Thursday, May 05, 2016

Honor Robert Hall & Re-enactors Monday, 5/9

St. Augustine historic re-enactors will be honored on Monday, May 9th, including former Flagler College Art Department Chair Robert Hall, also an epic hero of historic preservation and critic of prevarication in St. Augustine. Here's the Folio Weekly profile. Here's the Record's editorial:

Editorial: de Aviles Awards right on target
Posted: May 5, 2016 - 7:06pm

Understand, all of the de Aviles Award winners over the past 28 years are deserving of the award, but this year’s honorees may be more meaningful. That’s because, by recognizing the two couples who’ll share the award this year, we are also recognizing the value of the vocation and passion that pulled these four out of “normal” lives and into personas of the past.

If you’ve ever watched the re-enactors downtown, you’ve likely seen Carl Rang and Bob Hall. Their wives, Patti Rang and Gudrun Hall, play a role more behind the scenes, keeping their husbands (and most of or re-enactment population) in stitches — quite literally.

The two couples lit the spark which started the fire of historic re-enactments in our city.

The Halls found their way into the city, and it into them, in the early 1960s. He was a teacher and later the founding chair of the Flagler College Art Department. Gudrun was the costumer for the then-Preservation Board. Both were involved in the genesis of Cross and Sword, the state’s official play, in 1965.

Carl and Patti Rang started out in the musical end of the re-enactment community, with Carl joining the Fife and Drum Corps and Patti making period costumes. You don’t go to Hobby Lobby for the raw materials for 17th century Spanish or 18th century British garb. And, you won’t find his instrument at a Fife & Dime store (... sorry).

Both couples, says City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline, have been “immersed” ever since in the activities and authenticity of the Florida Historic Militia. They began as specialists, and have become what we might call renaissance re-enactors, being able to flip from Spanish, to British and, we understand, they speak some Civil War as well.

They’re being honored for bringing what they did — and do — to their profession — although that’s probably the wrong word, because it hints at getting a paycheck. They don’t.

If you look around town, what single landmark or sight most brings our real history to life? Sure, the Castillo de San Marcos stubbornly resists time on the bayfront, but it doesn’t bark orders in Spanish, saunter downtown, tip a grog or fire a cannon. The re-enactor community, for many reasons, is the spinal cord of our history — live synapses firing all the time, connecting the heart and brain to our cultural cognizance.

They work hard, They have a lot of fun. They pay attention to the detail of their “other” lives, and pride themselves on their ability to accurately “make it real.” The only way they might become more authentic is taking up residence in the Huguenot Cemetery.

The Rangs and Halls had much to do with demanding the quality of this experience from themselves and other re-enactors, and in ensuring the experience continues to resonate in vibrant, visceral ways for visitors and residents.

Thank you.

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