Stilted

A while back, I posted about spotting someone walking through Harvard Square on stilts. This past Sunday, I was falling off a rope bridge strung between two trees, when I spotted a young kid striding by, about 2 or 3 feet off the ground.

(Coincidentally, this was not long after I finally got the chance to try a friend’s goth/rock costume boots- monstrosities with buckles from toe to knee and something like 5 inch soles. Moving in them felt like moon-walking. It was pretty sweet.)

The kid on stilts graciously allowed me to try them on. I fell pretty quickly the first time I got up, lasted a bit longer the second, then made it all the way down a hill before being helped to the ground by a kindly passer-by. Clearly there’s a very steep learning curve involved.

UH OH

I was mostly focused on keeping my balance, and the people around me were mostly focused on being there in case I toppled the wrong way, so it’s hard to say just how being that much taller affected me on a personal level, but it did give me a few thoughts for making use of this in LARPs.

Getting the hang of this…

For one thing, if I want to use this in LARPs, theater or boffer, they’d have to be shorter and have broader bases. It took two people to get me off the ground once I had them on, which makes them really impractical for boffer LARPing. Tripping once (or getting knocked down) would put me out of combat for good if I can’t get back up on my own steam. And it’s very hard to rest in them- even the girl who owned them said it’s much easier to keep your balance while moving, which makes them terribly impractical for theater LARPing. I’d have trouble interacting if I had to spend all four hours constantly moving.

But that all said, I still very much want to try incorporating stilts into a LARP costume. Costuming is a tool (or crutch, depending on how you look at it) that I rely on, extremely heavily, to get into character. And I think height has a fairly profound effect on social interactions, but people generally aren’t aware of it because it’s an almost absolute constant for the entirety of our adult lives. I think the time we’re most aware of it is when we put on heels. Being 5’3, I’m still shorter than the majority of the population even in my tallest heels (3 inches or so) but going from my normal height to almost eye-to-eye with some of the guys I dance with at formal events is something.

(Small side note, I read online about a party created by an artist called a Same Height Party where all of the guests put on shoes that made them all 2 meters tall. I find this utterly fascinating and would do anything to attend an event like this.)

I think this means that if I were to wildly alter my height for a costume, it could have a profound effect on character immersion. Assuming I’m not too distracted by trying to keep my balance. But I think it could also impact the way other people see me as my character.

And the best part is that I sent photos to my friend with the kick-ass workshop in his basement. He says he’ll help me make a set. I’m excited, though the other peice of this puzzle is getting the right casting. I think my future questionnaires will have “I’d love to wear my stilts” in the “what else should we know about casting you?” section.

Here I go!

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About Fair Escape

I've been LARPing for years in all different styles, including both boffer and theater. I love classic LARP but I'm always happy to try something new. I have a sort of "gotta catch 'em all" attitude towards experiencing LARPs. I'm currently serve as a board member of NEIL, a member of proposal com for Intercon, the largest all LARP convention in the US, and as en editor for Game Wrap, a publication about the art and craft of LARP. I was also con chair of Festival of the LARPs 2017, and I'm on staff for NELCO, the first all LARP conference in the US. I'm
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6 Responses to Stilted

  1. JakeG says:

    I’ve considered trying out stilts for LARP as well, but I’ve yet to find out if I can even stand up in them. In boffer games it really does make for an impressive encounter when the monster is looming that far over you; I’d love to be able to offer stilt-walking (and stilt-fighting, in this case) as one of my NPCing skills.

    For theater LARP, maybe some special contrivances would be helpful if the character isn’t going to be walking around constantly. The character could be elderly, and then you could have a (very long) walking stick as a piece of practical costuming. Maybe the setting is actually in the tall character’s own home and therefore has some really tall stools around the room.

    I know there was a brand of foam stilts that were very broad and looked very easy to stand and walk in, but for the life of me I can’t find it on Google.

    • Fair Escape says:

      I love the idea of the walking stick as part of the costume- that would help me stand in one spot. Maybe a wizard staff or a pole-arm prop, depending on the character.

  2. Carmen says:

    You might try looking at drywall stilts. I think they have a wider base, and they’re adjustable, so you could increase the height as you get used to them.

  3. Pingback: For Auld Lang Syne « FairEscape

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