Grenselandet 2022

Grenselandet is Oslo’s international larp festival, and last weekend I attended for the first time in a few years. (It was suspended and/or online during the pandemic, and then the first real-life one back was when it wasn’t really possible for outsiders to travel to Norway.)

I’ve now been to four or five of these I think (although I seem to have only written here about the first one, in 2015, sorry about that!), and always enjoyed it. It’s short — usually three larping slots and two evenings — and it has a very international flavour. I think this time as well as people from Norway and the other Nordic countries, there were attenders from Belarus, Hungary, Germany, Belgium, France, the USA, and a handful or so from the UK too.

Grenselandet is unlike other festivals in that it uses several larping venues spread across the city centre, with the central hub just used as a social space and for admin etc. So one gets to wander around Oslo a little (with a volunteer guide!) to get to and from each larp. Also, it’s like eg. The Smoke (or rather, vice versa, as it’s the model that we copied when we set that up) in that each larp only runs once — unlike eg. Fastaval or Stockholm Scenario Festival, where they schedule several runs in parallel. It used to be that the larps were always run by their own designers: but I think they might have relaxed that requirement now.

In the first slot, on Friday evening, I took part in Controlled Remote Viewing, by Mark Durkan and Erlend Sand Bruer. This was a fascinating experience, with quite a thin layer of larp over it. We were playing characters who had been recruited to be trained as psychics by our nation’s armed forces (as happened in real life in the USA in the 1970s). The characters were very sketchy — little more than a reason to be present — and the techniques that we used were taken from the real-world practice: using a ganzfeld to clear the mind of imagination, trying to draw what would be depicted on a photo that we would see at some future point.

It was an interesting and fun experience, and gave me some food for thought around emptying the mind and establishing focus / receiving impressions, which might be useful in my eternal quest for ways to de-stress myself.

I had to sleep through most of the Saturday morning slot (I’m still struggling with my chronic fatigue), and so missed out on the brilliant Encore, by Jeppe Bergmann Hamming, Maria Bergmann and Ras Bolding, which had been one of the highlights of Fastaval earlier this year. It is probably too much to hope that I’ll get another chance at it, but ah well.

This did though mean that I had some energy to run Dirty Laundry, on Saturday evening — the larp that Holger Pick and I created a few years ago, about middle-aged former members of a successful rock band who are considering a reunion. (And also the jumping-off point for the larp Reunion that I’m involved with in March 2023, as part of Larps on Location.)

This went pretty well, I think — it was a great group of participants, who went full-on from the start, playing for intense (but realistic) interpersonal drama. It was a joy to watch.

And then there was a party, with dancing kicked off by an improvised ritual in the (what is now) traditional Norwegian vein, led by Eirik Fatland. A delightful way to celebrate our little larping community and what we share as humans (or as under-the-mountain beasts). Hopefully I will be back to Grenselandet again next year: and if you’re thinking about it, let me know, I’m always happy to answer questions etc.

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