Civilisation As We Imagined It To Be

F&C007Many people who have approached re-eanctment have done so through the medium of war. They effect military dress, handle firearms and edged weapons, and go to great lengths to find a reason to do so honourable. In some cases they succeed – the re-enactors of the Great War Society here in Western Australia have a place in the commemorative marches that will mark the 100-year anniversary of the 1914-1918 war. They are colourful and useful in this capacity.

Sometimes re-enactment groups can be equally heavily armed and clothed, but lack a reason for that equipment and costume – several sword-fighting groups here in the Metro area come under this. I hasten to add that the premier Dark Ages group – the Grey Company – has always had a focus and clear intent, and their success over 30 years has shown it. They might lurch off into other areas occasionally – piracy being one of them – but they do it well and there is always a solid core of education in what they show.

But what if there are to be no weapons? What sort of a costumed group do you get? Well, one of the equally long-lived groups here deals with a totally fictional canon of literary work – the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan-Doyle. Founded by two expatriate Britons and aided by their theatrical friends, it has chugged on steadily for decades.

Members take on Sherlockian names and personae and dress accordingly. There are lectures, slide shows, theatricals, dinners, and social evenings. The level of Holmesian geekiness can be excruciating at times but the costuming is excellent. and the Croquet Day is legendary – cucumber sandwiches and  potted shrimps, teacakes and champagne. A certain amount of genteel sport and a great deal of posturing.

Here are a couple of images from the 90’s – the bluff hearty Englishman is actually Scottish. The ladies are perfectly garbed and not sweating like cart horses, despite what you might think. The lawns echo to the crack of the balls and backs.

F&C006It is wonderful proof that personal theatricals and fantastic enactments can be done on a safe civil level. It will remain to be seen if the Steampunk movement can do as well.



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