If you are thinking about getting involved with living history and historical reenactments there are a few things you will need to know. Many of us are interested in the worlds we see depicted in films about the 1700’s and 1800’s. You will need to have more research under your belt to do your impression justice. This article includes some tips to help you get started on a good foot.
Join an Established Group.
Someone who has been invested their time into reenactments for a long time will likely be happy to teach you what you need to know. This is a great place to get started because they will be able to tell you what you are allowed to wear. Established groups also often have clothes they are willing to loan new members. They will be able to point you in the direction of good research sources!
These groups are also the only way you can participate in any reenactment or living history events. Groups like this have liability insurance to ensure all of the participants and audiences are protected. Some of these groups even have insurance that is specifically written for reenactments and living history events.
Don’t Act Like They Do in Movies.
Movies and television shows are not a good representation of what life was actually like in these times. Writers change a lot of facts and character profiles to present different period in ways that appeal to audiences by adding drama. The same can be said for novels, even from these periods. Do some solid research and base what you do on that.
Choose Simple Roles First.
It takes a lot of historical knowledge to correctly portray an upper-class character. It is a lot easier to learn about the trade practices of the time than the politics, trade practices, bookkeeping, and more. Expect to start in a lower class, and move up as you learn and gather more materials.
Have Some Future Goals.
Why are you doing this in the first place? Are you looking to educate people about how life really was? Keep up with your research and portray your findings as closely as possible. Try your best to balance the ages, races, and classes of reenactors in you group. Are you hoping to portray a specific person? Get ahold of their journals, family histories and whatever else you find.
Be Patient, You Will Get Where You Want to Be!
All this research, collecting, and performance is hard work! We all want to dive into something and be good at it right away, but in reality it will take us years to get to where we want to be. You may start out feeling like your same old self, but wearing a corset. After a while, you will be able to become your character (and find the right corsets). Keep reading, listen to your colleagues, and share your findings with them. Even if it’s something they already know, they will be more likely to share with you because they see the hard work you’re putting in.