Using Myself as a Readymade

I wanted to reflect on my inability to play a different character in the LARP we participated in last week. I ultimately ended up playing a character that was just a fictional version very similar to myself. At first, I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to play another character, but by the end of writing this, I believe there were some interesting realizations that arose from it, and it was the best decision at the time. I believe that one of the most interesting parts of my experience in last week’s LARP dealt with two aspects we have talked about extensively in class: Spolin’s idea of the readymade, and the magic circle.

For a bit, it was very difficult for me to play a character that was very different from myself. Especially since I have no prior acting experience, and play table-top very rarely, I had trouble not letting Jersey speak. I’ll admit, towards the goal of playing a different character, I failed. I was unable to embody someone new, but hope to be able to do so at a later stage. However, there was something interesting that happened with my character, “Joe.” I didn’t want to ruin the experience of other players by awkwardly taking extra time to think of what Joe would say. So, I (subconsciously) looked for Spolin’s idea of readymades that I had at my disposal.

The readymade I found wasn’t what one would expect. I kept thinking, “what trope can I play off of,” but was continuously blanking in the middle of conversations with other characters. Eventually, there was only one readymade that I could come up with. What would Jersey do in this situation? Well, that was easy because I was in that situation. Once I started just playing a character that was very similar to my own, the experience was not only more enjoyable, but I was able to contribute to the story more. 

I think what also made this situation difficult to handle at first was the blurring of the magic circle. In the beginning stages, there were some players who were already in character, and there were some players who weren’t. I had to constantly switch back and forth at the beginning; I had a hard time fully getting into another mindset if I had to constantly step in and out of the magic circle.

In addition, some of the safety mechanics made it tough to fully be in character. Of course, this is not to say that they shouldn’t be present, I am just noting that they were hard for me to manage. I had to be Joe while    Jersey looked and made sure that the situation and the other players’ emotions behind their characters were okay. With the constant blurring and complicated juggling of personalities, I was unable to fully get into a different character and as a result just ended up playing a similar version to myself.

In the end, though, I am less disappointed than I was immediately after it. If I don’t think I’m an interesting enough character to play, then what does that say about what I think of myself? In addition, since many other characters didn’t have a grasp of my personality outside of the classroom setting, or at all if they were from DePaul, Joe was still a fresh experience for the players involved.

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