Actors without an Audience? Performance Analysis of the "Borderlands" Live Action Role Playing Epic
This case study details the preparations and performances that occurred for the Live Action Role-Playing (also known as LARP) events hosted by the Maine Adventure Society, Inc. (or MASI) in the summer of 2002. Explaining the MASI organizational structure and documenting these events substantiates current scholarly publications pertaining to LAW practices and performance studies. The "Borderlands" events are examined as a performance art form. This work is organized into six chapters with a list of works cited, a list of figures and a list of tables. Chapter 1 is an introduction to the study of LARP. In Chapter 2, the history and organizational structure of MASI is described. Site preparations, staffing, and descriptions of typical activities explain the methodology of the "Borderlands" performances in Chapter 3. A narrative describing the plot and character development of two representative participants during each of the four episodes is presented in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 presents an analysis of these episodes as examples of perfomlance utilizing Schechner's definitions of drama, script, theater, and performance. Chapter 6 concludes with a discussion of the cathartic nature of the "Borderlands" events. The application of Daniel Mackay's structural approach facilitates this discussion through its description of the interactive aesthetic. The progression from literary inspiration to role-playing games to LARP, as found in the "Borderlands" sequence, is consistent with the progression of other LARP organizations in the United States. MAS1 is one example of eleven LARP groups to be found in Maine, and the number of participants continues to grow. Instead of performing upon a stage or going to a theatrical performance, they opt for woods and fields, swords and shields. In a world that has become impersonal, lacking in spirituality, and devoid of heroic deeds, the LARP performers create an interactive aesthetic structure. They are at once actor and audience, simultaneously performing and achieving catharsis as they manifest their myths, fantasies, moralities, ethics, and dreams.