Living History Event Will Immerse Visitors in One Night’s Revolutionary Impact

The Rhode Island Historical Society and the Newport Historical Society Present “What Cheer Day: Life After the Gaspee Affair” on June 2 as Part of History Space Series

What: What Cheer Day: Life After the Gaspee Affair

When: Saturday, June 2, 2018, Noon-4pm

Where: The John Brown House Museum Lawn (52 Power St., Providence)

Admission: Free

What Cheer Day, the Rhode Island Historical Society’s annual celebration of living history, will expand its scope through partnering with the Newport Historical Society in a joint History Space program that will explore the aftermath of the Gaspee Affair.

For this edition, even more family-friendly festivities are planned than in years past. Plus, the RIHS will present an exclusive preview of an eagerly anticipated virtual reality project.

On Saturday, June 2, noon-4pm, step back into 1772 Rhode Island at the John Brown House Museum (52 Power St., Providence). Interact with two dozen costumed historical interpreters as they discuss the startling turn of events that led to HMS Gaspee running aground in Narragansett Bay, the ensuing violence, and the subsequent destruction of the infamous British customs schooner. In the days following, would the implications become clear? Were everyday residents bracing for further conflict? Costumed historical interpreters will discuss opposing viewpoints and give visitors a glimpse of the growing tensions in the colony, now past the point of no return.

Visitors to What Cheer Day can chat with reenactors portraying key figures such as John Brown, James Sabin, Gov. Joseph Wanton, and Gaspee commander William Dudingston. Visitors can also learn about daily life in 1772 through a market scenario with figures portraying street peddlers alongside upper-class ladies discussing the political situation while taking tea.

Families are invited to join the action through the Liberty Poll, an interactive scavenger hunt questionnaire that helps the commissioner determine who was responsible for Gaspee’s burning, and to try traditional 18th-century crafts such as making a beeswax candle or a clay pinch pot to take home. Children can also play with 18th-century toys and lawn games.

Meanwhile, inside the John Brown House Museum from noon to 2pm, attendees can experience the Gaspee incident through virtual reality. Adam Blumenthal, Chief Digital Officer at Optimity Advisors and Professor of the Practice at Brown University, will present a sneak peek at his work-in-progress, The Gaspee in Virtual Reality, an innovative educational experience that tells the story of the Gaspee Affair, produced with support from the RIHS and the NHS.

“We’re looking forward to this family-friendly day of exciting living history. We have fun activities for kids, and all ages will enjoy learning about 18th-century life and what occurred following the burning of Gaspee from the History Space interpreters,” said Geralyn Ducady, Director of the RIHS’s Goff Center for Education & Public Programs.

Ducady continued:

“Working with the Newport Historical Society and Adam Blumenthal on this event allows us to fill the lawn of the John Brown House Museum with fascinating fun, and the virtual reality demonstration inside will be a must-see. What Cheer Day is always a highlight for us, but this year’s edition is unprecedented in its ambition.”

What Cheer Day is free and open to the public. It takes place rain or shine on Saturday, June 2, from noon to 4pm on the lawn of the John Brown House Museum, 52 Power St., Providence. The John Brown House Museum will also be free during regular open hours, 10am to 4pm, on June 2. The History Space series is a partnership of the Newport Historical Society and the Rhode Island Historical Society.

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