Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Introducing Mary Stavers Fraser

Almost two months ago I started feeling like 4 days a week at SBM was one too few, and only one day as a role player was also too few. So I started dropping hints, to those just above me on the chain, to the person vaguely in charge of role players, and finally to the head of my department. I even mentioned I had quite a few outfits from eras represented by different SBM houses. Three weeks ago I was finally able to get into my 1770s clothing that some of you may have seen last January here and head on in to the Banke. I was set to play the eldest daughter of the tavern keep, recently married to a Captain John Fraser. There was not a lot of research done on Captain Fraser, but quite a bit done on Mr. Stavers and his family, they were a vaguely loyalist family, harassed through much of the Revolutionary war, but they stuck it out and by all accounts that I have read ran a successful tavern through the war and in the years to follow.

The problem with role playing in the William Pitt Tavern is that if someone calls in sick and no one is able to come in to cover for them, the interpreter in Pitt tavern will cover the empty slot, because Pitt tavern is the location of the museum's alternate entrance and ticket booth, so there is always someone else in the building. I'm telling you this because the first day I showed up in all my finery, one of my co-workers called out sick. The very first day. The weird part was they called out for the house shown about the year 1783, so actually my clothes were still appropriate. That house happens to be our hearth cooking house, and I am a hearth cook, so qualified to cover it. That house also happens to be Wheelwright house, the first house at SBM that I ever role played in. So there I was 13 years later, back in the house that I started at. Yup that was odd.

But since then I've been able to spend two days as Mrs. John Fraser, eldest daughter of the tavern keep, and I've enjoyed both days very much. I give tours of my father's tavern, that I assure visitors is usually much more active, but there is a horse auction scheduled for later in the evening, and everyone is out in the stables looking over the animals to be auctioned. There actually were horse auctions held at the tavern, so this way I get to talk about one of the lesser known but very important aspects of tavern life. I also discuss politics, but only 1777 politics, I make the families loyalist tendencies known while letting people know that most of our neighbors are firmly for independence. I wish I could say that most people get it, but I'm still figuring out how to convince folks that for Mary the year is 1777 and not 1943 or 2012.

In only two days (plus the months I've been contemplating the new role) I've learned a few things about Mary. She is Daddy's girl, and will not spend a lot of time in the kitchen unless she has to. She sees herself as the welcoming committee, the tavern's own concierge. She shares my habit of leaning against walls (Mrs. Shapiro definitely does not.) Mary also feels fairly ambivalent about her new husband and his career. That could be because I was not able to shake up any research done on him, I do not know what type of ship he captains, where he hails from, even how long he lives. It also gives her a reason to spend all day at her father's tavern.

If anyone wants to stop by in the next month, Mary Fraser should be in Pitt Tavern most Fridays, fingers crossed.
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