Cirque Noir

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Cirque Noir
A black and white illustration showing a circus barker with a banner around him saying: "Step right up, right this way! A pittance to enter, a lifetime to pay. 1927"
TaglineA pittance to enter, a lifetime to pay.
DateApril 21–24, 2016 (2016-04-21 – 2016-04-24)
Duration3 days
LocationEsbeek, the Netherlands
Participation fee75-110
Designed by

Cirque Noir was a larp run in the Netherlands in April 2017. It was a non-profit larp run by a collective of organisers from different local organisations. The larp was set in a circus on the brink of bankruptcy and conbined elements of Nordic larp with the Dutch larp design tradition.


Cirque was a larp centered around two main themes: Us against them when the whole world seems to be against you, who is your family? Who can you trust and are you able to bond together with your enemies in times of desperate need? The skeletons in your closet - everyone holds secrets, everyone has stories they don't want to tell. Do you choose redemption or do you choose to suffer in silence?

Story summary

Pleasant Pairie Wisconsin oktober 1927. The great depression is on everyones doorstep and the members of Cirque Noir are feeling it too. The circus that was created 7 years ago by merging the traditional freakshow Maha and Raja and the vaudeville show Soiree Noir is once again facing bankruptcy and heads will roll. When the disappearnce of a local beauty queen brings a ton of curious eyes to the circus it is unclear what will bring them down first. Their own secrets, the local law or the mob who seems to have it's contacts within the circus ranks as well.

And from beyond the grave a man looks on. Determined to bring his circus back on the right track. But are the artists even ready to be confronted with their sins? Or will his good intentions only drive them further apart?


  • Meta room - in the form of a blackbox, players played out scenes initiated by higher powers. They were mostly confrontations with their biggest fears, mistakes or secrets. The meta room was also used to play out several scenes which could not be safely constructed outside (like a hanging.)
  • Playing to Lose
  • Pre-larp Workshop
  • Debriefing and Debrief buddy
  • Non-player character - All characters from outside the circus (villagers, mob, police etc.) were non-player characters.

Development and productions

A choice was made during the design process to play the first run in Dutch. This because the concept and use of meta-techniques was relatively new and the organizers wanted all local players to be able to experience the game and not be held back because of the language difference an international run would have caused.

A potential international re-run is currently being researched the larp was designed and documented with re-runability in mind.


Photographs from the first run by Ork fotografie

External Links

Artwork and logo created by Brenna-Ivy (visit Facebook here)