New Historical Reenactment club celebrates Shakespeare’s 400th year

Caroline Broderick, Features Editor

Some people enjoy science. Some people enjoy English. Others enjoy history and others enjoy being a part of the history.


This past semester, students found themselves becoming a part of history through College of DuPage’s brand new Historical Reenactment club. To celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary of his death, the club hosted demos and events to place students into the time of the great Shakespeare.


“Members of the Club have diverse interests ranging from Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt to Medieval Europe and Asia to the World War II [era],” said Milan Nelson, president of the club. “Members study how people lived during past time periods, live and attempt to recreate them via costume creation called ‘garb,’ learning various skills done during times past, or trying foods that were around/made during those times.”


The club hosted demos teaching students how to wield swords and other armored combat demonstrations. These demos are a monthly occurrence. Besides the demos, the club was involved in a reenactment event this past Saturday titled “Stone Dog Inn.”


Those who participate in historical reenactment find themselves learning about more than just wars, time periods or how to reenact battles. Reenactors often create their own costumes, learn a whole new jargon and can grow as an actor.


Nelson said historical reenactment has a place for everybody.

“Our members come from a set of diverse backgrounds: Some are involved in theater (both in acting and costume design), some are interested purely for the opportunity to learn about various cultures and time periods. Some are interested in the martial aspect of history. Some are interested in cooking and learning about the various foods from times past. Regardless of the interests, everyone has something to contribute.”


Being a new club to campus, historical reenactment has opened up opportunities for students, and Nelson hopes students can allow historical reenactment to affect them just how it has in his own life.

“I’ve been doing this for about 3 years, I think, now,” said Nelson. “It’s a really great way to experience history. We have some great places locally for those who are interested in ‘living history’ like Naper Settlement and Cantigny Park, and they’re right in our backyard!”


Nelson is also a part of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), which is a large, national society dedicated to everything historical reenactment.


“There’s also the SCA (which focuses on the Dark Ages through the early Renaissance), early American War reenactment groups, and World War I and II reenactment groups,” explained Nelson. “All of these communities have something to offer for the casual to hardcore historical enthusiast. I mean, how often do you get to learn how to cure your own bacon or create your own clothing?”


A little known fact about historical reenactment is the idea of reenactors having their own personas. These personas are an alter-ego from whichever time period the reenactor chooses. This allows members to fully immerse themselves in the time period.


“My persona is a Kievan Rus Trader,” said Nelson. “If nothing else, doing the research for the persona has been fascinating. I also cook as one of my hobbies. So being able to merge the two passions together for Stone Dog this weekend has been a blast. Most, if not all, of the ingredients for the foods being served for the main meal around dinnertime, called Feast, have their roots in Russian cuisine, both past and present.”


Learning about history on a personal level wasn’t the only benefit Nelson found by being involved.

“Being involved in the SCA has definitely enriched me,” said Nelson. “I have friends and contacts across the U.S. that I otherwise would not because of the shared interest in history. Like my persona, I’m nomadic. So I participate with multiple groups within the SCA, and each group comes with its own community — From being Russian to being an archer to being a cook to being an armored combat fighter to being a leatherworker — there’s a place for anyone and everyone in the SCA.”
If you’d like to take your acting, history or any hobby to another level, meet with the Historical Reenactment club from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of every month.