About this Larp
In 1645 England was in the midst of a civil war. The war was about who should rule – parliament or the king. It was about God and how he should be worshipped.
Before the civil war, people were rarely hanged for witchcraft: but this was a time of turmoil, fear, and superstition. Matthew Hopkins, self-styled Witchfinder-general, made his mark on East Anglia, discovering evidence of over 300 witches, leading to their brutal execution on the gallows.
High Verley is a fictional village in Essex and the larp is set at the end of Hopkins' life. A time when people were aware of his methods and were both fearful of him and in awe of his abilities.
During this larp we will explore the pressures that might cause neighbours to accuse each other of witchcraft – fear of the devil, fear of losing social standing, fear of being accused themselves. We will explore the results of political turmoil and religious divisions and what those might have meant to people at the time.
The Discovery of Witches
20th February 2021
9:30am – 10pm
Age Concern Southend
134 Hamlet Court Road,
Westcliff on Sea,
Tickets cost £45 – there are 3 free tickets available.
Is this larp for you?
This larp will involve:
- An exploration of the beliefs and attitudes of 1645. The characters will have views that would now be considered outdated, and maybe abhorrent. There won't be any characters with modern views; and players shouldn't steer towards outcomes which seem desirable from the modern perspective.
- Transparency in structure and design. Although there will be elements in the larp that your character won't know about, the players will be fully aware of the Larp Structure.
- An exploration of gender and class status at the time, which will include sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and classism. Participants, of any gender, can play any character of any gender. For more information see the Gender Roles part of this website.
The larp won't involve:
- Any pre-designed plot beyond that which is in your character sheet or in the larp structure.
- Needing extensive knowledge of the time period, or period-appropriate costume. Any knowledge that you will need about the time period is covered in the Setting part of this website. There are no costume requirements beyond dressing in neutral colours – we will provide head coverings to denote gender and status.
- Magic. The people of the village will believe in witchcraft but none of the villagers will actually be witches.
- Ableism or racism.
Some individual characters will have content that includes pregnancy, illness, adultery and loss of a loved one.
There will be content in some characters' backstories, and offgame during the act break, which will include torture, acts that would be considered sexual violence by a modern standard, miscarriage, and abortion. However, these types of content won't play out in-game during the larp itself.
We will work with you to ensure that you are comfortable with the character you are playing; but we can't guarantee that you won't encounter references to potentially triggering content.
We welcome new larpers. Check out what larp is about here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuT88CnQ4xY
One thing that you might be wondering is: is this larp going to be like The Crucible? The answer is: not really.
Apart from the difference of date and location, thematically we are coming from a rather different direction. The Crucible is about a wave of panicky, condemnatory hysteria – a public rush towards scapegoating – the fear that if you don’t point at someone and accuse them, then they will do so to you. No-one can be sure of loyalty, no-one is safe; fear and mistrust spread like a disease through the community. It is generally read as being a parallel to the USA’s anti-Communism agitations of the 1950s.
The Discovery of Witches is not about those things. As much as it’s about anything, it’s about systemic oppression – the ways in which society is set up and operates to the advantage of some groups, and to the disadvantage of others – and how this is usually unquestioned and seen as the result of natural forces (or of Divine providence). So, in our village, it’s not the case that a wild accusation can throw even the wealthy and comfortable under suspicion, as it is in Miller’s Salem.
In High Verley, when there is suspicion to be had, it will fall by default upon those who are at the bottom, or who are ‘other’ in some way. And those at the top are very unlikely to suffer any ill consequence: accusations against them will simply not be believed, unless there’s some particular political reason why that individual is to be othered and cast out from their peers.
What this means is that we’re not expecting there to be all that much shocking drama to the scenes of accusation and exposure – most likely, those who end up suffering will be those who would be expected to. There won’t be a twist ending in which everyone realizes their folly and they resolve to do better as a community. Most likely, the status quo will persist; apart from some scars in places where they don’t show
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