Scenography

The scenography of Totem should give the impression of a primitive tribal society. The lost civilization should only be represented in the form of building materials, water containers and the like. There should be no machines or talk about machines, but primitive huts buildt with equal amounts of fur and plastics.

The scenography in the original run was based on an old burned down farmhouse. The overgrown ruins served as a backdrop for the different locations, and horses in the nearby fields played along.

The two most importans spaces in the setting is the fireplace and the ritual ground
The central elements of these two rooms, the fireplace and the totem-pole, is grounding the spiritual experiences of the scenography and function as essential pins in the game engine.

– Most of the play takes place around the fireplace. This is where the players make the food, eat, hang out, make relations and define status. A central fire was surrounded by simple timber constructions of varying hights, where the players can sit and uphold their status rank. The players did most of the coocking themselves. A simple outdoor kitchen was established, with pots and pans, a knife and an axe. Live chicken hens, and a rooster to wake them up in the morning, walked around in a small fencing.

– The ritual ground was used for all the ceremonys and common experiences. Eight wooden collums in a circle (app. 8m. in diameter) with a central totem pole decorated with string, feathers, horse sculls and diferent other bones. Placed in a glade surrounded by enormous nettles and trees. The players where not allowed to see or enter the ritual ground before the seccond day of the game, when they’d found their totem animal and name.

Other parts of the senography
All game-setting was to be taken ‘as is’. Everything could be used in game as tools or props. This diegetic grip helped in creating a wholesome and convincing experience.

– The neclace tree, where the players would be presented with the burden of adulthood, was a quiet solitary place. Neclaces was hung from the trees, and given to the players by the elders in the tribe.

– The elder hut functioned first as a sweat lodge where the players would take their dream travel and find their totem animal and name. And later as a place for the elders to enter in and out of the game. It was placed in an old concrete pool with a wooden construction covered with construction plastic on top.

– The sleeping hut was an old shed, equipped with a thick layer of hay and cowhide.

– The latrine was placed in the outskirts of the game area covered behind a curtain wall with a wiev to the open fields. A little flag would indicate if the room was occupied.

– The offgame room, at a short walk from the game area, served as a neutral place where the players could retract from the game reality and ground their experiences in real life if needed.