2018 programme

the-smoke_logo_smallWe’ve got a terrific programme together for you at The Smoke 2018!

We’ve gone for a really exciting assortment of different styles and themes, showing the richness and variety of larp. There are several different flavours of UK larp, plus the best that we could find from across Europe and from the USA. Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of larp, or an old hand, you’ll find something here to suit you – and, most importantly, this is the chance to try out styles of larp that you’ve never experienced before.

And don’t forget, the day before The Smoke starts, there’s a fascinating supporting event — In Conversation: A Dialogue Between Larp and Performance. As well as the series of lunchtime talks by our guests of honour!

The larps

Here’s the list! You can click each larp’s name for more details:

The Aeneid: Journey to the Underworld
(Rebecca Roycroft, US)
Sunday afternoon, Studio 5
In The Aeneid: Journey to the Underworld, we will embark on a journey to the underworld together. We will embody the spirits of dead heroes from the Aeneid. The only thing they have left to do is make peace with their lives and their choices. What is the legacy of their actions? Could things have gone differently? Does it matter? Together, we will find out.
Key themes: Love, Honor, Betrayal, Peace, Death
(Mark Durkan, IE)
Sunday morning, Studio 5
ALIBI is an invitation to engage people and place through temporary fictional identities. Participants are invited to collaboratively construct characters and roleplay these; interacting with each other in real-time to unravel a newly emerging fictional narrative. ALIBI is a multidisciplinary platform for delivering 360° reality fiction experiences… but it’s also a hidden, private party where you can be anyone you want.
Key themes: 
Arsenic & Lies
(Karolina Soltys, UK)
Saturday afternoon, Studio 4
It is 31 Dec 1919 and the party at Weatherby Manor is in full swing. The guests exchange furtive whispers of intrigue, blackmail and forbidden love. At midnight, a glass of poisoned champagne shatters, dropped from a dying hand. The family has to find ­ – or frame – the killer before the police start looking too closely into their secrets. But does the murder even matter in the scheme of things? How important is it compared to pursuing your clandestine affairs, extracting revenge on people who let you down during the War, arranging marriages of convenience or saving your beloved sisters from going to jail?
Key themes: family, secrets, murder
The Best Medicine
(Mo Holkar, UK)
Sunday afternoon, Studio 2
This is a larp about laughter. Specifically, about how laughter is good for you: about how laughter is, as the old saying suggests, the best medicine.
The characters are a group of funny people – comedians and comic actors,. They all know each other, or know of each other, to some extent. They are gathered to mourn/celebrate the loss of one of their number – a true great, with whom they all had different experiences.
What The Best Medicine seeks to demonstrate is that ‘larped laughter’ is just as good for you as ‘real’ laughter. Prepare to have your sides split…
Key themes: Laughter, success and failure, career envy and rivalry, and the ‘sadness behind the smile’
Critical Path
(Amanda Brown, Jill Krynicki Dutcher, James Silverstein, Brandon Brylawski, and Doug Freedman, US)
Sunday morning, the Boardroom
DATELINE: Cape Canaveral, 2043 – Faster-than-light Travel Possible!
“We dedicate this voyage to children around the world,” billionaire philanthropist Killian Shepard said, as he and his small crew of researchers boarded their experimental craft. “It is their future we hope to secure.”
Critical Path is a game of intense interpersonal drama and shifting perspectives set aboard the Victoria II, a prototype starship on its maiden voyage. Join the crew as they race to the edge of possibility, pushing the boundaries of knowledge – of themselves and the universe around them.
Key themes: How life changes as a result of choices that you make
(Áron Birtalan, HU/NL)
Saturday afternoon, the Boardroom
DIM is a Transformation Game for 4-20 participants. Transformation Games are an experimental discipline, that blend elements of role-playing, somatics, and practices of everyday life, into a form of experience that the author would be hesitant to call ‘larp’.
DIM takes place in an undefined space, where Forms and Shadows meet. Forms and Shadows are abstract personalities that communicate mainly through their own unique body language. Creating and exploring these personalities as well as the world they inhabit in is the ‘purpose’ of the game. It is a simple, yet extremely powerful to undergo.
Key themes: Ambiguous, half-light, unclear, devoid of any meaning, dreamlike
Dulce et Decorum Est
(Alison Rider Hill, UK)
Saturday morning, Studio 5
It is late September 1938. You are part of the Atherton family, or one their close friends, and have gathered for a dinner party the night before their younger son Bertram celebrates his 21st birthday with the customary Ball for the County and the tenants.
Key themes: Family truths and historical realities
First They Came
(Alessandro Giovannucci and Andrea Giovannucci, IT)
Sunday morning, Studio 4 and meeting rooms
Berlin, 1939. As suspicion and whistle-blowing become chillingly common and the Third Reich reaches the height of its power in a delirium of blood and steel, the SS comb the streets of working-class neighbourhoods, looking for the last remnants of those deemed undesirable by the regime. During the coldest winter in human history, three people cower at the barking of bloodhounds and the shrill sound of whistles spurring them on, as they huddle together in a building in the squalid outskirts of the city. They know they must hide lest this be their end. Will they manage to survive? Will they redeem their sins? At what cost?
Key themes: Guilt — Egoism — Opposition — Complicity
Fuenteovejuna my lord!
(José Castillo Meseguer, ES)
Saturday afternoon, Studio 1
Fuenteovejuna is a XVII century Spanish theatrical play. Due to its almost choral characters, its cultural impact and the relevance of its topics (the injustice of the powerful, rape and abuse, the union and honour of the common folk) it is perfect for an Edularp.
For in a funny way rescue the taste for the classical theatre and the topics contained in the play: Justice, togetherness and honora (perception of honour in front of others).
Key themes: Justice, togetherness and honora
(Laura Wood, UK)
Sunday morning, Studio 2
This larp is a realistic look at the education system inside a closed women’s prison in the UK. The larp will allow you to workshop a believable character and experience some of the issues involved in the criminal justice system.
Key themes: Barriers to learning, Realism
(Mike Young and Moira Parham, US)
Sunday morning, Studio 3
Welcome to the K300, Krashalot, Submarine. We will have exciting adventure underneath the waves. Can your crew survive the disasters for an hour before help arrives? Inspired by the board game Red November. Bring your Russian accents and prepare to die horribly. We will provide costuming and pre generated characters.
Key themes: Dying horribly (probably) in multiple ways with comedic elements, high tech wizardry and fake Russian accents
Katabasis – a larp about descents and origin myths
(Una Hamilton Helle, Susan Ploetz, and Francis Patrick Brady, UK/DE/NO/SE/US)
Saturday morning, the Theatre
Katabasis is a non-verbal, movement-based larp about cave descents, origin myths and group archetypes.
Generations ago our people fled into a vast system of caves to create a new world. The Myth says that we started as one large group, but after the Great Divide we were separated. There are stories that the others are still out there, but we haven’t encountered them. As we descend further into the vast network of caverns, we feel the presence and traces of the mythical others as they appear to us as symbols, detritus and echoes in the dark.
Key themes: Myth creation, symbolism, communality, Movement as language, ESP
Larp for Airports
(Michael Such and Fredrik Hossmann, UK/NO)
Sunday afternoon, Studio 4
A low key, plotless, whimsical, chatty larp where nothing really happens. Relax and enjoy time spent waiting to board a plane with your friends. Suited to being played as a come down from other intense larps or at an airport after a larp convention.
Key themes: relaxation, conversation, realism
The Last Sunset
(Francesco Rugerfred Sedda, IT)
Saturday morning, Studio 4 and meeting rooms
A freeform live-action role-playing game for 2 players.

The player take the roles of a couple during their last sunset, where the shadow of the past are strong. One of them has a letter: what could its contents reveal?

Key themes: regret, success, failure, desire, consent, misunderstandings, and choices
Life of a House
(Ruth Trenery-Leach, Will Osmond, and Mo Holkar, UK)
Saturday afternoon, Studio 2
This house hasn’t always been old or so empty. For a long time, many decades ago when your great-great-grandparents moved in, it was vibrant, full of life and conversation. Back then it didn’t need the wake of a funeral to fill it with family. And during the Blitz, how everyone came together to sing and dance to keep their spirits up.
It all happened here, in this house. The memories and ghosts of those times past permeate the very walls. Yet all seems forgotten now. The life of this house has changed so much…
Key themes: Memory, family, home
Lost Shadows
(Marije Baalman, NL)
Sunday morning, the Theatre
An invitation to dance with your shadow…
A shadow always follows you, what if you follow your shadow?
Your body casts a shadow, but what shape does it take?
Every light causes a shadow, but what if a shadow alters the light?
And if we loose our shadow, do we loose ourselves?
Lost Shadows is a multi-participant, interactive environment driven by the interactions of sound, light, visitors and shadows. The experience makes the participant aware of her own shadow – a trace in the environment of which one normally isn’t so aware. While playing you loose sense of yourself, as you are drawn into the strange shapes a shadow can take.
Key themes: shadows, sense of self, body awareness
The Lovers’ Matchmaking Agency
(Jamie MacDonald and Aarni Korpela, FI)
Saturday afternoon, Studio 3
The Lovers’ Matchmaking Agency is a fake, pop-up “dating” agency that is about love and forming human connections, but not focusing on the search for romance and sex that we usually associate with dating. Usually run over multiple days, this version will give you a brief window into a state of mind where everyone is connected, and openness brings creativity. It’s a larp in the sense of being played in a magic circle of reality, but not in the sense that you play a role.
Key themes: Trust, openness, human relationships, prejudice, and love
M vs M
(John Stavropoulos and Terry Romero, US)
Sunday afternoon, Studio 1
Some people said your super powers made you dangerous. They certainly made you different. Many of you were outcasts, but your teacher brought you together and made you a family. They had a dream of how you could live together with the rest of the world. And they died. Now the people who hate you for what you are are coming for you, and there’s no one left to protect you. You’re going to have to take a stand for yourself and decide what’s worth fighting for.
In M vs M, you’ll create a character at a school for heroes and follow them throughout the devastating brutality that finds them and their friends in the years after the death of their mentor.
Key themes: Superpowers, racism, civil war, loss
Mean Street
(Nickey Barnard, Megan Jones, Nick Curd, Clare Gardner, Phil Dall, and Max Powell, UK)
Saturday morning, Studio 1
It’s 1920s New York and everyone from gangsters to gumshoes have gathered in the speakeasy The Crimson Club for a night of music, gambling, and smuggled drink.
In futuristic America, the megacorp Avatech Industries has recently shot to fame with the creation of the most astonishingly immersive game scenarios the world has ever seen. Who are the patrons there to indulge their wildest famtasies? And who are the androids there to service their every need? Reality and fantasy blur when artifcial life can no longer be told apart from life – and on Mean Street, is there even a place left for morality?
Mean Street is a dark science-fiction game inspired by Westworld, Dollhouse and the 1920s noir genre, in which players play either human patrons or androids in one of Avatech’s games.
Key themes: Identity, wish-fulfilment, moral choices
The Midnight Circus
(Masha Karachun, Zhenja Karachun, Olga Rudak, and Nastassia Sinitsyna, BY)
Saturday afternoon, the Theatre
This larp tells a bittersweet story of the rise and fall of a travelling circus at the beginning of the 20th century. In this larp participants will get a chance to become a part of a circus troupe, to live a life of a circus performer, to weave a web of relations and unravel it, to feel unity and togetherness and to experience how outside circumstances could change what seemed unchangeable.
Key themes: Unity and togetherness, traveling circus
No Island is an Island
(Nina Runa Essendrop, DK)
Saturday morning, Studio 2
A larp where players create fictive islands together by making soundscapes and afterwards explore these places as members of a lost tribe.

No Island is an Island is an intuitive, sensuous and abstract larp. The players will practice how to use their voices in different ways and how to follow each others sounds to create coherent soundscapes. Besides sounds the larp uses touch, movement and description of inner visions as primary tools. Players will have their eyes closed during most of the larp. The larp was originally created to produce sound material for the performance installation “Ingen ø er en ø” by Francis Patrick Brady.

The Quota: Border Crossing
(Avalon Larp Studio, Broken Dreams)
Sunday afternoon, the Theatre
In our near-future scenario, Great Britain has divided into separate states and England is on the verge of economic collapse, triggered by failed economic separatism and severe droughts. You will play an English refugee hoping to cross the border into Gweriniaeth Pobl Cymru (The People’s Republic of Wales), by any means necessary.
Key themes: Departure. Crossing borders. Risk, exile and hope.
Scene Party
(Michael Such, UK)
Saturday evening, the Theatre
Scene Party is a larp-ified party or a party larp. It’s a journey to freedom through rave culture and music. You won’t be playing a character but being led on a imaginative journey through London’s nightlife as yourself. A structured experience with lights, music, dancing and even a bit of metatechnique.
Key themes: dancing, nightlife, transformation
(Kathryn Hymes and Hakan Seyaliogliu, US)
Sunday morning, Studio 1
Sign is a game about being understood. It’s a non-verbal larp exploring deafness and the origins of Nicaraguan Sign Language. Together we will share the frustration and loneliness of not having a language. We’ll slowly develop the tools necessary to express what’s important to us. We will explore which words we choose to define together, and what that says about ourselves, our deepest desires, and the relationships we build.
Key themes: communication, understanding, language
(Muriel Algayres, FR)
Sunday afternoon, Studio 3
The intertwined lives of women before and after World War I, learning about themselves, their issues, and discovering sisterhood and support in the midst of troubled historical times.
Key themes: Womanhood, self-determination, sorority, feminism
Sound of Us
(Victor Esses, Indre Gardauskaite and Mary-Jo Gilligan, BR/UK/LT/IR)
Saturday morning, the Boardroom
Have you ever dreamed of being in a band? Have you stopped to take stock of your values amidst all that is happening in the world today?
In a nightclub late at night a clandestine band is getting ready to jam. Their instruments are their bodies, voices and surroundings. Their set up is always under negotiation. What happens when the group spirit is tested?
Following the tradition of Nordic larps, Sound of Us explores themes of the individual and the collective; values and ideology; music and creation, and what each participant brings to the mix.
Key themes: individual/collective; values/ideology; music/creation; community and agency
Superstition: An exhibition of artefacts from The Miskatonic University Collections
(Chloe Germaine Buckley and Laura Mitchell, UK)
Saturday morning, Studio 3
“Superstitions of the Early Colonial Period” incorporates a selection of artefacts never before released from the Miskatonic University collections. These items present an insight into the role that religion, myth and superstition played in everyday Colonial life from the 17th Century onwards, many brought to New England from the variety of cultures across the ‘Old World’. We invite you to accompany our resident expert, Professor Sam Hawkins, as you discover beliefs that died out, others that continue today and hear stories of faith, heresy and superstition attached to the treasures of the Orne Library and Miskatonic’s famous book collection. Perhaps you will recognise practices from your own homelands in the strange beliefs of these early settlers?
Key themes: migration, belief, faith, tradition, ownership
To the Wonder
(Karete Jacobsen Meland and Martin Nielsen, NO)
Saturday afternoon, Studio 5
If you can find the end of the rainbow, legend has it that you can make a wish. A group of children sets out on a journey to find the rainbow: They all have something in their lives that is troubling them, and they hope finding the end of the rainbow will help them overcome their difficulties – but the road is long and full of danger.

To the Wonder is a larp about internal and external monsters, and a journey to overcome them.

 Key themes: Journey, monsters, togetherness, play, curiosity, childhood
Welcome to Hard Times
(Karolina Soltys and David Owen, UK)
Sunday afternoon, the Boardroom
Welcome to Hard Times is a Nordic-style larp about pioneer life in the American Midwest at the turn of the 20th century, based on the novel of the same name by E.L. Doctorow. It is a tale of human resilience and frailty, and the impossible dream of permanence. In this larp, the players will tangibly participate in the cycle of creation and destruction of a small settlement, building it with symbolic props. In their doomed struggle to create a permanent home, the characters grow increasingly entwined. The story is told using various techniques: narration, naturalistic scenes, non-verbal physical play.
No knowledge of the novel is necessary.
“I told Molly we’d be ready for the Bad Man but we can never be ready. Nothing is ever buried, the earth rolls in its tracks, it never goes anywhere, it never changes, only the hope changes like morning and night, only the expectations rise and set. Why does there have to be promise before destruction?”
Key themes: community – ambition – revenge – blame – cowardice – forgiveness

(And here’s what last year’s version was like!)