Choosing your role

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Now that you're an English Civil War re-enactor, you'll want to choose a role to fulfil at events. It may be that you want to be a pikeman or musketeer in which case, the process of choosing is very simple. However, if you're interested in the civilian side of things, you need to think a little more carefully.

When I joined Fairfax I asked how to go about deciding what role to fulfil and was told ‘choose something that interests you’. Good advice as far as it goes because you’re going to have to put a lot of time into the research and if it’s not interesting to you it’ll be a chore rather than something to enjoy. Apart from that, if the subject isn’t interesting to you then you’re not likely to be able to talk about it to the public in an interesting way so they’ll get bored and move on quickly. So the subject has to interest you. But there are other factors:

Think about the social status of the type of person you’re researching. There’s going to be a considerable difference in cost between the kit needed to be an agricultural labourer and that needed to portray a member of the gentry.

Think about how you’re going to present it at an event. Most civilian living history people, work hard at finding relevant objects that they can display and talk about. In my own case, I talk about education in the 17th century so I have a writing slope, quill pens, quills ready to be turned into pens so I can talk about the process, paper, books, ink in a reproduction inkwell, candle stick and candle, a birch, a horn book and a few other bits and pieces and I’m adding stuff all the time. I won’t talk to everybody about every object but it means that my table looks more interesting. So think about what objects your role will enable you to display.

Think about getting this stuff to events. For example, if you want to be a printer, it’s going to be better if you’ve got a printing press, cases of type, paper and so on. It’s going to be a challenge to get that stuff to an event. People do it so it’s not impossible, but you need to think about it before committing hours of work to your research.

It isn't difficult to choose a role to fulfil but it's worth giving it careful thought.

Ken Clayton (2013)