Daud Alzayer, Revolutionary Characters Manager, The Old State House in Boston
Echoes of the Past: Bringing historical role-playing to the streets of Boston
“Echoes of the Past,” staged in Boston last year as part of the anniversary of the Stamp Act protests, put real historical characters on Boston streets and challenged participants to find them and piece together a story. It was a new type of living history event—a “game” that broke down barriers and engaged audiences with challenges, mystery and role-play.
As a lifelong history buff, it took me a long time to understand why there are so many people who view history as a “boring” subject. How could the story of human experience across all continents and ages be boring? I am convinced that the difference between a history lover and everyone else is the spark of engagement that convinces them of the effort of studying and carefully reconstructing the past in their imagination. But getting engagement is easier said than done. We struggle against stereotypes of history and historians, bad previous experiences (often in a classroom), emotional distance and the difficulty of making our subjects relevant to our audience.
Designing and producing “Echoes of the Past” on a tight budget was a fascinating experiment. Regardless of your type of historic building or site, there are lessons you can take away and apply.