Thursday, June 9, 2011

Human vs. Machine - History Theatre Version

Is a Human or a Robot More Suited to Teach Us About the Past?

Frederick Douglass' life is regularly taught to school children through living history theater. In 2008, THEARC DC received a grant from the Humanities Council to carry on this tradition in a whole new way; their performance made use of a life-sized animatronic Douglass. In 1992, the Humanities Council supported a living history performance in which Frederick Douglass was portrayed by actor and educator Fred Morsell. Morsell was able to teach the students about Douglass' life before getting into character, and was able to resolve the performance as himself at the end. Check out the footage from both events to compare and contrast. Which is the better method of teaching about Douglass' life? Is there room for both animatronic and flesh-and-blood human living history performances? What are the benefits and challenges associated with either method.

Animatronic Performance at THEARC DC

Morsell's Performance at Orr Elementary

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