Thursday, October 22, 2009

Meet the Ghosts of the Sinclair Inn - Part 2

It seems to me that way back in July I made a post about the theoretical side of the Ghosts of the Sinclair Inn. At that time, I mentioned that I would follow up with a post about how we got the ghosts out of theory and into the museum. Well, despite the fact that the museum has recently closed for the season, I really should add another chapter to that post. For those who have missed the earlier post, it can be found at this link.

One of the issues that we encountered at the Sinclair Inn Museum is that we have a lot of human history to deal with in our interpretive program. Not only has this building been the site of events like the first meeting of the Masonic Lodge in Canada, but it has stood through our community's formative events of the previous three centuries. As you could imagine, it took some time to decide on what sort of interpretation we wanted to use. Once we had decided on the type of technology we wanted to use in telling our stories, we hired Ern Dick of Granville Ferry to make the Ghosts of the Sinclair Inn project a reality.

The process began, as many do in the museum world, with research. Ern's partner John Kirby was brought in to research and script monologues for 10 ghosts. The ghosts were to represent some of the different personalities historically associated with the museum. In their presentations, each ghost would discuss their relationship with the building but they would also discuss life in Annapolis Royal while they were alive. In this way we could tell 300 years worth of stories using the different cultural filters of the people who lived in the building. Each of the ghosts was entitled to have the biases or opinions which they may have held in their lifetime. Audience reaction to these opinions has sometimes been interesting. I have seen at least one one set of visitors get upset when one of the ghosts dismissively remarks about "the Frenchies running all over the place". I personally see these occasions as opportunities to open a discussion with our visitors about how we interpret history.

With scripts in hand, Ern moved on to enlisting local actors and costumers to play the roles and costumers dress the ghosts. None of the actors used in the filming of the ghosts were professionals. A decision was made early on that overly polished performances would not give the feeling that we were looking for. What we were hoping to achieve was a feeling that this was a regular person talking to you rather than an actor playing a role. Direction for the actors was provided by Nova Scotia playwright and director J. Frederick Brown.

Since the completion of this story will take a bit more writing, I am going to break off at this point. In an upcoming post, I will discuss the filming and installation of the ghosts.

All for now,
RGS

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