Next week I’ve got the opportunity to put on a workshop at my counselling summer school. I decided to run a larp.
I’ve chosen ‘New Voices in Art’ by Edland, Falch and Rognli. This is a larp in which the characters are artists at the preview of the show of the title, each with their own secret fears and hopes about their work. The metatechnique ‘ping the glass’ allows these inner thoughts to be revealed, as characters give monologues that can be heard by the other players, though not by their characters.
The main reason I wanted to run this larp is that as our class graduates after this summer school, we will all go our separate ways. Most will be looking to set up in private practice as therapists. Like the artists in the larp, we’re at a crossroads. I’m hoping that the larp will be a way to explore the future imaginatively and emotionally, without making that point too obviously.
When I was 11 two things happened to me: I climbed a tall tree in a storm, and I watched the film Alien. One of these things gave me nightmares for years afterwards; the other was scary, exhilarating and life-affirming. Which one was unsafe? As you may have guessed, it was my time on the claustrophobic Nostromo with Sigourney Weaver and John Hurt’s little friend that traumatised me. I can still recall a particularly gruelling Alien nightmare that I had in my early 20s. I’ve watched the film subsequently, as well as a couple of the sequels, but at 11 I was unprepared for the psychological shock I received. Clinging to the top branches of a poplar tree as it tossed in a fierce gale, I knew I was fairly safe. I’d done this kind of thing before; I knew my limits; and climbing that tree was me pushing past them gently.
When I played the larp Beginning, I had the experience of being born as a blind creature in an unknown world. I felt myself to be full of hope and innocent idealism, while with my ‘adult’ head I knew what dreadful disappointments were in store … I was very moved and cried for several minutes.
I found the experience cathartic and not at all disturbing – it was genuinely therapeutic. I thought it would be interesting to sketch out some therapeutic techniques that are similar to larp.
This is the most obvious parallel. It’s a technique that involves creating a little dramatic performance that illustrates a key crisis in a person’s life, or a conflict within them. Usually several people are involved, to play Mum, Dad, and other characters involved in what happened to me when I was five; or alternatively they might represent “Strong Me”, “Weak Me”, “Fear” and so on. Continue reading
In larp, the word ‘bleed’ means a leakage from the player’s real life to the character (‘bleed-in’), or vice versa, from the character to the player (‘bleed-out’).
What is ‘bleed’? I would say it’s mainly about emotion. Some thoughts too – but, as they say, our thoughts are what we think we are; our emotions are what we are. Bleed is about feeling something. Continue reading