Mr & Mrs Unscripted

A weekend larp that ran in Sweden late last spring, designed and organized by Mia Häggström and Petra Lindve.

The Mr & Mrs wooden letters

About

The setting was the making of a reality TV show, in which couples competed to win the big prize of having their wedding paid for. Players were either contestants, producers, or technical crew (camera, sound, assistants, etc). The two organizers played the showrunners.

I was playing one of the contestants – there were six couples. People had signed up in pairs to play them, but I got a dropout place, so I was paired with someone who I didn’t know… who turned out to be a very lovely person and an amazing larper, and we put in a lot of work before the larp on making our characters’ relationship feel real.

Play

Play proceeded for us contestants as you might expect – chatting, preparing and eating meals together, being made to take part in silly contests, and generally trying to make ourselves look good and the other couples look bad. And it was all being filmed and recorded – the cameraperson players were filming by hand, but also there were a load of static cameras around the place; and we contestants were all miked up the whole time, so our most private conversations could be caught. (Remembering to take the mike off while using the bathroom was a challenge…)

We had lots of interpersonal drama, rivalry, scandal, frantic positioning, and so on – it was a lot of fun. The contestant characters were interestingly varied and felt very real.

Play for the TV crew characters was very different, of course. The technical people were working immensely hard, wrangling their gear and processing its results. The producers were effectively writing a script for the TV show as they went along – working out what shots to get, what to make the contestants do, etc, to spin the resultant footage their way. Because each producer had personal goals that were not necessarily closely matched with those of the showrunners, and definitely were in conflict with the other producers.

I found Mr & Mrs Unscripted a tremendously interesting larp to play. The layers of character were fun to explore. For example, my character started off as quite cynical and not keen to cooperate with the more ridiculous demands, thinking himself to be better than the other contestants (and than the crew). But as it went on, he developed what he thought to be a more appealing persona to ‘perform’ be on TV with, that was different from his ‘real’ self; and this caused conflict in his relationship, as his partner was by now just keen to be voted off and get back to normal life.

Ambition

As a project it was tremendously ambitious. The eventual aim was to produce an hour’s TV programme from the footage, edited into a narrative, as an artefact of the larp. This would be amazing, but also it would require going through hundreds and hundreds of hours of video and audio, and trying to make sense of it… But in any case, we were all larping as though that was going to be happening, within the diegesis. So it was a very intense and multi-layered experience.


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