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European Costumed Live Interpretation

Posted on: November 27th, 2014 by

The next step in Costumed Live Interpretation– going Europe

A new initiative that is looking for partners for European collaboration.

Costumed First Person Interpretation is often a national or regional affair, with historical actors playing historical characters of a specific region and time period. However, since 2008 Past Pleasures Limited, De Pied en Cap and Beleef Het Verleden are co-operating in each other’s projects, and by doing so, adding an extra flavour to the projects: a foreign character in a local affair who brings different manners, customs, stories and different points of view to the public. This is not only interesting for the national and regional public who are visiting the historical site, but also for international visitors.

In projects of De Pied en Cap in Normandy I have often encountered Dutch or Flemish speaking visitors who were delighted to meet a ‘real’ historical character of their own nation. The same goes for Hampton Court where amonst others, a French and German delegation have been performed.These projects are delivered by Past Pleasures Limited who are working for Historic Royal Palaces, the leading provider of professional live interpretation in Britain.The French cook in the Dutch kitchen of a late 19th century project also impressed the visitors very much. This almost exotic touch to the project enables to broaden the scope of the historical story that is told, involving the storylines of other countries and the way they are interwoven with each other.

From these cooperative projects the idea developed to take Live Interpretation to the next step: European Live Interpretation, including leading interpreters from different European countries. With this team of European Interpreters it is our goal to do projects in live interpretation, focusing on European history from the different perspectives of the participating countries, showing a broader, unique and coherent view on European history. Brainstorms started with different partners, on how to work on this.

We realised, in order to really get our projects to the next level, it would be good to merge entrepreneurship with academic research and to combine best practices with a research program in order to establish a competence profile or even methodology for live interpretation. The plan is now to establish a research group who will do visitor satisfactions surveys, research on visitors’ ways of learning, so that we have input on the spot to improve the quality of our work. In addition to that, these reports will serve for putting up quality criteria and the research results will be published as well.


Three interconnected initiatives

1. Creating a team of European Interpreters who will be doing projects in live interpretation. In a 2-4 year program, every three months the team will perform at a European site, focusing on the specific topics and story-lines in an international context.
2. Resources: training young people in live heritage interpretation / handbook for costumed live interpretation
3. Research: research on visitor satisfaction, learning outcomes / validation of quality standards or criteria.


European Live Interpretation Team

• English        Past Pleasures                      Mark Wallis
• Irish             Footsteps Interpretation     Robert Foreshaw
• French         De Pied en Cap                    Loic Benot
• Dutch          Beleef Het Verleden            Martine Teunissen
• German      Freelancers                            Angela Pfenninger, Annette Bӓchstӓdt

• Austria      Freelancers                             Ingo Glückler


  • Tony Jackson – formerly University of Manchester
  • Patrick Lehnes – Interpret Europe


Museums / historical sites/ partners interested in the threefolded goal

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Evá Birkás
  • Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism, museum educator / live interpreter: Ádam Németh
  • Estonian Open Air Museum, Vivian Sirrman
  • Les Invalides, France, Olivier Renaudeau
  • Historical Royal Palaces – Chris Gidlow
  • Interpret Europe



More information about our training program will follow soon.



Interpret Europe is willing to be our partner to bring together the academics and the practitioners. We are discussing creating a special interest group in costumed live interpretation within Interpret Europe. This group can examine funding opportunities and prepare a funding proposal. Also, a link with the more generic InHerit project is suggested to work with in parallel, as this InHerit project defines areas of competence for the entire professional field of heritage interpretation. There are synergies to be found in such a collaboration. Interpret Europe will also serve as a professional network within European collaboration. They will help finding partners, giving space to workshops during conferences, helping publishing articles in the newsletter and on the website.
The Katholisch-Theologische Privat Universität in Linz is offering a framework in which we can spread the research results: (1) The International Bibliographic Database of Living History ( which could serve as a central point of sharing data in the field of living history, (2) Living Book: ‘Open Collaboration Interpreter’s Guidebook: aiming to pool existing research information, adding insights and making the result freely available for reuse and (3) Open acces Publications: using an already existing tool KiDokS, an online archive that enables research results to be disseminated more quickly and widely than was previously possible. The online publications on the website of Interpret Europe could be linked with this.


These are just a few examples of the partnerships that are being established. In order to make the project work it is needed to apply for European Funding and to find more partners.

We are looking for:
• Members for the Interpret Europe special interest group
• Museums and historic sites which have an international audience and who could benefit in their exhibitions / story-lines that are being told from an international European perspective using live heritage interpretation. They should be willing to contribute in a part of the necessary budget as well as cooperating in the funding application in programs such as the ‘Culture Program’ and / or Erasmus Plus.
• Universities who are willing to cooperate with a course / program in which students will get the opportunity to do research on the different European projects. It would be helpful if this University has already experience with the program Horizon 2020.
• A lead partner who is able to take upon the role for the funding applications. This may be several lead partners per part of the project, forming a coherent plan.

Please contact:
Martine Teunissen
Beleef Het Verleden