Re-enact Your Riots

Because you can’t have enough about riots on your blog in any given week.

This is nice: The London Riot Re-enactment Society. And yes, we all remember the “recent” riots there, but London has a history of civil disturbance and the LRRS wants to recreate those moments for posterity. And fun.

The first of these notorious dates was Wat Tyler’s Peasants’ Revolt way back in 1381, and would – entirely accurately – be re-enacted as follows:

100 000 re-enactors dressed as peasants angry about the imposition of poll tax (and other concerns such as the fact that they had no rights) will march from Kent and occupy London for two days, opening all the prisons and ransacking the Tower and Lambeth Palace and demolishing Savoy Palace completely (this part will be easy as it isn’t there), throwing looted treasure into the Thames and beheading judges and lawyers. In a dramatic climax which will take place at Smithfield a re-enactor dressed as the 14 year old King Richard II will meet a re-enactor dressed as Wat Tyler, who will then be murdered by a re-enactor dressed as the mayor.

Sounds like posterity. And fun. But the numbers and the practicalities will make things difficult to organise. Fortunately, by doing away with some of the rules practiced by some other re-enactment societies, the red tape can be reduced.

A knowledge of historical costume and weaponry AND some experience of rioting is the ideal combination for a LRRS member, but members can join with knowledge of one, or the other, or neither. After all, many participants in the riots that we are re-enacting had not a clue what they were up to, and we want historical accuracy, do we not? Neither will we, like some re-enactment societies, impose strict rules against the consumption of alcohol. Most of the top riots involve a bit of drinking. If, for example, you are involved in a re-enactment of the Gordon riots and you are very good at acting drunk for days on end, then feel free to just drink water, but if you think that only gin will do the trick, then drink gin, and we won’t ask where you got it from.

And why stop at re-enacting riots that have actually happened? Why limit yourself in that manner?

We could re-enact riots that haven’t happened yet. Or ones that might never happen.
We could re-enact riots that so far exist only in books or films.

The LRRS is full of excellent, innovative ideas in order to preserve London’s fascinating history and I’m hoping that I’ll be lucky enough to take part in a full-scale re-enactment next time I’m visiting the homeland.

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