Saturday, September 4, 2010

First Person Interpretation Retreat at Mystic Seaport

Back in January, I attended an ALHFAM event at Mystic Seaport. Mystic is a lovely village of relocated historic buildings staffed with professionals who bring 19th century maritime trades and customs to life. And just like OSV, it is a site close to home that I never had the time to visit. Our blog wasn’t around last winter, and we have some friends visiting Mystic soon, so I figured it would be fun to back-track a bit and share some stories about my visit.

The event I attended was hosted by one of ALHFAM’s professional interest groups. The First Person Interpreter’s Professional Network (FPIPN, pronounced “pippin”) is dedicated to connecting those who use first person to bring history to life so that they may share experiences and techniques and provide training opportunities. I have done some personal studying of the practice and have enjoyed observing some immensely talented people portray historical figures in various settings. Because I am currently only in the earliest stages of thinking through and developing my own first person persona, I thought it would be great fun to learn more about it from those with extensive experience, and to meet some of the people who enjoy sharing history as much as I do.

The FPIPN retreat was fantastic! (The program is still online here, if you are interested.)  Over the course of the weekend I attended several sessions, witnessed some great presentations, and had the chance to mingle over coffee breaks and meals. I think most of the sessions were geared towards beginners, which was really helpful for me, but there were definitely some very experienced practitioners among us as well. In the sessions I attended, we discussed topics such as studying historic dialects and tips for finding appropriate clothing. It was also interesting to hear about others' experiences with first person and how guests respond to their work.

The last event before leaving was a tour of the costume shop. It was a small group, so we had plenty of time to look around and ask questions. Downstairs, they have some work areas set-up with patterns laid out and works-in-progress hanging. Upstairs, rooms are lined with racks where costumes hang or shelves for shoes and hats, along with some small changing areas for the interpreters.

One of the rooms upstairs in the Mystic costume shop.

Men's costumes hang in another room upstairs.

Inspirations hang on the walls of the work rooms.

One of the first things that come to mind when thinking back to that weekend was the cold. To say it was freezing is an understatement. A BIG understatement. We kept pretty busy, but did have some time to look around the village. Unfortunately, because it was so frigid, I was only able to walk around quickly and snap some pictures. I will definitely be going back when I have a chance to look around some more. Below are some pictures from my brisk walk around town:

A personal highlight of my Mystic adventure was visiting Mystic Pizza. I think most people are familiar with the film of the same name, featuring Julia Roberts; the story is set in town and although they did not use the actual restaurant in the film, several scenes were filmed in Mystic. The restaurant walls were filled with articles and memorabilia from the film. If you know me at all, you know how much I love pizza. While the pizza wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it was very good and definitely worth the visit. I was also sure to purchase my own “slice of heaven” t-shirt!

Mmmm!  Pizza!


lahbluebonnet said...

How familiar this looks...minus the snow, ice and surprisingly, costumes. We walked from one end of town to the other, in and out of buildings and off and on ships, and saw one costumed interpreter.

Kimberly said...

The 2012 FPIPN retreat will be in Wilmington DE. Info to be posted as soon as I can get our chair motivated.