Become the protagonist of a spy story packed with action, plots and twists. Accept the challenge and imagine a traditional and chauvinist world, but upside down. Peaceful and caring. Do we really believe that women are naturally this way?
Demetra is a larp which strives to turn around, taking to the extreme, social relationships typical of 1950ies USA, founded on a extensive patriarchy where women had as their best aspiration to be the perfect housewife. This larp wants to focus, in a politically incorrect way, on all imbalances and inequalities of gender which come from an imposition by society and tradition. Demetra narrates a fictional reality, inspired by a world which hardly still exists, but wants to push a reflection on nowadays facts.
We’d like to encourage participants to portray unusual characters, subverting traditional social roles thanks to this extreme dystopia. Demetra aims for this: a challenge!
Overturning classical archetypes
All characters in Demetra are written to be interesting and pleasing to play, as any other larp. What Demetra is peculiar on, however, is that classical gender archetypes are overturned, giving therefore a unique experience to the players of any gender.
The rich heir courted by many, the seductive Mata-hari style spy, the young idealist which fights against conventions, the rookie trying to prove his value in an all-female misandrist environment, the sly advisor who influences all decisions of his powerful wife, the “desired by women and hated by men” star, the apparently idiotic but secretly all-knowing secretary, the Homme-Fatale, the men-rights activist, the lover or son of the criminal boss, the “bond boy”, the intellectual trying to reach a position... are all characters which will be available to male players.
On the other hand, the rich heir who needs to keep the family name intact, the poor but ambitious woman who rises to lead a company, the military officer, the political or religious leader, the hotheaded policewoman, the criminal boss, the ruthless killer, the 007, the bodyguard who needs to choose between duty and love, the flirt, the unsuccessful alcoholic penniless, the cynical detective, these will all be characters available to female players.
Female players, without giving up their womanliness, will explore public roles of command, power: company leaders, spiritual or religious guides, finance sharks, influential thinkers. Their physical and social dominance is a status quo. Their responsibilities are both carried out in the public world - work, politics, competition - and in the private word - as head of the family and source of income in their households. They will portray themes such as ambition, political intrigue, dominance, social pressure, ethics and the protection of their family name.
In this dystopia, male characters are physically weaker due to a genetic illness; therefore, they are deprived of most of their economical and social independence. They will experience unusual themes for them, such as housekeeping, private wellbeing, affectivity, interiority, as well as opportunism, scheming, seeking social justice and equity. They will use seduction to pursue their objectives; they will manipulate, but also show their weaknesses, and their willpower. They will take advantage of their social role to investigate behind the scenes.
In Demetra, as men get old quickly and die young, more mature players can challenge themselves playing a much younger character, as well as younger players can portray an older character. Basically, player’s and character’s age are unrelated for male characters, it is on the contrary a subjective choice by the player.
White room: the voice of the dominant tradition
In order to help players in these complicated social interactions, we decided to design into the larp the White Room. What is it? It is an out-of-game room where the players can act on the doubts and thoughts of their characters: an imaginary place where they can talk with their inner gender identity. This experiment wishes to simulate during the larp the dominant culture, the environment, the social propaganda which they received for their whole lives. Inside the white room they will talk with a voice (a member of the staff) who will sustain social norms of Demetra world, will push away all temptations towards political correctness, will strengthen conflict and imbalance. The goal is to keep players in a world where matriarchy is completely rooted into people’s mind.
Politically incorrect - a thought
All participants in this action larp, full of investigation and politics, will be pushed to take highly questionable decisions. As authors of Demetra, we’d like to point out this event doesn’t wish to give any judgement, but to ponder about prejudices: reflections on the concept of social disparity, whatever it is or wherever it comes from. It’s not just an event about discrimination of those parts of society which are seen as weaker, but also about the social pressure on those who are deemed stronger.
Women, and men, of their time
She checks last time her organizer, a smile on her face, which has been there for several hours already. Tomorrow is going to be a great day. A true woman’s limit is the sky! Tired after a day at work, car window open, she lights a cigarette, driving towards her suburban house. She daydreams, while her eyes pay attention to the road, thinking about the incredible success of her last marketing campaign. She’s most definitely rising to Demetra’s board of directors, all the secretaries are talking about it, excited, they already look at her with new eyes, she feels powerful and accomplished. Success tastes very sweet, but her highest desire now is to savour the wonderful food her husband would have ready for her, when she gets home, together with the most relaxing foot massage.
He checks multiple times the owen, a smile on his face which has been there for several hours. His feet ache, after a day housekeeping for his lovely wife, cooking on the latest fashion dishes, making himself handsome, thus hiding his advancing age. When he hears the engine roar on the house driveway, he looks one last time at the stove, making sure everything is perfect. The door opens, she kisses him passionately, all tiredness is quickly forgotten. There is but joy in the air, he feels so special to be chosen by the rising star of Demetra. He will give her a foot massage, he will listen to her success and tomorrow, at the country club, he will repeat everything to his friends, so that they would know how perfect their couple is!
A woman is trying to seduce, with her eyes, a man smiling to a camera, she’s aware of his stress. After all, he’s at the center of attention. He’s a desired pray, and she’s not the only one craving him. Look at those pinstriped stuck-up bitches all around him. She would definitely want that sweet sugar just for herself, even just for one night. It would then be awesome to brag about him with her friends, in a pub, drinking her favourite beer.
A man smiles in front of the camera; he’s perfect, desired, nothing can make him as happy as to be considered the very essence of beauty. He’s aware they all desire him, he just needs to make all those women think he’s the brainless pretty thing they want, born to please and to be conquered.
A woman is observing, apart from the crowd. She knows she’ll never be able to have a man like that, even though she might be able to offer him so much more than all those around him. She wants him, and damn it if she will not rise above those privileged bitches to command them and to have that tasty beef in her bed, just for one night. She daydreams about her friends around her at the club, admiring her while she brags about her conquest.