Kristianiabohemen was a short larp revolving around the life and love of the people in the Norwegian creative and artistic community “Kristianiabohemen” in 1887. The Bohemians are artists, writers and actors who creates outrage among the cultural social elite with their unrestrained view of morality and fights to free society from Christianity, morality, marriage and the outdated views of justice.
Preparation and workshop
We received short written characters with relations and a few pointers on what to do at the larp around three weeks before the event. Before the larp we had a few hours of workshop where we developed the characters and their relationships a bit further with a particular focus on working with where we could and couldn’t see ourselves in the characters.
I liked this approach towards the character generation as it moved the characters from the historical context and into more generalized perspectives of friendship, love and social hierarchies.
The larp took place at a couple of large cabins close to Oslo, for the occasion dressed up to look something like a dirty public house. An interesting aspect of the scenographic design was that both the soundtrack and the costumes of players were a mix of subcultural expressions from the 1880’s to current day. The organizers wanted to play with the notion that the emotions and interactions in the community was in many ways universal and similar to contemporary subcultures and the eclectic music and costumes served to underline this aspect in a nice way.
The larp was played out as two parties, one month apart, at “Waldemars”, a public house of disputable reputation, where the Bohemians would gather to drink, talk and express themselves in any way possible. A large part of the larp revolved around a centrally placed soap box from where the Bohemians would perform monologues about the important (or not so important) things in life – a public place of radical self expression.
I played “Hans Jæger”, a central character in the Bohemian community (and author of the book “Kristianiabohemen”) apparently known by all Norwegians and anyone with a literary understanding – that is to say, not me. It was an interesting challenge to play a historical character, which many of the other players had predefined notions about before the game – however it proved not to be all that hard as the main feature of Jæger became his ability to cause outrage and “be more bohemian than the other bohemians” based on the notion that “authenticity is sexy”. The character could possibly have been played as a much more literary and intellectual type (and i have been told that in many ways the man was brilliant) but that was not the path for me.
The main storyline for me in the game was connected to his intense obsession with Oda Lasson Engelhardt, a fellow Bohemian and extremely independent woman. Their relationship was heated, but alas, for Oda Hans Jæger was a mere affair and in the end she choose Christian Krogh, whom she got engaged to on the second day of the larp.
During the larp Jæger got too drunk, borrowed money he couldn’t pay back, kissed a sailor, hit a young man for saying something stupid on the soap box, touched the same young mans crotch while he was lecturing on the “dangers of masturbation”, blatantly ignored anyone who didn’t seem entertaining, attempted to “free” a lovely young lady from the boredom of upper class society, took his lawyer to a whore, plagiarized the poetry of someone else, got beaten up by a sailor, drank too much absinthe, and got insulted by the love of his life who incited him to kill himself.
The whole thing was a strong mix of melancholy, love, arrogance, desire, self-loathing, a liberation project and a great party.
Kristianiabohemen for me was a fun larp, which gave me some interesting points of reflection on how communities work – particularly connected to how some people manage to gain status in their groups and others don’t. It seemed like a rather lite production and a game which could probably be re-staged several times with highly different outcomes.