All right, so I know this might not be welcome news for some of you, but there are only 29 days until Christmas! But even better news–only 10 days until Christmastide at Locust Grove! While Locust Grove has had Christmas programs in the past, Christmastide is new and improved! There will be interactive whist games in the parlor, an activity passport, dancing, hearth cooking demonstrations with refreshments, and lively conversation on the topics of the day–in 1816! And while the back door from the porch is most often used for guests’ visits, guests at Christmastide will enter through the front door, as would guests at a Croghan family party in 1816. Over in 2014, in the auditorium of the visitor’s center, new, used and antiquarian books will be for sale. I asked Brian Cushing and Amy Liebert to give us some insight into the historical interpreters program at Locust Grove and preparations for Christmastide.
What is the Historical Interpreters Program at LG?
The historical interpreters program allows our guests to meet the people who would have been at Locust Grove in the year 1816. Participants undergo training and research to be able to portray people whom we know were at Locust Grove at that time. Guests who visit Locust Grove when the interpreters are in action will be greeted by interpreters in authentic 19th century garments who will welcome them to the year 1816 with all the important news and gossip of the day.
Interpreters are trained in period pastimes, language and of course the history of Locust Grove. Seeing the interpreters in action allows visitors to experience the Grove as more than a static display. Our younger cast members will be running across the lawn playing period games while the adults play cards, sew and gossip. Guests are able to speak with and interact with our interpreters one on one, but even more than that they provide at least a little of the noise and bustle which would have been a party of daily life at Locust Grove
How does one become an interpreter at LG?
Locust Grove holds open auditions once or twice a year to fill our cast list. The cast list itself is limited to those individuals whom we can document to have been present at Locust Grove in 1816. Anyone is welcome (and highly encouraged!) to come audition.
Melissa, our hearth cook, is looking forward to Christmastide, calling it “not your average Christmas event.” She became part of the costumed interpreter program when she was approached by Brian, about potentially doing a hearth cooking demonstration for Christmastide. She’s been planning the menu for months! According to Melissa, “All of the dishes I’m making in the outkitchen would be dishes the Croghan family might have eaten at Christmas, 1816. It took a lot of research to find out what would have been in season and in the area at that time, and I’m very happy with the menu!” Some familiar foodstuffs will be had, such as gingerbread and hot chocolate, although Melissa warns that “early 19th-century gingerbread was more like a gingersnap cookie, and drinking chocolate was a lot more bitter and intense.” Either way, it sounds yummy!
What’s the process of becoming a historic interpreter after auditioning?
After a person has been cast in our interpreter corps, they will attend several workshops and rehearsals over the course of the year on the history of Locust Grove, period clothing and entertainments, language, and performance technique. Each member is also expected to do their own research on their character and the time period. The rehearsal process is designed to train interpreters to take their knowledge and convey it to the public through first person improvisation. The main goal of this program is to educate people about Locust Grove in a way they would not get on a regular tour or through static displays. Live interpreters provide our visitors with a tangible experience, and all of our training is with that goal in mind.
So, how excited for Christmas are you now? I myself am so very excited to celebrate all the work our interpreters have put into Christmastide and visit with the Croghan family. I’ve heard the whist game practices have been very spirited! Christmastide will be held on December 5 and 6 from 5:30-9pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children, or $18 maximum per household. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series to learn more about what to expect from Christmastide and let us know in the comments what you are most looking forward to this Locust Grove holiday season!
Many happy thoughts,
P.S. The Locust Grove Museum Store sale starts this Friday, November 28 and ends on December 7! Drop by for some shopping to take advantage of a 20% discount on all purchases!