I haven’t written about any of the things I’ve been doing since JaLL. I haven’t had the time for the long rambling posts I used to. I have long drafts for last years Larpwriter Summer School, Black Box Copenhagen and Before We Wake, but haven’t had time to get them edited and everything after them I haven’t even had time to write a draft. And it looks like that won’t change for the foreseeable future.
So I’m going to try and develop a new and quicker way for me to write about my larp experiences. This is an attempt at that format. Tell me what you think.
So this weekend I went to Belarus to participate in Minsk Larp Festival. They had invited me several times and finally I could go. This first post is about my time in Minsk. The next will be about the games I played.
The format I’m trying out is to write this on my phone on my way home. And I’ll try and make it picture based by picking some pictures I took while there and write whatever thoughts they give me.
All in all it was a great trip where I again and again thought “wow this is not something you experience every day”. Right after we were picked up at the station came one of these experiences.
We went to a flat some of the other international participants had airbnb’ed. Through a hazarded and definitely not building regulated route they showed us up on the roof of the building that sat right in the centre of Minsk to the view above the central square of Minsk.
The next day our local hosts (all my fellow LWSS alumni) showed us parts of Minsk. Me and Yauhenia (Who I stayed at during the festival and who was a great host and guide) started out by visiting the national library that is housed in the space station you see above. It’s just one example of the size of Minsk. Everything is built big and with lots of space between.
We went to the top of that building and got a great view of Minsk including these soviet era buildings still with the original murals.
Inside the top floor was a small art gallery. This picture is from that. The artist painted these landscapes littered with these strange ghost ladies. Very moody.
We then meet up with Jamie and Mark, some of the other international participants and lwss alumni, and went to a museum for sculptures. As you can see most of them prominent communists.
They were all by by the same artist apparently known for his ability to show emotions and personality in is works. (can’t remember his name). This picture is of one of the first female officers in Belarus, I really like the strong expression.
The artist was very fond of sculpting Lenin.
We were told that during the soviet an artist could make a living just making Lenins because every city, no matter how small, always had to have at least one Lenin. This artist was known for making some of the best Lenin’s.
After that we went to the area where the festival would be. It was in the middle of the hippest part of town.
It was an old factory area were the old factories were being turned it to studios, cafes, workspaces, galleries and so on. A very strange mix of old rundown buildings and incredible hip and modern activities.
In one of the galleries was a showcase called “21” it was a group of 21 year olds who each had been given a disposable camera (with 21 pictures) and asked to show their life and identity through the pictures. It was really interesting and they had really but some thought into the pictures.
It kinda connects to “…And that’s it” a game I’m designing where I want the players to create the characters through mood boards.
We talked about that it could be interesting to give players of a long larp a disposable camera as preparation and take pictures to represent how they will play their character. Then you could put them on wall before game start and that way everybody could get a visual idea of the other characters. That could be cool.
In connection to the gallery was an independent publisher and its bookstore. They had not been outright banned but their permit to print kept getting delayed by small “mistakes”. So they had been fined for printing books without a permit. This created an outrage and people donated money to help pay the fine. All these stars are names of the people who helped.
In the evening I had the most special experience of the trip. We went to see The Belarusian Free Theatre. A well known theatre group where the writers and directors have had to flee because of their critical plays. Now they continue to work in London and the actors still perform the plays but in hidden locations.
The play was called Being Harold Pinter and was a mash up of parts of his plays and his Nobel speech. It was very intense and I both felt like an outsider and like I was being included in something special. I understood the play on an intellectual level. But looking at the local audience I could see this struck them much much deeper. One of them said afterwards: “it was like they kept poking us with the things we know about our country but don’t want to think about.” It was a very powerful experience.
There’s many many things I haven’t mentioned now that I’m trying out a shorter format. Many cool talks and you know all the social stuff. But you might later hear about it from the ideas and thoughts that they gave me.
Humm that became longer than expected. Next time is all about the larping. What do you think about the format?