Several members of Plimoth Plantation’s costumed staff (called Colonial Interpreters at the museum) are starting this blog to answer questions and provide insight about our work in the 1627 English Village. Our interpretive method of role-playing or “first-person interpretation” requires each of us to take on the identity of a colonist known to have actually lived here during our chosen year. Maybe you’d like to know why we chosen that year. There are reasons! Every spring, we start over again, and as the year goes by we try our best to share with modern museum guests what people at the Plantation were doing and thinking and feeling that year–day-by-day and person-by-person.
We are deeply committed to staying in character and answering every question from our particular character’s 1627 point of view. Yet we know that many 21st-century visitors to our living history site would like to know more about how we do what we do. What kind of training do we undergo; what’s it like working in costume and in character every day for most of a year (unlike actors in a play lasting a few hours, who speak memorized “lines” written by someone else); and how do we feel about the activities, the tools and animals, the clothing and crops, the attitudes and beliefs of the people we impersonate?
We’d like to answer your questions and we look forward to dialogue and discussion on topics of mutual concern—especially on some of the things we cannot talk about when we’re in costume and in character. Depending on the question, we have quite a range of our professional staff from Plimoth Plantation’s Colonial Interpretation Department ready to respond. We are young and old, male and female, seasoned veterans and recent hires. We’re trying to learn what a particular colonist might have known about everything from foodways and clothing to military training in our period, from timber-framed houses to early 17th-century music, from colonial agriculture to Reformation religious controversy. Let us know what interests you about our effort at Plimoth Plantation to recreate as much as we can of the 1627 colony. We’re eager to find new ways of communicating with contemporary audiences about our interpretation of Plymouth’s colonial culture—in all its physical, social, and spiritual complexity.
Dr. John Kemp
Director of Interpretation