From the Streets of Rome to the Provinces of an Empire

Tames Alan is an actress, historian, and instructor who has combined her skills to create an educational program for people of all ages. In this program, she appears in the authentic clothing of a Roman matron and gives a short social history of the Roman Empire, from the tribe that founded it to the glories of Imperial Rome. Tames discusses the life of a Roman citizen, from his birth and dedication to the gods to his eventual death and joining with those gods. She describes the evolution of the Roman matron, and she also relates the life of a slave from capture to death. Some of the other topics Tames touches on include housing, education, food, clothing, and what a Marius mule was. Students also get hands-on experience by helping Tames wrap a palla, an eight-yard piece of clothing a matron wore when leaving her house.

As with her other Living History Lectures, a question and answer period follows. This program is suitable for elementary grades on up. It has been given as a general history program to younger students, a cultural background program for Roman students, and as a clothing program for costume and design students. The program is especially beneficial for college-level art and history students because of the hands-on experience they gain concerning the Roman era. It is also a fun cultural event for general adult audiences and lovers of history and clothing.

Tames studied theater and history at Willamette University in Oregon, and theater at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and Dell Arte School in California. Throughout her theatrical career, she maintained her interest in history and costuming. Tames has taught fashion history at the Art Institute of Seattle, offering a class that combined fashion history, social history, and women’s studies. More recently, she has been a speaker for the Washington State Commission for the Humanities in their Inquiring Mind series.