Kerri Young

Name: Kerri Young
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Course: Public History MA @ RHUL

As a student of Public History, I especially love museums and heritage sites; since coming to the UK, I have discovered all the innovative ways that such places are bringing history to life in engaging ways. Costumed interpretation is a favorite of mine; we don’t have much of it on the US West Coast where I’m from, so I found this a great opportunity to take on something new and challenging.  From experiencing it myself at places such as Hampton Court and the Tower of London, costumed interpretation elevated a typical day of wandering around old buildings and  brought something fun for people of all ages. The idea is to make visitors feel like they are involved in the history, and giving Henry VIII advice and denouncing witches at the Tower certainly did the trick!

Partnering with Historic Royal Palaces, I chose the Banqueting House for my piece because it is the only one of the five HRP locations without a live interpretation program. It is a small space, and is regularly rented out for dinners and functions, so the latter takes priority there. My dissertation is in a way an experiment, to see if an HRP-style costumed interpretation can work within a smaller and less-often visited historical site. Nevertheless, the Banqueting House has a fascinating history, for it was the site of Charles I execution in 1649. It was the first time a people put their monarch on trial and subsequently executed him for treason. I have always found this era of English history fascinating; it was 17th century England when the relationship between a monarch and his subjects forever changed, and new demands for the freedom of speech and natural rights for the less-privileged first emerged in public.

I think costumed interpretation will work well here because it has the advantage of utilizing history-where-it-happened at the Banqueting House, and such momentous history at that. And the spectacle made of Charles’ execution in 1649 lends itself really well to present-day theatre. It promises to be an enjoyable piece that will use theatre to engage visitors with an interesting period in English history! See Keri’s project

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