Acting Up

Alex here.

So last week, the other Colchester Trainees and I had acting training. No, seriously.

I’m sure you’ve all been to a museum, or some such cultural site and seen people dressed as historical figures, acting like historical figures do. Those people are called interpreters and the training we had this week was on ‘live interpretation’. Basically, how to embody the mannerisms of a person from history, without it being embarrassingly cringe-worthy. (The photo above was taken when Boudica, aka the excellent Olivia Armstrong, came to Colchester Castle in February.)

I’ve done some acting in the past, but I lack one key skill that makes a passable actor great – I can’t do accents. Have you ever heard someone attempt Shakespeare with a mild Essex accent? Trust me, you don’t want to. So I was both dreading and excited for the training (who knows, maybe I’m a budding actor in-the-making?)

This session – one of three that we will be having over the coming months – involved plenty of warm-up exercises and activities. This was to make people feel comfortable with acting who have not acted much in the past, if at all. After much gurning and humming, the trainer (the incredibly talented Andrew Ashmore) deemed us sufficiently warmed up to begin discussing what makes a good interpreter.

Suffice to say, what makes a good interpreter is not acting merit. It is passion, research, enthusiasm and a whole host of other qualities. Andrew told us that many of the interpreters he has worked with, and continues to work with, were teachers or academics who channel their love of history into the characters they portray.

Have I found my new calling? It’s too early to say. You’ll have to wait for the next training session, and my next post, to find out!


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