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Re-enactors at historical sites

Poster: "Karen Lyons-McGann" <dvkld.dev@mhs.unc.edu>

Having seen several comments on bad re-enacting I thought I'd say that 
should any of you go to Williamsburg VA, do not fail to stop in at the 
seamstress shop and see the man who works there.  He seems to know of 
every sort of obscure scientific and geographic discovery that a well 
informed man of his age might conceivably have heard of.  He uses this to 
quite skillfully sidestep inappropriate subjects or situations.  He asks 
where people are from and if you say, for instance,  California, he 
curses the Spanish politely then returns to tradesman like fawning over 
your obvious wealth because of your ability to travel so far, and to have 
brought the whole family as well!  (Don't you need a new cloak to wear on 
your return trip?  Surely you intend to acquire several of the latest 
London fashions to show off to your friends at home!)  We told him we 
were from Durham, NC and he kept asking us what that was near until we 
named a town he knew to have existed at the time (the former capital, 
Hillsborough), then he went on appropriately about political topics as 
they could have related to Williamsburg.   If you ask to take his 
picture, he poses and then compliments you profusely on your amazing 
skill to draw so quickly, completely ignoring the camera.  If you make a 
point of mentioning the camera, he asks if it is related to some French 
invention and tells you all about that before sliding back into his 
script about cloth and buttonholes and the cost of the clothing being in 
the cloth, whether he hires one lady to sew for a week or seven to sew in 
a day, the cost of stitching doesn't change.   It's worth the cost of the 
ticket to have him demonstrate and discuss the  ladies "stay" of cloth 
and wood he seems to be perpetually working on.    We had year-long 
passes and this shop was the only place that we returned to and learned 
from every time.  

Others play dumb if a question isn't phrased in some way they preferred. 
Or they turned the conversation around so you found yourself explaining 
some modern thing instead of listening to them explain some colonial 
thing.  One lady we encountered several times felt it was greatly amusing 
to suggest you might be escaped from the hospital because you were 
talking so oddly about things she'd never heard of--ignoring the fact 
that the mental institution she is referring to is also OOP!    A few 
simply step out of character for a moment if necessary to answer a 
question and then step back in.  To me that is better than playing dumb 
or being insulting.


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