March 3, 2014
A new blog launching March 3 follows the restorative conservation of a rare survival: an organized piano. A piano combined with a pipe organ, this unique instrument towered at nine feet tall and seven feet wide.
Its restoration raises questions at every step. Repairing a broken element could mean erasing a piece of the object’s history. Conservator John Watson prepares to meet the challenges publicly in the Organized Piano blog, where he’ll search for the best balance of repair and conservation.
Follow this project from the very beginning, starting with this week’s podcast.
February 24, 2014
William Hunter is one of the characters you’ll meet in Colonial Williamsburg’s Revolutionary City. Actor-Interpreter Sam Miller says he enjoys portraying Hunter, because, “As with playing with any loyalist character — and certainly with playing this particular character — once the war is in progress, is to play kind of a devil’s advocate with the audience. And I think that’s an experience that’s pretty surprising to them. There is, of course, the notion that everybody was in this together. It’s hard to believe that there are those who think that the Revolution wasn’t a good idea in the first place.”
Listen to this week’s podcast as Miller explains how patriotic fervor made life difficult for those men and women who opposed the gathering conflict.
February 17, 2014
This week on the podcast, Actor-Interpreter Bryan Austin describes the process of taking on the role of America’s fourth president. This spring, Austin brings Madison to the Revolutionary City, portraying him as a young man. He’ll walk the streets of Williamsburg, debating revolution and rights alongside men including Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
Austin describes Madison as a quiet and reserved character, remarkable in his foresight and ability to compromise. Listen as Austin shares his thoughts on assuming the role of Madison, and his admiration for the man who engineered the foundation of a government that stands the test of time.
February 3, 2014
David Garrick was an actor, writer, innovator and proprietor who changed the course of theatre, but you’ve probably never heard his name. A contemporary of Shakespeare, Garrick made as lasting an impact on the stage as the Bard himself.
Garrick influenced acting styles, ushering a shift from bombastic performances to more natural ones. Podcast guest Kevin Ernst says, “What Garrick did is, he brought a very natural, very authentic approach to acting. When his character was supposed to look terrified, Garrick looked as though he was absolutely terrified. Whatever the passion was, Garrick went to great pains to recreate that authentic passion in his acting style.”
Changes were not limited to the stage, however. Garrick also introduced new innovations to the craft of set design and lighting, and he restricted access to the backstage area, much to the chagrin of rich gentlemen who were accustomed to having free reign.
Learn the full story in this week’s podcast.
January 28, 2014
Volunteers are hard at work recreating a wedding garment for the spring wedding re-enactment between Pocahontas and John Rolfe at Historic Jamestowne. They are embroidering the recreation of a special jacket that she is believed to have worn.
“I have about 50 volunteers so far,” said Brenda Rosseau, manager of the costume design center, “but I just sent out 60 more packets.” The packets are small swatches of linen that are sent out to people who want to volunteer their embroidery skills for the project. They are asked to send back their sample embroidery swatch as an “audition” for the project.
Volunteers come in to the costume design center at Colonial Williamsburg and work on frames, which are stretched linen panels with drawings of the outlined design to be embroidered. Eventually, five frames will be in the works, with two to three embroiderers working around each one.
The designs are from a 17th-century book depicting small plants and animals that would have been known in eastern Virginia at that time. The embroidery and sewing would have been done in the homes of the local English women, rather than in a millinery shop.
“They did have access to linen and silk,” said Rosseau. “If you look at the original jacket, you can see that there were a lot of different hands involved in the project. I like it because it has a human touch.”
The completed costume will belong to Historic Jamestown and will remain in its collection.
Volunteer embroiderers of all skill levels are invited to contact Julie Zellers-Frederick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-856-1259.
– Photo, story by Karen Gonzalez
Listen to the podcast Marrying Pocahontas
More about the Pocahontas wedding jacket
January 27, 2014
Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is touring the country to promote his new book, “Duty,” with a stop in Williamsburg on Feb. 8. Listen to our interview with him in 2012 in which he discusses a crisis in bipartisanship and more.
Former head of the CIA and Secretary of Defense in both Republican and Democratic administrations, Robert Gates is a man who knows something about politics, pragmatism, and compromise.
He sits down with us this week to talk about the portability of American values, the constants of conflict, and the nation’s fortune in the caliber of its founding fathers.