By Leland Masek; Directed by Carlo D’Amore
Produced by Live In Theater
Off Broadway, Interactive Theatre
Secret Manhattan location - or your apartment
by Asya Gorovits on 9.10.18
Participants of This is When We Rest. Photo courtesy of Live In Theater.
BOTTOM LINE: Live In Theater’s LARP experience is an End-of-the-World party where you clear up the mess of the character you’ve created.
Yesterday the world ended. I was stuck in a room with people from various stages of my life. People who I loved, people who I let down, people who betrayed me. In the last moments of existence, all were cuddling in one sobbing, forgiving and confused pile, except for my younger brother. He sat by the window alone, not letting go of the wine bottle, and that is after eighteen months of sobriety. I didn’t know he had addiction issues; I hardly knew anything about him, because I pretty much closed the door on him when I was 12. Yet, he was the only person who I cared to reconcile with even as we were watching an asteroid about to smash into the Earth.
This is When We Rest by Leland Masek was my first LARP (Live Action Role Playing) experience. It is also the first LARP production by Live In Theater, famous for interactive murder mysteries such as The Ryan Case 1873 and The Trial of Typhoid Mary 1915. Relatively small in scope (7-9 participants and one facilitator in an apartment), this 2.5-hour experience provides an opportunity to live through the last hour before the world ends as a character you’ve co-created with other participants. There are two modes: go as a group of people you already know or, as I did, participate with complete strangers. This is When We Rest can easily be adapted to your own place (or that of your friend with the nicer apartment), opening the possibility of making an even more intimate experience.
This might feel scary, especially if shy away from participatory theater and have never done LARP before. But in a way it is the opposite. As both audience member and a character, you create your own story in collaboration with other participants. Anything is possible and you can be whomever you want. This is When We Rest is designed to facilitate the gradual transition between reality and fiction and then gently bring you back. And since the setting is so down-to-earth, no particular background or knowledge is required. Think of it as attending a party. Except the world really might end, and while you have so much baggage to unload, you can also do whatever you want.
The experience starts with a few minutes of simple warm-up so everyone can get comfortable and become acquainted. Then comes four sets of interactions in groups of three designed to build your character through various stages of life. Randomly drawn cards provide prompts about the nature of your relationships, like "You left me for other people" or "You make me feel complete," and you improvise the story from there. As a trio, you take a quick snapshot to capture the interpersonal dynamics. You can then write in a journal for two minutes between each session to emotionally connect to your character. The combination of collaborative storytelling, physical action, and reflection swiftly puts you in the shoes of another person. And then the party begins, where your assumed persona takes over you entirely.
You might surprise yourself with the direction the night will take you. With external motivation minimized to a couple of prompt cards slipped to you at the party by the facilitator, one can fully concentrate on connecting with others. A prompt card might ask you to make somebody cry, or to share a secret, and it is up to you how to use this advice in the best interests of your character. Going through This is When We Rest made me realize how often we deprive ourselves of emotion in everyday life due to social norms and expectations. Despite the dark places we went to with other characters, LARP-ing felt incredibly refreshing and rewarding. If you are looking for an unusual experience that will shake you to your core, go ahead and book your deepest catharsis today!
(This is When We Rest plays at a secret location in Manhattan for individual audience members or at your own place for a group. Running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes. Upcoming experiences (for individual tickets) are 10/4 and 10/5 at 7. For a Private Event, group tickets are $599 (7 people) and $749 (9 people) and are available at liveintheater.com or by calling 347-422-7562.)
This Is When We Rest is by Leland Masek. Directed and facilitated by Carlo D’Amore. Produced by Live in Theater. Sound Design by Sergey Kasich.