Dungeons & Dragons @ the Fringe: Game 2 tonight
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.
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.
Dungeons & Dragons (not) The Musical – Toronto Fringe Festival, 2011
July 14th, 7pm to 1am
July 16th, 5pm to 11pm
Snakes & Lattes – 600 Bloor Street West.
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.