Thoughts after first immersive event - James Griffin
A Memorare Event to which the Pastons attended
Photos provided by Tony Jebson
This weekend I have been to my first immersive 15th century event (which was incredible btw). It was organised by Memorare and I attend as a member of the Pastons who had been invited to the event. I thought I should write a little about why I wanted to go and my thoughts after having taken part. Apologies for grammar, spelling etc
My journey to attending an immersive living history event has been a long one. Like many others I was introduced to reenactment by a friend (said friend is now my wife but that is another story) and relatively quickly loved the hobby and the period I reenact. In the beginning it was an amazing learning experience with every event teaching me something new with people from all walks of life sharing knowledge and enjoying our time together.
Like many others I was happy with where I was and did not see the need to reenact in the evening as well as the day. Over time there was less learning taking place at the events as the situations/environments were repeated(NB I am not saying my learning stopped, just it was less of a learning feast at the events).Out side of events the 15th century was still a focus for learning but not all of this learning was able to be reflected at events and was moving to a point were it requires more rigour / a consistent methodology (another thing to be discussed elsewhere).
Then a couple of thing happened, one I visited as a mop a medieval event in France (les medievals at crevecour). A number of things impressed me with this event but particularly the way many of the participants were living their day and that public were there was largely inconsequential to what needed to be done and the way they able to reflect different levels of status at the event. This led me to feeling disappointed with some aspects of reenactment at the shows I was attending.
The other was an experienced reenactor joining the group I belong to who was open about how he had and could improve the representation of 15th century life at events and how he tried to add rigour to his research, never accepting as facts his current knowledge or received wisdom(reenactorisms if you will).
This led to being invited to take part in the immersive event at Tattershall Castle. To be able to go there were a couple of requirements. The first thing that was required was improving/finishing some items of kit that I knew needed to be done. Secondly a few items where I had used modern cheats in the confines of a closed tent needed substituting.
After many hours of work making and amending kit while looking at sources and getting advice from others further down this path,The work was done and I was ready to go !!
As well as being my first event of this type it was also the first time the event was this large (roughly 16 people). This meant we were all learning together bringing the experiences of our different backgrounds (reenactment, LARP, HEMA, continental Living History) . The joy of learning at an event had returned and additionally there was something new. I can best describe this as context based problem solving, as the weekend progressed life occurred and we had to react and do what was required in a way that was appropriate to the context. Actions had consequences for you and those around you.
It's hard to quantify what was learned but I have come away with both more knowledge on improvements I can make, as well as ideas on what could help me improve my ability to immerse myself and those around me.
The thorny question of public access to the event. while there was public access during portions of the event their presence was not required for the activities to happen or the aim of the event. This meant that the public who were there got to see a people using the site but we were not the reason they visited and they were not the reason we were their. For me this was a good thing as it reduced the mutual dependancy which can lead to bitterness in the relationship between participants and the public.
But most of all, was it fun? Hell yes.