Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Anatomy of an Reenactment, Part 1

I've decided to put some ideas and observations on the table. Maybe they'll be helpful to some event planner looking at doing something different. These ideas aren't wholly mine, but are mainly observations from my past experiences. This series of posts came from thinking along the lines of the What I think makes a great reenactment post from a couple days ago. Feel free to make comment or add to the posts.

I aim to layout a possible scenario that can be used, including sample maps and such. I might be able to pull something helpful off, or I may flop and have my failure displayed on the OKTB forums. Can't fault me for trying though! I'll start simple, and then work my way up. Chances are that I'll hit on something done before, but that matters not. What matters is that it's recorded and available to anyone who reads the blog. The subject will be the American Civil War, unless I specify differently. Lastly, if anyone puts these ideas to use, please use the Comments to discuss the results.

Man your stations!
Event Type: Small Display; Resources: 5 -15 Reenactors

Small displays are usually discounted because they don't involve lots of people shooting lots of weapons. But these displays are vital to get close to spectators and to do some recruiting. These events are also a great chance to show spectators the passive side of the hobby and allow them to get your full attention as a reenactor. But how to do this in an organized fashion that appeals to all age groups? You want to avoid the "convention booth" - where the reenactors essentially stand in front of displyed and make a sales spiel to prospects. What's more attractive is putting the history into the spectator's hands. Here's what you need to do:

Get a estimate on reenactors who are attending, and of course, plan for any AWOLs. You'll need at least five active participants doing the following:

  • Display guide
  • Demonstrators
  • Information/Recruiting

Pick a time frame you want to represent - but whatever you do, be faithful. Don't set up wedge tents and say the timeframe is on campaign in 1865. Also this is a great time to research your unit and represent it faithfully for the time period you choose. The focus of your research would be what the soldiers knew or did to cope with life at that time.

Once a time frame is established, then pick the participants who will be the designated "demonstrators". They should be out-going enough to engage the spectators on a first-person level. This is important because of any of the participants, these guys have to know what they're doing, and keep up an impression at the same time, all the time. The twist here is to engage the public as much and as closely as possible, rather than keeping them at arm's length. Each demonstrator should have a "station", and the displays should first cover the military aspects, then entertainment, and then social commentary. If you can build a fire pit, then cooking demos are always good.

After your demonstrators are settled, then the next people to choose are your "display guides". What many displays lack is someone who can walk the spectators through the camp, interact with the demonstrators on a first-person level, and lend some context.

No comments: