The “Golden Rules”
These are the heart of our more elaborately detailed standards, guidelines, and procedures. Ask us for details.
Right, or Not At All
The “Right” part is what we can document. The “Not At All” part means we would rather not see an object or procedure in our presentation if we don’t have supporting research for it.
Does this mean that everything we do and have in use is fully and utterly documented? Unfortunately, no. Sometimes we stretch things a bit if the Compagnie’s presentation as a whole needs an object or activity. We try to balance the need or desire for a given object or procedure against the educational and/or entertainment benefits.
Activity for activity’s sake is pointless and leads to bad living history.
Attention to the correct details is vital.
The Best That We Can Do
The “Best” is an object or activity that comes as close to the original as our understanding, available materials, and skills will allow.
Naturally, some areas in which we deal are better documented and/or more extensively researched. In those areas, we are stricter with regard to what we allow in our presentation. In areas where we are still experimenting or researching, we are more lenient
Where we have objects available to use that are highly regarded for their historicity, we prefer not to substitute objects in which we can discern flaws. When no one in the group has an object of certain type, and we feel that the group will benefit from the object’s inclusion in our presentation, we may be more lenient in allowing its use, even when we have concerns about the object’s historicity.
Many of us have put things away when a better version became available. It’s an ongoing process.
Typical, Typical, Typical
We believe that living history is best served by presenting that which is ordinary rather than that which is extraordinary.
We expect our presentations to be filled with stuff which is typical for our chosen time period.
We expect our people to have stuff which is typical for their portrayal’s social and wealth levels.
We expect everyone to have the necessary stuff which is typical for the role portrayed.
We strive for an overall presentation which shows a typical distribution of types, qualities, and quantities of items.
We expect participants at our presentations to “perform” in the first person. That means we talk as though we are living in the time period we are presenting We don’t use the period language, but we try to sprinkle in some period words, and we need to say “I do” and “we are” rather than “they did” and “they would have” when we’re talking about activities. We ditch the modern slang, okay? We don’t dictate the specifics of a portrayal, but we do expect all portrayals to be consistent with the theme of the event, suitable to the venue, and coordinated with existing portrayals. (We’ve got a process to “register” portrayals.) A participant’s portrayal may be different from one event to another, but whatever it is, that participant must be able to achieve a proper appearance for the stated portrayal. We expect beginners to develop a “commons” portrayal first.
The Public Needs to Know
We are an educational corporation and we take that seriously. When we are making a public presentation, we expect everyone involved to work at talking to and educating our guests, the “Public.”
We schmooze with our re-enactor friends when we’re “off-duty” and after public hours.
We are always polite to our guests.
One For All, and All For One
We are a team. We help our people with preparations and with presentations. We’re not fond of folks who never have time to help out. We’re also not fond of people can’t do anything without lots of help.
We are serious about group presentation. We want each portrayal and object working together to give a rich, full, and reasonable presentation.
We often have a Compagnie consensus interpretation of the history we are presenting, sort of a “party line.” We expect it to be used in our presentations. Remember, the “facts” may not be what people learn in school.
Observe the Social Niceties
In our chosen period, there were strong and overt differences between the social classes. We strive to display such differences as part of our educational goal.
Does that mean we beat the servants? Only by prior arrangement and agreement.
Choices of period clothing and accessories should be guided by the status, wealth, and national origin of the chosen portrayal.
Our Expectations, or How We play
- You need to be properly equipped with the minimum clothing and equipment and knowledge to carry off your portrayal.
- Your clothing and gear need to be appropriate for your portrayal.
- Objects must appear as authentic as possible. (Yes, we occasionally fudge it, but check with the committee before doing so.)
- You can’t wear obvious modern vision corrections while participating in a presentation. (Contact lenses aren’t obvious.)
- You need to know facts and details about the portrayal you undertake. That’s not just personal stuff like your name, who you’re related to, where your home is, and so on, but something about what you do and living conditions in general. We have recommended reading and even some “cheat sheets” to help out.
- We do not do phony accents, but we do encourage conversation among participants in a presentation to be formal in its speech forms, and to be kept appropriate to the portrayals.
- We do most of our presentations in first person. However, if a guest “ain’t gettin’ it,”however, we drop out of character. We see our role as interpreters of the period, and our goal is to spread knowledge. If dropping a role is required to educate, do so, but make it clear that is what you are doing.
- We encourage participants to develop bits of “character business” to enliven our events. Almost anything that your portrayal might do is fine, such as repairing equipment, practicing a suitable craft, caring for gear, etc.
- We also encourage our folks to develop bits of interactive character business such as arming the knight, training sessions, a lady and her maids sewing and gossiping, a presentation meal, etc.
- Some of our folks have strong opinions about other living history/re-enactment groups. We expect any mentions of such groups at presentations to be polite. No disparaging, disrespectful, or slighting comments should be made, especially in public.
- We don’t mind if you participate in other groups, but we do expect you to refrain from describing activities and participation in such groups during a presentation.
- We don’t expect you to devote your life to La Belle Compagnie, but we do expect you to keep commitments you make and to be honest with us about your level of activity.