Further Up, Further In: Visitor Inclusion and Elevation in Cementing Legacy Loyalty
History is made of people. Ann-Elizabeth “A-E” Shapera, author of Easy Street: A Guide For Players In Improvised Interactive Environmental Performance, Walkaround Entertainment, And First-Person Historical Interpretation and Milwaukee’s Official Municipal Jester, takes professional and personal joy in building bridges between ages, teaching visitors who want to learn – and tricking the rest into learning with a laugh. Drawing on a quarter of a century of her own history learning and teaching Tudor court life, A-E’s favorite people in history are the ones who arrive at events and exhibits as visitors, get included, get engaged, and leave as fierce living history devotees – or perhaps never leave at all, joining events as longtime patrons, event advocates, docents or even interpreters themselves. Infinitely fascinated with court jesters and fools throughout world history, A-E was among the first three Americans (and was the first woman) invited to compete in the International Festival of Fools’ Jester Tournament in 2007 at Muncaster Castle in England’s stunning Lake District, which was the home of the original Tom Fool, Thomas Skelton; among her most prized possessions is a bowl carved from the wood of Tom Fool’s Tree. A-E’s performance at that Festival of Fools earned her an open invitation to fool at Muncaster whenever she returns. In a world of passive entertainment masquerading as interactive, where enormous corporations count reTweets as “engagements,” A-E trains event participants and interpreters worldwide in true personal engagement, through the principles of inclusion, elevation, building the bridge and making it worth it – for visitors, for event organizers, and for interpreters themselves.