Live interpretation: an asset, or an indulgence? In the fields of education and entertainment, how valuable is live interpretation as an effective tool of communication?
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This thesis aims to assess the value of live interpretation as a tool of communication, by treating it as a form of design, and by comparing examples of practice in the field with other contemporary design techniques. Chapter two lists a selection of active practitioners across the field of informal and formal education, and entertainment within the area of Britain's cultural heritage. It provides a taste of the professional industry, and includes information like how many interpreters are employed, what techniques they favour, and what educational programmes they run. Likewise in the voluntary /hobbyist sector, the chapter notes membership numbers, public activities, and training facilities. Chapter three establishes the communication model against which the technique can be assessed. Chapter four concentrates on the practical value of the technique as a tool of communication, assessing its ability to adapt to visitor needs, to establish a communication channel, remain focused, to develop and to cope with visitor orientation. It also questions its practical and mental durability. Chapter five looks at motivation and links the public popularity, both as consumers and practitioners, of live interpretation with the growth of the movement towards 'bottom up' history, which the author phrases as, 'history for the people, about the people, by the people.' One of the main problems governing the quality of practice in the field stems from the uneasy relationship of the two parents of live interpretation: education and entertainment. Both of these areas run as themes throughout the work. Chapter six raises the question of the power invested in interpreters, what it means, where it comes from, and how its subsequent responsibilities are being met. The conclusion asks why should improvements be made, and what sectors are in greatest need of improvement. It includes a suggested agenda for a code of practice for the future.
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