At the culture night in Copenhagen some friends of mine organized a small interactive larp at Huset. In the larp 10 people played aliens from a strange planet where the people lived of words. Sadly they had eaten all their own words and were starving – and has thus come to Earth to gather new words and end the hunger.
Costumes and props
The costume design for the larp was semi-formal black and white clothing and black hats. Apart from the costume every character had a tool for gathering words, which could be more or less an abstraction. Among others we had dictaphones (for recording words), tweezers (for grabbing words out of the air and stuffing them into a glass jar) and a magnifying glass (for looking thoroughly at the words people said).
As the larp was interactive is was played out where the participants at the culture night in Huset where, as we needed them to gather words. The organizers had also prepared three rooms, where we could play more introverted scenes with each other.
– a writing room, with pictures on the wall (which during the larp got descriptions added with the help of the audience), where we could write down the words we had gathered from the audience.
– a sound room, with text pages hanging from the sealing, where we would test out the sound of words.
– a transmission room, with a chest in the middle, where we would send home words by performing a short ritual and throwing notes in the chest.
We were introduced to the larp through a short workshop where we talked about the base rules of the larp, what the rooms where to be used for and spent some time trying out (or tasting on) words by intoning them in different ways to prepare us for the larp. We also got our names – the only words we had left apart from “words”.
The larp lasted for around 3 hours. We started by arriving in the transmission room and then immediately went out to start gathering words. As we only had very few words left ourselves we were not able to communicate our intent to the people of earth. Rather we would repeat what people said and in this way increase our vocabulary, which of course created a lot of completely meaningless conversations for the audience, while we would constantly gain more words. Another strategy was to go up to people and ask for “words?” and then wait for them to hand over whatever word they wanted to give.
Many words would be tested in the sound room, where the wording would be tried out in many different ways until we got it right and then repeated until it was perfect. When we got particularly good (or well-tasting) words we would go to the writing room and write them down on a piece of paper to enable us to send it to our home planet.
Words was a quite fun experience as the interactive element of gathering words from an unknowing audience worked really well. The costumes created a nice alibi for us and (possible together with the culture night) made it possible to make this kind of interaction without anyone objecting too much. The design was nice and simple and did not demand anything from the players apart from bringing costumes and four hours of workshop and play – a great way to spend a friday night.