I Processens värld

Anteckningar från Panelsamtal i Borås: Processen, skuld och ansvar

“vem är det som anklagar mig? Vilken myndighet driver denna process? Är ni tjänstemän? Ingen av er bär uniform …”

– Kafka, Processen

Jag vill resonera kring vad för sorts värld som Kafka föreslår i Processen och var hans impulser och tänkande kom ifrån. Kafka skriver romanen 1914, precis på randen mot Första världskriget. Han sitter i Prag. Han är väl inlemmad i den tyskspråkiga statsapparaten genom sitt arbete vid Institutet för arbetarnas olycksfallsförsäkring för konungariket Böhmen. Därmed har han ett visst avstånd till den tjeckiska majoritetskulturen runt omkring på två sätt. Både för att han tillhör den tyska administrationen och för att han tillhör den judiska minoriteten i Prag. På kvällarna och nätterna offrar han sömn och vila för att skriva. Han gör olika utkast, förslag, skisser och han blir väldigt sällan nöjd. Processen blir han aldrig färdig med och den ges ut först efter att han avlidit 1924 i sviterna av en lungtuberkulos.

Arbetet vid institutet plågar Kafka trots att han har en fin position som högre tjänsteman. Han har ett eget arbetsrum och kan i någon mån styra över sin tid. Där kan han smygläsa tidskrifter och böcker och ta emot vänner på besök för att prata om litteratur. Den här situationen, kontorstillvaron, ansvaret och ledan, är något som återklingar i Processen. K jobbar ju som tjänsteman på en bank. Den här situationen, att sitta på kontor och på något sätt, från ett visst avstånd, styra över eller ha inflytande över andra människors liv och vardag, är väldigt besvärande för Kafka. Och jag tänker att det är en väldigt “modern” känsla, att bli en del i ett byråkratiskt statsmaskineri, en administration eller en större organisation. Det kunde lika gärna handla om ett företag. “processen var ingenting annat än en stor affär som han så ofta och med så gott resultat gjort upp för bankens räkning”, resonerar K. Filosofen Giorgio Agamben har sagt att kontoret, såsom det utvecklades under Romarriket, är grunden för den västerländska civilisationen – inte den grekiska stadsdemokratin.

Det finns något obehagligt i denna moderna organisering av det mänskliga livet som sommaren 1914 för Europa in i kriget. Det är ett massamhälle som formas genom sina system, sina listor, sin statistik. “Jag är ju jurist. Därför kan jag inte komma undan det onda. ” säger Kafka till sin vän Gustav Janouch. Det finns en sorts ondska som tittar fram i det där avståndet mellan myndighetsbeslut och mänskligt liv. Det är en ondska som är väldigt närvarande i Processen.

Janouch bok Samtal med Kafka har hjälpt mig komma lite närmare Franz. I den kommer både Kafkas mörka och humoristiska sidor fram. Ta till exempel det här samtalet mellan 20-åriga Jaouch och Kafka:

“Jag är antagligen bara en helt obetydlig extra rättskänare. Jag är ingenting definitivt. /…/ Defintivt är endast lidandet.”

Det säger mycket om hur Kafka ser på sig själv. Som en obetydlig figur, vars inre mörker är sannare än det vardagsliv han kan leva.

Som ni känner till så häktas ju K en morgon, på sin trettioårsdag. Det finns många som motsäger sig en biografisk läsning av Processen men det kan ändå noteras att K är lika gammal som Kafka själv. Det är oklart varför han häktas, men det inleds iallafall en process mot honom. Desto längre Processen går desto mer skyldig känner sig K.

Men i vad består egentligen Ks skuld eller oskuld? Min känsla när jag läser Processen är att alla de figurer som dyker upp bär på en sorts skuld. Alla har en förbindelse till domstolen. Alla har en roll att spela, alla har en funktion. Och ingen bär egentligen ansvar. Det resonerar med en annan episoden i Janouch bok. Kafka och Janouch tittar på en klassisk socialistisk bild av en kapitalist. Kafka är inte nöjd med bilden.

“Kapitalismen är ett system av beroenden som går inifrån och ut, utifrån och in, uppifrån och ner och nerifrån och upp. Allt är beroende, allt är fjättrat. Kapitalismen är ett tillstånd i världen och i själen. “

Den här situationen, att alla människor skapas i relationer till ett system eller en kulturell logik som ingen har kontroll över är hela tiden närvarande i Processen. Att hela tiden leva upp till strukturens förväntningar skapar en extrem press på subjektet. Det är inte orimligt att tänka på K som en utbränd person, som förlorar sin livsmening när han inte kan sköta sitt arbete. Om det sedan är en ekonomisk, patriarkal eller religiös, existentiell ordning som sätter press är kanske mindre viktigt. Det leder mig till Walter Benjamin, som på tioårsdagen av Kafkas död, försöker förstå hans värld.

“Ingen har sin bestämda plats i tillvaron, sin bestämda, icke provisoriska kontur; ingen som inte befinner sig i stigande eller fallande; ingen som inte byter roller med sin fiende eller granne; ingen som inte fått leva sin tid men likafullt blivit omogen, ingen som inte är trött intill döden men likafullt bara står på tröskeln till en lång fortsättning.”

Den här bilden av Kafkas värld känns extra sann i relation till domstolen i Processen. “rangordningen och hierarkin inom detta rättsystem var oändligt komplicerad, fullständigt omöjlig att överblicka till och med för den invigde.” skriver Kafka. Det är inte den vanliga domstolen. Den har en dragningskraft som verkar på allt och alla.

När vi gjorde vår sceniska gestaltning av Processen gav vi publiken möjlighet att delta i iscensättningen av domstolen. Mycket i linje med Benjamins idé om Kafkas värld.

“Kafkas värld är en världsteater. För honom står människan från första stund på skådebanan.”

Deltagandet i domstolen skedde genom individuella hörlursinstruktioner. Att underkasta sig instruktionerna och lyda domstolen är paradoxalt nog en befriande känsla. “Fri blir människan egentligen endast genom band.” Säger Kafka till Janouch.

“Genom det yttre tvånget vill hon [människan] uppnå den inre friheten. Det är innebörden av att underordna sig lagen.”

Panelsamtal på Bibu: Narrativ och dramaturgi i spel

Som en del i Bibu, “scenkonstbiennalen för barn och unga” deltar jag i en panel om speldramaturgi. Kom förbi om du är där!

Narrativ och dramaturgi i spel

Vad är speldramaturgi och vad utmärker ett narrativ inom spelutveckling och game design? Hur påverkar tankar kring interaktivitet själva berättandet? Den nystartade yrkesavdelningen 116 för dramaturger hos Teaterförbundet bjuder in till en timmes samtal om narrativ dramaturgi inom spel.

Moderator:

  • Lisa Lindén, Genusvetare, Dramaturg, Styrelseledamot Dramaturgavdelningen

Medverkande:

  • Louise Persson, lärare i Dataspelsutveckling – Game writing, Högskolan i Skövde
  • Emma Bexell, Dramaturg Bombina Bombast
  • Gabriel Widing, regissör och speldesigner, medlem i kollektivet Nyxxx.

När: Fredag 18 maj 13:45–14:45

Var: Helsingborgs stadsbibliotek, Hörsalen

Panelsamtal i Borås: Processen, skuld och ansvar

Är det individen eller strukturen som bär skulden? Franz Kafka skrev när nationalismen var på frammarsch. Han var vegetarian, intresserad av halvsanningar och upplevde antisemitismen. På Borås Stadsteater ställer Scenkonstkollektivet Nyxxx frågan om individens röst alltid ska höras eller om majoritetens trygghet är viktigare?

Tisdagar på Kulturhuset ger bakgrunden till uppsättningen Processen och bjuder på smakprov. Ragna Wei regisserar Processen och är även utbildad i experimentell psykologi. Gabriel Widing arbetar med ny teknik och publiken som medagerande i teatern genom scenkonstkollektivet Nyxxx.
Biljetter

  • Tid: 2018-03-13 19.00
  • Plats: Kulturhuset i Borås

Goddess of Night (Nattens gudinna) documenation

This winter I did a participatory theatre piece with Nyxxx at Uppsala Stadsteater. I did conceptual work and wrote the script with Tova Gerge and support from the rest of the team. Furthermore I had responsibility for directing the wonderful actors Mira Andersson, Ellen Norlund and Francisci Sobrado. This was a first for me. It’s always a struggle to deal with the conventions of theatre but I think we are starting to get a hold of it. I put up some documentation on the Nyxxx site, enjoy.

Foto: Micke Sandström.

Foto: Micke Sandström.

Talk on bodies, politics & nordic larp at Minibar, Stockholm

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PROTOCOLS #2 & #3 extra_sensory
A THREEFOLD PUBLIC LECTURE

❢❢ SUNDAY APRIL 30, 2017
2–5pm ❢❢

‶Maybe perceiving would be a better word,” he said. “There’s much more involved than sight. It knows everything that can be learned about you from your genes. And by now, it knows your medical history and a great deal about the way you think. It has taken part in testing you.″
– ‘Dawn’, Octavia Butler

Minibar would like to invite you to an afternoon of presentations in relation to topics outlined in Susan Ploetz’ larp The Guild. Following an open call the larp will be a closed event taking place during 9 hours on Saturday. On Sunday discussion will be opened up publicly and extended from via presentations from Susan Ploetz, Gabriel Widing, and Patricia Reed (Skype).

⋰⋱⋰⋱

❢❢ 2.15: SUSAN PLOETZ – Imaginary phenomenologies, movement as cognition and speculative body-beings
❢❢ 3.00: PATRICIA REED (from Skype) – Mobile Alienation
❢❢ 3.45: GABRIEL WIDING – Another body is possible / There is no body B

Morgondagens konstpublik, workshop i Norrköping & Vånga 6-7 oktober

Jag håller workshop 6 oktober. Öppen för envar.

Lek: improvisation eller undersökning?
- Morgondagens konstpublik höstmöte 2016, Norrköping och Vånga 6-7 oktober


Välkomna till Morgondagens konstpubliks andra höstmöte i Östergötland 6-7 oktober. Under mötet kommer vi att undersöka hur barn och ungdomars lek och undersökande förhåller sig till deras lärande processer för att bättre förstå hur konsten kan bli ett stöd i undervisning och andra pedagogiska processer.


- Hur påverkar barns och ungdomars lek och spel deras framtida problemlösande, konstnärliga skapande och vetenskapliga undersökande?
- Hur kan barn och vuxna lära sig tillsammans genom lek och undersökande?

Ni kommer att möta spännande och intressanta föreläsare och kreatörer som presenterar relevanta arbeten och berättar om sina erfarenheter, processer och mål.

Samtliga event är fristående och gratis, så ni är välkomna att komma på en en eller flera programpunkter och ingen föranmälan krävs.

Mer info här!

Post-workshop edit: Ett par bilder och övningar

Workshopen innehöll både lösa idéer samt scener och situationer från tidigare verk som skapats med scenkonstkollektivet Nyxxx. Några av övningarna var varianter på Stopp, närmare, backa, byt, Lågteknologisk lek, hörlursscenen “connection by evaluation” ur verket Join, farvälceremonin ur rollspelet The Hospitality och improvisationen An Infinite Scenario inspirerad av Blanchot. Några inblickar i idén om hur deltagandet möjliggörs genom regler och överenskommelser hämtades ur Deltagarkultur (Korpen 2008).

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Notes on the black box scenario Inside myself, outside myself

This is a short talk on a black box larp that I gave at Larpwriter Summer School in Lithuania. The text is more precise than the video…

I will present a scenario played at the festival Black Box Copenhagen in 2014. The project was initiated by Nina Runa Essendrop and Marie Holm-Andersen under the poetic but generic title Inside myself, outside myself.  This larp is not presented because it had a fancy location or visual appeal, quite the opposite. It was just people in a black box. So I have no pictures from the larp.

Nina and Marie gathered a dozen of larp writers and performance artists to create a new and playable scenario for the black box festival audience among who most were larpers, but some were not. There were many challenges in this venture, like how to come up with ideas, share them and weed out stuff? The biggest problem might have been this: how to conceive a scenario to a random number of participants, making them ready to play it and letting them play it, within a 2 hour time frame.

mario

A general rule of participation design is that the audience, the participants, must know the rules and the premiss of the scenario in order to engage with it. Otherwise you run the risk that they default to passive observers. I’ve seen it happen a lot of times. Now, there are obviously other approaches. Some of them apparent in computer game design. When you start playing Super Mario there is no explanation for where to go and how survive. You learn the rules of the game by playing it and exploring the boundaries and the possibilities of interacting with the game is a part of the enjoyment and possibly also a key part of the aesthetic experience.

One participant in Inside myself, outside myself, Simon James Pettitt, later wrote in a game report that he had expected an introduction or a workshop starting things off, but there were none. So how did it start? Well when the participants entered the black box the designers, now performers, were spread out in the room frozen in different sculptural positions. The participants roamed around in the room and looked at the ”sculptures”.

I think there are two things to learn from the design of the scenario. The first thing being the game design concept ”call for action” the second thing would be the idea of emergence – how patterns, movements, situations can emerge from some simple rules.

To simplify we set up 3 acts for the scenario. In the first act the sculptures functioned as ”calls for action”. Every sculpture worked as a kind of puzzle. The participants soon realized that the sculptures could come alive, become animated, if you approached it in the right way. So for example my position was kneeling, holding an invisible object in front of me. I could only be activated if someone put their shoe between my hands. Then I would untie the shoe and take it off. This was the only thing I could do in act 1. So eventually all the sculptures were unlocked by the participants and some of the simple tasks they carried out created chain reactions, so all the shoes ended up in a proper line and so on. The mixing desk communication style fader was definitely physical rather than verbal.

I don’t know if a less game oriented audience would have unlocked the sculptures. They might have. I think only play testing can answer such uncertainties.

The second and third act of the scenario worked through emergence. Emergence is something that happens when a collective of actors or objects follow a small set of rules from which a complicated or unforeseen situation or pattern appears. In the second act the sculptures turned into something closer to machines or robots and they could learn from the participants by copying their actions, what they said, how they behaved. That created some bizarre feedback loops where everything that happened echoed around the room. In the third act the intelligence of the machines were updated a second time and they could start to teach the participants what they knew. These small guidelines generated a lot of interaction and produced some kind of aesthetic consistency although the scenario turned out generally chaotic. Simon describes it as a ”strange living machine” in his game report.

Hopefully this case study of Inside myself, outside myself can give some hints on what is possible to do with small means on a short notice. To sum it up the scenario used calls for action as a means to teach an unknowing, uninformed audience about how to engage with the scenario. It continued to create interaction by simple rules – such as ”you can repeat what you see or hear”. Different situations emerged from these rules.

Knudepunkt 2015 Keynote on bodies in live action role-play

keynote-slides

Transcription of a talk given at Knudepunkt 2015, February 14th.

Immersion is the excrement of action

I have been asked to do this talk on the subject of bodies in live action role-playing, which I’m very happy about since the body has turned centre stage in larp development and design. I have previously together with Tova Gerge, tried to examine and understand the body in live role-playing from a very simple but for many years overlooked fact – the character and the player share body. I think that is true also for table-top or freeform role-playing games, where roleplay happens through the voices of bodies. When we invocate a character, when we adjust our tone, when we invite an alien fictitious voice to appear in the cavities of our body. This is still the premiss for what I have to say today. I think Ane Marie Andesson will develop on that fact later during this session.

I titled this talk Immersion is the excrement of action, but I have over the last week realised that there are no immersionists around any more so I may be pushing at open doors. Also Martin Ericsson covered parts of this already yesterday. Anyhow what I meant by that title is that our bodies and actions has a major part to play in role-playing. I do think we are starting to understand larp pretty well from a social and psychological perspective. But maybe we are lacking a bit from the perspective of the body and maybe we have over-used psychological concepts to understand what we are doing and exaggerated our mental and cognitive capacities. One example of that would be immersion. We often describe role-playing as an activity where we immerse into a world where we are somebody else. And I don’t doubt that immersion actually exists. But I don’t think that it happens through an active psychological effort but rather as a bi-product of our bodily activities.

It’s not the case that we first immerse into our character and through immersion decide how to act within the fictitious world. It usually work the opposite way around – we act with our bodies as our characters, and immersion happens to us. Such an understanding would work along the lines of 17th century philosopher Pascal – First you go to church and you kneel in front of the cross, then you start believing in God. According to the same logic you can start believing in your character when you act it.

Live Action Play

This reasoning made me, as a thought experiment, to put a preliminary parenthesis around the R in our beloved but clunky abbreviation LARP, LA(R)P. (This is what any obscure leninist party, so why not) What if role-playing is not the core activity in our culture, our medium, or at least, if we pretended that it was not. If we think about what we do as Live Action Play.

In larp discourse we have lended a lot of concepts from psychology but also from theatre. But thinking larp from a bodily non-role point of view could enable us to venture in two other “opposite” but also related fields – somatics (dealing with the body as experienced from within) and dance or choreography. We have used theatre concepts to elevate what we do from a subgenre of tabletop role-playing to a cultural and artistic medium, which I think is fine, but we payed a price to make this liaison with theatre which is more clear to me now than ever before.

Stories guiding play

Theatre works according to dramaturgy, escalation of conflict, tropes and representation. These more or less conscious forms, ideals, ideologies of drama enable our improvisation. The better we know how drama happens, the better role-play. This is the idea behind fate-play, etc. I have been a proponent of such a meta-conscious, theatre-oriented player. Looking behind, planning ahead. Anyone who has followed my thought on larp have noticed that. When I started to write about larp i wanted to explore the aspect of collective storytelling. The idea was that the story was the only framework that could enable, encompass, hold such a diverse activity as larping.

It’s a valid line of thought but also very limiting. From a player point of view I have many times been in the situation where I’ve played in a scenario and known what I should do to make a good story, a good scene that underlines the overarching theme of the scenario – but something has held me back. I think I’ve developed a kind of resistance to subjecting to certain kinds of narrative, reproducing the tropes and dramatic conflicts that we have internalized from Hollywood drama, Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica, you name it.

But also in the case of politically conscious scenarios everything change once I start thinking them through the body. The aesthetic qualities of the larps change. For example, a scenario about a prison camp, or any other kind of camp, is usually framed as an exploration or critical inquiry of a power system and so on – but all I can think is – why does our bodies enjoy institutional violence so much that we enact it over and over again? It is, at least as much bodily enjoyment as mental critical inquiry involved so a question we might need in the future is Why are we organising our bodies to perform these systems?

Starting from the body

So if we don’t tune in to the pace of the story to get the action going what do we have left to hold on to? We can of course still have the rules, the agreements, the framing, the social state of exception – what in dance theory is called a score. But pacing and rhythm does not have to follow dramatic or narrative principles, they might as well flow like music or dance and repetition might be just as valid as development. We can also, and here I might sound like a hippie, listen to the pacing of our own bodies, adjust improvisation to the rhythm of our breath, waves of hormones or the beat of the heart.

And speaking of hippie – I would like to remind you that two great participatory cultures that originated from the American hippie era and later spread to the Nordic countries 1. role-playing games and 2. dance improvisation. And to me it’s fascinating when they are coming together.

So from a scenario-writing point of view, or an artistic point of view, I would be happy to make more space for scenarios where the primary goal is not to represent psychological and social conflicts between people who we are not.

But I don’t even think what I’m saying here is new. I think these kinds of scenarios where the role is secondary or even non-existing, happens all the time. I just want to underline that it happens, we already to it. We just have to acknowledge it and develop it and not marginalize it because the holy R of LARP is fading.

One way of developing our form would be to peak at the dance field. Now improvised dance has a lot in common with roleplaying, it happens in shared spaces, with certain social agreements and collective improvisation. But it has different aesthetic premisses.

First of all dance is generally non-verbal, in contrast to role-playing, which has been more influenced by the talking-heads of theatre and tv. This does not mean that there is no possibility to use the voice in dance, but maybe one would use it for other purposes.

Presence and abstraction

Another key to “dance” through a larp would be to focus on the present moment, rather than the future and the past of the story. This means a scenario can be discontinuous and that the responsibility of the player is not about creating historical or narrative consistency, nor to create fertile ground for drama in the future, but to be there and listen to what is actually going on at that point in time in between the bodies at hand.

And I think it’s great that artists within the field of dance and choreography are starting to show up on slides here on main stage. Brody Condon mentioned the works of Lygia Clark, Anna Halprin and Tino Sehgal and I just want to underline that he is right in that we, as larpers, could have great benefits of exploring their work, their scores, rituals, workshops and art works.

Another tendency in dance is that it is abstract. And what do we mean by abstract? Well in art theory abstract art is considered to be object in their own right. An abstract painting does not need a symbolic relationship to anything in the human liveable world. It often seeks to create it’s own universe, with a more or less coherent alien logic. That is not just a story universe, but something which we are unable to attach meaning to according to the logic of our standard social reality.

So if one think “oh, that’s a bad painting, I can’t see what it represents”, then it’s hard to appreciate abstract art. The same goes for dance. When we see contemporary dancers move on stage we can not approach it with the question of “What are they trying to tell? What is the hidden, encrypted story? What are they representing?” because then we’ll not understand that what we see in front of us is, in itself what is important – the activity, the mobilisation of and relationships between bodies that are there.

Being or becoming?

Thus, dance is not a culture of representation, it is not a culture of being in a character, being this or being that, it is a practice of becoming – becoming flesh, becoming machine, becoming animal, becoming other, becoming alien, becoming avatar or god, becoming minor or cellular.

I think this kind of expanded or alternate thinking on larp has benefited a lot from access to the black boxes that Martin Nielsen talked about yesterday. Just the fact that we start thinking from a dark void, rather than from a physical setting (be it a forest or a castle) has done something to how we create scenarios. And while we populate the black boxes and bring them to life, we should somewhere keep in mind that these spaces were created for the non-hierarchical, physical, improvised and bodily performance culture of the 60ths. They paved the way for what we can do today.

To conclude, I just want to say, that there are, still, a thousand new scenarios that remains to be created, where we can come together to live, act and play.

Thank you.

I’m back…

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My web history and life and former blog at Interacting Arts went off-line. I tried to import the content to this site but all the images are gone and there is probably plenty of dead links and bugs et c. I lost everything I published 2014 in the process. Maybe I’ll make up for that later…

Notes on Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man from an interaction design pow

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Visiting London I took the oppurtunity to go to Punchdrunk’s epic show The Drowned Man which encompass some 20.000 sqm on 4 floors, 30 actors, a bar, et c. I will not summarise the whole experience here, there is plenty of reviews to read online. What I want to do is to share some thoughts on the interaction design.

Following the definitions of Participatory Arts (Deltagarkultur 2008, yet to be published in english), I would consider The Drowned Man an all-encompassing spectatory arts show. It’s neither interactive, in the sense of that one can alter the story line, nor participatory, in that it doesn’t encourage interaction between audience members. Let me quote:

The all-encompassing Gesamtkunstwerk, on the other hand, aims to create a total experience where everything that can be sensed is dictated by the artwork. All undesirable stimuli are firmly expelled. The all-encompassing work is no doubt by necessity multi-disciplinary, or at least multi-medial, but also requires a spatial dimension to manifest. The stimuli encapsulate the receiver in order to generate a “total environment of the senses” – the world of the Gesamtkunstwerk.

That pretty much nails the aesthetics of The Drowned Man and it’s all fine to do such a show. But if one was interested in making some interactive or participatory design based on the it, how could one do it?

First of all: Most of the rules that are presented as we enter the magic circle have the purpose to disable interaction between audience members as well as between audience and performers. First of all the masks, which covers the whole face and secondly the rule not to speak. Thirdly, they asked you to leave your company and explore the space alone. I can see why you want to do that, following the definition of a Gesamtkunstwerk above. If the audience were present and social they could ruin the mystical mood at the set. So, how to stay within the aesthetics, but still enable interaction.

What I would propse is a simple hand-sign system containing 3 different meanings, that would be presented to the audience from start. This would definetly need some playtesting, but here goes:

  1. Pointing. The meaning being to index something interesting that you want to show somebody else. After all, the scenography and prop design was amazing, and the story came through by finding props and reading letters than by watching the performers.
  2. Showing your palm. The meaning would be – take my hand, let’s go together. Let’s go for an adventure together. This could make up for the fact that you are alone and anonymous through most of the show.
  3. Stop. I don’t want to be part of whatever you are trying to do right now. Whether it’s a performer or audience member approaching you it’s safe to now how to say no. This would also make people more courageous.

I could think of plenty of other approaches that one could mix up with these basic interaction patterns. Another thing I thought of was that the performed scenes basicly can be divided in three different categories: sexy-dance, fighting-dance and ritual dance. Especially in the more ritualistic parts it would be easy to give the audience a more active part. There are also club-dance dance-scenes where it makes no sense to leave the audience out.

Furthermore one could add more game design to the story, but that’s a bit to complicated to cover in a short blog post.