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.


  • Lisa Lindén, Genusvetare, Dramaturg, Styrelseledamot Dramaturgavdelningen


  • 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.

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

PROCESSEN – Nyxxx & Borås stadsteater gör Kafka

Kafka intersected with sound waves.

Kliv in i Kafkas huvud tillsammans med scenkonstkollektivet Nyxxx, när en av världens mest kända och absurda kriminalgåtor spelas med dubbla perspektiv. K häktas plötsligt en morgon för okända brott av vakter från en okänd domstol. Det är början på en mardrömslik färd genom ett rättssystem där alla regler kan förändras, ingen är huvudansvarig och domstolens rättvisa är lika svårdefinierad som den är allsmäktig.

Agera eller se på – i fallet K

Du kan antingen se pjäsen som vanlig betraktande publik eller köpa en av våra 12 exklusiva guidade platser, där du med hjälp av instruktioner i hörlurar får stiga in i Kafkas suggestiva värld och bli omsluten av konstverket. Tillsammans undersöker vi en personlig och kollektiv skuld genom dubbelt perspektiv. Ska individens röst alltid höras eller är majoritetens trygghet viktigare? Vilka är vi som står bredvid och ser K drivas in i en byråkratisk återvändsgränd? K är väl trots allt skyldig…?

PREMIÄR 17 MARS 2018, Borås stadsteater, Lilla scen.

Av: Tova Gerge, Ebba Petrén och Gabriel Widing, baserad på Franz Kafkas roman
Idé och regi: Ragna Wei
Hörlursmanus och samregi: Ebba Petrén och Gabriel Widing
Dramatisering: Tova Gerge
Scenografi: Erika Magnusson
Koreografi: Damjan Kecojevic

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.

Another body is possible / There is no body B.

Matilda Tjäder, curator at Minibar in Stockholm, invited the artist Susan Ploetz, Patricia Reed and me to talk in relation to Susan’s somatic larp The Guild. Here is my take.


I decided to talk under the title “Another body is possible / There is no body B.” This title paraphrases two slogans from the globalisation movement. I guess I set out to think about how these movements has influenced live action roleplaying.

The first one of these phrases – ”Another world is possible”, is connected to the late 90:ths and early millennial anti-capitalist, social movements that haunted the international meetings of financial capitalism – the World bank, World economic forum, European Union, G8 et c.

The second one ”There is no planet B” is connected to the climate justice movement and has been a mobilizing rhetoric in relation to the climate meetings such as COP 15 in Copenhagen, COP21 in Paris et c.

My speculative thesis is that we can understand or explore the role of the body through the imaginary structures of these political movements. And I will talk specifically about the role of the body within the context of Nordic live action role-playing, also known as larp.

The relationship to these social movements influenced the formation and development of Nordic larp. Larp was embedded in the counter-culture of late 90:ths. Many of the writers and organizers of larp were involved in anarchist and feminist organizations and initiatives, but also in occult circles.

So what did it mean that ”Another world is (or was?) possible”? I propose to go back to 1999 to answer that question. Someone has claimed that it was our generations 1968 and to me that makes sense. It was the year when The Battle of Seattle happened – a massive protest against the World trade organization. The feeling that capitalism had won on walk over against any other kind of political system was challenged. There was actually conflict again over where to go next. Everybody did not agree that free market global capitalism was the shit. And now post-2008 financial crisis it is pretty clear that the critique of these institutions was quite accurate.

In the cultural field of ’99 the movie The Matrix came out and proposed a radical constructivist view on reality. Reality was seen as a collective illusion, controlled by artificial intelligence, but this system could be challenged. In Denmark von Trier did The Idiots, in which a group of anti-bourgeois adults move into a house to seek their “inner idiot”, and thereby get over their social inhibitions. They basically form a larp where they act as if they were developmentally disabled, then they take their new selves to the public sphere to see what happens. These are two very different movies, but together they touch on some kind of zeitgeist. There are other movies that could be mentioned here, such as Cameron’s Strange days, Cronenberg’s eXistenZ and Fincher’s Fight Club.


Idioterne, Lars von Trier, 1998


At the same time, in the Nordic countries, the experimental larp scene had just formed. And by experimental I mean that it didn’t follow the genre conventions of fantasy literature. So if the cry of the global left was ”Another world is possible”. The response from larpers was – Yes! And we can show you how it is done. We can construct new worlds, new realities, new social modes of being. It was not that important exactly what these new worlds consisted of. It was the fact that they could be created. This mode was, in the radical larp scene, formulated as ”War on Reality”, making escapism into a kind of tool for resistance.

It might have to do with that I was 15 years of old at the time but I really had the sense that we could travel into other, parallel realities. This fantasy about creating other worlds defined the aesthetics of Nordic larp. And in order to create that other space we sought autonomy. Not autonomy in the Kantian sense really but in a social, spatial, timely sense. A sociological way of understanding this was that we created strong ”magic circles” or liminal spaces – social state of exception where the alienation of everyday life was challenged.

At this time there were actually fears among ”the grown-ups”, teachers, good Christians, et cetera that role-playing would work in the sense that you could role-play yourself into another state of being and not be able to find your way back. That would have been pretty cool. What we found out I guess is that role-playing works a lot more like a rubber band. You have to stretch it out to become someone you are not, but as soon as you release or relax you will be back to your normal self and not much seems to have changed. There are counter-examples of this though. Transformation can happen.

The body was not so much at stake during this time. It was just seen as the ticket or vehicle to bring us to the other worlds. I think we had this idea that we could take ourselves out of ”the system”, the matrix, and thus be liberated. We just had to break apart from this social world. We didn’t realize that well how much crap we brought along with us into the fantasy spaces. Both in social and mental terms. We also didn’t realize the tactical or political potentiality in the fact that we brought our bodies back to real life.

Things changed though. For me personally it happened because I started to dance contact improvisation. And as soon as I started that practice I realized that some of the most profoundly transformative experiences I had in larps were connected to the body. By then, in 2006, I wrote an article together with Tova Gerge titled ”The Character, the Player and Their Shared Body.” This idea of a shared body might seem obvious to anyone, but at that time it felt like a revelation: it is actually our real, social body that we put into play, that we put at risk, that we charge with fantasies or desires tied to fictional frameworks. Here is an example from that article on how it could work:

”Mellan himmel och hav [Between heaven and sea] deconstructed sexuality and gender during several preparatory workshops. Individual expression was consciously disguised behind turbans and wide clothing. Hands and arms were recoded into erogenous zones; sexually neutral parts of the body became the only allowed tools for intimate interaction. The players were trained to look at what all people had in common and to find a beauty in every single person through concentrating on bodily aspects less occupied by media images then tits and ass. When a hand touches another hand it does not matter how it looks; when gazes meet, faces blur.
The participants were suddenly thrown into situations where they had physical contact with people they would normally, for one reason or another, never touch. As a consequence, very many of the participants were smitten with a poly-sexual analysis of human relations—and they took it into practise, because they had experienced that these ideas functioned. A big number of break-ups, amorous adventures, and attempts to establish new norms followed among the players.”

So if there is no alternate, second body then it can also be no alternate reality. Actually, another world is impossible, there is no other world, no other planet. There is only one, material reality and we have to take care of ourselves and each other across the borders that magic circles make up.

The strategies of autonomy and separation in larp has partly been replaced by other ideals. The Nordic larp community has started to affirm the fact that there is constant leakage or bleed as some would call it, between the fantasies of roleplaying and everyday life. So instead of asking ourselves: how can we get out of this world, we started asking ourselves how things can travel from the realms of fantasy into reality.

This image of reality resembles the idea that There is no planet B. We are stuck in that sense. At this point I think my talk could go in many directions and it will also do that. I have many questions around this subject. It also makes me wonder about the relation between larp and somatic practices, but also artistic practices. I will throw out a few different ideas and problems in relation to this.

Last autumn I was in Berlin for the Body IQ festival at the Somatic academy. One of the main topics of this week-end was ”How do we experience the formation and dissolution of a social body?” but they also posed the question ”How do our survival fears and external pressures, such as war, climate change, immigration, and economy, impact the development of collectives?” This is questions that are very relevant to take back into larp context. One of the teachers, Thomas Kampe, said something along the lines of that: ”It would make no sense to me to give you exercises that only work in the studio but not in everyday life”.

So in that, more or less therapeutic context there were ambitions that I would describe as anti-autonomous. Aesthetic ideals forming that are exactly about the continuity between real life and obscure practice. For example – do not change into training clothes! Don’t make yourself more comfortable than you are in your regular life. Just do the practice with the conditions that you have and that you are used to.

This new orientation in larp towards the body also contest a rather long lasting liaison to theatre and film as point of reference for the benefit of performance art, choreography and dance. I find that very exciting. If we compare a practice like contact improvisation with larp we find a lot of similarities: shared space, social agreements, collective improvisation, personal expression and some kind of immersion. But there are also massive differences. Dance happens in the body, role-playing has a lot of the time happened in the face, talking heads. The dance is silent, role-playing verbal, but maybe more importantly: dance focus on the moment while role-playing has been very occupied with the continuity of story. In contact improvisation there is a constant play between discontinuity and continuity. In larp I generally get the feeling that discontinuity is a threat. Everyone get together to fight the entropy that happens when different story lines develop simultaneously in different parts of the larp. In contact improvisation, or in a larp informed by dance or somatics we don’t need to struggle with that. The workings of theatre: dramaturgy, escalation of conflict, tropes and representation can be replaced with other aesthetic possibilities: presence, intensities, flow, scores and so on.

Another question: If there is no body b, if we are always here in this very world with ourselves – how does change happen? Is there any social, physical or psychological effects to be gained from larping? How can it sometimes be so hard to change? Both in terms of changing oneself, changing who we are, but also in terms of political change.

What could be liberating with larp from a somatic point of view is that it doesn’t have to deal with therapeutic challenges. We don’t necessarily need to heal anything or be healthy. In that sense larp is clearly rooted in the aesthetic domain. We can make larps that utilize the body and somatic practices for artistic purposes. Scenarios that makes life not more bearable but more complicated or challenging. On the other hand, maybe we also want to heal? Maybe we need it? If history always has been a history of trauma then the storytelling of larp has followed the same logic.

This is a challenge. It seems that it is so easy to get hurt, but it takes so much effort to heal. I met some philosophers recently that talked about toast. It is so easy to make toast out of bread, but it is so hard to make a fresh bread out of toast. How can this thought be applied to political change? And I think about this question two-ways: Can we make collective acts that is impossible reverse? And also, can we undo the traumas, the stories, the history that has constituted our bodies?

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


PROTOCOLS #2 & #3 extra_sensory

❢❢ 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

Nytt scenkonstverk: Nattens gudinna på Uppsala stadsteater


Öppna dina händer. Släpp taget och följ med.

Händerna är den kroppsdel som först sträcks ut mot det okända, som gör världen begriplig och påtaglig. De står för handlande och mjuk beröring, de ingriper i världen och griper tag om en annan hand. Händer förbinder. I en nyskapande och interaktiv föreställning skapar publiken en gemensam historia tillsammans med skådespelarna. En historia om koder och makt och om att bemästra det som kan vara dolt i en skugglik värld.

Föreställningen, som riktar sig till unga från årskurs 6-9, presenteras av scenkonstkollektivet Nyxxx.

Urpremiär 26 januari

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.


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.