Is there a Theatre of History?
Julia Findlater discusses the increasing appearances of actors and actresses at historical sites.
Is there a theatre of history? Yes, or so it seems. Readers of History Today who regularly visit museums and heritage locations will probably have observed in recent years the increasing appearance of actors and actresses at such sites. Those with longer memories may be aware of an evolution over the years. Once upon a time there was, it seemed apparently, just the Sealed Knot Society recreating the English Civil War. Their appearance, activities and esprit seemed to place them firmly in the English eccentric tradition. Then, in the 1970s, costumed demonstrators began appearing in the new wave of open air industrial museums such as Ironbridge, the Black Country Museum and the Beamish, outside Newcastle. With the opening of Wigan Pier and the Museum of the Moving Image in London the use of costumed interpreters moved into the mainstream of museum thinking.