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Sunday, February 19, 2006

And the Academy Award for Best Actress Goes To...

Arthur organizes Dundracon. Cyrus and Athena go every year. So do many other friends. I'm not a true gamer, so I figured I had no place there, but reading over the list of proposed games, I came across something that really struck my fancy: a Hamlet LARP.

So chatting this over, Erik mentioned that he was going to Dundracon and that might be fun. And heck, I'm an overlarge fan of Hamlet myself. For years, I thought it'd be fantastic to get a chance to play Ophelia. Now I'm thinking more of Gertrude. Both women have fantastic scenes with Hamlet, beautifully written and unlike most anything else written to be said by women in the theater for hundreds of years. Yeah, I love Shakespeare, but Hamlet is his masterpiece.

So there I was, staring at a weekend full of options, and coming up with the opportunity to try out Hamlet without a net (no script, no rehearsals, make up your own end). So off I go to San Ramon. The full import of it being a holiday weekend at the end of the snow season hadn't sunk in, so after 2 1/2 hours on the road, I finally made it just in time. However, it was clear the GM was not so lucky. By 8:20 we gave up. But earlier we'd run into Danielle in the hall, and she and T had a game planned that evening and were very concerned they'd be unable to fill it. So we wandered down for "Lights! Camera! Action!" And I got to play my very first LARP.

I was given the role of Angelina Ryder, an amalgam of Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. I was to be bi, poly, goth, and my dirty little secret was that I was secretly a satanist out to corrupt as many people as I could. I rushed upstairs to change out of my more Hamlet-intended wear and into my original outfit. I, um, just sort of was already wearing something when I arrived that suited the role. (Go figure!) Generous application of a little more make-up and the game was on.

The basic structure was to create a "movie trailer" for the first movie you were assigned to, and after that, the producers would bid on new movies, and try to hire actors and produce a trailer for that new movie. To woo their actors, they could give them fame (additional star power), money, or a percentage of the film. Then we would perform our second trailer. After a long negotiation where I led on 3 directors til the very last minute, I finally signed on to Cameron Schpielberg's new epic modern musical adaptation of The Ring Cycle of German opera fame. Really, he demanded a screen test where he asked if I could sing. It leapt out of my mouth before I could think, being in the moment, in character, I said, "Of course!" and I auditioned with songs from Buffy while being a Valkyrie by grabbing two cups off the table, chugging the remaining water in one, and fashioning them into a makeshift costume. I would play the washer woman who becomes an insane Valkyrie. Oh yes.

Now let me just state for the record that T and Danielle have the best sense of humor of anyone I know. T can always come up with the funniest thing to say at just the right moment every time. They put their heart and soul into this game and it rocked.

In the end, I'd achieved all of my goals, having broken up Jennifer Roberts and Bradley Dett, having gained extra points for my movies by being as crazy as possible, and having furthered my cause of corrupting young and old alike. Beyond that, I sang made up songs, I was strangled to death and dumped in the river, and finally got to use my gift for screaming on stage. After the second movie, we all voted for the Academy Awards, and though Bradley Dett got the award for best actor for his one-man portrayal of the Satyricon, The Ring Cycle took Best Picture and I took Best Actress.

I could go on, but suffice to say it was truly some of the most fun I've had staying up entirely too late in a long time. Overall, the acting ability of the people in that room was truly impressive. The girl playing Brittany Marriot, the hotel chain heiress, was perfection in her total vapidity. Erik's portrayal of Sean Stuart in StarQuest 12 included some fantastic space acting. Spike Luhrman's portrayal of the artiste auteur with was tense and edgy, but as soon as the game was done, he was the nicest guy. Similarly, Jennifer Roberts (America's Sweetheart!) was a total hag to me throughout the game, even when we found ourselves in the same film, but soon as it was over we introduced ourselves and thanked each other for great performances.

So that was it. I was hooked. I had such a great time that I wanted to come back the next night for the Serenity LARP that Chris was encouraging us all to sign up for. So I did. After driving to Sacramento during the day, I returned that evening for more, and was heartily rewarded. I got to play Sudha, a registered companion investigating another guild member operating outside of the rules, and in reality, I was playing Inara under cover. Another quick dash upstairs to try to create something worthy out of an unplanned suitcase and I spent the evening uncovering prostitution, bio-weapons, and murder in the town of Deadwood on the rim, all while wearing my tiara. Yeah, I admit, I've slipped deeper in the geek hierarchy, but I had a great time doing it.


  • I know T and Danielle spent a lot of time putting together that LARP so I am very glad that it went really well.

    By Blogger Chris S, at 3:54 PM  

  • (from the desk of Cameron Schpielberg)

    Boy, can you imagine what would have happened if we'd been given /Hamlet/ as our script? With Sir Sean as Claudius, Jennifer Roberts as Gertrude, Gibson Clooney as Hamlet, you as Ophelia, and me playing all the other parts as gruff dwarven CGI? Especially the bit where Ophelia goes crazy and turns into a valkyrie. Oh yes, that would have been even better.

    By Blogger Erik Dahl, at 11:22 AM  

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