New Members’ Handbook
Your First Show
What you need
You will need to have arranged your transport well in advance with your group leader. If you are driving or making your own way there, make sure that you are confident that you know where you are going before you set off.
You should have checked before you leave that you have everything that you need - authentic clothes and eating utensils, food or money for food, sleeping bag and tent if you need one.
What you can expect to happen
This will depend on whether you are involved with the living history exhibit, or just the military display.
If your group is involved with the Living History Exhibit (LHE), you can expect to help them set it up. Follow any reasonable instructions given to you by your group leader, the LHE co-ordinator, or the site officer.
The LHE is usually open from 10 am until 5 pm , although this may vary from show to show. You should be up and authentically dressed (including head covering for women) 30 mins before opening time. You should also help your group to make sure that nothing inauthentic remains on display.
You and your exhibit may be checked by the LHE co-ordinator or authenticity officer (or their deputies) and you should expect to remove anything that does not meet with their approval. Modern wedding rings may be worn, but do not wear make-up or other modern jewellery. The LHE is roped off from the public for their safety and your security. Please do not allow the public to cross the rope under any circumstances. You must remain on the public side of the barrier while you are in modern clothes.
Please try to 'preserve the illusion'. You are either 'in kit' (in authentic clothes) or out of it (in modern clothes) no 'half way' please! Do not do anything inauthentic while you are in kit, and anywhere in public view. This could involve using a mobile phone, a camera or smoking, drinking out of a can or eating ice-cream. Please do not 'pose' like this for members of the press.
Food: You have two options here. You may bring your own food. Any inauthentic food must be prepared and eaten away from public view. Your group may belong to a 'wic ' which produces authentic food. You will be welcome to take advantage of this, but:
- You will probably have to contribute some money towards the cost of the food. Make sure that you know about these arrangements in advance.
- You will need to provide yourself with, (or arrange to borrow) eating equipment (i.e. knife, bowl, spoon and cup.)
- You can expect to be asked to help with preparation, chopping wood, cooking or washing up. Under no circumstances must you allow a member of the public to sample what you are eating. We can be sued if they become ill as the food was not prepared under professional conditions. We can feed ourselves as we count as an extended family, but remember that hygiene and cleanliness around food is everyone's responsibility.
During the day you can expect to be asked a lot of questions by the public, some sensible, some less so. Remember to be polite at all times. You will be surprised how much you learn, and how quickly, by listening to the people around you...but no-one expects you to know all the answers. If you are asked a question that you can't answer, just refer the person to a more experienced member.
When the site closes, you will be told. You may then get changed and smoke, eat ice-cream etc to your heart's content!
If you intend to fight during the day, you will be checked before you go onto the battlefield.
Each show can have a different timetable according to the client's requirements. But usually the following times are used where possible.
0930 LHE fully ready and authentic.
1000 LHE opens to the public.
1030 Military training and weapons tests.
1400 Muster and briefing for battle.
1700 Site closes to the public
Health and Safety
Health and safety is the responsibility of everyone. It is your responsibility to ensure that you take all necessary precautions with your equipment and your actions. The Site Officer (SO), along with the LHEC, is responsible for the safety and rules governing the site, and you should follow any instructions given by them - or your group leader, or your wic leader.
Things to be particularly aware of are:
Fires: They should never be left unattended.
They must be out of reach of the public.
Fire extinguishers and water must be nearby
Knives and sharp implements/weapons: They must be out of reach of the public.
Tent guy ropes: They must not protrude outside the roped area.
Public: They must not be allowed inside the roped off areas, either LHE or Battlefield.
How shows are organised
There will be an 'Officer of the Day', usually the Group Leader (GL) of the group hosting the show. It is the responsibility of this person to know how to get to the local hospital etc. and to remain sober at all times. You can make their job easier by following any reasonable instruction that they give you.
Most shows will have a designated battlefield (outside which violence should not occur), an LHE and a modern campsite... often called the 'plastic site'. Modern tents may be erected there for those not sleeping on the LHE. Anything left on any site is at the owner's risk. You can be on the modern site at any time when you don't have to be anywhere else. As this site is not open to the public, rules about authenticity are relaxed here.
Where to sleep
As a new member, you will almost certainly be sleeping on the modern site. You may need to bring your own tent. (Check that you have pegs before you leave), or there may be spare space in another member's tent. Make sure that you have agreed arrangements with your GL before the show
Occasionally some groups may be able to give you space in an authentic tent on the LHE If you have this opportunity, please treat the tent and everything in it with care. LHE staff have to be up and about early, so all evening fires must be extinguished and noise reduced to a minimum by midnight. Expect to be woken early. This is not the place for you if you intend to have a lie in!