Live Role-play of Medieval Fantasy and its relationship to the Media
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
In the postmodern, contemporary Western world of late capitalism, we dream of the Middle Ages. Medieval Fantasy, as an entertainment genre, supplements historical images of the Middle Ages with elements of myth in adventure stories featuring magicians, knights and ladies, castles, dragons, swords, and sorcery that are routinely consumed and absorbed. In some activities they are also played out physically. People dress up, utilise props, and affect their speech and mannerisms like actors in a theatre, conducting pseudo-ritualistic games of mimicry to make these images speak and move in the real world: live role-play. This thesis examines several organised examples of live role-play: Southron Gaard, a branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism based in Christchurch, New Zealand; larping, as represented by two documentary films, Darkon and Monster Camp, that document the activities of larping organisations in the USA; and 'Lord of the Rings Tour', a tourism trip from Christchurch to 'Edoras', a fictional location from Middle-earth, the fantasy world of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Novels and Peter Jackson's filmic adaptations thereof. These organised leisure activities provide platforms for the pursuit of active, physical involvement with the images and ideas of medieval fantasy. In them, participants find ways to bring these fantastic images and ideas onto their bodies in reality and, perhaps as a result, closer to their everyday lives in ways that have more significant social implications than may at first be apparent.