Nation Builder Interpreter

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Job Description


Job Details


Nation Builder Interpreters portray a significant historical figure of 18th century Williamsburg in interpretive programming, improvisational interactions, and theatrical performances in and outside of Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area, using a variety of sophisticated presentation techniques and interpretive themes. They engage with and educate guests from all walks of life and make relevant connections with diverse audiences. They serve as a resource on their character and role model in the fields of interpretation, scholarship, and guest relations. Nation Builders work collaboratively with people and departments across the Foundation to achieve the mission of Colonial Williamsburg and be an ambassador for the Foundation.

The successful candidate must be able to convincingly portray the specific Nation Builder. They must be charismatic on stage and with individual guests both in and out of character, develop and maintain extensive scholarship and research, and create and perform a wide variety of programming that connects with guests of all ages and backgrounds and meets interpretive goals of the Foundation.


Perform and Educate through Character Portrayal:

  • Research and analyze primary and secondary sources to gain an extensive and in-depth knowledge and understanding of the character(s) you are asked to portray. Continuously build on historical research and document and utilize new information in interpretations.
  • Take on the appearance, deportment, and manner of speech of assigned character and learn 18th century life skills associated with the character.
  • Develop nation builder characters over their entire life span, incorporating complex concepts and themes into interpretations and presentations.
  • Portray characters in scripted scenes and through impromptu interactions with other characters and guests in a variety of formal and informal settings.
  • Maintain an eighteenth-century environment and adhere to the highest standards of historical integrity.
  • Continually improve interpretations by learning new skills and increasing competencies, and applying current research and techniques.
  • Perform under pressure with little preparation time and respond to last-minute program changes or requests.

Program Development:

  • Develop engaging programming that reflects different educational themes and fits the needs of the Foundation.
  • Develop, produce, and perform meaningful, thought provoking, engaging interpretive programming utilizing a variety of interpretive and theatrical presentation techniques, taking into consideration goals, objectives, and target audiences.
  • Work with Special Events, Marketing, Public Relations, Development, and other departments to create and provide programming that meets the needs of diverse audiences and themes.

Steward and Ambassador for the Foundation:

  • Represent the Foundation in and out of character to donors, VIPS, and others as requested. This may include travel to performance destinations nationally and internationally.
  • Model organizational values of courage, inclusion, relevance, and craftsmanship.
  • Demonstrate a complete understanding of site/program requirements regarding operational procedures, preservation of collections, artifacts and objects housed at the Foundation, and of guest/employee security and safety.
  • Perform with consistency and reliability.
  • Participate as a willing and active member of a team with other interpreters, management, and researchers, and work collaboratively with others across the organization to achieve programming goals and support the mission of the Foundation.
  • Serve as a resource for other interpreters, modeling exceptional technique and guest focus.
  • Foster positive and productive communication in every direction by actively engaging in the exchange of information and encouraging this activity in others.

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Contribute as a positive and active member of an ensemble to create dynamic, inspiring, educational experiences for guests and a healthy and positive work environment for staff.
  • Participate actively in training and incorporate content and skills into interpretations and presentations.
  • Work collaboratively with the entire staff of Colonial Williamsburg to create an exceptional and seamless experience that gives guests the sense of 18th century Williamsburg.
  • Perform with positivity, flexibility, and resiliency in a changing work environment.
  • Perform other duties as required.



Direct Supervision is from the Supervisor of Nation Builders. Indirect supervision is from the Director of Performing Arts.



    • Acting skills- including improvisation and ability to work from a memorized script, good sense of timing and blocking, ability to be a contributing member of an ensemble, ability to create and work independently on solo performances, ability to perform in front of a large audience, excellent projection and vocal skills, adaptability to variable performance environments, and ability to take on 18th century personae, which include: deportment, station, worldview, mannerisms
    • Interpreting skills-ability to free-associate ideas and interpret them thematically, ability to research and synthesize information, ability to think critically regarding storytelling and education, ability to make relevant connections for guests
    • Knowledge and understanding of colonial Virginia history.
    • Knowledge and understanding of Colonial Williamsburg and its programming, mission, and services.
    • Ability to demonstrate job-related technical skills, including performance, research, and preparation of interpretive programming


    • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, including demonstrated consistency in establishing and maintaining cordial, positive, and productive relationships with co-workers and guests.
    • Ability to gather information by asking appropriate questions, handle multiple priorities, and solve problems.
    • Demonstrated ability to work independently and take initiative within guidelines and procedures.
    • Ability to multitask; organizing and recalling vast amounts of information, including preparation and presentation of upcoming programs and details of scheduled events.
    • Ability and openness to discuss and explore complicated and sensitive aspects of history.


    • Ability to adapt to a changing work environment and perform effectively and professionally under pressure.
    • Ability to travel to other locations for the Foundation and work collaboratively with other museums as well as the Foundation’s Development department, donors, and educational outreach.
    • Ability to work a flexible schedule including evenings, weekends and holidays



  • Two to three years’ experience in a living history museum
  • Experience presenting sensitive topics such as slavery, religion, politics and women’s issues
  • Historical character portrayal
  • Primary source research experience
  • Theatrical performance experience
  • Writing, directing, storytelling, or teaching experience


Knowledge, skill, and ability required to fulfill the defined job responsibilities usually acquired through a combination of education and experience equivalent to completion of a four-year degree from an accredited college or university, and five years of experience in historical interpretation, theater, teaching, guest service, or other related field.



  • Ability to wear historically accurate and complete 18th century clothing for an entire workday.
  • Ability to perform various functions such as standing, sitting, walking across uneven surfaces, climbing stairs, lifting, seeing in varying light conditions, and participating in some strenuous physical activities



  • Ability to work outside in varying weather conditions
  • Ability to come in daily contact with pollen, dust, mold, and seasonal allergens

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