Kategoriarkiv: Black Box Horsens

Being in Minsk

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.

  As you can see…

  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?

Black Box Horsens – First impressions

I will (hopefully) write more about this, but wanted to get the first reactions and thoughts out of the way before returning to the two missing Black Box CPH posts.

So Black Box Horsens 2015 is officially over, and I’m still sorting out all the emotions in my tired body while listening to the soundtrack from The Boy and the Milk.

I’m really overwhelmed right now. It went well, No it went beyond all my expectations and wildest hopes. The participants were great, they went to the games with all they got. The game runners ran some really cool games, and that program just kept on giving. And my many organizers help keep it all running often with out tired and confused me having to do anything.

And the venue Komediehuset was just a perfect location. Not only is the place awesome, with four black boxes and the rest of the place just emitting crazy creativity, but the people there was just so amazingly accommodating. From the leader Jan who let us hold our mad little festival to the ever helpful Trandur who put up with all our strange demands and just kept on helping with all the technical. And that with very little sleep. The poor man had to be up until we send the last participants to bed.

Few mistakes…
Which is why the few mistakes that did happen bothers me so. Because they caused the venue more harm than us. First off they had asked us not to drink outside the venue, because they are mostly a place for children and young people. And if rumours went around the town that people were hanging around the place drinking that could cause severe damaged.

Sadly a few participants arrived early and were just finishing a smoke and beer outside before we had a chance to give this message. This caused a bit of panic from the leader of the place. But as soon as the massaged was given at the opening everyone was cool and kept to this rule. At least to my experience, so thank you for that.

The only other mishap (that I know of) was that some or the game runners fiddled with parts of the technical equipment that they shouldn’t (it was stuff you normally would handle, if you have some technical expertise, so no real blame game here.) But the people at the venue don’t use that, and therefore had it on a permanent preprogrammed setting that we were not allowed to move it from.

Think we got it all back in working order, and I managed to get the word around about this (after a friendly slap on the wrist from Jan) I don’t think it happened again. Next year I’m just gonna put big signs on all the off limits equipment saying: “DO NOT TOUCH!” 🙂

… a lot of lessons
And that brings me to: lessons learnt, of them there were many, I’ll only mention a few things here: A few other things could have been better, but I don’t think they diminished the experience that much. But I’m gonna mention them any way.

Saturday evening start
Because I wanted people to have time to socialize after the games but still not go overwhelmingly late to bed, (as the sunday runs started at 09.00 – more about that in a moment.) I set the start on saturday at 18.00. That was a mistake as it was in the middle of the time that people wanted to eat dinner. So next time start at 19.00 one hour would have meant a lot less stress.

Sunday start
So I sat the starting point on Sunday at 9.00 which is early for a role play festival. (people stayed up until 3 in the morning, some even more.) I did that so that people using the copenhagen bus could still play games and be at the station in time for the bus at 15.20.

It was hard, but most people did come and play their game. We only had to close one game, and that was the only game in the entire run that we had to close. And it was a five person game that was missing two players, (still I’m sorry about that Tore, but it sounded like you had fun with “Lets FACE it”.) So I’m not sure I would change this, as it seemed to work, and it is just a good thing that all participants can still play on Sunday.

Cold at prison
Apparently the room we rented at the prison was very cold. If we do that again we will have to get a heater or two.

We decided not to give people any food, except for breakfast and a huge amount of fruit, (last minute decision but a great one.) Charles and I talked about the risk of people forgetting to eat well and lacking energy for the games. We didn’t change anything this year (except for the fruit) but talked about doing like Black Box Copenhagen next year, where each scenario ticket includes a sandwich.

In the end it seemed to work fine, people made sure to eat and seemed to have enough energy. With the exception about Saturday evening that I have covered. So I’m not sure I’m gonna do the sandwich thing. But lets see what the participants say.

The event got a lot of praise, both the program, the venue and the organizers which is great. I can rave endlessly about that but I wont. But I want to mention two things we did, that I’m especially pround of and that i haven’t seen anywhere else.

We made actual tickets that people got for their games when they arrived. It gave you some kind of physical proof, that you could play this game, and it also had all the information you needed. But we also had a little wall where we put any unsold tickets and where people could but thickets they didn’t need for any reason. Anyone looking to play that game could then claim that ticket for free. It worked really well and received a lot of praise. It was also a way for us to keep an eye on any games starting to miss too many players.

Tell me about your t-shirt
The opening event used this little game that I came up with at the Larp Write Summer School. Bring a t-shirt or any shirt that is cool, geeky or have an interesting story. Then move around the room and you have to ask strangers about their t-shirts. It’s a fun and simple way to get to know each other. I’m very proud of this one, and it worked well and got everybody talking to each other at a very early stage.

Next year?
Yes hopefully you never know with these things, but I now have a lot of experience, some very cool people have expressed interest in arrange it with me and people seemed to want it. So yes we hope that there will be a Black Box Horsens 2016. If you want it to happen then consider signing up as an organizer, offering to run a game or just shout out and spread the word.

En Black box con i Horsens?


Da jeg skulle prøve at beskrive black box til lederen af Komediehuset (hvad er det? læs her) tog jeg udgangspunkt i BlackBox CPH, som jeg lige var kommet hjem fra. Da han hørte om den udbrød han: skal vi ikke have det her? øh jo svarede jeg fortumlet, det kan vi da godt prøve.

Siden har jeg tænkt mere over det og snakket mere alvorligt om det med lederen Jan. Jeg begynder at tro, det ville kunne lade sig gøre, men jeg vil gerne lige tjekke vandet, og til det har jeg brug for dig. Lad mig derfor præsentere rammerne:


  • Komediehuset er lige rykket i nye lokaler på en nedlagt skole midt i byen.
  • De råder derfor over to store black boxe (forestil dig to klasselokaler slået sammen) samt en mindre (et klasselokale) kaldet dramateket, hvor de til dagligt laver børneforestillinger, men som sagtens også kan bruges.
  • Endelig er der et par dansesale, som kun må bruges til dans, da de har det der spring gulv, der vist er vigtigt (men hey, så må nogen designe et danse scenarie)
  • Derudover er der et stort fælleslokale med borde og sofaer, fuldt udstyret køkken og hygge.
  • Og: vi må låne det en hel weekend ganske frit og gratis og helt for os selv! Det er for mig et af de vigtigste punkter.
  • Endelig, men dette vil jeg ikke love, så har komediehuset et godt samarbejde med Horsens Statsfængsel, I ved det nye museum. Så der er mulighed for at undersøge, om man kan sætte et scenarie op der, og få lov til at spille i en ret speciel ramme. Men som sagt, der er noget, der kan undersøges, jeg vil ikke garantere noget.

Teknisk: Det er ikke på niveau med Huset i København, der er lyd- og lysudstyr, men da det skal bruges af en meget stor og broget flok er det holdt utroligt simpelt. Man kunne nævne dette som en fordel, da det gør det utroligt let at sætte op, jeg laver ny lyssætning hver gang med mit black box hold, og det tager ingen tid. (Det er lidt som iPad meget begrænset, men derfor let at gå til.) Men jeg nævner det som en con, da folk sikkert vil forvente Huset standarder. Der er en række med lys midt i rummet, som dog kan peges i begge retninger og man har mulighed for at sætte enkelte lamper op på stativ.

Overnatning: i modsætning til København, ville der nok skulle findes overnatning, da folk lige som ikke bor her, men i København og Århus og hvor folk ellers ville komme fra. Vi kan godt få aftaler om at må lave sovesal, enten på Komediehuset eller en lokal skole, endelig har Horsens en masse hoteller, men det er i den dyre ende.

Transport: samme problem, meget få af deltagerne kommer nok fra Horsens, de fleste ville skulle rejse, og jeg ved ikke helt, hvor meget folk er villige til at smide for det. Selvfølgelig med Rød billet og lignende billige busruter, er prisen faldet meget på det sidste, men det er stadig noget der måske vil skræmme folk væk. Ihvertfald er det vigtigt, at prisen på selve connen holdes så lav som muligt, da folk skal lægge en del på transport og måske overnatning.

Tja rollespilsåret er allerede ret fyldt, men vi har kig på januar, da det er en lidt stille periode, og det passer ret godt ind i Komediehusets øvrigt program. Men nævnte Oliver til dette: økonomien er tit ret spændt i denne måned, så måske vi i stedet skal kigge på feburar.

Vi snakkede lidt løst og fast om dette, men blev enige om et lavt succeskriterie på 25, nu det var første gang osv. ville være ok, men med plads til mange flere. Der ville være tale om fire blokke: en fredag, to lørdag og en søndag, (da folk også skal hjem). Men det ville så være potentielt tre scenarier i hver blok, så et program på 12 scenarier. (hvis det kun kommer 25, er det nok for mange.)

Om jeg kan få folk til at designe nye ting? Tja det håber jeg meget. Men ellers er der allerede en god mængde fede ting derude. Men formatet ville blive lige som BlackBox CPH, at vi stiller faciliteterne til rådighed, og så lade folk byde ind med, hvad de vil.

Hvad skal jeg brug fra jer?
Jeg vil gerne vide jeres uforbeholdne holdning til dette. Så jeg spørger ikke, om I synes det er en god ide, fordi der får jeg som regel svaret: “Ja mere rollespil er altid godt.” Nej jeg skal vide:

  1. Er det faktisk noget du kunne finde på at tage til?
  2. Hvilke ting ville gøre det mere sandsynligt, at du kom?
  3. Hvilke ting ville skræmme dig væk?
  4. Hvad for et prisleje ville du forvente/kunne leve med? (ekslusiv transport) (ved godt den er svær, men et slag på tasken)
  5. Hvad synes du om placeringen på året (januar februar), gør den det mere eller mindre sandsynligt at du kommer?
  6. Og hvilket tidspunkt på året ville du tro kunne være bedre? (prøv her ikke kun at tænk på dig, men sådan helt generelt.)
  7. Er det noget du kunne finde på, at hjælpe med at stable på benene?
  8. Er det noget du kunne overveje at designe/sætte et scenarie op til?

(Ingen af disse spørgsmål er selvfølgelig på nogen måde bindende (det gælder især det første og de to sidste), men blot en måde for mig at få lidt input til interessen i sådan et projekt. Dit input er en stor hjælp, så på forhånd mange, mange tak!

Andre tanker, tips og lignende som ikke passer ind i de spørgsmål, er også meget velkomne. Du kan svare her, på de links jeg smider på Facebook, eller via privat mail: simonjamesp@gmail.com