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Duration6 hours
Designed by
Participants8 – 12
First run2013 (2013) at Fastaval

Sarabande is a scenario originally created for Fastaval 2013. It has been run in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, France, Texas (and soon Lithuania).

It is an expressionistic Larp focusing on the use of repetition, non-linear time and the use of art as communication. It is set in a French café on Montmartre at the end of the 19th century where twelve persons meet every day– all entangled in issues of love, beauty, freedom and truth. Day after day they live out these issues through their art, trying desperately to break free or to find that one true love.

The scenario uses special repeated scenes with choreographed movement, restrictions on the use of spoken language for communication, props and the use of sound and music for shifting between scenes.

The game begins with a workshop session, where the participants construct their characters, conflicts and relations on top of a pre-generated stereotype through the use of a mixture of collaborative idea generating sessions, symbolic props and the use of movement and music. The amount of prewritten material is very limited, since the scenario is generated and played out through the use of the participants’ bodies rather than their heads.

Through the workshops the participants will develop their characters’ routine, a choreographed set of movements to a central piece of music. They will repeat this routine again and again during the workshop evolving it and integrating it with the other participants’ routines, so that in the end they all know their routine by heart. At the same time the routines are so heavily integrated, that any change in a routine will cascade through all the participants’ routines, causing changes for all the characters. Since the routine is used for cutting between each scene and marking the shift to a new day, it is used to in the beginning mark the similarity of each day at the cafe, but as the scenario unfolds, the participants will choose to alter their routine to mark a decision made by them, and this decision will cause other characters to experience a change in their routine, which will perhaps cause changes for their character. In this way the routine is a physical expression on how the characters are tied together and how our decisions affect others.

The workshop will also provide the participants with means to perform the actual scenes of the scenario. Since Montmartre is a place of truth and beauty, and since the scenario is set in s surreal version of Montmartre, nobody in the café has boring ordinary discussions or talks. Instead the scenes are played with what we call dramatic expression. This is the use of monologues, dancing, singing, painting, writing, reciting, playing or any other means of communication, which has an artistic dimension. In this way all conflicts and interaction becomes something worthwhile for all participants to watch, and since the characters and conflicts have been generated in collaboration between the players, it will be clear for all players what the other characters are actually expressing. And a main theme of the scenario is to have the drama and conflict played out in the open for everyone to see instead of it happening inside of the participants’ heads.

Since the play is continuous the participants will have no chance to talk about how much time transpires between each scene, but will just have to play along with whatever the other participants decide to put into play. The conductors of the scenario only instruct during the workshop, when the play is started they only control the music and when to cut.
It is up to the participants whether they would like to jump forward in time, or perhaps repeat the same day again and again. And sometimes some participants will play as if several weeks pass between each scene while others in the same room are experiencing the same day again and again. This is in no way a problem but just ads to the intended artistic feel of the larp.

The game is mainly influenced by operas like La Traviata and La Bohème, and like opera it is not centered around the plot since it is taken for granted that everybody knows up front what the plot is, but instead focuses on the expression and the way that the plot is told. In contrast to typical larps which are more focused on unfolding a story and perhaps surprising the participants with plot twists.
From the larping scene it has taken inspiration from Vrøvl and Déjà vu and was written for Fastaval, where it won the Otto for Best Participant Experience and was nominated for the Jurys' Special Prize. Before Fastaval it was playtested on Vintersol and has afterwards been run at Grenselandet, Stockholm Scenariofestival, Playing to Loose in London and in the US by Sarah Lynne Bowman. It is currently on the program for Metamorphoses in Lithuania and Black Box Horsens in Denmark.

External links