What Is Dialogic Interpretation?

… and why on earth would anybody want to do it? It seems that recently, in my travels where I meet colleagues from the USA, the topic of conversation often turns to the rise of dialogic interpretation: interpretive programming that places an emphasis on getting visitors to talk to each other about the subject at hand. Here in Canada, dialogic interpretation isn’t even on the radar. […]

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peacock

To script or not to script? An interpreter’s dilemma

A great presentation requires a great script. We’ve been talking a lot lately about the decline of classical stand-and-deliver interpretation, and the rise of experiential, inquiry-based or dialogue-based programming. I think it’s a healthy dialogue. For decades, sage-on-the-stage programming was the default interpretive medium. You took an interpreter, put her in front of an audience, and made people listen to her. Simple. But it wasn’t always effective. […]

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scary Halloween image (church in Rome)

Is Your Halloween Program Off-Theme?

Surely we can accomplish more with a valuable new audience then just jump out of a dark corner and go “boo.” Are you planning a thematically vapid Halloween event? Are you busily training volunteers to jump out at people from behind half-closed doors? Are you dusting off your wacky grave stones and firing up your howling-and-cackling sound systems? And are you completely ignoring your site’s history and […]

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two rowers

It’s Finally Time to STFU.

Start to think of yourself as narrator, stage manager, and prop assistant. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of interpretation in the rapidly-expanding world of experiential tourism. What is experiential tourism? It’s the future. Actually, it’s the present—the world of tourism began moving to an experiential model at least fifteen years ago. Where once it was enough to see Florence, to see Old […]

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girl in crowd

Interpretive Capital and the VE Cycle

How are you spending yours? I just spent a week working with interpreters at three different national historic sites in Alberta, and what a blast it was. Is there anything more energizing than workshopping programs with passionate, engaged people? I would like to share an insight I had while working through a script about the history of a particular discovery. We were at a point in […]

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Rays: Seven sense are better than five.

Dear Don: I suck at themes. Help!

Don! I’m struggling with themes. I’m terrible at them. They’re awful. I need to get better. And I’m struggling with themes that have cropped up in other programs. They are still so fill-in-the-blank. I feel this is something myself and my team need to revisit. Some more specific case examples – what are your thoughts on “Ray are the “aliens” of our oceans”? It doesn’t have […]

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Tulips

Profit in a Non-Profit World

In recent years, a lot of my interpretive planning work has been with smaller non-profit and government organizations. And in both of these worlds, I think it’s safe to say that the emphasis on fiscal sustainability (a.k.a. “making money”) is getting stronger. If you’re like me, you’ve probably got some strong feelings about the role of revenue generation in the heritage sector: how much should […]

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2016 Interpretive Programs Announced!

Some time ago, I was asked to submit a selection of programs for the upcoming season. Here are the ones I didn’t submit. Bugs, Bogs and Browbeating Our wetlands are in trouble, and it’s all your fault! Naturalist Tabitha Smugge plays a wacky “Judge” who enumerates all the ways that you’ve ruined our watershed for generations to come. Rodentia: The Musical Little Douglas Squirrel has lost his […]

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Lagoon Silhouettes

The Interpretive Voice: Find Your Spirit Guide

Finding Your Voice… On A Graph This is part two of a series. You should probably start with part one, here. In trying to craft my own voice as an interpreter and interpretive writer, I often look to some of the great interpreters I have seen over the years. And one of the things these inspiring people have in common is that they speak with a […]

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