Category: Dungeons and Dragons (not) The Musical

July 16, 2011, by
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by Aislinn Rose

We played the second of our three games on Thursday night, and saw our players – made up of members of Toronto Area Gamers – defeat a cursed manticore by tricking it into killing his own minions. The final epic battle was against a many-eyed rubbery octopus-like creature, in the midst of which I tweeted the following:

Apparently this is the kind of thing I tweet without giving it a second thought these days.

Tonight is our final game, and we’re bringing together members of Toronto’s theatre and gaming communities in a brand new adventure, taking place in the basement of Snakes & Lattes from 5pm until 11pm. Now that we’ve resolved some of the logistical challenges of the experiment our focus tonight is audience experience. We’ve brought you closer to the action, now how do we get you involved in that action?

View of the board from our Ranger, Mike Riverso

We also want to further explore the relationship between the design elements and the players, so that sound and visuals become a genuine and integral part of the conversation happening in the room. Our friend Amy will be joining us again with her iPad and will be live-drawing throughout, with a direct feed into the projectors.

Join us tonight in the final game of this phase of our experiment. We’re always happy to provide a recap, so don’t be shy about stopping by at any time.

Around the table you’ll find theatre nerds Michael Wheeler – Praxis Theatre’s co-Artistic Director, award-winning playwright Nicolas Billon, and Dora-nominated actor Colin Doyle. Rounding out the group is hybrid theatre/gamer nerd Becca Buttigieg, along with gamer nerds Kate Bullock and Ben Santos. Playing the role of God (or Dungeon Master) is, again, the wonderful Ryan Stoughton.

You can follow and join our tweets via #DnDPT. On Thursday night, our Ranger tweeted his experience when not smoking his Ranger pipe, or being saved by a flumph. Apparently a flumph is a thing.

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Image by Jody Hewston

Dungeons & Dragons (not) The Musical - Toronto Fringe Festival, 2011
Final game:
July 16th, 5pm to 11pm
Venue:
Snakes & Lattes – 600 Bloor Street West.
Tickets:
Click Here to purchase, or here for more information.

*PLEASE NOTE: there is a maximum allowable attendance of 20 people at any one time; the box office will be located at the venue and will be open for the entire 6 hour performance time.

July 14, 2011, by
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Shira Leuchter live-drawing at game 1 on Sunday

by Aislinn Rose

We had our first game of Dungeons & Dragons (not) The Musical at the Toronto Fringe Festival on Sunday evening in the Snakes & Lattes basement. For our first attempt at what we’re calling a performative experiment, it was fun, it was problematic, and I learned a hell of a lot. Oh, and apparently it was really hot.

Our team of theatre-makers and improv performers set out on a quest (along with their precious donkey) to find a manticore, meeting a copper dragon and battling gargoyles along the way. We started out with a packed house, but by the end of the six hours we had a rather more intimate audience. Despite our smaller numbers there was an audible gasp across the room when our beloved donkey met a tragic demise.

One of the main things I noticed as I watched the audience watching the game, is that many people were inching to get as close to the table as they could. Some of the braver audience members simply picked their chairs up and moved them next to the gamers, which I was happy to see. As a result I have plans to significantly reconfigure the placement of the game within the room, and where the audience will be seated. The gamers will be almost entirely surrounded by onlookers.

One of Amy's live (and un re-touched) ipad drawings from Sunday. Catch more of Amy's work throughout our final presentation on Saturday night

We also discovered some unexpected sound challenges. Considering the relatively small room in which we’re playing, I didn’t think sound levels would be a problem. However, we’re battling an air conditioning unit, so sometimes the voices were lost. This also limited our ability to really build in the sound design elements, in fear of further drowning out the action.

Our Dungeon Master, Ryan Stoughton, is an important and compelling element as he plays the various goblins and gargoyles, so I want him to be heard no matter what. Tonight he’ll have his own wireless mic, with an area mic to pick up the voices of the other players. This will also allow Lyon Smith our Sound Designer to further distort and play with their sound.

Finally, towards the end of the game when our players were more comfortable with one another, we had some really wonderful moments where they reached out to the audience for wisdom and advice. “Let’s ask the audience.” I’m hoping that tonight’s new seating and playing arrangement will further encourage this kind if interaction. Tonight will also see serious gamers at that table, and I’m excited to see how that alters the audience/player relationship.

I’d love to have you join us for our next six-hour session. We’ll be at Snakes and Lattes from 7pm until 1am and you can drop by any time for as little or long as you like. Our live-drawer for tonight is Jody Hewston, who created our D&D Dragons, and also just took 2nd place in the Fringe’s 24-hour playwriting contest!

Given the experiment, your feedback is really important to us, and I was thrilled to receive an email from a gamer who joined us for the entire 6 hours on Sunday to let us know what he thought. I hope we get more of those.

Before the show on Sunday, someone in line outside the venue said “are we allowed to heckle the players?”. Absolutely.
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Image by Jody Hewston

Dungeons & Dragons (not) The Musical - Toronto Fringe Festival, 2011
Remaining dates:
July 14th, 7pm to 1am
July 16th, 5pm to 11pm
Venue:
Snakes & Lattes – 600 Bloor Street West.
Tickets:
Click Here to purchase, or here for more information.

*PLEASE NOTE: there is a maximum allowable attendance of 20 people at any one time; the box office will be located at the venue and will be open for the entire 6 hour performance time.

July 4, 2011, by
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by Aislinn Rose

This July 1st marked the first Canada Day in four years that I did not spend in a marathon rehearsal session for a Toronto Fringe production. And yet, I do have a Fringe show this year… it’s just that I can’t exactly rehearse for it.

What I can do is tell you what – and who – I will be putting in the basement of Snakes & Lattes and what they will be doing. What I can’t do is tell you what’s going to happen once everyone is there.

The premise started out simply enough: What happens when you put Dungeons & Dragons, a character-based role playing game, in front of an audience? Is it interesting? Does it become performative? How does the presence of an audience affect the playing of the game? And… how the heck do you play Dungeons & Dragons? I have no idea, and I want to find out.

Previously on this page we have described the project as “part performance experiment, part research project”. Well, as the idea developed, its inherent ‘liveness’ and unpredictability – the fact that the story is created on the spot through the collective imagination of its players – became very exciting, and I wanted to open up this experiment to other members of the theatre community.

Snakes & Lattes on Bloor (click to enlarge)

Enter Trevor Schwellnus and Lyon Smith, Dora-winning lighting and sound designers respectively. While lights and sound are usually fixed features in a theatrical presentation, with set levels and fade in and fade out times, Trevor and Lyon will be experimenting with creating live light and soundscapes for each of the stories as they develop. Trevor and Lyon are also D&D nerds from way back.

Over the course of the Fringe we’ll also get to see how different kinds of players and their different backgrounds affect the game, and what that will mean to their relationship with the audience.

Our first game on the 10th will be played by members of the theatre and improv community, all with a background in playing D&D. The team includes one of my Toronto improv favourites, Carmine Lucarelli, winner of a Canadian Comedy Award as part of the ensemble of Show Stopping Number: The Improvised Musical, as well as Scott Moyle, Artistic Director of Urban Bard Productions, and dramaturg Stephen Colella, among others.

The second game on the 14th will be made up entirely by members of Toronto’s gaming community. Big thanks go to Kate Bullock and the Toronto Area Gamers for fitting me out with players and our Dungeon Master.

Our third and final game on the 16th will see these two brands of nerd join forces for a final epic game. Don’t miss Praxis Theatre co-Artistic Director Michael Wheeler as he returns to his D&D roots, playing alongside award-winning playwright Nicholas Billon, and Dora-nominated actor (and everyone’s favourite guy) Colin Doyle. You can also catch Colin at this year’s Fringe in The Godot Cycle, and we thank them for not scheduling his performance during our game.

Finally, I’ve also invited visual artists of various aesthetic styles to join us in our adventures to live draw/sketch the scenes and characters as they develop. If you’re an artist, please don’t hesitate to bring your sketch pad with you.

Oh, and about our title? It’s possible Michael and I were being nerds of another kind that day. Hope to see you in the basement.

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Image by Jody Hewston

Dungeons & Dragons (not) The Musical - Toronto Fringe Festival, 2011
Dates:
July 10th, 4pm to 10pm
July 14th, 7pm to 1am
July 16th, 5pm to 11pm
Venue:
Snakes & Lattes – 600 Bloor Street West.
Tickets:
Click Here to purchase, or here for more information.

*PLEASE NOTE: there is a maximum allowable attendance of 20 people at any one time; the box office will be located at the venue and will be open for the entire 6 hour performance time.

June 20, 2011, by
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iPhone photo of a recent Toronto Star editorial cartoon by Theo Moudakis

1 – Play Games With Us


“Do you need my bag of miniatures?”
Toronto Fringe Exec. Director Gideon Arthurs

Ever since we started talking about our site-specific Dungeons & Dragons project at this year’s Fringe Festival, theatre people from every part of the industry have been coming out of the closet as former players of the game, with some even revealing they still regularly get together with friends to play.

We’re looking for players for our 6 hour marathon sessions in the basement of Snakes & Lattes, so let us know if you play, or used to play, and if you’re free on July 10th or July 16th. We’ll also be playing a trial game in advance of the fringe to experiment with our live sound and lighting designers, so even if you can make it to a Fringe game, there is the possibility of using you as a guinea pig whilst we quest to save our enchanted donkey. (This is not a joke – we lost our Donkey in the first trial game and we still plan on getting it back.)

2 – Get Locked in a Cage With Us


“Don’t worry – I promise we won’t get arrested.
You Should Have Stayed Home writer and performer Tommy Taylor

We have been rehearsing our 2011 Summerworks show You Should Have Stayed home off-and-on ever since we presented part of it at Buzz in April. Recently, we decided to include a scene that explores the conditions in the g20 detention centre on Eastern Ave. that requires 40 performers. No – that is not a typo: four zero. If you are A) Male and B) want to be in Summerworks – this is your chance.

You don’t need to be an actor, but you do need to be available for 4 rehearsals over evenings and weekends at the end of July, as well as all 6 performance dates (which are also mostly evenings and weekends). We will do some improvisational exercises to get a sense of each other, and Tommy and other detainees will give some presentations about their experiences. Then we will create a 10 minute scene that will be integrated with Tommy’s story. Mostly your job will be to act like someone surprised at and exhausted by being locked in a cage.

In either case all you have to do is send us an email to get the ball rolling to info@praxistheatre.com

If you want to play games make the Subject: D&D Player. Tell us in 150 words or less what your connection to the game is, what you do now, and why you want to play.

If you want to experiment with what it is like to be locked in a 10 x 20 ft cage in a safe theatrical setting make the Subject: G20 Detainee. Tell us in 150 words what you do with your time on this planet and why you’d like top be involved.