Thursday, April 28, 2016

#BecomingMolly - Part 1 - The Journey Back in Time Begins

Please pardon the cell phone picture!
I've been given a fascinating opportunity for employment this summer. With my obsessive love of all things history, I've always felt like I was living in the wrong era. Enter becoming a first person interpreter.

If you're unfamiliar with the term first person interpreter, let me give you a super quick explanation. First person interpreters (FPI) a people who depict another person (either real or created) during a specific time period. The purpose of a FPI is to help museum visitor (etc.) to bridge the gab between life in the 21st century and life during the time that the FPI is representing.

The long and the short of it is that I'll be spending my summer portraying a young woman, Molly-Rosemond Shapiro, who lived in 1919 Portsmouth, NH. That means for the foreseeable future I'll be living and breathing research on that era.

For me this is really a multi-phase study experience. Delving through layers and layers of research to understand the times and history.

First, I have to familiarize myself with the local, nation and international history of the time. But it's not just familiarizing myself with it, it's about engraining it into my memory as if it were modern events.

Next is learning the history and culture of the person I'll be portraying. This will be a huge challenge for me, not just because she's from a totally different time, but also because she was an Orthodox Jew as well as a Ukrainian immigrant. This will mean learning Russian and Jewish traditions, what they mean and why they are being done by Molly and her family. Some of this is head knowledge, like picking up a few Yiddish phrases, some of it is very practical like learning how to cook a kosher meal on a wood stove.

Lastly, I have to mentally prepare myself to be Molly. I have to put aside my life in the 21st century and think and answer questions as if I were actually living in 1919 as a young, Jewish woman establishing life as a new American.

I'm so excited to begin this journey and, over the next few weeks I hope to post regularly as I go through the research process and move into become Molly for the summer.

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