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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 116 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: My Daughter, the Queen of France  (Read 529 times)
Hans Chung-Otterson
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Posts: 54


« on: November 13, 2011, 01:03:16 AM »

We played MDQOF (is that how you acronymize it?) tonight. The conceit of the game is that Shakespeare's relationship with his daughter has broken down to such a point that they are estranged from one another, and Shakespeare is writing a play to try to figure out why. One player plays the role of Shakespeare. This player doesn't play in scenes at all, merely sets them and gives some minor directorial cues. The other players all play friends of Shakespeare with ties to his daughter that are created through answering questions, after Shakespeare has revealed what the general breakdown in the relationship looks like (in our game, it was that Shakespeare's daughter, Rosalind, was graduating from business school & entering the corporate world, which SS thought was a betrayal of her free and creative spirit).

Thing is, while all the non-SS players have their own characters, these characters are more of a lens through which to approach the scenes: while creating your character (again, answering questions), you figure out what you think about Shakespeare, his daughter, and whether Shakespeare is right about his daughter or not. Then, in the scenes that SS sets, he throws out any characters to play, which may or may not include your character, may or may not include SS as a character (again, the player with the role of SS never plays in scenes, but SS can be a character that other players play in scenes) and you may or may not play your own character in any given scene. One of our characters tonight was only in one or three scenes. But that player was in every scene, playing lots of different people.

When SS sets a scene, he can either create a new one or revisit an old one. When he creates a new one, there are Limits in place on the players:

-no describing action or stage direction
-no emotion or emotional states
-no soliloquys

In that order.

So the first time you play a scene, you are sitting back and monotoning dialogue, nothing else. SS can cut the scene at any point, and have you do it over again or go to another scene. The next time you play that scene, now you can describe action and stage direction. The third time, FINALLY, your characters can sound like human beings and have emotion. In practice, this is quite intense--you've played the scene in various ways, interpreting it differently, playing different characters in it, and by the time you can be emotional and real, you're bursting for it.

The game gets hot when Soliloquys enter in, and in our game we only had one, and it was so hot that at the end of it SS decided the play was finished, and ended the game. That Soliloquy happened in the scene that was the first one SS framed, which is (this is mandatory) the scene where SS & his daughter have the falling out. In our game, it was a scene with Rosalind, SS, and Oswald, SS's son & Rosalind's brother. Rosalind is going off to business school as the scene begins, and that's all we know.

We played this scene many times, and the characters changed throughout. For much of the game, in this scene, SS was a stodgy, cold, and uncaring, but in this last one he was helping Rosalind pack her things, and sending her off, blubbering. In the midst of his blubbering, he says, "You're going to become the kind of person I hate,"* which turns Rosalind cold, and she has a Soliloquy where her player describes Shakespeare puttering around the stage, with a single lit window in the house showing her mother. She then Soliloquies about how this shouldn't be so hard, it's just a choice, and she's stuck between these two worlds and why are things so wrong? I'm selling it short, because it was absolutely beautiful, and the perfect place for the play to end.

*This, actually, brings in another thing about the game: other than setting scenes, the SS player can do one more thing to get his vision of the play across: create Constraints. These are phrases or descriptions that MUST be included in the scene. The first time the SS player sets a scene, he creates a dialogue Constraint, and every time the scene is played thereafter, SS can create one new constraint by shouting "And that's how it happened!" when someone says/does something he likes. All accumulated constraints must be carried through in each successive iteration of that scene. This quoted Constraint, above, was the very first one that the SS player created in the game. So I, playing SS in this scene, was blubbering and trying to love my daughter, but that Constraint was staring me down, and I had to say the awful thing that would make me reject her and break our relationship.

It's beautiful. This is probably a hard thread to read, as I wanted to talk about our game but necessarily had to try to describe how the game works first. Ask me more questions about our specific fiction if you wish; and Joel, Harry, or Tori, please do jump in if you're around.

There's other stuff I didn't talk about; like each new scene that SS sets has to come chronologically before each other scene we've seen. So we start with the relationship breakdown, and then move back in time from there. But SS can jump around to any scene already created--like how in our play the first scene was also the last, but the scene was dramatically different the last time.

Also, I'm very curious what the play experience is like as the Shakespeare role--it seems very different from playing one of the actors. SS is giving his friends direction, and trying to push for a play that helps him figure out his relationship with his daughter (or that vindicates him, or whatever), but he can't communicate any of this! To illustrate this point, let's look at how the game ends: either when all the actors are fed up with SS and how he's not fucking getting it, and they leave. They have to tell him why they're leaving.

Or, the game can end because Shakespeare says it's done. This can either be, "It's done as a play, I'm satisfied, thank you very much," or, "You're never going to get it right, fuck it, it's done!". Thing is, Shakespeare doesn't say which one this is. He just says the play is done, and walks away, no explanation!

I really hope Daniel publishes this game, because people need to see it, people need to play it. I have never done anything like it.
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