Bringing the past to life

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  • Jasmine Bowen in a scene from one of the historical plays she creates through her company, Live History

    Jasmine Bowen in a scene from one of the historical plays she creates through her company, Live History

  • Costume drama: Jasmine Bowen in scenes from the historical plays she creates through her company, Live History

    Costume drama: Jasmine Bowen in scenes from the historical plays she creates through her company, Live History


Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Jasmine Bowen has created three specifically for Bermuda: The Last Stand, Robin’s Redemption and Round Table are each billed as a “one-hour adventure through time”.

The shows begin tonight at the Bermuda National Trust’s Verdmont Museum.

“They are all site-specific mystery shows customised to the history of Bermuda,” said Ms Bowen, who creates plays and travels the world performing them with her company Live History.

“They’re meant for an adult audience and they are all interactive so when you step into them you are part of that world.”

She founded Live History four years ago, having worked as an actor in her native Canada.

“I have always been passionate about history and always enjoyed my time in museums and, in addition, I have a degree in theatre,” the 30-year-old said. “This type of theatre is my heart, my niche. I noticed attendance was falling in museums and I wanted a way to combine everything I loved and bring people back to museums.

“The idea actually started in Bermuda. I was there on vacation about five years ago and my plane had been delayed. I went downtown into a few of the sites and it was like everything came together. I realised I wanted to work everywhere to create site-specific theatre sites and work with local history.”

Four years ago she put her dream to work in Canada. Last year, demand also took her to Britain, America and here, courtesy of the Bermuda National Trust. Two shows were staged at the historic Verdmont in Smith’s: Mary’s Odyssey and Robin’s Redemption.

“In a lot of our venues we are seeing a rise, especially if we perform year after year,” Ms Bowen said. “This year we are adding Australia and New Zealand in November and December.”

Live Theatre works off a “skeleton script”; clients determine what part of history they want to portray.

Ms Bowen was reluctant to give too much away about the upcoming shows at Verdmont, however, The Last Stand follows a “devoted maid” Mary, as she struggles to save Verdmont, her home and workplace.

The Round Table audience will be treated as guests at a grand wedding and have to find a treasured ring in time for the ceremony. Most of the town has been invited for the event, many of whom don’t get along.

Robin’s Redemption, which premiered in Bermuda last year, follows the death of the wealthy former owner of Verdmont.

“This is the core of our company,” Ms Bowen said, explaining the creative process. “Some of these houses span hundreds of years — they’re historic houses, castles, exhibit-based museums. We customise our script to the history the clients would like to portray; we usually let them choose the character and the year. The mystery is designed ahead of time and, once we’re [on location], we design the flow and the order — usually about a day in advance.”

The Live History team will perform with local actor Adam Gauntlett for the six shows here.

“We have three core members of the team: myself, the show designer Joshua Kitz, the writer Jeremy Jagusch and then we have a roster of about 15 actors from all around the world,” Ms Bowen said.

“We went from doing six venues in Canada and America and then, last year, 60 venues in, I think, six countries.”

It is typical for her to spend “nine or ten months on the road” once the season gets going.

“Lots of coffee helps,” she laughed. “When you’re passionate about something, it makes things easier. When I graduated from school, I was a full-time actor for eight years. I did every kind of acting — film, TV, commercials, traditional theatre, but this is what I want to do full time.”

Tickets can be purchased at bnt.bm, 236-6483 or from the Trust’s headquarters at Waterville, 2 Pomander Road, Paget. Learn more about Live History at livehistoryshows.com

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Published May 9, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated May 9, 2018 at 8:12 am)

Bringing the past to life

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