changes through the years. In fact, baseball’s history goes

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5 Everyday Tasks That Were Way Harder in the 1800s

The 19th century in the United States was one of the most innovative periods in history. Providing us with many things we use today—electricity, the car, and the telephone, for example—the 1800s produced advancements that went far beyond the realm of stovepipe hats and covered wagons. Despite this substantial progress, day-to-day life 200 years ago

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Five Ways to Spice Up Your Visit to Allaire Village

The moment you arrive at the Historic Village at Allaire, you’re stepping into a time machine. Our guests do not simply observe the memories of a world gone by. Rather, visitors bring history to life by actively participating in the great experiences Allaire has to offer. Follow these guidelines to make your trip worthwhile: Indulge

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