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.

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.

Labyrinthine workshop

(Swedish below)

Intro, the participants standing in a circle with blindfolds on:

We will walk through a labyrinth. It is created with inspiration from blueprints that I got from some people that spend a lot of time in the forests surrounding Stockholm. It is a story about courage and compassion, about lost souls seeking meaning and context.

You fall asleep. It must be a dream of some kind. You walk through quiet darkness. There are no words here, only sounds and utterances. The sound of your breath. The chest expanding and sinking back with your breathing. When it’s completely dark around you it is harder to differ between inside and outside. The skin cannot be that safe border between you and your world, between your body and the surroundings.

The city is far away now. It smells different here. You give all your trust to the thread that will take you through and out of the labyrinth.

Intro, deltagarna står i en cirkel med ögonbindlar på.

Vi ska vandra genom en labyrint. Den är skapad efter omsorgsfulla förlagor och skisser jag fått från Vaganterna. Vandringen är en berättelse om mod och medkänsla, om ensamma människors sökande efter mening och sammanhang.

Du somnar. Det måste vara en dröm. Du vandrar i tystnad och mörker. Det kommer inga ord, bara ljud, läten och flämtande andning; bröstkorgen välver sig och sjunker samman. När det är helt mörkt runtomkring blir det svårare att känna skillnad på insida och utsida. Hudens trygga gräns mellan dig och omvärlden är inte självklar längre.

Staden är så långt borta nu. Det luktar annorlunda här. Du förlitar dig på den tråd som ska leda dig genom och ut ur labyrinten.

The workshop was done at the swedish role-playing convention Höjdpunkt.

Photos by Sarah Kim

The Character, the Player and Their Shared Body

The article is written by Gabriel Widing & Tova Gerge, published in Role, Play, Art, edited by Thorbiörn Fritzon and Tobias Wrigstad,  in conjunction with the 10th Knutpunkt Convention in Sweden, 2006.

What happens to our bodies when we give them to characters and place them in new environments and situations? Where do these memories go? The aim of this essay is to write a genealogy of muscles and organs; to try out visions and conflicting thoughts concerning the body in play.

INTRODUCTION

Live role-players put their bodies at the disposal of the destinies of the characters. Thereby, their bodies are also at the disposal of the aims of the organisers. New experiences are imprinted onto the organism of the participant, and new desires and aversions are born out of these experiences: the brain is pulling in one direction, the stomach just wants to quit, the heart is rushing. As the motivation for playing lies in the body, so do reactions in the game.

Our starting point is that each player has interests in his or her character—sexual desires, social awards, psychological challenges, need for confirmation, etc. Yet the choice of character is often disguised by false neutrality. A characters choice directed by personal interest, seems somehow dirty and suspicious. “I can play anything” is a common expression when it comes to picking a character. It is shameful to want, shameful to choose.

Within each player culture, there is a norm for what thoughts and variations are acceptable. This norm might be good in terms of controlling and moderating our behaviour. The tradition of some interests, for example “psychological challenges”, being more legitimate than others means that, in practise, a controversial choice of character will only be welcome if the player has a billion brilliant intellectual reasons to explain it with. The success rate in passing this social test is entirely individual,which is why we wish to describe these interests on a structural level rather than an individual.

If we can identify which desires one might be gratifying by entering a live role-play, we can also produce scenarios that are fulfilling specific needs or interests. In other words: scenarios and characters that make the greatest possible impact on their participants, and vice versa.

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