Friday morning is the time I started missing items due a subtle combination of having to finish slides and nocturnal hedonism (for the more hormonal among you, this does include drinking, good conversation, learning about stuff etc, i.e. all the non-official-larp-item-related pleasures that derive from nightly activities at KP. For more, read this page and then some Michel Onfray). The good thing is that most of what I missed was videotaped, so “best of both worlds” etc. Items I did attend are reviewed below.
Contraband from the other side
Karsten Dombrowski’s experience with stealing ideas from Nordic larp to use in his regular German larp scene. He focused on splitting the organizing burden of doing things like creating the characters or cooking onto the players, and how much this rocked. For Russian attendees it was obviously a no-brainer (“of course players have to provide their own food”) and I must admit I also split that burden with the 1997 and 2013 runs of La croisière s’accuse, where the player of the cook needs to plan and cook the food, the bartender to plan and mix the drinks etc. There was not enough time to go over other techniques in details, like workshops, black box, phantom play etc, which is a pity considering yes, mutualizing is cool, but there is so much more to steal from Nordic larp. The conversation turned a bit into “yeah, those Nordic assholes are bragging about stuff *we* invented and they just rebrand it” (I’m simplifying) but being French I like when people bitch about stuff. Basically, it would have benefitted from more Nordic larpers being present, another 20 minutes of presentation and 20 minutes of debate to be fully satisfying, but 10 minutes were stolen from us by guerrilla larpers who squatted the room beforehand.
Dare to be creative
At each KP, I cross a personal border. KP2011 was an attempt at swing dancing (highly traumatic), SK2012 was nudity (fun!) and KP2013 was… tarantella. I signed up for this item because “how to get people to perform artistic stuff at a larp” was one of my Big Design Questions for Afroasiatik (more on this later)… and Marion Bræstrup Løsnes, my KP program contact was hosting two hours on just that. I expected a slide presentation and maybe some drawing activity or group sculpture or whatever. Instead it was full of physical exercises run by three crazy young women that were so energetic and convinced about their stuff that it didn’t leave much time to protest or be self-conscious. As it it culminated in a 15-minute “OK, create stuff now” session, and I’m most comfortable with text, I wrote and “performed” this during the workshop:Creepy crazy performers Disco-tagging to break the ice Sure, I got to enjoy a lecture But not before shaking my ass You’ve made me dance, I enjoyed it Kudos for that Thanks for the kindness, the good ideas To each you I tip my hat
Democratic effects of larping – A bachelor thesis
Hilda Levin studies theater, participatory art and interviewed the participants of the Nordic-Palestinian larp Till death do us apart. The discussion about democracy reached far and wide, from whether the organization/running of a larp is a democratic process to what participants liked best, one aspect being the freedom to play in whichever directions they felt like. In terms of real-world effect, I guess the most impressive bits for me were connecting different, geographically-separated Palestinian groups and using larp as a way to discuss taboo topics in Palestinian society. Not sure whether this is democracy yet, but it’s definitely cool.
An afternoon with the Monitor Celestra
Grabbed the last bit, with the Usual Suspects (Fatland, Koljonen [also hosting], Montola, Pohjola, and Stenros) on the podium commenting on their experience of the game, what it delivered and what era of the Nordic Larp Discourse it fit in. It taught me a bit about the history of the Nordic larp scene (confirming that yes, most of us French and Swiss larpers are -in my case happily- stuck in the 90s), in a very entertaining manner. And from a pure navel-gazing point of view, I think my own impressions of the game’s strengths and weaknesses were validated, and that always feels good.
Advanced larp theory 101
Like for Jaakko Stenros, I had read some stuff by Markus Montola but had never seen the man talk outside of a larp. In my last memory of him, he was holding a shotgun in the command center of the Monitor Celestra and I was mentally preparing to die a heroic death. So observing and separating what was Major Darlington from was Markus Montola was half the fun of attending that lecture (for me). The other half was a type of fun I only get in KP: seeing other schools of thought and academic methods applied to my hobby. He used John Searle’s social constructionism as a framework to analyze larp, what is real, what isn’t, the magic circle etc. It’s difficult for me to summarize, so you may want to check out his PhD thesis (or an upcoming video of the talk). I was entertained, I was intrigued, but I may need to read the actual work to be amazed… or completely confused.
Larps of last year
I love these type of sessions where people do short presentation of recent games. I make the local Swiss larp groups do it at GN’Idée, and we need more of this everywhere! It’s the fastest way to learn about what’s happening, especially from people who don’t necessarily write a lot of documentation. I guess one of the most touching examples was a fantasy larp about being a soldier providing help to a country that didn’t asked for it, inspired by one of the organizer’s tour in Irak. It also gave me a forum to brag about my 2012-2013 games Technocculte (reflections here, here and here) and La croisière s’accuse (pics and stuff in French, but for more in English just read the latest LarpZeit International). The Technocculte iPad trick showing a player talking to himself in augmented reality had enough “wow” factor to remind me we could teach the Nords a thing or two about FX. In particular, Tonton Copt from Créa’vapeur needs to attend KP2014 and make them drool.
Better attended than the previous session, it had so much good stuff announced looking for an international audience, at various stages of readiness (some can be found on facebook). From a pure pitch point of view, my favorite presentation was the Palestinian larp festival, playing on every possible stereotype a European larper may have about attending a larp con in Palestine. I used the forum to pimp Coryphée’s Ultima Necat, the medieval larp in Chillon, the most badass castle in Switzerland. You know you want to go, so sign-up now, there are very few seats left and the English-speaking delegation should be awesome!
That bittersweet day you realize that KP is soon over and you want to make the most of your remaining time there. So earlier shower, breakfast, and on to…
Costume drama panel
The panel started in an eerie atmosphere, with a bright snowy landscape in the background making the stage hard to look at, both audience and panelists appearing either half asleep, or shy or emotional, though with time more motivated and to the point. I personally don’t give shit about Jane Austen/Brontë period (though the French luuuuv it so some came to measure dicks based on game pics). But when they showed 18th century pics they had all my attention There were very very interesting bits about organizer priorities, like the organizer who did not care that much about historical accuracy in costumes etc but wanted week-long larps so that people could really play the daily life and human-level plots of the larp. Or the organizer what was very candid in saying something like “at some point we realized we just liked looking pretty in costumes at social events, so now we organize picnics instead of larps set in that period”. The most original and touching game for me was the one set in a prison camp for women who slept with Nazi soldiers during WWII (in France their heads were often shaved by angry mobs). The fact that archives around these events were not released by the government and that this was still sort of a national taboo made the larp topic even more potent. Due to the setting, it also had a very different look, costumes etc from the other games.
Next : Hip-hop, finally! Status! Parties, aka what’s wrong with Nords and alcohol? And whether love really lasts 3 years…
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