Co-writing a park, inhabiting it with role-playing

Nordic live role-playing conference Knudepunkt has started, Miriam has some photos. Yesterday I gave a workshop about writing “fictions and try different approaches to co-creation. Everyone  write in the same document simultaneously.” I want to share an exercise developed with Ulf Staflund, that I’ve only done once before but enjoyed a lot both times. I’ve written a little bit about it in swedish earlier.

The Park

  1. You need a group of people in the same room, co-writing with each other. The room should be big enough to have a designated area for interaction, The Park.
  2. The group starts out writing about the park. The text have no characters, only milieu and atmosphere.
  3. When someone feel ready s/he can enter the Park and through role-playing, mime or dance inhabit it with a character. When someone is on “stage” the writing stops and the attention of the group is on the stage.
  4. When a character leaves the stage it can be introduced in the text and the writing continous untill someone else gets the impulse to go on stage.

Music can help the participants to enter the same mode.

What I like about this exercise is that the role-playing part can stay very low-key and still produce tension and precense. It’s also nice to be able to go in and out of character without the pressure to sustain an illusion which is almost always present in live role-playing.

Here is an excerpt from last night:

Sun. Always sun.
The old oak had been here longer than the park itself. Standing as royalty in the middle, a place for thoughts. It was a warm, late afternoon, the sun shining on the paths of the park, on the leaves. Before, teenagers used to hide love letters to each others in holes in the tree. But these days they use internet instead.
The shadow of the trees were slightly shaking with the wind. It was talking to the grass in a very soft language.

For the people of the city the park has always been their only green refuge amidst smoke, exhaust and dirt. For the homeless people in the city, the park also serves as a kind of hostel. But there are no benches. They took them away because the homeless used them for sleeping. People have to sleep in the cold grass, covered with leafs. During the summer months this is not too bad, but every winter the cold nights take away the lives of some of the park’s inhabitants. It’s called the share of the carnivourous trees.

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