Until the closing weeks of 2017, I knew nothing about ‘live interpretation’. I could have guessed what it meant . . . but my answer would have been a country mile away from the truth.
The name of its sister discipline – Museum Theatre – gives more of a clue. It is the use of drama and interaction to bring museums and heritage sites alive. To place visitors into the environment - before it became 'history' - and to allow a greater insight into what surrounds them.
When I was a child, a visit to a museum meant hours of boredom. Apart from the brickwork and the furniture, everything was in a glass case and often baffling in its purpose, despite an attached closely-typed note bearing a lengthy explanation.
What Live Interpretation and Museum Theatre achieve is an infusion of life into the fabric, the artefacts, the tools that are displayed. The users of these historical objects are seen clothed in the fabric, creating the artefacts, using the tools.
They travel through time. They are the ‘who’. They show us the ‘how’. They tell us the ‘why’. And they are as curious about how we live as we are of their experiences. Because, at its best, it is a two-way process, guaranteeing interaction, stimulating interest, furthering understanding and knowledge.
I quote from the source that I found, directed there by one of its members – Chris Cade.
IMTAL is an alliance of three affiliated membership organisations in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.
It serves to foster diverse forms of live interpretation, living history, re-enactment, creative drama and role-play in museums, science centres, galleries, aquaria, and historic sites.
Museum Theatre is the term used to describe a more formal theatrical performance ie a play.
It is a non-profit organisation. (Click on the image below to learn more)
I am now a member of IMTAL-Europe but my experience of live interpretation thus far is minimal, confined to storytelling in schools and the odd Scrooge at Christmas. (Bah, humbug!)
See my ‘EDUCATION’ and ‘STREET THEATRE' pages for the acting experience I have had – all of it without the safety net of a ‘fourth wall’!
It has been long and exciting. There have been many periods where I have spent more of my waking hours being ‘somebody else’ than ‘me’!
There are four videos on this page which should be seen as ‘showreels’. Bear in mind that they are not what I have ‘done’ anywhere at museums or heritage sites, although one or two of them could well serve as Live Interpretation characters.