Performing in London

The norp community rolled a random encounter and got Adam James, performance artist. I had the pleasure of being Shanghaied for a project of his, along with Nina Runa Essendrop. Our role was to provide some larping expertise to the work and surprisingly also to perform!

The Danes. Photo by Adam James
The Danes. Photo by Adam James

The event was held at Siobhan Davies Studio as part of the Fort-Da performance season.

We did this over two weekends, with seven local movement geeks (Most were dancers with some acting and choreography thrown in.) The first was two days of workshopping, excercises, little games and playstorming towards a finished performance. The second was character workshopping and the performance itself.

During the workshopping we built up some really strong trust and playfulness in our little troupe. EVeryone was comfortable using their bodies to express themselves, doing movement experiments and bringing in ideas. We did several excellent excercises that I intend to steal the hell out of, for my own larps. We worked with moving as abstract representation, not exactly dancing and definitely not miming! The end goal was to create a language of relational movement that echoed the spoken words, but on the way we took a lot of interesting detours. It was a great laboratory for trying out improvised, expressive movement. I learned a lot and also found that I had a lot to contribute with, despite my relative amateur status compared to everyone else.

Workshop excercise. Photo by Ali MacGilp
Workshop excercise. Photo by Ali MacGilp

After the workshopping Adam picked the brains of Nina and me, to larp it all up for the performance. We helped make the final character oriented workshop and structure the performance to make the improvsation flow freely. Nina stayed on for the weekdays too, where she coached, workshopped and did the tourist. I unfortunately had obligations and returned to Denmark with a heavy heart.

The second weekend was more of a classical larp workshop situation, with character building and preparing for the game. Adam and Nina had made some starting points for the characters and relationships during the week and we brainstormed the details, background and movements collectively.

And suddenly it was time to perform!

Photo by Rosie Hallam.
Photo by Rosie Hallam.

The performance itself happened in a pool of light surrounded by the audience. It went on in three parts with opening, act break and ending rituals. Each character was played by three players collectively: Two moving together in the light and one speaking from the dark. The movements were expressive of the emotions and relationships of the characters, based on the improvised dialogue from the three speakers. Adam functioned as a classic larp gamemaster, cutting scenes and setting new ones.

 Photo by Rosie Hallam.
First act underway. Photo by Rosie Hallam.

The theme of the game was bullying and exclusion, the characters three siblings with various positive and negative relations and situations that put one or two of them on the spot.

Adam gamemastering.  Photo by Rosie Hallam.
Adam gamemastering. Photo by Rosie Hallam.

The speaker was rotated on each trio of players in the act breaks, which were rituals adapted from some of the excercises we’d done. So that everyone did two acts moving and one speaking for the character. After the game itself we debriefed in a runda on stage, before inviting the audience to comment and critique.

Ritual endgame hugs. Photo by Rosie Hallam.
Ritual endgame hugs. Photo by Rosie Hallam.

I have never had as strange an exit from a character as this. Going from being in a world of listening and moving among others to suddenly being myself in front of an audience of very sharply dressed art afficionados!

Postlarp debrief. Photo by Rosie Hallam.
Postlarp debrief in front of the audience. Photo by Rosie Hallam.

It was really exciting to be a part of: Meeting a wholly different strain of creative and playing around with them. Trying to hybridize our hobby with an artistic approach. Seeing larp done in a high art setting, in front of an actual audience.

There’s a lot of fertile ground in the valley between us and the arts. Let’s seed it with awesome. I know those of us who were part of this is going to take it further in the coming months.

Chris on the floor. Photo by Rosie Hallam.
Chris on the floor. Photo by Rosie Hallam.

Feel free to ask for clarifying questions.

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