History in the First Person at Colonial Williamsburg

History & Heritage, Online Exclusives

There is nothing virtual about the reality of being asked, in person, face-to-face, to stand up for, or against, freedom. How say ye?

In the Revolutionary City, Colonial Williamsburg’s innovative program where guests can interact live with actor-interpreters, you do not have to respond. But just like those who rallied to the side of George Washington and hailed the passion of Patrick Henry, you will be asked. It is that real. You are not looking into a video monitor.

And it is personal to the extent that women visitors may be surprised when they encounter the discrimination every married woman of the period faced: Excuse me, ma am, has your husband approved your participation in these activities? A not-so-subtle reminder of a time when terms like freedom” and equality were not a way of life.

By connecting visitors to Colonial Americans personal struggles for freedom, we hope guests will reflect on the liberties we have been granted, the benefits of citizenship and our democratic process, said Rex Ellis, vice president of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundations Historic Area. The Revolutionary City, which breaks the boundaries of traditional living history experiences, is scheduled to open March 20, with daily events to run from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. through 2006. Each experience in the Revolutionary City is staged in an open-air streetscape, in the buildings and surrounding grounds located at the eastern end of Colonial Williamsburg.

This extraordinary presentation of these extraordinary times, from 1774-1781, is to be a two-day event, with Day One to focus on The Collapse of Royal Government, and Day Two to be themed Citizens at War.

By way of Colonial Williamsburg’s expert actor-interpreters, groups can spend two days at the side of the countless everyday heroes who shaped the American Revolution many with an inescapable connection to history being lived out today.

The streets devoted to the Revolutionary City program will come alive with a variety of spontaneous yet historically accurate events, large and small, allowing guests to participate as if they were, indeed, Americans of the new nation. Guests can choose from an interchangeable lineup of events scheduled each day, and weave together their own roles in history. The range of experiences allows the Revolutionary City program to remain new, vibrant and engaging with each visit. Many of the challenges Colonial Americans faced are similar to the challenges we face today, Ellis said. Families are torn by war, parents and children argue about what’s right and wrong and political debates are a daily occurrence.

While tour members will be encouraged to join the revolution, participation in events is not required. Visitors with a Colonial Williamsburg general admission ticket may enter and exit the Revolutionary City program area as they wish. Colonial Williamsburg’s adjacent Historic Area will continue to operate during presentation hours, offering its highly esteemed attractions, exhibits and experiences. Few who delve into history will want to miss meeting the men and women rich, and poor, free and enslaved who make up the stimulating populace of Colonial Williamsburg’s Revolutionary City.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia. The foundations subsidiary, Colonial Williamsburg Company, operates a variety of hospitality businesses including the Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge, Woodlands Hotel and Suites, 28 individual Colonial Houses and the Governors Inn. Also on site are two conference centers and the 45-hole Golden Horseshoe Golf Club. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information, call toll-free (800) HISTORY or visit them online.

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