Here are a few questions that we have had to answer from time
to time. If you have a question, please feel free to ask the FAQ
Ok, so what is it you do?
The quick answer is that we dress funny, talk funny and act like
we're someone else from somewhere else.
Now the real answer is that we portray what we think life would
have been like in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in and
around the 15th and 16th centuries. We dress in period clothes
and speak in an approximation of ancient Scots Gaelic and Scottis
(a language very similar to English).
All right, I'll buy that. But what's the difference
between that and "historical recreation"?
Historical recreation relies on having a specific historical event
or reference to draw upon.
What we do is what the Smithsonian calls "First Person Interpretation".
It's very similar to recreation, but since there is little historical
references to the Highland Scots in that period, we have to make
educated guesses at what things must have been like.
What kind of guesses?
The process goes something like this- first we find the earliest
references we can. These are usually some letters written in the
right time frame about someone else's trip to Scotland, or sometimes
a later reference to one of thosewritings. Then we track down
all other material written on that subject from as many sources
as possible, weed out those with suspect reliability, and average
out the findings. Then, we take the results and compare them with
any modern day equivalents to see if this theoretical finding
functions, as it should. Lastly, we try out the item, process,
etc. to see if it actually works.
Sounds like a lot of work for little return. Do
you do anything else?
It is and we do. We also look for comparable references and similar
ideas in other cultures/areas to help fill in the blanks. If nothing
else, this gives us ideas of where and what to look for in our
research. We also reverse engineer crafts on occasion: we find
a modern but old activity (something done around 50 to 150 years
ago) like fishing or basket making, look at how they are doing
it. Then we try to remove all the modern parts until we get to
the basics and see if we can replicate that. If it works, we fine-tune
it until the process looks appropriately ancient.
Ok, I'm impressed. But why do you go to all the
trouble? What are you trying to accomplish?
Well, different people do it for different reasons. Some are aspiring
actors and want to work on portraying other people. Some are role
players who want to play at being someone else for a time. Others
are historians who enjoy researching the particulars of a period
or wish they were living in the time we play at. And then there
are those who are teachers who want to educate the public about
the period and it's differences and similarities. Most of us are
a mixture of some or all of those.
Our general goal is educate while entertaining the public and
hopefully have a good time while doing so. Sort of like a hands
on museum piece…
So if I wanted to do this sort of thing, how would
I go about getting started?
- First, get together a group of like-minded folks to help,
as this is project better suited to group than an individual.
- Then, pick an area, era and culture you're interested. This
is important, as you'll be living there for a while.
Start looking for the references closest in time to when you
are portraying. This will help insure accuracy. Also look in
eras before and after, in areas nearby and in cultures similar
to the one you pick. Then apply the process outlined above.
- Expect to spend a fair amount of time, money and energy if
you want to do this right. You'll need to make costumes, acquire
props, and learn something about the languages spoken (with
the correct accent).
- Find a venue where you can interact with the public. Prepare
to travel some distance to get there, carrying everything you
need to do your show with you. Allow time for set up and tear
down and don't forget to make arrangements for sleeping, as
most of these events take place over the course of a weekend.
And don't expect to get a lot return on your investment, except
in having a good time and satisfaction of a job well done.
Or, if you are interested in 16th century Scotland and are in
Northern California, you could join us. Sign up for our mailing
list and you'll be informed about our meeting schedule and
the event calendar.