Consultation, Living History and Performance

Mr. Johnston offers services in the following three areas: consultation, living history and performance. This work includes on-set advisor for film/video shoots, designing and implementing hands-on living history programming, training staff and writing, directing or performing museum theatre/first person interpretation programs.

Selection of Living History and Musuem Theatre Programs Developed

20th Century

The Poet, in Residence – A first person performance recounting Georgia poet/farmer Byron Herbert Reece’s sojourn to UCLA as Poet in Residence during the summer of 1950. Reece’s soaring and lyrical poetry, which brought him into consideration for the Pulitzer in 1951, chronicled the changes in Appalachia as it was pulled out of the 19th century and pushed into the 20th. This performance uses Reece’s own words in poems, letters and interviews.

Our Ally Russia – A first person performance recounting the story of Pvt. Nikolai Obryn’ba, an artist who served in the Soviet Army during WW2 until captured by the Germans.

An Automobile Romance – An actual one act curtain raiser for the 1920’s play The Flapper Grandmother which toured the South during the 20’s and 30’s. In this production the play is performed as if being broadcast as a radio teaser, which was often done to generate box office for a tour.

19th Century

Georgia Farm Life Tour – Third person hands-on tour of the Atlanta History Center’s Tullie Smith Farm featuring blacksmithing, soap making, folk music, wood-working, et alias.

Co. Aytch – A first person performance recounting the story of Sam Watkins, who served as a high private in the Army of Tennessee during the American Civil War.

A New Row to Hoe – A trilogy of living history scenarios dealing with daily life in the South at the beginning of Reconstruction from African American, European American and nterracial perspectives.

Fireworks and Fire-Eaters – A pair of living history scenarios dealing with the American Presidential election of 1860 from the perspective of the enslaved and slave Owners.

The South As It Is – A Reader’s Theatre piece based on the first hand dispatches to The Nation from reporter John Richard Dennett touring the South in 1865-66.

Any Less a Citizen – A living history scenario in which a women’s suffragist group disrupts centennial Independence Day celebrations.

We Were Marching On Christmas Day – A Reader’s Theatre piece chronicling the experience of civilians and soldiers in the Christmas season during America’s Civil War.

Florida Rural Life – Third person interactive tour depicting 1890’s life on farms and in small towns featuring lessons in a one-room school, unloading freight at a rural depot, rope making, cane grinding, et alias.

18th Century

History of Fencing – Interactive demonstration using period weapons and manuals of the evolution of fencing from personal defense in the 13th Century to the 18th Century sport being taught in America and Europe, focusing on its practice in Williamsburg, VA and London, England.

Colonial Christmas – Interactive performance using storytelling, song, dance and 18th century letters and diaries to present a picture of 18th century Christmas customs in the colonies and their English antecedents.

American Macbeth: A Living History Encounter with Benedict Arnold – A 1st and 3rd person performance/presentation that explores the life and times of America’s Revolutionary War hero and traitor, General Benedict Arnold.

Engaging Encounters and Washington’s World – Daily interactive programming both improvised (Engaging Encounters) and scripted (Washington’s World,) interpreting life on an 18th century plantation and in society at large.

Is Mount Vernon Burning? – Special event programming interpreting the events at Mount Vernon when British forces landed in 1781 and 17 enslaved persons escaped with them.

Brave and Hardy Troops – A first person museum theatre piece (narrated by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Nikki Giovanni when performed at Mount Vernon) depicting the differing choices made by enslaved persons during the American Revolution.

11th – 16th Centuries

A Muse of Fire – Traces the evolution of English from Beowulf through Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to the works of Shakespeare using living history impressions from the literature to illuminate the subject.

Following is a selection of organizations Mr. Johnston has worked with, consulted with or performed with:

  • The Smithsonian – American History Museum
  • The Smithsonian – National Portrait Gallery
  • The Smithsonian – National Archives
  • Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate
  • Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
  • James Madison’s Montpelier
  • Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
  • English Heritage – United Kingdom
  • National Civil War Naval Museum
  • Atlanta History Center
  • Heritage Hill
  • The History Channel
  • The Food Network
  • National Geographic Television
  • PBS