Larpskill: Over and under-acting

Being able to portray emotions and knowing dramatic flow also important in regards to the “volume” of play. The ability to reach melodramatic heights and to subtly show the nuances.


Building on the past three posts in this series, this is about working with the volume of play.


All storytelling mediums have various genres and formats that work on different levels of dramatic and emotional energy. Is a quick and easy action romp? A story of powerful emotions conflicting? Or a low key everyday drama?


Finding the right style of play for each game and each character is a good skill to practice. We automatically adjust ourselves to those around us, but it is still worth being aware of and talking about before a game.


Get a feel for what the organizers intend with the game and how your character fits into this. A larp rarely has main characters, but some roles are more in the spotlight than others, just as in real life, some people are just louder than others. Where does your character fit in the scheme of the game? How much space should you take up? In what situations? Is this something you can and should mess about with?


Where do you normally fit in this spectrum? If you’re a meek player, you’ll have a challenge to step up and take the scene, but if you have a big presence it is also tricky to tone yourself down for a role. And where do you want to be? It’s not all fun and games to be at the centre, you’re at risk of having too much to juggle all the time.


But this is more than just spotlight presence, it’s also about the way you play in general. Some larps and scenes are best when you ham it up and play as loud as possible, others can be very tense, quiet drama. You sort of need to try out the whole range to find your style(s). Shouting matches are fun in some cases, being able to whisper your feelings in others. Try using the full spectrum of your voice. Your body language as well. It can be fun to play with those two elements separately as well, whispering your threat while you body is boiling with anger or shouting your love from a perfectly still body.


And switch it up during play. It can take some practice to do it quickly, but variety is the spice of live. But if you, for example, build from slow to hot it escalates a conflict even further. Or a troubled romance of quiet togetherness and fiery fights. Keep your coplayers on their toes. Use your dramatic sense to find the right level or to create a new one.


Don’t just be a one volume larper, get yourself some options and variety!

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