At Strawbery Banke Museum folks look forward, or at least plan for, the Christmas program all year long. Called Candlelight Stroll, the grounds are illuminated, there is hot cider, a bonfire, caroling, Saint Nick, and all of the historic houses are full of roleplayers. This means that people who have been roleplayers in the past come back for the three weekends of stroll, folks who are not normally roleplayers get into costume, and they even hire some outside folks, usually musical outsiders.
By August of this past season the other interpreters were asking me where I would be at Candlelight Stroll. They asked me if I’d be the third sister making Latkes in Shapiro kitchen. I love Shapiro, but two Mrs. Shapiros are probably enough. So I went to my boss (the one in charge of education) and asked if there was a different role for me, or if they had any holes they’d like to fill. She asked if I was musical, and had any reenacting friends who were musical… they had spent the last few years looking for a group to provide a drunken Irish servant party in the kitchen of the Victorian mansion. I jumped at the chance for three reasons: not Shaprio, I would get to hire a few of my friends, and I would get to reprise the role of Lizzie Sullivan.
The last Candlelight Stroll that I worked at Strawbery Banke was the Stroll of 1999, and at that time I got to play Lizzie Sullivan, the 21 year old Irish maid employed by the Goodwin family. I was alone in the kitchen and behind the barrier but I was not allowed to touch anything, so I mostly chatted about all the pies I had made to help my older sister Sophie, the cook (who was downstairs in the cellar gathering root vegetables and stored items.) I had been portraying Lizzie once a week for most of the summer, using the Irish accent taught to me by my mom’s best friend (I have her first name as my middle name), who is bona fide Boston Irish. I wore a costume that was made for someone much bigger than myself (I told people it was my sister’s spare dress, the Goodwin children had just ruined mine.)
My love of Irish history goes back to my first Living History experience, in eighth grade, where the computer teacher and the English teacher taught us about the Irish potato famine so we all could write a journal from the perspective of a real immigrant who made the journey to Boston in the nineteenth century. So when, the first time I worked at The Banke, I was asked to play a Nineteenth Century Irish Servant I was thrilled to do so. When I went back to college after working at The Banke I did a whole Independent Study and wrote up my Lizzie Sullivan script, with a lot more bibliography thrown in.
|Lizzie Sullivan & George Rose, |
photo by Jess Boynton, taken in our den.
|Lizzie and Sophie Sullivan in Goodwin Kitchen|
We’ll be there for one more weekend, I can’t wait, but I’ll be so sad when it is over. I have a lot more to share with you, hopefully I’ll be getting up a few more posts soon, including some cooking adventures, and future plans.