A.C.W.S.
Ltd (UK)
ACWS Ltd

ROLES FOR CHILDREN

Re-enacting is a family hobby, and many children play their own roles. The main problem with this is that many children lack the knowledge of the period to accurately portray children of another era. Treat them in the same way as new recruits in the hobby, who often have little knowledge of the mid-nineteenth century period. There are a number of youngsters, however, who have knowledge of the times that many adults would envy.

Adults working with younger re-enactors should ensure that the children completely understand why they are to say or do certain things. If there is a particular point in a script to be made, or a difference between children of today and yesterday, the children need to understand this.

Interestingly, if children don't agree with the point being made in the script, they often won't make the point understandable. Even if they really try hard, children who don't agree with the script don't do well. Therefore, it's best to first have the children help with the main points and turns of any script, then go over the script with the children so that they understand what is to be done and what is to be emphasised, and use input form the children to polish and refine the script.

The best scripts for children have only one or two main points that the children can aim for in a variety of ways, can handle a flexible number of children, and allow the children to demonstrate their own knowledge. Don't make the mistake of trying to make children into little adults. And remember, kids in the audience are quick to spot a phoney action.

Scripts for children can include schooldays with or without rowdy behaviour; lessons from different regions, such as history of the Confederacy or Northern math; schoolchildren hiding wounded or enemy soldiers with or without the knowledge of teachers; and soldiers coming into the schoolroom to look for new recruits, deserters, or wounded. Around a house or historic site, scripts that include children can concentrate on daily life and chores, games, school lessons by parents, or apprenticeship work.

If children can show off a special skill, such as a period game or pastime, adults will be charmed, as will other children. A game that is too active, such as hoop racing, will not keep an audience. People won't be able to keep up with children who disappear over the horizon. The children doing the re-enactment might invite spectator children to participate. This is best done with non-contact games or games without too many rules, such as baseball.

The best scripts for children have only one or two main points that the children can aim for in a variety of ways, can handle a flexible number of children, and allow the children to demonstrate their own knowledge. Don't make the mistake of trying to make children into little adults. And remember, kids in the audience are quick to spot a phoney action.

Scripts for children can include schooldays with or without rowdy behaviour; lessons from different regions, such as history of the Confederacy or Northern math; schoolchildren hiding wounded or enemy soldiers with or without the knowledge of teachers; and soldiers coming into the schoolroom to look for new recruits, deserters, or wounded. Around a house or historic site, scripts that include children can concentrate on daily life and chores, games, school lessons by parents, or apprenticeship work.

If children can show off a special skill, such as a period game or pastime, adults will be charmed, as will other children. A game that is too active, such as hoop racing, will not keep an audience. People won't be able to keep up with children who disappear over the horizon. The children doing the re-enactment might invite spectator children to participate. This is best done with non-contact games or games without too many rules, such as baseball.

Children also can participate in giving a uniform or dress talk. They can learn the fact surprisingly quickly and often come up with interesting observations about their clothes.

All events in which children are participating must be adequately supervised by adults. Don't let the children use expensive props or toys, or anything that could be easily broken. Keep an eye on any planned demonstration, and help the kids with their presentation. It' a lot of fun, and you'll be amazed by some of the insights children can come up with.

Extracts from "Reliving the Civil War" by Lee Haddon. Published by Stackpole Books, 5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg P.A. 17055

Supplied by Pvt. T J Finn, 24th Michigan


The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, April 1998