School pupils have been transported back through time to the age of the Black Death – thanks to special effects (SFX) makeup.
In an end-of-year workshop run by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE), pupils from years 7, 8 and 9 at Bold Park Community School in Wembley, WA, were made up with some of the symptoms suffered by people who caught the plague, including buboes, blackened hands, and bloody lips.
Professor Andrew Lynch, Director of CHE, said workshops like these helped young students get closer to history through acting it out together and seeing what past conditions were like.
“The workshops are fun and interactive, and invite young people to use their historical imagination to think about very different experiences from their own. It’s a mind-broadening exercise that they really enjoy,” Professor Lynch said.
“The SFX aspect is very powerful,” said CHE UWA’s Education and Outreach Officer, Joanna Tyler, who conducted the workshop. “Sometimes it’s difficult for school students to connect to the life and the emotions of the past. But when they see the Black Plague symptoms replicated on their own bodies, it brings in a whole new level of understanding.”
Workshop coordinators use SFX makeup such as silicone, fake blood and bruise wheels to replicate the bubonic, septicaemic or pneumonic plagues.
‘Blood and Buboes’ was an end-of-year experience for Bold Park students, but has run throughout 2017 as part of a ‘Black Death’ theme exploring the emotional impact of the plague on medieval society.
The workshop has also been replicated for trainee teachers at UWA's Graduate School of Education. CHE is based at UWA, the lead institution for the nationwide Centre.
In 2017 to date, CHE UWA’s Education and Outreach Officer has conducted over 150 research-based workshops to over 4,500 students throughout Western Australia.
Alexandra Wingate (Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education)
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