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Author Topic: First Person....  (Read 10543 times)

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Offline Sturmkatze

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First Person....
« on: July 25, 2007, 10:38:00 PM »
What are your thoughts on First Person in reenacting? Doyou get into it that much? Has it taken you back to "then?" Let us know.
Marsh Wise
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Offline historymuseum2000

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2007, 02:15:57 PM »
I have had some really good first person experiences with reenacting, especially in ACW and WWII GI.

The best ACW was at an event in Georgetown KY, it was supposed to be during the Atlanta Campaign, My pards an I went down over a hill to a nearby creek. While down there we bathed and washed our socks and drawers and the wholel time ( about an hour) we stayed in first person character. Discussing wanting to go home, not wanting to fight to free "the darkies" or of course missing our folks back home. We also talked about the food we missed and what we wanted to do when we got back home, ( put in another wheat field, buy that other plow horse etc. ) What we did not talk about was hand sewn this or that or who had the best reproduction haversack, blouse, forage cap etc etc. We kept it entirely 1864, not even talking about what would come after July 1864. Meanwhile the artillery crews in the background ( out of eyesight) were slowly shooting off roudnds, helping to create the illusion that we were part of the build up of forces to take Atlanta. ( we were also out of view of anything modern, down in our little creek valley.)

It was a challenge but one of the coolest living history experiences of my reenacting/interpretive life.

The WWII one finds a small squad of us arriving late( around 2300 ) to a tactical event near Effingham  Illinois. We were portraying members of the 394th Infantry, 99th Division.We had no idea where we were or where we were being guided to. This was the middle of January and it was damn cold. We quietly reached our positions and were assigned our holes. I remember trying to hunker down in my hole and get some shut eye, but i as too pumped and kept "hearing" things out in front of us. I remember sitting there shivering, trying to pull my horse blanket overcoat up tighter and wondering just what the hell I was doing there. I wanted despretly  to light up a smoke but I knew damn well that would have been a very bad idea. All the other squad members were quiet, just trying to keep up with our guide and not loose the guy in front of them.

I was miserable, cold, and hungry too, and pissy 'cause I couldn't have my smoke, this was all wrapped up in the apprehension of not knowing just what the hell was going on. Late when I read about replacements hitting the line in Ambrose's book Citizen Soldier, I felt I knew a little bit more what that would have felt like.

i realize it is not always possible to achieve these perfect moments, but at the right events and with the cooperation of good pards or squad mates it can be a great way to gain a little more insight into through "the historical window" to have a more personal experience with history, It is a wonderful way to get as much out of reenacting/living history as one can.

Lee
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Offline Sturmkatze

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2007, 02:54:09 PM »
Wow! Great post. I know exactly what you mean. I've had a couple of those at WWI and WWI before :-)
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Re: First Person....
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2007, 02:02:10 PM »
I do renaissance faires as a playtron, so I don't have direct war reenacting experience, but I do attend reenactments when I can.  In interacting with reenactors from an audience perspective, I have always found that it draws me in when a reenactor will speak to the crowd as their character.  However, I feel like it can only be used with audiences in short bursts.  When I once tried to engage a Wild West reenactor on some questions about history, I asked as if we were ourselves, talking about his character.  He started to answer, stopped, and went back into character.  I was a little disappointed because I couldn't get the info I wanted without having to play along. 

It can be hard for the audience to play along, as we don't know a tenth of the history that the reenactor does, and we're standing around in shorts and teeshirts and feel silly trying to make up characters to fit into the reenactor's world.  It is also a little tiresome (probably for the reenactor, as well as for the audience) when the reenactor pretends to be amazed by cameras, glasses, etc.  That kind of banter can make the audience smile and feel at ease, but when it goes on and on, it gets frustrating.

So that's what I think about first person when I'm in the audience.  If I were a reenactor, I think it would be challenging but potentially really thrilling to stay in character for a long time, as the poster above me talked about at his ACW reenactment.  I am considering picking an era and getting into the hobby, and that is the biggest appeal for me: the chance to get into the history and live it for a little while. 

I think it would be terrific to reenact in character for one's own sake, but when working with the public, I think it's important to just use it as an icebreaker and then talk to people normally, which I think creates the greater comfort level.

Offline MrsCaptYoung

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2007, 10:31:02 AM »
I currently work at Fort Delaware, a Delaware State Park where we do nothing but first person ACW reenacting.  I have to say I am definitely a big fan of first person because we have so much fun with it.  When the public isn't present we still slip back and forth between our characters and ourselves.

When I am doing my main character, Mrs. Captain Young, I definitely have a hard time getting out of character.  She was a very wealthy, upper class Captain's wife, whose husband was known for doing next to nothing at the fort.  Coming out of my high and mighty persona is definitely a challenge.  I find it nearly impossible to come out of character when talking with the person playing my husband.  We have such fun bantering that we just don't bother.  Even the girls that play our hired help seem to get a kick out of the abuse.

I think I enjoy first person so much because I get to step away from myself for a while, and in the case of Mrs. Capt Young, I get to let my nasty side out to play.  ;)

Offline bugleboy1942

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2007, 02:22:06 PM »
I am in the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (ACW) down here in Southern California. We attend a lot of events and because of my age young age (12) spectators often treat me like a cute little kid and not someone whose character has probably seen war and death. So I try to do First Person a lot to show I'm not doing it to be cute. Like if they say, "Awww, are you the little drummer boy?" I'll say, "No, I'm actually a bugler but one of my friends was a drummer boy. He went into battle and in the first 5 minutes I found him lying on the ground, dead." That seems to really give them a feeling about how these 13 and 14 year olds felt in wartime.
   They always follow the little drummer boy stereoptype! lol.
Bugler Alex Levine
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Union Army of the Potomac
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p51

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2007, 11:07:46 PM »
It can be hard for the audience to play along, as we don't know a tenth of the history that the reenactor does, and we're standing around in shorts and teeshirts and feel silly trying to make up characters to fit into the reenactor's world.  It is also a little tiresome (probably for the reenactor, as well as for the audience) when the reenactor pretends to be amazed by cameras, glasses, etc.  That kind of banter can make the audience smile and feel at ease, but when it goes on and on, it gets frustrating.
I personally find 1st person really silly, and in over 30 years in this hobby, I've never seen ANYONE get it right (which of course several people will likely respond saying they're the exception...). Besides, how "into character" can one really be for example being a Doughboy or Lancer from the Napoleonic era, standing about 50 feet from a cotton candy stand, chain link fence or a modern parking lot?
In my experience, public folks want to just look at stuff and could care less to see us interact as people in that time period. Staying in 1st person is really annoying to the public when someone wants to know where you really got your rifle/knife/whatever. Telling them, "It was issued to me" with a cheesy grin just ticks them off and possibly alienates someone who might have joined your group someday.
First person is done pretty well in correct setting by professionals, like at Williamsburg. Very few hobbyist re-enactors get it right.
At private events, I'm around friends I rarely get to see in real life. I'd feel like an utter tool trying to talk with them like it was 1944 or something, even though I really could if I had to.

Offline Sturmkatze

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2007, 11:36:54 PM »
It can be hard for the audience to play along, as we don't know a tenth of the history that the reenactor does, and we're standing around in shorts and teeshirts and feel silly trying to make up characters to fit into the reenactor's world.  It is also a little tiresome (probably for the reenactor, as well as for the audience) when the reenactor pretends to be amazed by cameras, glasses, etc.  That kind of banter can make the audience smile and feel at ease, but when it goes on and on, it gets frustrating.
I personally find 1st person really silly, and in over 30 years in this hobby, I've never seen ANYONE get it right (which of course several people will likely respond saying they're the exception...). Besides, how "into character" can one really be for example being a Doughboy or Lancer from the Napoleonic era, standing about 50 feet from a cotton candy stand, chain link fence or a modern parking lot?
That's why I rarely do stupid "public" events. Second, perhaps try and actually get into the period and not just dress up. If you've been in this hobby for 30 years, how is it you can't "feel" the time period? And why continue if it's just playing dress up and busting caps?

In my experience, public folks want to just look at stuff and could care less to see us interact as people in that time period. Staying in 1st person is really annoying to the public when someone wants to know where you really got your rifle/knife/whatever. Telling them, "It was issued to me" with a cheesy grin just ticks them off and possibly alienates someone who might have joined your group someday.
And that, Dorothy, is where you're going astray. I've seen it done numerous times in WWI reenacting and ACW. Hell, I've seen it done well in WWII also, for that matter. Why are you doing this? Are you one of those guys who takes off his uniform the instant the battle is over? Who leaves very early Sunday morning or worse, Saturday night? Do you have any Axis friends? Or are we just them nazzzis?

First person is done pretty well in correct setting by professionals, like at Williamsburg. Very few hobbyist re-enactors get it right.
At private events, I'm around friends I rarely get to see in real life. I'd feel like an utter tool trying to talk with them like it was 1944 or something, even though I really could if I had to.
So, they're your friends, you reenact together, but all you can talk about is modern BS? WHY? A goodly part of the problem is you're just thinking like a modern AMAIRICUN instead of a 1940's American. If you don't want to try and relive the period, to "feel" it, then why are you doing it? Hell, you could just go play paintball or airsoft a LOT cheaper and easier too. First Person can really let you feel the time period and will allow you to get more enjoyment out of it ? it's hard, you have to actually TRY something different vs. it jsut coming to you all nice and neat on a platter.

We were discussing why Amis always cut out as soon as the battle is over. Why is that?? Hell, we're all reenactors... do you think we're REALLY evyil nazzis? Come on over, we don't bite -- we drink beer.
Marsh Wise
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Offline historymuseum2000

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2007, 01:26:00 AM »
Having practiced and managed professional museum interpreters I know first hand how difficult first person can be. Especially with the public. You have to have a "hooK" , either a line or an activity to draw the visitors interest. some folks are a bit nervous or shy about engaging with an interpeter and the activityy gives them a reason to open up.

Open ended questions are always good as well, get the visitor to think about situation and the interpreter helps provide the historical context.

Now this does not always work of course, and one will always have dumb asses and schmucks who just want to screw with you.

Now the great thing about first person in the reenacting setting is that all the active participants WANT to take part in the "role playing" ( I always hated that term, sounds like a pshycoanylist session or worse something involving a French maid and Pedro the Pool guy....) Anyways unlike the museum environment, where it is not wise to piss off the visitors ( one would like them to return and buy more tickets, gift shop crap etc. ) we as re-eanctors have much more control over how the flow of the first person will go. We are not at the mercy of some mouth breathing moron. And you know what, it does not have to be a perfect setting, if the first person discussion is done right the 21st century can be blurred out and one concnetrates on being in that time period be it 11860's , 1890's 1940's what ever.

I will admit first person is not for everyone, you have to be willing to play along and know your stuff. Suspension of disbelief goes a long ways to reaching this goal. If you go into it with the attitude of it being silly or not obtainable  then you have defeated it before you started.

I myself enjoy it and get a lot out of it. ( Now I just need to learn German better so I can fully and really get into it in my WWII German impression!)

Lee
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p51

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2007, 10:14:36 PM »
I guess I should have realized someone was going to cut through my post like a tornado through a trailer park? After years of active duty and watching tactical events, these days, I mostly focus on the display aspect of the hobby. Not that this should make any difference. But I'm sure it will to someone...
That's why I rarely do stupid "public" events. Second, perhaps try and actually get into the period and not just dress up. If you've been in this hobby for 30 years, how is it you can't "feel" the time period? And why continue if it's just playing dress up and busting caps?
It's impossible to "feel" a time period (seriously, it took me five minutes to quit laughing once I read that, knowing you were serious when you wrote it), when nobody else around you is. Every single event I have ever been to in several different time periods and locations, folks have wanted to talk about the latest stuff they just found, movies they'd just seen, research they had just discovered new information from. Maybe you do events every single weekend with the same people and feel no need to catch up with what they're doing. More power to you then, but for at least 99.999% of everyone else in the hobby they seem to want to talk about things that are really going on.
And that, Dorothy, is where you're going astray. I've seen it done numerous times in WWI reenacting and ACW. Hell, I've seen it done well in WWII also, for that matter. Why are you doing this? Are you one of those guys who takes off his uniform the instant the battle is over? Who leaves very early Sunday morning or worse, Saturday night? Do you have any Axis friends? Or are we just them nazzzis?
Actually, I'm one of those guys who re-enacts, and more importantly, doesn't make blanket assumptions about folks I have never met. Even more so, I realize that no specific group is any better than another when it comes to uniform choice. I know all too well that you can't assume that just because someone wears one kind of uniform that it means I can assume they'll act a certain way. Maybe you'll realize that yourself someday. My choice of who I hang with is limited to folks I am friends with. I don't pay attention to the color or insignia on their uniforms in that regard. Why do you? Why would you automatically assume just because I do US I hate German re-enactors or never talk with them? Where on earth did you read that in my post? Your ideas that only the Allied folks pack up early is pretty asinine as well. I've seen plenty of other folks do that as well, regardless of the uniform they were just wearing, in spite of your elitist attitude toward Germans. By the way, the "I was issued this" comments have been made by others I have heard, not me. I never said I was the one who said that.
So, they're your friends, you reenact together, but all you can talk about is modern BS? WHY? A goodly part of the problem is you're just thinking like a modern AMAIRICUN instead of a 1940's American. If you don't want to try and relive the period, to "feel" it, then why are you doing it? Hell, you could just go play paintball or airsoft a LOT cheaper and easier too. First Person can really let you feel the time period and will allow you to get more enjoyment out of it ? it's hard, you have to actually TRY something different vs. it jsut coming to you all nice and neat on a platter.
It's tough to "feel" a time period (by the way, thanks for the good laugh, I'm still chuckling at that phrase) when everyone around you is talking about the neat stuff they found at a show recently, what their kids or other guys who aren't there are up to, etc. It's more so difficult when you don't see some of these people for long periods of time and you'd like to talk with them and perhaps catch up with what's going on with their lives. Maybe you do events in some kind of Utopia, but after all these years, I have never been to an event where EVERYONE is in first person. Now that I think on it, I've never even seen more than one or two folks do this and it never lasts for very long anyway.
So, they're your friends, you reenact together, but all you can talk about is modern BS? WHY? A goodly part of the problem is you're just thinking like a modern AMAIRICUN instead of a 1940's American. If you don't want to try and relive the period, to "feel" it, then why are you doing it? Hell, you could just go play paintball or airsoft a LOT cheaper and easier too. First Person can really let you feel the time period and will allow you to get more enjoyment out of it ? it's hard, you have to actually TRY something different vs. it jsut coming to you all nice and neat on a platter.
We were discussing why Amis always cut out as soon as the battle is over. Why is that?? Hell, we're all reenactors... do you think we're REALLY evyil nazzis? Come on over, we don't bite -- we drink beer.
And where exactly did I write anything about not talking with the Germans or looking down on them? What exactly has happened to you that makes you feel oh so superior to everyone who doesn't' wear your uniform? You asked earlier if I talked with the German guys. If any of the local guys acted like you, I sure wouldn't!

Offline Sturmkatze

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2007, 11:07:28 PM »
Ack, it's not worth going thru your post -- I'll just get worked up. However, I HAVE been to events where people do first person. Not the whole event, that's not possible. But they TRY. Try is all you can ask. More fun than talking about modern crap.

Second, you CAN "feel" a time period and if you can't well, that's YOUR LOSS, not mine. If you laugh, well, again, that's you. Perhaps I'm predjudiced by seeing ignorant Ami reenactors in "action" at events. I love the time some "jeep jerk" almost ran me over (missing running right over the top of me by INCHES) because he just had to blow thru the battlefield w/ out a ground guide. I love being shot by some GI while we tried to surrender once -- how realistic. And I could go on... Oh yeah, no, I know all Axis reenactors aren't perfect and we too have some cowboys, but not nearly in the same numbers. It's sad.

I started the topic on First Person -- you may find it riduculous, but well, many of us like it. :-)

[re-edited by my ass as it was letting too much steam off at someone. ~M.]
« Last Edit: September 04, 2007, 11:13:34 PM by Sturmkatze »
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p51

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2007, 11:40:38 PM »
[re-edited by my ass as it was letting too much steam off at someone. ~M.]
I'm just curious, did you even read you own rules or did you just cut and paste them from elsewhere?
http://www.reenactor.net/index.php?topic=4.0
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2. No outright hostility or abusive conduct -- this means flaming, spamming, zinging or flooding.  Excess of malice -- just being a rude jerk or plain mean -- IS abuse. (remember, play nice from above...) Discrimination on basis of nationality, ethnicity, sex, race, religion, which way you swing, etc. is also being abusive (and stupid besides). Do not characterize other members with negative labels.
3. No foul language: Don't say stuff that you wouldn't say in front of your grandmother (by this, we mean things she would have ripped your earlobe off for saying back when you were younger). Mild expletives like "crap," "damn" and "hell" are okay, as long as they are not used in cursing AT someone. If in doubt, use d--n or h**l -- it gets the point across yet isn't offensive. (be polite -- don't make us add a "swear filter").
Then again, I forgot the best part at the bottom of the rules:
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Can I assume that means at your whim?

I took me all of 24 hours to realize that indeed, the vast majority of folks who start re-enactor message boards are pleaying out their own private Napoleon complexes. Making blanket (and pretty asinine) statements about folks based only on the color of their uniform is not going get too many folks to come over here.
Have fun with your flame-fest and Allied bashing. I'll spend my time elsewhere.

Offline Sturmkatze

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2007, 12:39:06 AM »
Hmmm, let's see, I don't think I'm the one called the idea of First-Person "silly" or whatever. You didn't have to post that -- you KNEW someone would disagree. I found your posts condescending at best. I read your other stuff... public displays and a jeep... whatever.

There's no Napoleon complex, I do this for the hobby. If I were the dick you seem to think I am, I'd just have delted your post when I first saw it (which in hindsight, would have been better). And really, if I get too bad in my posts, someone on the staff will tell me. It's not like I don't listen to people. Sorry, but you've pretty much confirmed my feelings. Have fun at your displays, being a "war correspondant" or whatever.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2007, 09:59:21 AM by Sturmkatze »
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Offline Flamingos.r.us.

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2007, 09:49:52 AM »
Just read the whole hoohaa about the first person thing.  Sturmkatze, you little devils advocate, you.  You knew darn well when you posted the question that this little storm would form.  Anyone who has reenacted for any length of time has already participated in this type of discussion, and more often than not, it has ended just like the little forum tantrums and name callings that occurred.  "I'm taking my ball and going home".

As for my opinion on the first person thing, I have worked for the National Park Service at a few historic/living history sites, dated a fellow that had worked at Plymouth Plantation, and have had my turn at working temporarily at Colonial Williamsburg in the costuming dept. and as a living history volunteer on the streets of CW.  I have also reenacted for 20+ years, and I have found that there is a time and place for first person.  Use your best judgement when  dealing with the public.  If they don't feel comfortable with the first person or they just don't get it, don't beat a dead horse.  Have a heart and do third person .  If it's a private event and it's for personal enjoyment, jump in and have fun.  Good 1st person is hard to do, not everyone is a good actor or a good liar.
the flamingos are my minions.

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Re: First Person....
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2007, 12:26:03 PM »
Just read the whole hoohaa about the first person thing.  Sturmkatze, you little devils advocate, you.  You knew darn well when you posted the question that this little storm would form.  Anyone who has reenacted for any length of time has already participated in this type of discussion, and more often than not, it has ended just like the little forum tantrums and name callings that occurred.  "I'm taking my ball and going home".
Well, not to the point it did... I'm more a WWII reenactor and it's not so violent there, but... Ami reenactors are like that -- they DO tend to take their kit off right away and they DO tend to not want to socialize w/ the other side. As to the FP thing, I just wanted to get the topic going. It wouldn't have gotten nasty if he hadn't been such a condescneding wank...

[/quote]As for my opinion on the first person thing, I have worked for the National Park Service at a few historic/living history sites, dated a fellow that had worked at Plymouth Plantation, and have had my turn at working temporarily at Colonial Williamsburg in the costuming dept. and as a living history volunteer on the streets of CW.  I have also reenacted for 20+ years, and I have found that there is a time and place for first person.  Use your best judgement when  dealing with the public.  If they don't feel comfortable with the first person or they just don't get it, don't beat a dead horse.  Have a heart and do third person .  If it's a private event and it's for personal enjoyment, jump in and have fun.  Good 1st person is hard to do, not everyone is a good actor or a good liar.
[/quote]
We only do it for fun... I NEVER do crap for the public, well, hardly ever... I'm not in it to "edjakate the publik," I never demand people do it, but I DO get pissed when people tell us we shouldn't or put down other's efforts at it. Hell, this is a H_O_B_B_Y, we do it for fun, if it ain't fun, why do it? I take a dim view of people (janitor-generals, we call 'em) who think they get to impose their will or "vision" of the hobby on the rest of us.

Sorry for the rant, I'll stop now...
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-Legio IX Hispana www.legioix.org

Alteris renumera duplum de quoquo tibi numeraverunt

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress... But then I repeat myself.