[This blog post is a short response to readings for HIS 9801]
The Canadian Museum of Civilization puts on theatrical performances through a company Dramamuse, as a way to bring history to life. You can find clips of their work on Youtube. Beaveriffic is one example of a Dramamuse production, where an actress (Stephanie Burchell) dresses up in costume to tell the story of the beaver on the first Canadian stamp.
Although the presentation is only 5 minutes and a little corny, it offers a creative historical lesson that kids would enjoy when visiting a museum. From the beaver actress, students learn about communicating through letters, the use of postage on letters, and the development of stamp collections among the monarchs. Additionally, students will learn about the importance of the beaver in the history of Canada.
The little production concludes by challenging the audience to imagine the nature of communication before the digital age. I was confronted by what is lost when we replace older forms of communication. The material traces, such as stamps, are now in collections needing interpretation. This is why I enjoyed the final question: “What traces are you leaving behind to tell your story?”
To answer is to think historically. And this is a great objective for any museum program.