Why re-enact?

Section for re-enactors and those interested in the re-enacting of Victoria's wars.

Why re-enact?

Postby GraemeR » 23 Feb 2008 12:12

I don't want to appear rude (especially in only my 2nd post) but the question of why has always fascinated me.

Why do you do it?

Personally I could never see myself dressing up and acting out a scene as you do (apart from in the bedroom!!) and I have always wanted to know what the attraction was.

Cheers

Graeme
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Re: Re-enactor Groups

Postby DavidB » 08 May 2008 16:45

Why do you do it?
Personally I could never see myself dressing up and acting out a scene as you do (apart from in the bedroom!!) and I have always wanted to know what the attraction was.


The same question gets asked from time to time on other forums too.
While I'm not into re-enacting myself, I don't see why some appear to struggle with the concept.
Why - might include increased historical understanding or knowledge (it is after all what might be called experimental archaeology in a slightly different context and era). But mainly I suppose (and this from a friend who used to be in the Sealed Knot) for the sheer enjoyment of it. :D
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Re: Re-enactor Groups

Postby Unknownsoldier » 12 Aug 2008 16:52

The same could be asked of people who dress up as startrek crew-personages..... or even Nazi's... Why....easy... Why Not?

Tom :mrgreen:
BENEATH THIS STONE RESTS THE BODY OF A BRITISH WARRIOR UNKNOWN BY NAME OR RANK BROUGHT FROM FRANCE TO LIE AMONG THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS OF THE LAND. THEY BURIED HIM AMONG THE KINGS BECAUSE HE HAD DONE GOOD TOWARD GOD AND TOWARD HIS HOUSE.
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Re: Re-enactor Groups

Postby willandtom » 25 Nov 2008 16:20

I personally think re-enactors are essential in the teaching of history through the ages. My family have enjoyed various weekends at Fort Nelson in Portsmouth. They have certainly given us an insight to the Uniforms and weapons from Againcourt to ww2. Its totally different from seeing pictures to the next best thing(if you know what i mean).

Regards Frances
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby zuluneil » 25 Oct 2009 21:52

I would rather call it impressionism, fort the last two years I have been an active memebr of the Diehard Company, http://www.thediehards.co.uk having previously been involved in various other C1870's impressions. At the moment we carry out 24th foot Zulu war impression, 57 (Middx) regiment on home service C1885 and Boer war inpression, do take a look at the companies web site.

As a company director it is a total removal from my high pressure work environment to be in the words of Micheal Ciane in Zulu a "damned ranker", as I also live fire the weaponary, Martinis, Long Lees etc , I can only say you can understand the man who fired this weapon, by firing that weapon he fired.

The standard of our equipment we use is as hiastorically accurate as we can acheive, our drill straigth from the manuals of the time.
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby fantomark » 28 Oct 2009 17:26

Ciao!

Well the same question is frequently asked me my most of my friends here in Italy!

I believe that people re/enact for all different sorts of reasons, and it is not really easy to find one common motivation behind all re/enactors.

For what it is worth I can just mention my own personal experience .
I have come to the re/enacting and Period Costume Shooting world as a result of a sort gradual evolution of my hobby as a history buff .
Since a child (I am now 49) I have been fascinated by military history. As a result of this I started on a long career of military modelling , continued, to a lesser degree now, to this day.

Being a military modeller means I needed to get the right reference material and information in order to make accurate models, which means a buying a growing number of books and frequent visit to museums.
The result of all this researching activities was that slowly but steadily i found myself shifting my aim from the scale model world to the real things , and so I starting collecting original books, militaria, and weapons relating to my favourite periods.
Eventually , I gradually started to wish to move to a sort of 1/1 scale modelling in which by using your own body and a mixture of original and reproduced items you can get an as close as possible to appearance of the subject/s you like most. T

Once I got my outfit right than I started asking myself what I could do dressed like that!!
So I inevitably got in touch with other re/enactors , and re/enacting events provided the right context where I could wear the uniform I liked most, without looking like someone who had just missed a fancy dress party !

I soon made new friends in the re/nacting world and now and more often then not taking parts to events and organizing them has become almost as a perfect excuse to spend some of my free in company of friends sharing the same hobbies and interests, providing at the sane time , in good weather at least, a good opportunity for some outdoors activities.

The next, almost inevitable step, was Period Costume Shooting.
While for obvious reasons (in Italy at least) re/enacting is mostly with fake or deactivated fierearms, gradually , like most re/enactors I sarted to develop an interest in the real proper functioning firearms , and therefore the wish to own and actually shoot some of the original guns from my favourite historical period.
For me this has always be the British Colonial Period, The Old West, WWI and WWII , and the Viet Nam War.
Reading about Battles of all these periods is a definitely necessary background , but to actually experience the smell of the cordite (or black powder as appropriate), and feeling the differently kicking of the butt against your shoulder when you fire a Springfield .45/70 carbine, a .303 Lee/Enfield , an M1 Garand or an M16A1 , etc, properly dressed in a hisctorically accurate period uniform , surely helps some peple like me to feel even closer to the period they like. And even the apparently less pleasant task of cleaning an oiling ones weapons after a shooting day , also becomes part of the game, contributing to a better understanding of firearms functioning and required maintenace operations that troops in the field had to carry out .

During the last couple of years, in Italy Period Costume Shooting has become a sort of hobby and sport in its own terms and we have now an increasing number of competitions in which competitors attend , say, dressed as a German Afrikakorps Officer when firing a Luger P08 and Mauser K98, or in Desert Rat Outfit with SMLEs and Webleys.
Here the accuracy of uniforms is obviously essential for both participants and spectators alike, adding to the show, as we would say in Italian!


Here in Italy we are now planning to develop a pre/WWI and Victorian Era Costume Shooting group. At the start I will be probably the only British Colonial (I am putting together a First Sudan Campaign British Infantry Officers uniform), since most would be Italian Risorgimento Period, but we do not dispair to add more Victorian Colonials with time including hopefully some convincingly looking Zulus and Dervishes!

So , to get back to the original question ,at least in my case , re/enacting was a gradual evolution > it all started with building an Airfix Bengal Lancer and a box German Afrikakorps infantry , and in a process lasting more than 30 years it has ended up in shooting Lee/Enfields and Lugers in full uniform!!!

Marco
"What a pity you are not an Englishman!".
Gordon's remark to his Italian lieutenant, Romolo Gessi
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby Darrell » 28 Oct 2009 21:15

Deep down, I think everyone's got a little Boy inside wanting to dress up and play war :mrgreen:
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby fantomark » 30 Oct 2009 09:20

I agree , Darrel - and i think this particularly applies to men!

As my wife (who also enjoy Period Costume Shooting , and that incidentally is much better than me with her winchester...) often says to me : "while most young girls are already little women, most grown up men are still big boys".

Wether I should regard this as a compliment, though, I am not sure.....

Ciao!

Marco
"What a pity you are not an Englishman!".
Gordon's remark to his Italian lieutenant, Romolo Gessi
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby Chris Siddall » 18 Nov 2009 09:55

For myself it boils down to three things;

Rememberance; Wars of all sorts both ancient and modern are wasteful of human life no matter what the intents or outcome for it's actors. As a re-enactor you can provide a tangible link back to those events and a focus to remember all those who gave their lives and it's an honour to do so.

Education; Did you know the British lost the 2nd Anglo-Dutch war? I didn't know there had even been any Anglo-Dutch wars until I was defending Sheppey as one of the Kings Men (Rawdons Regiment of Foote from ECWS) from invasion by pirates, sorry I mean Dutch Marines a couple of years ago. And that's a great thing about re-enacting, you can tell people things they didn't know, from major events that aren't included in school syllabuses anymore to the fact that your new boots hurt whilst marching and your helmet is one size fits none. I have to admit I'm an inveterate footsoldier, so the sticky end of the stick tends to be the one I opt for. Maybe one day I shall be an H'officer and be able to tell people my kit was made for me and is perfectly comfortable. :wink:

And lastly the the noise and colour, from the smallest authenty LH camp to the clash of a major battle it's just that little bit different from the everyday ordinary workaday world that it's like a breath of fresh air. There's a hindi word for it that i hope I've transliterated (via google) properly tamasa meaning a Riotous Spectacle. I hope to be able to continue making a tamasa for a while yet.
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby SimonC » 19 Nov 2009 22:49

Nice post Chris, I like that word tamasa.
I do it because I enjoy experiencing historical things that you can't get from reading a book or watching a DVD.
Small things like Chris has said boots and clothes that don't fit.
Or portraying a period that has no modern waterproofing for a whole weekend in the rain. And you learn pretty quick that even after the first night your musket will mushroom with rust if you don't dry and clean it.
Starting fires and cooking without modern implements.
Going to the loo in the woods with a spade.
How particular bits of webbing or kit have a tendency to rub painfully or ride up your back.
Being part of 100 men marching in step to the beat of my 12 year old son's drum.
And little priceless moments like one night I was a WW2 Tommy (done many periods) next to me was US GI with a Garand. We're both firing away at Jerry and ping his clip flies out, then he's on his hands and knees in the dark trying to find it as he doesn't have another clip to reload. I keep banging away on my No.4 and wonder if that ever happened for real in WW2.
And of course at the end of the day sitting around a fire, drinking and singing with people who are as mad as yourself.
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby zuluneil » 23 Nov 2009 13:38

Chris
I agree with you, the footslogger is the man everyone expects to see, the tommy of 1916, the Red coat of 1879 or the sharpshooter of the 95th. I have seen too many groups fail because they all want to be officers!.
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby sitges » 02 May 2010 20:09

Good posts on the subject. The lure is set early in life with books and movies. The extension of your reading turns into to "I wonder what is was like to........' But the big payoff comes to the lucky ones,and may take years or never come at all. That certain fleeting moment when all the sights, sounds and smells align.......and you are "there"
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby Black Tyrone » 10 Nov 2010 23:59

Everyone can volunteer an answer, some "academic" some noble and sophisticated but when one" boils it down", We do it because it is FUN.

Black Tyrone Late of the 124th NYSV Army of the Potomac
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby QSVC » 11 Nov 2010 04:46

Its a quirky pastime no doubt about it and a hard one to sell as a great idea. In fact most of the people I work with have no idea I got into because I bought a rifle.......then I had to have a bayonet to go with it...then a bandolier....then belt, bayonet frog, haversack, helmet, doublet, etc, etc, etc and then someone suggest wearing it all and firing said rifle...Just for the experience of course..and then suddenly you find there are groups of people that do this regularly and almost immediately you're hooked....

I like the Victorian era soldier, his needs were few...Well thats not true that were probably many but certainly few of them were filled anywhere near as luxuriously as they are today but his solutions were simple and its a day, age and ethos that deserves remembering and re-living at every possible opportunity.

Robert.
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby Black Tyrone » 01 Dec 2010 02:09

Robert, if it works for you, do it! Best Black Tyrone.
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