Larp is increasingly benefiting from contact with the theatre, but technical uncertainty may be a barrier to trying it out. Will Osmond, of A&O Physical Theatre, talked about how theatrical sound, lighting, etc, equipment and practice can be applied to larp.
Will introduced the available qualities of lighting – its colour, intensity and direction, and how different light sources can be combined to create complex effects. He talked through the different types of lights commonly used in theatre – floodlights, parcans, Fresnel lanterns, profile lamps, and so on – and their various uses and purposes. Using Mike Baldassari’s lighting design for Man of La Mancha as an example, he explained the use of gels, gobos, smoke and haze to create different effects.
We went on to talk about the role of the lighting designer, and the technical aspects of controlling lighting cues – plus mention of other lighting possibilities that might be useful in larp, such as starcloths and practical lights.
The important distinction (from a lighting point of view) between theatre and larp is that theatre is lit for the benefit of the audience; larp will most likely be lit for the benefit of the particpants. Plus, as most larps don’t take place in actual theatres, but rather rehearsal rooms or general-purpose rooms, the positioning of lights may be restricted – lower lighting rigs to hang them from, etc. Therefore lighting angles, intensities, and so on must be considered differently. Actors have to learn the skill of not being affected by having very bright lights shone on them: larpers may be disturbed by it. There is no need to light a character so brightly that they can be seen at the back of a hall, if that will dazzle them, and actually they only need to be seen by the people standing close by them.
Will next took up the subect of theatrical sound – music, and effects. These are already quite widely used in larp, but he suggested that the use of flexible and powerful cueing software – for example, Qlab – could be helpful in deploying the programme of sound cues at the GM’s comand, with perhaps some preset to times and some triggered on demand.
He pointed us to Freesound, the Creative Commons sound library, which has a myriad sound effects, ambiences, field recordings, bits of music, and all sorts of other stuff, all available without payment (sometimes requiring credit).
We had been thinking about workshopping up some larp ideas and designing lighting and sound to fit them. But it was unusually nice spring weather, so we went for a picnic instead!