Rest in peace Keith Johnstone

I just heard that the improvisation guru Keith Johnstone (1933 – 2023) passed away. He visited Stockholm occasionally and worked with Susan Osten and others, which also meant that his work was translated and published in Swedish. I think his work was absolutely fundamental to bridge the world of games and theater and thereby making what we now know as nordic live action roleplay possible. The book Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre (1989) helped me and many other larp organizers and participants in late 90ths to understand social status in play, masks and physical improvisation, as well as basic ideas about what kind of improvisation that enables collective storytelling in a group of participants. 

Workshop at Portal 10 LARP Conference

The 10th Portal celebrates diversity and invites all larpers from North, East, South, West, to share their approaches, styles, cultures, and cardinal directions of larping. We don’t strive to be a compass that shows the right direction but a wind rose that showcases all the directions at the same time. There are no rights or wrongs in larping – only aspects we enjoy more or less and already know, and aspects that are a mystery.

I will give a workshop at this conference together with Thom Kiraly under the title:

Prototypes for post-dramatic roleplaying

Improvisation is hard. Roleplaying is even harder. Thresholds are high. In this workshop we will propose a couple of scenarios that gives participants less preparation and possibly more freedom to enjoy the situation. One scenario is based on cards, another one is based on mobile phone web technologies. We will test these prototypes and talk about how they could be developed. We are looking for formats and scenarios that could be proposed to an audience rather than a dedicated subculture of larpers. We move along a path located somewhere between larp, play and performance art.

Gabriel Widing, is a writer and theatre director with a long background in Nordic larp. He is based in Stockholm and member of performing arts collective Nyxxx.

Thom Kiraly, is a poet and a teacher in game design, based in Malmö. He has a special interest in play and social games.

Where and When

24-26 June 2022 | Cracow, Poland

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.


Modern dans möter levande rollspel

Om du orkar släpa sig med till Norge så är du varmt välkommen på den här workshopen. Finns det intresse skulle jag även kunna göra något motsvarande i Stockholm.

Kontaktimprovisasjon møter laiv
Workshop med Gabriel Widing fra Interacting Arts

Tid: Lørdag 2. juni 11 – 19
Søndag 3. juni 12.30 – 19

Sted: Rom for dans, Marstrandgt. 8, Oslo

Pris: 150 kroner
Påmelding til

I kontaktimprovisasjon møtes to eller flere personer i en lek med vekt, balanse og gravitasjon – de danser med hverandre i improvisert bevegelse. Bevegelse og berøring er grunnlaget for denne danseformen, som ble utviklet i USA på begynnelsen av 70-talet av initiativtageren Steve Paxton sammen med andre dansere og improvisatører. Dansen bygger på improvisasjon, det gjelder å lytte på seg selv og den en danser med. Her minner formen mye om laiv – den kollektive improvisasjonen står i sentrum. Sammen kan man gå inn i en spesiell stemning eller en spesiell sinnstilstand.

Det som skiller kontaktimprovisasjon fra levande rollespill er at kontaktdansere ikke går inn i roller og de forsøker heller ikke å fortelle en historie. Derimot finnes det mange spennende verktøy å låna for laivere som vil bli mer levende. Et problem innen levende rollespill er at spillet ofte heller mot det som kalles talking-heads. Spillet blir veldig verbalt, vi snakker og snakker og glemmer bort kroppen. Ideen med denne workshopen er å gjøre noe med det. Innen kontaktimprovisasjon kan man trena teknikker for å gi og ta vekt, løfte, falle, fly, hoppe, rulle, glide og å være opp og ned. Vi går igjennom det grunnleggende og eksperimenterer med ulike måter å kombinere improvisert rollespill og improvisert dans. Ingen forkunnskaper kreves.

Workshopen avsluttes med minilaiven Limbo Redux på søndagen!

Gabriel Widing bor i Stockholm og underviser i media, kunst, spill og estetikk. Han har også erfaring med å holde workshops som utforsker bevegelse, å ta roller, lek, intimitet og dans. Utover undervisning jobber han med spillproduksjon og grafisk formgivning. Han er redaktør og skribent for tidsskriftet Interacting Arts, som nylig lanserte virkelighetsspill i Sverige.

Workshopen støttes økonomisk av Ravn.