An infinite scenario

I put together a short experimental scenario for my workshop at this year’s annual nordic larp (live role-playing) conference Knutepunkt, which I’m happy to share. It’s easy to brief and could probably be played in 15 minutes.

Rules / tips

  • Each participant get a set of 9 cards (One sheet makes one character, and yes they are ordered).
  • Every card state a line to be read out loud or a simple action to be performed.
  • When one is through the 9 cards, one starts over.
  • There is no hurry. Listen and try to be aware of the space.
  • The scenario should preferably be played in a big open space, blackbox or similar.
  • I there are more than 14 players you can just double the characters. If there are less than 5 you can take 18 cards each.

Downloadable characters (and cut it in 9 separate cards/sheet)

Post-dramatic role-playing?

The idea is to put emphasis on composition, space and timing in the improvisation, rather than coming up with smart things to say. Role-playing tends to be very facial-verbal. This set-up promotes other qualities. The role-playing community is by now pretty sophisticated in narrative methodology so I think it’s time to start experimenting a bit more with post-dramatic scenarios.

Blanchot

Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003)

Some of the lines in this scenario is stolen or rewritten phrases from french emo-author Blanchot’s sort-of-kind-of-novel The Infinite Conversation. I also put a key line from The Coming Insurrection.

The Avatar-Lehrstücke Workshop

Med stöd från Konstnärsnämnden åker jag i maj till INTERNACIONAL BRECHT SOCIETY SYMPOSIUM – PORTO ALEGRE 2013 för att göra en avatarworkshop baserad på Brecht Åtgärden. Det känns grymt spännande!

The Decision / Brecht

The Decision / Brecht

The Avatar-Lehrstücke Workshop

Last summer we did an avatar performance based on Brecht’s Die Maßnahme. This approach means that the spectator/spect-actor receives instructions through a headset and based on this they execute the instructions given in the headphones. Our approach is to put the spectator in the role of the performer. The spectator will not become an “artist”. Instead the role of the spectator is that of the doer. The spectator performs actions, he quotes with body and speech from the instructions he recieves. We would like to produce a workshop based on this performance because it connects to Brechts initial idea about the lehrstücke – that it rather should be performed than received passively.

No verão passado fizemos um desempenho avatar com base em Maßnahme Die, de Brecht.

Esta abordagem significa que o espectador / espect-ator recebe instruções através de um fone de ouvido e com base nisso, executa as instruções dadas por esse meio. Nossa abordagem é colocar o espectador no papel do intérprete. O espectador não vai se tornar um “artista”. Em vez disso o papel do espectador é o do agente. O espectador realiza ações, ele cita com corpo e linguagem a partir das instruções que recebe. Nós gostaríamos de produzir um workshop com base neste desempenho, porque ele se conecta a idéia inicial de Brecht sobre as peças didáticas.  Que devem, sim, ser realizadas e não recebidas passivamente.

Ebba Petrén, John Hanse, Ester Claesson, Gabriel Widing

Suécia/Sweeden

Prático/Practical

4 horas/4 hours

22 de maio – 14 horas/ May22 – Two PM

Os participantes devem poder falar e entender ingles

The participants must be able to speak and understand english.

Working with avatars at PAF

Summer is slowly fading away and I haven’t written here since May, which is a shame because plenty of interesting things has been going on.

This week me and Ebba Petrén has had the fantastic opportunity to go to Performing Arts Forum. We have a generous grant from The Swedish Arts Grant Committee to be able to do research on the avatar formats. The last week we’ve been thinking about what we have done so far and explored new ideas on what is possible to do within the avatar frame – humans being directed by a voice, turning them into something else, hybrids between man and machine.

First of all I want to say that this place is amazing. I was here last year to attend the Agora Seminars and I have had the intention to come back ever since. Just have a look of the village S:t Erme as it emerge from my bedroom window tonight:

Here are a couple of the ideas that we’ve been working with, I’ll probably get back with more later …

Switching positions

The idea is to explore what happens when you change into an avatar and the intention to do so. In the most simple iteration one person (human) has a conversation with anouther one who wear headphones and reciev instructions (avatar). When the avatar stretch its hand up (following an instruction, of course) the human can chose to take its position. The avatar can never chose to be a human, but the human can chose to turn herself into an avatar.

We did a recording where the avatar is asking questions and then making interruptions. Encouraging the human to talk, but not really responding in a proper way.

We also tried out a “Round Robin” structure with 4 avatar tracks and a group of audience members, who could chose to take the headphones during certain circumstances. The curiosity on behalf of the audience was high and everyone wanted to become avatars at some point.

We have a lot more ideas on how avatar-human interaction could work out that we didn’t have the possibility to try out in practise yet. It could be an avatar hosting seance, initiating a game or introducing conversational topics in a social situation.

Here is the studio we’ve been working in with the simple set up for the 4-avatar switching test.

Phone call piece

Here is a new idea of a piece where the audience give their phone numbers to us when they enter the performance. We have a dramaturgy, a railroaded set of actions that the audience members execute/perform by getting phone call instructions, wishes, begs from the operators, a kind of call center. This would not really be avatarisation, there would freedom to say no to negotiate or say no to an instruction. The operators/game masters are seated in a call center, a room near by, above them or in the same room but behind a window.

“Excuse me, could you help us by…”
“There is a camera, can you make the documentation of this piece?”
“Can you take responsibility for …”

This way we could produce an aesthetizised social dynamic in the room.

The Labyrinth of Possibilities

translated from Swedish by Thom Kiraly. Illustration by Josefin Rasmusson.

Published in States of Play (PDF) (ed. Juhana Pettersson, 2012) for the Knutpunkt/Solmukohta conference.

Create a reality game for friends and family!

Play and storytelling have disappeared from our lives. Adventure has been demoted to being played out on computer screens and pages in books. Reality gaming offers a way to play the part of the adventurer or the explorer in order too rediscover reality and oneself. By coordinating a small reality game for your friends, you can create a story which will present them with enticing perspectives on everyday life.

Getting started can sometimes be a challenge, which is why we’ve assembled a model aimed at helping game coordinators come up with short stories for their friends. More often than not, the players will outnumber the coordinators, but this is not always the case. This article was written to give some pointers on how 1-3 coordinators could organise a reality game for 3-12 players.

Who is the Coordinator?

The coordinator is the manipulator, the conspirator, the puppet master, the guide. As the coordinator, your job is to create the conditions for an entertaining and exciting game. The coordinator could be likened to the director of a stage play, the game master in a roleplaying game and the organizer of a larp. The task is creating a framework wherein the players can step forward and act on their own.

Coordinator role: The Flaneur. The flaneur aimlessly wanders through the city. Simply take walks in town, preferably at different times of day, without a destination in mind. Follow every impulse, answer every question. Could that door be opened? Where does that ladder go? Readily visit ares you’ve never been before. What stations along the subway or bus lines have you never visited? Surprise yourself by walking for twenty minutes in a particular direction, e.g. northwest, and see where you end up, but don’t be afraid to make stops along the way. With your eyes peeled, you’ll discover interesting places that could fit a scene in the story which is about to take form.

Coordinator role: The Spy. The spy operates by informing herself, searching through archives and files to find revealing information on her surroundings. Using the right map, an exciting yard or hill or roof may appear. Satellite images from the internet and maps in libraries can be of great use. But there are also archives available to the public (in Sweden, thankfully, all documents traveling through or produced at a governmental institution are public documents. This means one has the right to request and collect countless maps as well as the blueprints of any house).

Entry Points

It is the task of the coordinator to invite people to play. There are two strategies for this. The first might look like this:

  1. Invite your friends and family to play a reality game.
  2. Allow people to sign up for the game.
  3. Explain the game’s rules (if any) and agreements.
  4. Start(ing) the game.

The other way of getting people into the game is staging an event, role or setting interesting enough for people to start investigating it on their own accord, without knowing it is a game. Games bleeding into reality without anyone noticing it are usually called seamless. The seam which has been used to join game and reality is an invisible one.

A game started using the sign-up method is easier to organize than its secret counterparts. Openness lends the game an air of security and participation. Secrets tend to breed caution and suspicion. Altering reality for someone not in on it is both hard and resource-intensive. Should you choose to use the obvious alternative, you can ask the players to simply “forget” that they’re playing a game once it has started. Trust them to indulge in playing the game.

The first scene of the game is important in setting a mood and creating a shared sense of commitment between the players. For example:

  • Someone has put a note in the school locker.
  • Someone has left a paper on the xerox machine at work.
  • The player signs up for a class.
  • The player becomes a member of an organization.
  • A secret is revealed.

Perhaps a game is best initialized through human interaction. A crackly telephone call or a dodgy character seeking some kind of contact.

Who is the Player?

Who are we really and why? Who do we want to be and who could we be? What happens when you put on the wrong clothes, speak in the wrong way a go to the wrong place? Different roles create different possibilities for action. The player is the adventurer, the friend, the explorer.

Your job, as the coordinator, is involving the player in an exciting story. You can use any means necessary to accomplish this, but the player must have a reason to play the game, otherwise things will move forward very slowly.

Reality gaming has been compared to roleplaying in the streets. To some extent, this is an accurate comparison, but in a reality game, player and role can be viewed as one and the same. A role is a way of thinking or a social position the player inhabits in order to be able to act in a certain way that benefits the story and the life of the player. The player may have to be prepared to take on new roles in order to progress through the game’s story. Some parts of an identity are harder to alter than others. Gender, class and ethnic background are some of the most challenging parts to transcend, while occupation, interests and lifestyle are generally easier. Gender, class and ethnicity are deeply rooted in our bodies and social codes, hence the challenge. But everything is probably possible, neither bodies or social expressions are static and a lot revolves around symbols: a cross in a necklace, a bomber jacket, a hoodie, a suit.

Narratives Suitable for Reality Games

The stories of the reality game may very well follow the form of the game. Let the story show the players just how weak the walls of reality are, how we can break down all notions of what is and is not possible in order to find a fantastical world on the other side. This insight or experience can be conveyed in many ways.

Fight the power. Construct a story revolving around the teachers requiring the students to spy on them, find information, and undermine their judicial and elevated position. Or why not make it a game of paranoia, someone is out to get the players! They must escape this unknown force, information must be exchanged, but the enemy must not get a hold of them or the info.

Myths. Create a myth for the players to investigate. Stage a local ghost story or myth or make up one on your own! Many people are ready to believe in fairy tales and beasts, but preferably in a modern form. Pictures of UFOs are sometimes accompanied by the words “I want to believe”. Use that desire in your games!

Within literature and film studies, the concept of suspension of disbelief, describing how a spectator refrains from distrust, is often used to describe the same phenomenon. Films and books require the spectator to harbor a willingness to believe in the fiction. The reality gamer can possess the same willingness to believe, especially when instructed to do so.

Destructiveness. Avoid stories using self-destruction, violence and death as their basic elements, since our stories tend to turn into reality.

Creating a Game

Various environments, scenes and moods, which can be used to create a reality game, are presented below. Read and ponder what spaces there are in your area and what ways you could use them in within a story. Think of events and encounters which would be exciting to experience in these spaces. From there, it’s only a matter of making sure it all actually takes place.

We recommend starting small. Short, tasteful scenes, simple events turning into magic due to the fact that the players have never experienced them before. An unexpected encounter in an elevator, the newly conquered sensation of climbing under a bridge, the smell of spray-paint after having drawn a magical symbol on a rarely visited side street. Go through events from your past that you found exciting or transformative and try to use them for inspiration.

Coordinating is hard. If you manage to tie a story together using three working scenes as a first experiment, you should be pleased. Granted, there are games which have carried on for years, myths and stories which never seem to come to an end. The experiences and memories gained by the players will never be lost.

Some combinations of scenes and locations or players and locations may at first glance seem impossible. Give them a try! The unexpected often produce interesting results. How could a ritual inside a mall or an interview carried out in a tree house be made to come to life?

Agreements

By creating various agreements and rules for the reality game, the chance to give shape to otherwise impossible stories is also created. This can also be used as a way of creating a sense of security for the player. One common agreement in reality games is that everyone pretends that what happens in the game is “for real” and that they, to some extent, pretend that what is happening “for real” matters in the game.

In killer games such as Killer or Deathgame, “killing” players in workplaces and schools is usually forbidden. In the mid 90’s, weapon replicas were used in killer games. Following a number of incidents, the agreement was reached that it would be better if a gun was represented by a commonplace item like a banana, much like suggested in the original rules circulating as faded copies. Such agreements became important so coworkers and fellow students would not have to witness staged murders.

Rules and agreements can be formulated before play or emerge as part of the story.

The City as Stage

Stories and fairy tales can be found in our dreams, in poems scribbled on hidden slips of paper. In whispers around the campfire in the summer night. Now, we must dare to bring these stories into the streets, let them come to life in the seething warrens of people and unexpected encounters. The city could be a labyrinth of possibilities, but it has grown into a wretched, repetitive pattern where everything seems unpredictable.

Free/open spaces

The spaces we call free lack clear agreements on what one may or may not do. Thus, the players are giving a larger space of action. Defining an event which fits the framework of the story is easy, because pretty much anything could happen.

Abandoned buildings. There’s almost always at least one available nearby. Getting inside could present somewhat of a challenge, but once you’re in, the possibilities are vast. Sometimes, electricity is available which means audio equipment can be used. Works great for discoveries, encounters, surrealism, creation. Watch out for alarms and holes in floors. Look for a way onto the roof and also for alternative ways to enter the building.

The Underworld. In most cities, there are plenty of underground tunnel systems and spaces: shelters as well as tunnels used for telecommunications, storm water, gas, district heating, etc. If you have any kind of opportunity, be sure to bring you players down into the underworld, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. Make sure they bring at least two flashlights with them. Suitable for discovery, ritual, exploration, gatherings.

Park. An excellent place for playing. During the day, it’s green and soft and open, in the nighttime it is dark and easy to hide in. The park is dynamic, it can be both safe and frightening. In the fall, it turns yellow and red and poetic. Suitable for virtually any kind of scene or situation.

Square. The very symbol of “public space”. This was, once upon a time, the space for public dialogue on political issues. In the square, attracting attention is easy. Everyone can see what everyone else is doing, which of course has its pros and cons. The square suits, among others, the action, gathering or surrealism.

The tree house. Tree houses easily get your imagination going. Playing on childhood emotions is easy. In a well-hidden tree house one can observe without being seen. There’s also the more advanced “tree house” at camp sites, where one can organize a sleepover.

Roofs. Believe it or not, but every house has a roof. You don’t often go there, but there they are. From these roofs, one can get a good view of the city, it could be appropriate to get such a view at the start of a game in order to get the lay of the land. Or, on the other hand, the game could end at such a spot to give the player the opportunity to look back at the journey she has made.

Seized spaces

These spaces have a clearly defined agreement on what is and is not allowed. This makes playing in them more difficult, and all the more exciting. These spaces create a drama as soon as the players are forced to break with any of the functions the space was initially intended to serve.

Mall. A challenge for every reality gamer is doing anything at all inside a shopping mall. These privatized mega halls offer a very limited space of action. According to the agreement, we are allowed to do two things: looking and shopping. Thus, any scene is a challenge of this space as it does not suit any scenes. Nonetheless, it deserves to be bombarded with play. Watch out for security guards.

School. What could potentially be an amazing platform for creativity, play and collaboration is today a reformatory institution where juveniles are kept to prevent them from coming up with any mischief. It’s a sort of prison up until adulthood. School is a natural starting point for r-gaming.

Buses and trains. Means of transport are temporarily closed rooms that often have a low-key social character. It can be difficult to plan scenes during the journey, as players can easily end up going away from the scene.

Work. It easily becomes misleading to say anything in general about workplaces because they look so different. Workplaces are often difficult to infiltrate with play. The left behind rules of Fight Club is a great example of how limited resources can cause a good deal of confusion. As a teacher or youth recreation leader, you have tremendous opportunities. With more asocial jobs, such as subway ticket vendor or programmer, this turns into more of a challenge. Reality games at work can produce results of great importance to your daily life. You can get a close-knit team to poke fun at the boss, allowing the game to highlight the constant conflict going on between employers and employees.

Cafe. Suitable to use in scenes which are based on speech and dialogue. If you ask nicely, the staff can play music that fits well into the scene.

Temporary spaces

In these spaces there are different agreements depending on when one finds oneself in them. They are social spaces rather than geographical ones. They arise for a short period and at that location, specific agreements on what to do and what not do to are in effect. Examples include clubs, festivals, camps, flea markets, group therapy sessions. We recommend using temporary spaces as part of the story of the game because they, in their basic form, already involve the type of state of emergency that reality gaming often leads to and is nourished by.

Closed spaces

Closed spaces are, in many ways, similar to larp or temporary autonomous zones. With “closed space”, we mean that all elements, all suggestions, which are experienced at this location are part of the game and its story. These spaces are not reached by consensus reality, except in the form of memories and habits. What is exciting about closed spaces is that the experience of playing the game can really be stepped up, what’s sad is that reality is rarely changed as a result of what goes on inside these closed spaces.

Organizations

Every story needs a few parties who can return in different contexts and boost the drama in one way or another. One way of including such parties is to simply create new ones. These may include businesses, cults, goverment agencies or schools. Remember that an organization based abroad is harder to check the credibility of than one based in the country you’re playing in. Of course, you only need to create the image of the organization, rather than the whole organization itself. The impression given by business cards, websites, logotypes and name tags go a long way.

Scenes and Events

The job of the coordinator is to put the player into interesting situations. The players should never have to force themselves to understand how exciting, dangerous, dangerous or amazing a scene is. They should feel it. A free fall and you’re frightened, a hand in yours and you feel closeness, someone kneeling and you feel revered, ropes around you wrists and you feel captured.

Meeting. Put your players in contact with one or more people who could help them or who themselves need help with something. Make sure that the role or person they meet is exciting and peaks their interests. Perhaps the person wants to share knowledge or information? Perhaps the role needs help with something or the players need help from the role?

Interview. Perhaps your players must be subjected to an interview to join a secret organization? Or maybe a confused journalist calls to find out more about what the players are up to? The interview forces the players to express themselves about what they’ve experienced in the game. It can sometimes be important for the coordinator to gain some insight into what the players have been through, without having to interrupt the flow of the game.

Discovery. Searching which leads to something often revolves around a location, an object which is of great importance to the story, or a setting the players are able to experience and end up in thanks to the game. What magical places are there in you area? Having your players watch the sun rise over an old quarry or sneak into a hotel swimming pool during peak season can serve as titillating experiences and strong story elements. Discovery must be driven by the curiosity of the players. The coordinator’s task then becomes to bring out that curiosity and present incentives to make the players follow their impulses.

Actions. An important part of r-gaming is the players showing courage: that they dare act and take place on the stage of reality. This can be done in many different ways. Take inspiration from political actions and street theater.

Interventions. The situationist movement used the term “intervention” to describe operations in the urban environment which turned a situation on its head. For some examples of such mischief, do an online search for “flash mobs”.

Investigation. Scanning one’s way through unfamiliar surroundings in the search for an unknown object or an important person. Take inspiration from detective novels.

Creation. Have your players engage in some form of creative process related to the story. Perhaps they must write a letter, build a radio transmitter or repaint a wall? Creativity brings the group together and lends confidence. It’s important that whatever is created is also used in an upcoming scene or is directly relevant to the scene already taking place. Other, more commonplace examples could include cooking food or making a fire.

Journeys. A long walk or a bicycle ride, rowing across a lake to an island or getting in the car are all forms of transcendence. Journeys often mark a shift in a story. They can also function as build-up for a decisive scene.

Rituals. Rituals can be used for many different purposes; as a way of gathering power, as a way of transcending ones everyday identity, as a way of directing one’s energy or attention toward something specific, as a way of obtaining new abilities, sharpening one’s senses.

Infiltration. Give the players a reason to blend into a new environment and social context, a subculture for example, or any other closed group. If your friends are aesthetes, put them into a new context with technologists or vice verse. Outfitting oneself with a whole new style is not expensive if one does it at a second hand shop or at a flea market.

Surrealism. Establish a sense of unreality. This can be done in different ways. Take inspiration from surrealist art and David Lynch movies. If the players encounter an instructed role, this person could repeat the same line several times, using the same body language. That would create an unpleasant situation with a touch of déjà vu.

Confrontation. Scenes wherein a group of players are asked to answer for what they have, or have not, done, either by another player or by an instructed role. Perhaps someone wants to make them do the right thing in a situation? Maybe there are friends who are their enemies and enemies who are their friends!

Picnic. Coming together to share, e.g. food, is always a good thing. This could bring together players or groups of players. What is shared can of course be something other than food, such as music or stories.

Duel. Weaving creatively oriented conflicts and challenges into the game can be a lot of fun. Playful brawls can be staged using dancing such as capoeira or break dance or even balancing acts, music jams or songs.

Debriefing

After a reality game, it’s important to get the players talking to each other about what they have and have not done. If they know each other well enough, this will happen spontaneously. Otherwise, elements which encourage the players to talk about their experiences in a written form could be woven into the story itself. Perhaps the player receives a letter from a fictional character asking for an explanation of what has happened or you as the coordinator can simply ask for feedback after the end of the game. Another way of getting feedback is letting an already informed friend participate as a player and ask her, behind the scenes, how the game has been going.

The ending can be orchestrated in many ways. You can either put together an evidently epic finish, or you can let the story slowly fade away and thus let the game slowly sink into the everyday lives of the players. Perhaps that will make the game linger in the minds of the players for a bit longer.

This article has sought to identify and summarize some of the experiences we’ve had in connection with various reality games created by Interacting Arts, i.e. as Scen 3 (Stage 3, 2001-2004) and Maskspel (Maskplay, 2007). This is neither the only nor the best way of producing reality games, but it is a starting point. Research and exploration of different methods will continue.

Clay play in 3D with Sculptris

I recently found Sculptris, a simple software for 3D-modeling. Here are my first tries with it. I’m impressed by how simple and user friendly it is to get going with it and since I started to use it, last week I noticed my view of objects and shapes has changed. Since proportion is the key to understanding anything as human, and I’m not good with that yet, it is obvious that everything I do tends towards the monstrous.

The first version of the image is from the 3d-software, and the second one is simple post-production in 2D.

A small stylized deamon on a flight.

A hand chopped off!

A flying melancholic pig.

Some kind of robot doll.

I will probably get back to this and show you more when I get some real skillz. What kind of fantasy creatures would you like to see manifested?

The Avatar Condition

An UngaTur performance piece in collaboration with Interacting Arts

There is no audience.
There are no actors.
The Avatar Condition is something else.
Discover who you become when someone else makes your decisions.

The Avatar Condition is an invitation to being controlled. To act without having to make decisions. Through headphones, you are instructed to move, speak and act – collectively and individually. You don’t need any prior knowledge to participate. A voice will guide you through the piece, which takes place as much in your own head as it does in the space.

The Avatar Condition has been developed in Stockholm, Malmö, Västerås and Copenhagen during the last year. December 8-11 of 2011, The Avatar Condition takes over the Stockholm Theatre Turteatern.

Where will it go next? Maybe to a black box, dance studio, abandoned industrial building or inhabited villa close to you…

Take a decision to give up your freedom of choice! Bring us over and try out The Avatar Condition.

By: Albin Werle, Ebba Petrén, Elize Arvefjord, Gabriel Widing, Kerstin Weimers, Klara Backman, Moa Backman and Tova Gerge.

  • Duration: 90 min
  • Capacity: 18 guests/show
  • Contact and tech rider: ebba.petren@gmail.com

Staged Larceny – stealing attempt at Baltic Circle Festival

Last week I had the oppurtunity to go to Helsinki to make a performance together with Pekko Koskinen from Reality Research Center. It was performed at the Baltic Circle Festival under the title Staged Larceny:

This operation attempts to steal the fabric of one performance to create another. The theft is conjured by you, our assistants in this crime of fiction.

In order to perform this theft, we reframe our target, a piece called more than enough by Doris Uhlich, kidnapping it to a different context. With the frame we build, the piece will have connotations beyond itself, reasons that stem from our fabrications and falsehoods. In other words: we will lie and you will interpret.

The work consisted of three parts. A briefing, the “theft” and a debrief. Here are a couple of photos by Tani Simberg from the briefing.

The briefing consisted of a few diffrent parts. Here is an excerpt:

We will be entering the territory of this performance disguised as typical “spectators”. Now, what is a spectator? Spectator is a observatory being that operates near performances, staying mostly still and silent, thus making itself less noticeable — a spectral ghost, of a sort. From this, nearly invisible position, they observe and consume things such as performances. They also serve as cultural shields against the eruptions of performances — a buffer between the rawness of performance, and the regularity of everyday life.

To extract valuables from the performance, we will blend into a group of spectators hovering nearby in this territory. We will now show you the basics of spectating, to help you to blend in. You’ve already tried to sit on a chair in a spectatorial manner. But of course, there is a great variety of postures for such sitting.

We have chosen 5 basic postures to have a closer look at, if you can switch between them during the operation you will be fine. Please copy our movement.

Neutral – Hands on your knees. Not to much space between your knees.
Streched – If you are losing interest but want to keep it. Stretch your back and neck.
Forward leaning – When you have interest. Get support from your elbows. Put your hands together.
Backward leaning – When you get too comfortable or bored. (Go Sceptical by drossing your arms over the chest)
Uncomfortable – always shifting position, crossing legs, looking here and there.

The briefing was reinforced during the performance by a deck of cards consisting of text with questions and instructions. The card deck worked as a tool for exploration, to enable a “search for valuable fragments: moments in time, details of senses, peculiar thoughts”.

Here are a few examples of cards:

  • Discreetly mirror some of the movements happening on stage.
  • Concentrate on listening rather than looking.
  • Relax to the point that you might fall asleep.
  • How would it be to see this performance in your living room, kitchen or toilet?
  • Why are you here? What brought you into this situation?

The cards worked to produce alienation as well as engagement in the performance at stage. In the first iteration we had statement cards as well but they didn’t really make sense when we put them in use.

We tried two different ways to end our staged “theft” after the stolen performance was over, but non of them really worked out in a good way.

All in all it was interesting to attend the festival and try to play around a bit with the audience position.

Circle of Scent

This is a simple score for an aesthetic experience tied to our smelling senses. It’s not site, but audience specific in the sense that the experience will differ depending on whom the participants are. The Circle of Scent is realized through a few simple steps:

  1. Organize a group of people in a circle, facing the middle and explain how it’s going to work.
  2. Everyone will go a full lap behind the people in the circle, stopping by to smell each persons neck and shoulders. This means everyone will have smelled everyone else when the circle is over.
  3. Just before you start, ask everyone to switch place and close their eyes in order to make it harder to connect identity with smell on beforehand.
  4. If you go clock-wise the participants will know when to start their tour when they have no one to their right.

PAF – an invisible academy

I wrote my last post from my room (above) in PAF – Performing Arts Forum, located in the village S:t Erme north east of Paris. It’s a self-organised space in an ex-monastry for people into performance and art.

I just finnished reading The Name of the Rose that is set in a monastry, which creates a kind of strange fictional backdrop for my mind – allthough I don’t think my stay here will turn into semiotic-philosophic murder-mystery. Anyways PAF is based on very simple principles:

  • Don’t leave traces
  • Make it possible for others
  • The do-er decides
  • (Think them interrelated)

I’ve only spent a night and a day here so far but it’s extremely inspiring. It is open the whole year and there are amazing spaces to do things. As far as I understand it’s financed a little bit like a hostel. You pay 14 euro per night for a bedroom and access to all the spaces. In the entrance there is a schedule where you can propose activities for the coming days.

Tomorrow the philosopher Nina Power, who wrote One Dimensional Woman, will start a seminar. (Introduction in Swedish at Popvänster)

The place also reminds me of the idea of an Invisble Academy, present in Grant Morrisons epic anarcho-occultist comic adventure The Invisibles, which I unforteantley couldn’t find any image of.

100 Dancers – It’s far from the studio to the streets

I’ve spent a week in Copenhagen at the 100 dancers workshop. The aim was to do improvised public dance performances. Allthough I haven’t had time to seriously think through what we did I have some thoughts that I want to share with the ones who where in the workshop as well as people interested in the field of public dance improvisations.

Big thanks to the organizers as well as all the people who were there and engaged in the process. In a time when Europe is shaking it’s nice to get together with people from all over the place and share thoughts, experiences and dance.

Spending 3 days in the studio to prepare for 4 days of street performances was probably a mistake. The labs and proposals that came in the studio’s were nice and had an important function to get the group together, but once we took them to the streets it was obvious that most of it didn’t apply. There is a long mental, spatial, performative distance between the studio and the streets and I think we would have gained a lot by doing stuff in town far earlier on in the process.

The studio is safe, defined and easy to overview. The city is rock solid, uncompromising and unpredictable. The gaze of the audience also pushed us into street performance aesthetics that we were not at all prepared for such as pantomime and clown work. Leaving the everyday life regular clothes style and starting to dress up made things even worse and at some point it all looked like amateur theatre. People running around dressed for show, but with no show to give.

At that point I really lacked a b asic confidende in dance as a practise. It’s actually quite simple – bodies moving through space with spatial, temporal and compositional elements in mind. 100 dancers with pacing, listening and moving together would be enough and enjoyable for both the audience and the performers to engage in.

What generally did work was to create intimate situations in the public sphere. It creates a strong and simple dynamic. Many of the scores proposed non-social interaction capabilities in a neat way. Here are some examples of scores, I can’t remember who came up with them:

  • Undulation. Standing in a group with a direction. Breathing together, then moving with a smooth wavelike motion. Walking with one step per breath. Enhance the undulating wave untill the arms go up breathing in and the upper body going down breathing out.
  • Ripple. Gathering in an extremly tight but standing pile of bodies. Slowly creating space in the group. Expanding. Breaking out in a contact duo with somebody. Fill the whole space with dance. Coming to stillness. Running to a new centre, a new pile and starting over again.
  • Orpheus & Euryduce. One person sit on a bench, another aproach. They have a flirt and a hug. The one sitting there first goes away, stops and look back. Another one comes by and it start over.
  • Entering a space in a conscious and listening way. Dancing with the whole group in mind.
  • Slow motion.
  • Being with. Standing with a couple of meters distance, looking at each other, giving it time. Leaving, finding a new person to be with.