Frequently Asked Questions
Live Action Roleplay
Is this a “larp?”
If you don’t know what “larp” means, it’s short for live-action roleplay, a storytelling form where the participants play characters and determine what happens. So yes, The Mortality Machine is a larp, because you’ll play a character and determine the course of the narrative as the protagonists of the tale.
However, we’ve tried to boil down live-action roleplay to the essentials, so that people who have never tried it can still fully enjoy the experience. There are no rules to memorize or skills to learn, and even if you’re shy or hesitant, there
will still be plenty elements there to entertain you. The important thing is that story is about the participants, and created through their interactions with each other.
What characters do attendees play?
You’ll play an ordinary person who has lost a loved one. All of the roles share a common tragedy: five years ago, they lost someone in an illegal medical experiment that’s still shrouded in mystery. During the experience, you’ll investigate what happened.
The characters are simple: each one is less than 100 words, and designed to give you context with which to interact with the world and the other participants. You’ll have a new identity, new relationships with the people around you, and a motivation for entering the sealed laboratory. Because they’re simple, you’ll be able to quickly immerse yourself in the world without worrying about having to remember too many details, and you’ll be able to mold the characteristics you’re assigned to make sense for you.
What if I’ve never roleplayed before?
You probably have, in your childhood. Most of us have played pretend before. Or maybe you acted in a show in school, or done a murder mystery, or just imagined how you would react if you were in a movie or a story.
We’ve designed The Mortality Machine with you in mind. We’ll explain the few things you need to know before you go in (these are simple things like “don’t get into fist fights,” and “don’t touch anyone inappropriately). Plus, if you get stuck, we have a few tricks to help you out. Your assigned character is not a responsibility but a tool to help you navigate through the experience. Trust us, you’ll have a good time.
What if I’m an experienced larper?
Then you’re going to have a blast. We’re offering you a fully-immersive setting where you can enjoy a “sandbox” style experience with a few framing events. Your decisions determine the ending, and the characters are designed to maximize interpersonal drama. However, see our “Practical” questions (below) for a few specific details.
In the context of immersive theatre, theatre-goers accept dance in the same way the audience of a musical accepts the actors breaking into song: we’ve been trained to accept that as part of the “reality” of the experience. We’re using dance to represent the extraordinary; dance lets us present a vision of the afterlife in a physical medium.
What kind of dancing is it?
Our style is contemporary, however, we also like to describe it as communicative. We want to use dance as a medium of interaction between two people, so that you can learn from our performers, express your reactions, and converse through physical movement. The choreography is crafted to be accessible even to the untrained eye.
Do I have to dance?
No! But we want you to have the opportunity to do so without any prior dance experience.
There will be plenty to do, the most important being the interactions with other participants. You’ll be telling a story together. However, we’ll have papers for you to read, instructions to figure out, mysteries to explore, and plenty of things to do that can impact the story apart from the dance element.
However, our choreographer designed the
work with participants of limited experience, and even limited mobility, in mind. We’ve made the dance elements as accessible as possible.
What should I wear?
Whatever you want. All the characters in The Mortality Machine arrive wearing street clothes. We do recommend you wear something you might want to move around in, and possible dance in.
How will you handle accessibility concerns?
We are designing the experience so that if you can make it down the stairs to enter the venue, you will be able to experience almost every element. We have taken into account concerns about lighting, noise, and mobility, but please contact us if you have a specific concern.
So it’s not wheelchair accessible?
To be clear, the venue is not wheelchair accessible. However, if you can make it down a flight of stairs, we can transport your wheelchair down, and accommodate most needs at that point. We have about three feet of clearance in our most narrow passage downstairs.
I have limited mobility… how do I interact with the dancing?
If you can move your arm, you should be able to fully interact with the dancing. If you have mobility problems with your arms (or don’t have arms), you will still be able to experience most other elements of the mortality machine.
Is there a workshop? How long is it?
For your safety, and your enjoyment, we’ll have a brief, 15-minute workshop prior to the event. If we do our job well, you might not even realize it’s happening. The experience starts with you meeting one of our performers, who will go over a few simple safety rules. Once the performer steps into character, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and learn a bit about the story of The Mortality Machine. By the time the performer opens the door to the laboratory, you’ll be ready to safely enjoy the experience.
Are you using any safety mechanics?
For experienced larpers: we will ensure all participants are familiar with the OK Check-In, the Look Down (which will be used to maintain an Open Door Policy) and a technique to telegraph physical contact. Note that some physical contact is expected.
For people who have no idea what those techniques are… we’ll explain them to you, quickly and easily at the start of the event. What you need to know is that we’re hard at work to give you the safest experience possible.
What sort of physical contact can I expect?
You should expect to be touched on the arms, shoulders (including your upper back), neck, hips above the waist, and legs below the knee. If someone reaches for your face, stomach, lower back, or attempts to hug
you, they will telegraph it so that you have a chance to pull away (we’ll practice this a bit right at the beginning). Any additional physical contact will have specific guidelines to prevent unwanted touching.
What about narration and negotiation?
If you’re an experienced larper, you might be tempted to use narration or “off-role” techniques. This experience is entirely “What You See Is What You Get” and you will likely confuse other people if you start speaking out of character. Our workshop will discuss how to obtain consent for physical touch and other key safety points. However, we ask you avoid meta-narration techniques, describing things in the second- or third person, and remain in role at all times.
What ideas or themes might the experience explore?
This is a show about death, and our attitudes towards it. Everyone has some opinion on what happens after you die, even if it’s “I just don’t know,” or “It scares the hell out of me.” Our hope is that we can poke your personal beliefs a bit, so that you can reflect upon what they mean, and maybe even learn something.
Are there any content warnings we should know about?
We will simulate medical procedures, including the use of needles. There will, at times, be darkness and loud noises. People will touch you on your arms, hands and shoulders. We’re going to talk a lot about death and dying, including real-world diseases like cancer. There might be brief nudity and discussions of sexuality, but this experience is “PG-13” in that regard. We’re from New York, so there will definitely be profanity, but nothing that would be considered a slur.
What’s the difference between immersive theatre and live-action roleplay?
We really don’t think there is one… we consider live-action roleplay to be a type of immersive theatre, and we’re focused on delivering you an amazing theatrical experience.
When does audience become the performers and vice versa?
A core element of the show is that there’s no division between the audience and the performers. There are just participants who have been to rehearsals, and participants who are showing up for the first time. The rehearsed participants are there to facilitate the experience of the people walking in for the first time.
Can I have personal side scenes?
No, because this event is unscripted… every scene is created by you, the participants. You will likely have some intimate, personal interactions with our performers, particularly if you want such an interaction. But this is because you’ll have an opportunity and seek it out, and then create a unique moment between you and the performer.
How much do I need to prepare?
Not at all. However, we ask that you do not show up inebriated or under the influence of foreign substances. Apart from that, you need no more preparation than it would take to go to the movies.
What if I want to know more about the world?
Be sure to check the website often, and look for links. And you'll have to look.
Will there be clues and puzzles?
There will! Although this is not an escape room, one of our designers has tremendous experience with that type of design. We intend to have “physical mysteries” to explore and figure out… particularly in relation to the machine that lends the experience its name.
Can I attend with people who I know?
Yes! We encourage it. If you’re planning to bring a large (12+) group, we can organize buyouts on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday nights.
Why only 20 people?
The space only comfortably accommodates 20 people (and even then, the lobby is very friendly).
Will there be private areas?
Good question. Generally, no, but there might be for a few brave souls...