Nina Runa Essendrop is a Danish LARP designer and artist with a masters degree in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. She has a strong focus on movement, sensory experiences and the meaning of physical action. Nina is an active player in the Nordic LARP community. She has designed and produced blackbox LARPs, freeform games, large-scale LARPs, and LARP festivals, and collaborated with artists in both Europe and the United States.
2009-2016: MA Theatre and Dance specialising in Movement, University of Copenhagen.
2005-2009: BA Theatre & Dance, University of Copenhagen.
2000-2001: Vostrup College of Music and Theatre, Denmark.
An abstract, poetic larp about fragile meetings and the fear or rejection, explored through touch by blindfolded participants. Presented at the festival Black Box Copenhagen (2023), Portal Convention, Budapest /2023).
An abstract, physical larp about looking back at a world that ended and coming to terms with the end by experience the past lives in glimpses and writing them down as a patchwork story. Presented at the festival Black Box Copenhagen, (2022), Grenselandet, Oslo (2022) and Now Play This, London (2023)
Travel Through Texture to Parallel Realities
With Stephanie Pau. A tactile, poetic larp in which participants create miniature worlds using waste/recycled materials and then explore these worlds through homemade avatars, soundscapes and collective storytelling. Based on a series of online workshops called “Playing with hands”. Presented at The Smoke larp festival, London (2022)
A World Apart
An abstract, physical, online larp about finding connection with others fare away. Presented online at the festival Grenselandet, Olso (2020)
A poetic, physical larp performance about two-dimensional creatures entering into our three-dimensional world in order to find and draw beauty. Played with an interacting audience. Run and Grenselandet, Oslo (2019) and Black Box Copenhagen (2019) The Smoke, London (2022)
Human Experience (Menneskelig oplevelse)
Human Experience is a physical, immersive larp about the sensations we get from movements, touch and senses. The players play Ancient Consciousnessess who shortly get to experience life through a human body. The Ancient Conciousnessess are gentle, slow and curious. They don’t understand rational logic but experiences the world through poetic images and abstract sensations. Having human bodies are new and overwhelming to them. In their short time as embodied creatures, they want to carefully experience the nuances in the way humans move and sense and to try to understand what it is like to be human and experience through a body. The game was designed on behalf of the association Gnist. Played at: Huset-KBH (2016) Black Box Horsens (2017)
Real/Unreal was a mix between a roleplay and an interactive performance designed by experienced artists and role play designers. The audience was invited to explore, experience, interact with and influence the world that was created. Co-produced with Nilas Dumstrei, Mark Durkan, Adam James, Hamish MacPherson, Peter Munthe-Kaas, Gustav Nilsson, Nina Lund Westerdahl. Played at: Blackbox Cph VI (2016)
Fear and Borders
”Fear can feel very personal, only concern you, and just in a second concern many others, become political”-Fear and Borders is a larp about experiencing fear and borders in an abstract setting. It was originally created as part of the art installation ”Elements of fear and borders” by danish artist Kamilla Askholm Jørgensen. Played at: Grenselandet (2016)
The Underworld (Underverden)
The Underworld was hosted by the Storytelling Festival 2016, and was an interactive, experimental storytelling performance mixed with live roleplaying. The audience was led through the gates of the Underworld, listened to stories, interacted with lost souls, made existential choices and was in the end reborn on the other side. An adaption of The Fragile Life of Souls Gone Missing was implemented as a part of the Underworld. Co-produced with Martin Nielsen, Karete Jacobsen, Ylva Sjaastad, Trogrim Mellum Stene, Lise Forang Grimnes and Marianne Sundal. Played at Fortellerfestivalen, Oslo (2016).
System: Blackbox larp Genre: Drama. Participants: 14 players. Two cultures in neighbouring countries. Not friends and not enemies, each minding their own business. Then catastrophe hits one country, forcing the inhabitants to flee and seek refuge among their foreign neighbours. Strangers is an abstract larp which uses physical methods such as sign language and simple movement routines to create two cultures and the feeling of belonging or not belonging to these. It aims to explore refugees trying to fit in, and the reactions among the people who they try to fit in amongst. Played at: Blackbox Cph VI (2016), Grenselandet (2016), The Smoke (2017), A Love Piece (2017), Black Box Horsens (2017).
Before We Wake
‘Before We Wake’ is a journey into the subconscious. By sharing and exploring your own dreams, you connect with your dream avatar, the Dream Envoy, while it tries to connect with you. Co-produced with Peter Schønemann Andreasen, Jesper Heebøll Arbjørn, Hedda Fich. Sanne Harder, Mathias Kromann Rode and Kristoffer Thurøe. Ran twice at Københavns Musikteater (2015).
The Fragile Life of Souls Gone Missing (Tabte sjæles sarte liv)
The fragile life of souls gone missing is a poetic larp about loneliness, being caught in personal world views and about the beauty of fragile interaction and small moments. Missing souls are searching for memories and meanings but can’t hold on to anything. Like a soap bubble bursting after a few seconds, they lose track of who they are and their direction. The scenario is played with an audience that are free to walk around and interact with the players either as invisible or visible ghosts. Played at: Blackbox Cph V (2015), Grenselandet (Oslo, 2016), Black Box Horsens (2017)
The Other Life Project
The Other Life is a space where you can reflect upon and experiment with identities, interaction and being. Through a new identity, your Other Self, you can take control over or lose yourself in attempts to develop new understandings of what it is possible to be and do, individually or together with others. It is an exercise in deepening presence, that makes time slow down. It may sound abstract, but luckily it is much easier to understand in practice. Co-produced with Peter Munthe-Kaas. Played at: Aarhus (DK, 2017), Göteborg (SE, 2016) Authentic Relating Festival (2016), 2016 (DK), Berlin (DE, 2016), Prolog (SE, 2016), Tullinge (SE, 2015) Blackbox CPH (DK, 2015) Grenselandet (NO, 2015) Maridalen (NO, 2015), KW3 (DK, 2015), The Borderland (DK, 2015).
Inside Myself Outside Myself
The dors opens and you are lead into an unknown universe. It is sensual, but safe. Here is strange, yet familiar. Blackbox Cph 2014 gathered innovative people from the interactive arts and role playing scene and gave them six hours to design an experiential space for an audience. Co-produced with Matilda Björkne, Carla Burns, Nilas Dumstrei, Mark Durkan, Marie Holm-Andersen, Petter Karlsson, Thom Kiraly, Peter Munthe-Kaas, Gustav Nilsson, Oliver Nøglebæk, Karin Ryding, Gabriel Widing. Played at Blackbox Cph IV (2014).
Setting: an abstract, empty circus ring, created by light and the surrounding darkness. A group of innocent clowns with big hearts and little sense wake up in the empty circus ring. Lost and confused and with a longing for something they barely can remember they start to explore themselves and each other, searching for meaning and happiness. But life is hard for small clumsy clowns that are full of love but cannot speak. Out from the darkness the Salesman arrives and offers easy and exciting solutions for small but significant prices. Innocence is a physical scenario exploring topics like friendship, immediacy, strong emotions and the value of things that make life hard. The game uses gibberish as language. Played at: Metamorfozes (2014) Blackbox Cph IV (2014) Blackbox Deichman (Oslo, 2015) Black Box Horsens (2016). Winner of the scenario writing contest at Metamorfozes 2014.
The Checkerboard Crew
Working collectively, players used characters created in intensive workshops to reinterpret the world around them. Players were tasked with leaving behind marks, physical or embodied, which might serve as beacons to a brighter future. In order to refrain from overly analytical approaches to the task, play was conducted almost entirely in silence. The two most important rules of the game were: 1) To transform the quality of ‘the thing’. 2) A collective consensus must always be reached. Co-produced with Adam James. Played at: A week in Vilnius (2014).
Alice is a scenario for three players. One plays Alice and the other two plays Dream and Reality. Alice is the main character, who doesn’t know who or where she is, and thus has to go with the flow until she finds herself and can make her own choices. Dream and Reality are worlds, and at the same time beings with their own agendas. They influence Alice’s journey as she travels through them. They are playing persons from Alice’s close, rough reality and from her fantastic, nightmare-like dream. They play with her life by forcing their worlds on her, but at the same time they both love her. Played at: Fastaval (2014). Otto award nominations: Best roles, Best effects, Best scenario. Nr. 3 in the category Best game experience at Fastaval 2014.
Beginning starts at the dawn of time, where a group of blind beings slowly comes to life. The scenario is about the beings and their meeting with themselves, each other and the ever-changing world they live in. Through an extensive pre-larp workshops, the players get familiar with moving and playing when not seeing, and are taken into a magical world of sound, smells and feelings, but with no sight. Gradully, the beings learn to move in different ways and explore the world and the other creatures that live there. Beginning is an abstract scenario, focusing on the bodily and the senses. Played at: Blackbox Cph III (2013), Knutpunkt (2014), Black Box Horsens (2015).
Under the rainbow (Under regnbuen)
Genre: Short story scenario. Under the rainbow is about three beings seeking something they might already have, but that they think they are missing. One wishes to be beautiful, one to be wise and one to be exciting. They are sent out on a journey to find The Wizard, who can grant them their wishes if they are willing to sacrifice everything everything they have and everything they know. Under The Rainbow takes place in an abstract and magical universe and is an adaption of “The Wisard of Oz”. Played at: Forum (2013) Fastaval (2016), Fastaval (2017)
White Death (Hvid død)
A group of pioneers once set out for the mountains with the aim of creating a new society, bringing only absolute necessities, as well as their hopes and dreams. They had the best intentions but couldn’t succeed. Life in the mountains was too hard; too demanding. They had traveled too far, and couldn’t find their way back. One by one, the snow embraced them, giving them silence, peace and rest. Tranquility and light. A poetic, non-verbal larp that emphasizes physical expression. The players are guided through feelings like anger, frustration, sorrow, and fear – and the feelings of peace and closeness which follow the characters’ gentle deaths. Music by Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Johnny Cash sets the tone. Co-produced with Simon Steen Hansen. Played at: Blackbox Cph II (2012), Grenselandet (Oslo) (2012), Blackbox Cph IV (2014), Black Box Horsens (2015), Knudepunkt (2015), A Love Piece (2017).
The World’s End/ The end of the world (Verdens ende)
In a world that is about to go under, a boy, a woman and an old man is heading on a last, surreal journey away from everything they know, with a last hope to find themselves before everything ends. Together the three travellers handle mental paralysis, misery, unresolved expectations and the fear of growing old. Co-produced with Niels Jensen. Played at: Fastaval (2012), Stockholm Scenario Festival (2013), Knudepunkt (2015), A Love Piece (2017). Otto award winner: best effects. Otto award nomination: best scenario, best roles.
Choreographic Games (2022)
Initiated by Alexandre Achour. A one-month research project exploring the relation between games, choreography and artistic process by facilitating the collaboration between choreographers and larp designers culminating in the design of three larps. Berlin, Germany.
The Dive (2021)
With Rozan Van Klaveren. An online workshop using larp methodology and immersive storytelling to create an intuitive journey guided by inner wild creatures, to help us relate to environmental problems. Created for the online symposium Blend and Bleed.
Infinite Seats of Power (2021)
A participatory installation by Mark Durkan and Francis Patrick Brady at Museet for Samtidskunst, Roskilide Denmark.
Sound Explorers (2020)
An online workshop where participants create imaginative worlds through sounds created with their voices and go on an adventure together in their sound worlds. Organized by iii in collaboration with KUBES, Netherlands.
Possible Futures (2020)
With Tim Dendy and Bardic Circles within IofC. An online workshop where participants are guided to explore a possible future for life on our planet using embodied imagination and from their imagined futures reflect on how to create todays changes by writing a letter home to their present selves. Presented online at Art and Media Hub and CAUX – dialogues on environment and security.
Home Planet (2019)
A three-day immersive performance/larp based on Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and containing 14 separate events created by external artists as well as an ongoing larp space open to a public, interacting audience. Presented at Oslo Architecture Triennale, Oslo, Norway.
A work by Union situated at the intersection of art, role-play, and experience design. Participants are guided by a series of performative algorithms, the results of which form an intersubjective entity where both data and self is decentralized and anonymized. Run at Black Box Cph, PLX (Malmø) and as part of Project Space Festival with Panke Gallery (Berlin)
Sounic embassy (2018)
With iii. A larp performance developed in collaboration with members of iii as part of a month residency exploring the crossover between interactive media/sound and larp. Audience members are invited to participate in three sound-based games/exercises using home made instruments. Presented at No Patent Pending, The Hague, Netherlands
The Cel (2018)
By artist Ed Fornieles. A 72 hour immersive larp exploring the ideologies that influence aggressive expressions of masculinity and provide a framework for their dismantling. Filmed by stationary cameras and body cams and edited into a video piece that is shown along side footage from the debriefing of the performers. Filmed in London, UK
The Group (2018)
With Ed Fornieles and Omsk Social Club. An immersive larp performance and participatory experience where the audience are invited to a section of the Esperia Palace Hotel to interact with guests caught in a fragile reality between present, past, future and fantasy. Presented as part of ANTI Athens Biennial, Athens, Greece
No Island is an Island (2017)
A LARP created to produce soundscape for the performance installation No Island is an Island by Patrick Brady at ‘The Final Exhibition’ Group Show, Copenhagen, Denmark. Later run as an independent larp experience at larp festivals and galleries in London, Oslo and Copenhagen
The Eighth Palace (2016)
Experience Design by César Alvarez and Nina Runa Essendrop. Music and Lyrics by César Alvarez. The Eighth Palace is a participatory multi-sensory experience which tells the story of The Beings who have yet to emerge, The Beings who were nothing and in no place. Only blankness waiting to be brought into life. This is the story of their emergence, life and dissolution.
Development: TCG Global Connections Grant, NYU Playwrights Horizons Theater School developmental residency.
Level Five (2016)
Worksop assistant. Larp / perfomance / video installation by visual artist Brody Condon. Brody Condon’s Level Five (2010–ongoing) is a live action role playing (LARP) event that investigates the ideological legacy of controversial large group self-actualization seminars from the 1970s in America. Over a weekend, Level Five invited one hundred participants, led by a trained seminar leader and assistants, to arrive in character and immerse themselves in an intensive program organized by the artist comprising of lectures, physical processes and rites of sharing. Commissioned and produced by the 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art.
Affection Systems (2016)
Workshop held with artist Brody Condon at transmediale, Berlin, Germany
Affection Systems was a physical interaction workshop exploring intimacy simulation, facilitated by the immaterial presence of a fictional AI. The session was followed by a debrief with Brody Condon and Nina Runa Essendrop.
Elements of fear and borders (2016)
FAA’s Graduation Show ‘Graduation from Funen Art Academy 2016.
The workshop examined the concept ‘borders’. Using the reflections and thoughts on fear and borders that are already in the installation, the two woman will guide the participants through roleplay exercises. Using the body, sound and senses the participants will be guided through three scenarios.
Zeigarnik Effect (2015)
Workshop- and experience designer. Larp / perfomance / video installation by visual artist Brody Condon. Zeigarnik Effect combines modified psychotherapeutic and live roleplaying techniques in a carefully crafted ‘performative game engine’; a unscripted small group encounter with 8 players, facilitated by the artist, that ran during the opening weekend of Momentum 8: The Nordic Biennial. The split screen image, inspired by the video experiments of the psychologist Ian Alger, was streamed live to the nearby kunsthalle.
A commission by Momentum: The 8th Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art
Artificial Awakening (2021)
By Jakob la Cour. An immersive XR performance played simultaneously at Kulturkraftværket (Helsingør, Denmark), Bombina Bombast (Malmø, Sweeden), Odin Theatre (Holstebro, Denmark), HUSET CPH (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Invisible Objects (2016)
Performer/role player. Artist: Kristoffer Ørum. The exhibition consisted of a series of everyday objects and a video – a chair, a fridge door with a milk, a platter with a water melon, a breadbox with a rye bread, a sink with pasta and a number of PU-foam objects. The objects emitted content through different wireless networks that were available inside and outside the gallery. The video showed 5 interviews with members of the culture that havd produced the objects. The video was the result of a workshop with a group of role players. Exhibited at Prince Gallery, Copenhagen.
I Know You Are But What Am I? (2013)
Performer. With performance artist Adam James, Fort-Da, London. Larp / dance / performance using techniques of live action role play to stage a series of confrontations between two opposing groups in a playground setting. Overseen by two games masters, a group of dancers and a group of larpers returns to us the primal scene of the schoolyard in an attempt to understand ‘outsiderness’. Using ritual, role-play and movement and working through personal experiences, the performance aims to create a space where both performers and audience members can reconcile themselves with past conflicts. Supported by The Arts Council of England and Siobhan Davies Dance.
To Prove Her Zeal One Woman Ate Mud (2013)
Player, performer. Larp / performance / video installation by visual artist Brody Condon. Video install @ The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, documenting a 5-day live role playing event located inside a seven-story mill tower and nearby communal farm in the small town of Wassaic, New York. Anachronistically imagining themselves inhabiting a setting part late 1800’s unorthodox monastic commune, part 1980’s new age retreat, and part extra-terrestrial biosphere, the characters engaged in the daily life of a working communal farm as well as regular group encounter sessions led by an elusive AI.
Commissioned by the Aldrich Contemporary Museum.
Between Breaths (Mellem Andredrag) (2011)
Actor. Theatre play by Monia Sander and theatregroup Zaza, Huset Cph, Copenhagen. The theatre piece “Between Breaths” explores and uses the playing rules of net dating to portray a modern humans’ searching in the closed land of loneliness. Dance, music and poetry is united to create a new aesthetical realty – a temporary, collective body of sorts. The piece takes place at the borders between realism and absurdism, between actors and audience, between text, music and body, between stagnation and movement, between cerography and improvisation, between twosomeness and loneliness.
The Earth We Walked On (Den Jord Vi Gik På) (2010)
Actor. Theatre play by Michael Ramlose. 6 young people have by chance escaped killings and violence. Their land lies in ruins. Are they the last survivors? They travel towards north with a hope to get away – but are carrying the fear and horrors of the war with them. Yet all is not as gloomy as it may seem. Out of the distress and misery they bring out the energy to give each other a little warmth and friendliness. Played at Vildskud festival, Basement, Copenhagen.
Twentyfivefold Manifestation (2008)
Performer. Performance / installation / larp by visual artist Brody Condon.
Combining the fantasy Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) subculture, public sculpture, and ritualistic performance art, Twentyfivefold Manifestation was a series of physically and psychologically intense live games involving 80 players which evolved over the Summer of 2008. Set in a distant future where civilization as we know it had almost been lost, players from different worlds met deep in the holy forest and inhabited a 40 feet high tower “in character” for 3 days at a time while worshipping invented deities embodied by the other artworks of the exhibition. For the Sonsbeek International public sculpture exhibition, Netherlands.
Portal Convention (2023)
– Keynote speaker
larp festival in Hungary
The Smoke (2017)
– Guest of Honor
larp festival in UK.
A love Piece (2017)
– Guest of Honor
larp festival in DK.
Authentic relating festival (2016)
– Program coordinator
– Honorary judge
Blackbox Cph (2012)
– Jury member, Scenario contest
Blackbox Cph II (2012)
Larpwriter Summerschool (2012)
Week-long larp writing course, Vilnius, Lithuania
Blackbox Copenhagen (2011)
– Creator and co-organizer.
Larp festival in Copenhagen, for short experimental blackbox-style larps.