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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spotlight on Drama Libre- Vapor Paragon Reporting…

Cirque du Soleil
If you have been in Second Life© for some time, you may have visited many places with theme parties, but Drama Libre stands out from all of them. Drama Libre is like no other, with the kind of effort they put in their theme parties.  Every week they host a big party with a new theme that attracting big crowds. They have been doing this nonstop since 2006.  The most amazing fact is, that they have not repeated any theme yet. Drama Libre has a dedicated team of builders, who are not only very imaginative but are also very professional. This venue is completely rebuilt from scratch every week to match their new theme, each time with great detail.

   By looking at their work you can certainly tell they don't compromise on quality and put  great effort into what they do. Drama libre's innovative theme ideas always seem to give new challenge to builder team, but they always do justice with it. At each party, Djs play music matching the theme as well. They specially lineup songs and even classic commercials audio clips to enhance the feel and its fun factor.

Djs also cater requests from guests and play dedications. At each party, Drama Libre attracts a big crowd, which includes many new and regular visitors who dress according to themes. Some of them are so dedicated that they design their own costumes for each theme.

 There are also contests for best in theme, through which one can win a generous amount of lindens. Drama Libre's name describes their philosophy. Libre is a Spanish word which means "free", so "Drama Free". Drama Libre is an oasis for people who want to have fun and enjoy a variety of music in a drama free environment.

I talked to founder/Co-owner Peachy Sassoon and also other Drama Libre team members to learn more about this fascinating club.

Vapor: First of all great job on this venue. Can you tell SLE what were your initial thoughts were when you first started this place ?

Peachy: Xerxes and I enjoyed going to clubs when we first met. We loved listening to music, and getting into different costumes. But we always felt that typical club themes didn't push the envelope hard enough. I mean, SL is about creating anything that you can imagine, and Best in Jeans, Best in Red, etc just didn't cut it for us. I know for many clubs perhaps it's a matter of financial necessity, but Xer and I really wanted to explore the creativity that SL provides. For instance, why do Best in Spacesuits, when you can actually portray being in space looking down on planet Earth! And imagine, we didn't even know how to build back then or work with scripts! We learned slowly, and in many times, the hard way! Lastly, We found a lot of drama going on in many of the clubs we frequented, which made us sad. We both came online to enjoy ourselves, not to get mired in drama. And we felt there were many SLers who felt the same way. Hence when we named our "club" (for lack of a better word,!), we decided to call it "DRAMA LIBRE", after the Cuban revolution slogan.

Vapor: Who comes up with all these theme ideas ?

Peachy: It is a joint idea on themes. The crew gets together and starts bouncing ideas off one another and we explore different options as to how to pull it together. We also ask our guests for ideas, and pay them L$500 for each theme we use.

Vapor: You say you haven't repeated any theme since you started in 2006. How have you managed to have a new theme every week ?

Peachy: It is not easy coming up with a theme each and every week. In the beginning it was real easy cause it was never done before. Now every idea that is tossed our way we look and more then not we have already done it. There are time that we really want to do a "Best In Plywood" theme but due to our nature that is not us.
Drama Libre Niagra

Vapor: Which themes are your most favorite so far?

Peachy: I have to be honest here, there are so many that became my favorite but a few have stuck out. We tend to build sets larger than life in which is one of my favorites was our very first larger than life build Haute Cuisine. A large kitchen with a sink that peeps tped into and ended up in sudsy water, we all danced on a cutting board. Another one is Children's Bedtime Stories, people rode a sleepy cart over to the set that was done a la Dr Suess. Magical Critters was another favorite of mine, I could go on and on with so many of my favorites that I would bore you to death ( Laughed). But in all honesty let me direct your attention to one of our themes that a member captured on youtube. Watching that will show that anything is possible in SL. Just let your imagination go and create. 

Vapor: How many themes has Drama Libre done till today ?

Peachy: Counting this last one (Marooned On Treasure Island) we have done 341 different themes -- we've been doing this for over 6 and a half years, and with a different theme every week, it adds up!

Vapor: It's a immense job to create a new theme every week. What are the challenges you face?

Peachy: Coming up with a theme that we have not done before is our biggest challenge, Also, we have visions a lot of times that are hard to make happen. Now we are skilled enough to develop different effects, like dancing on a whale that dives and surfaces in the sea in our Save The Whales set, or showing motion as we dance on a truck barreling down a highway as we did in our Mad Max set, or even showing the passage of decades as we did in our Back To The Future set. Sometimes they require script work, or sometimes we take a page from making special effects from movies! It's more now about the presentation, and not so much just a straightforward build anymore.

Vapor: Do you save your Theme builds or crush them? Also do you lend them to be used by other people?
'Art for Escher's sake

Peachy: We package up our builds always. We use what is called a rezzer once the completed set is done we pack it up and each of the builders gets a copy of it. We have sold a few sets that people fell in love with. Lending a set out, we never tried that. That would be an idea to lend but on the other hand these are our creations that we put together and being able to just give a package out to lend means working with permissions. We take a lot of pride in our build. We didn't know how to package up our sets in the first two years, so sadly, those sets were literally torn down and lost.

Vapor: What are your future plans for Drama Libre and your message for SLE readers ?

Peachy : Is to have fun, we enjoy what we are doing and it gives us a creative release. People enjoy what we are doing. But also we loved to see other clubs get creative with their themes as well. It would be great to go and visit and party at their venues. Anything is possible in SL just a matter of taking advantage of what is set before you.

I also talked with Drama Libre's Djs and Builder team members to know about their experiences and contribution.

Vapor: How has your experience with Drama Libre been and what theme build was most challenging to create?

Xerxes: Well as one of the founders, it's been a real journey... with lots of laughter, long-term friendships made, and lots of moments with light bulbs clicking on or the first time! But there's also been creative butting heads and late night work -- sometimes it feels like a second job! But it helps us blow off steam from our busy real lives, so it works for me! As for the most challenging so far, usually those are the ones that start with one of us saying, "Wouldn't it be cool if..." Really for me, though, the most challenging was our London set, where we literally replicated the London Bridge. The details were excruciating, and we sort of bit off more than we could chew to be honest. There were only 3 of us builders back then, and we were working up to an hour before the party! Even now, having to replicate famous buildings makes me twitch anxiously!

Rinaldo: Working on the Drama Libre build team has been one of the most enriching things I've done in my life,  not just SL but my entire life!  Every set has it's challenges,  but I would rank the "Art for Escher's Sake!" set as the most difficult one recently.  I worked on the aqueduct and water wheel  part of the build (with water running uphill, inspired by his famous "Waterfall" etching) and that was a lot more difficult to do than I expected.

Dagmar: I've been with Drama Libre for almost 5 years now  that in and of itself speaks volumes due to the transitory nature of SL. I love it here and until they figure out how to get rid of me I am staying put. The themes that are most challenging to me are the ones that are purely technical builds with at lot of fiddly vehicles and machines. I am more an organic build by the seat of my pants ferret . Wild hair idea + grandiose imagination = fun for all :)

Cathy: It's a great experience.  So much fun.  It's a lot of work but so worth it.  It's a lot of fun on Saturday nights watching so many people enjoy what we built.  Seeing what costumes people come up with is interesting.  Every build we do has certain challenges. I think the most challenging build for me was, Lusitania (4/28/2012).  Reproducing an early 1900's damaged luxury ocean liner under Second Life's water was a challenge.  Being underwater distorts the colors and textures.  I think it turned out great and we all had a great time.

Vapor: Was there ever any theme idea where you said "we can't build that" ?

Xerxes: Week after week I keep saying, "We can't do that, this won't work", but then it all comes together and the results even amaze us. For instance, for the Back to the Future set, we wanted to dance in the town square, which would evolve from 1854 to 1954 to 2054 just like in the movie.... yikes! But we did it! And we blew folks away (ourselves included). Another example is when we built our first black & white set of the first Oscar Night. Someone said, "wouldn't it be cool if" we did everything in black and white like what folks would see on TV? Talk about a mind meld... it's tough to think in black and white! We ended up having to create a lot of textures then, because most of our textures were in color! I even built a Duesenberg  for that set. It's funny, folks came in black or white to the party, but they didn't change their skin, and the skin colors popped on that set dramatically! Goes to show you that you can work through anything if you got enough imagination and craziness!

Drama Libre New Jersey 

Rinaldo: Sometimes Peachy and Xerxes decide on a theme idea and I think ... what are they crazy?  we can't build all that in 3 or 4 days!  But then somehow it always comes together in time,  There have been plenty of theme ideas though that have been suggested, but never built,  because of our time constraints.   Drama Libre is like show biz,  we put on a completely new show every week,  it is all dreamed up,  discussed,  planned out,  and then built between Monday and Thursday every week.   Think of a weekly show like Saturday Night Live and how that is developed every week,  our environment is similar to that. So I would say there is no theme we couldn't build ... if we were given enough time to do it!   But the unique thing about Drama Libre that makes it successful is that it is done on such a short time scale,  the challenge of a weekly deadline is part of the character of Drama Libre..  No matter what, the show must go on!

Dagmar: Not me personally, sometimes it just takes a while to get the right angle on an idea and seeing as we build a new set every week sooner or later you got to stretch your comfort zone and just build it.

Cathy: Musicals (12/6/2008)...The set had rotating sets of different musicals.  They would periodically change while the party was going on.  We have done other sets like that since then but that was the first one and I didn't think we could pull it off.  It worked as planned.

Vapor: Which theme structures are you most proud of?

Battle of Britain
Xerxes: Well, there was Nemo's Underwater City, where we danced underwater, and guests had to take a sub down to the city... that came out awesome. Then there was our first Cirque du Soleil, inspired when I saw One in Vegas. I remember Dagmar and Peachy (we were only three builders then) were trying to get their heads around the idea. We made glowing colorful items inside a pitch black box, and everything popped! We even bought aerial dances to use, and that party was a big hit! Oh, also our Airship Pirates steampunk set, where we partied onboard a giant dirigible flying over London. We built the town of London, including the dome of St Paul's cathedral below the dirigible, and even put clouds in the sky. At night too, so the glow lighting was spectacular! Then there was the Battle of Britain set, where we made Spitfires and Mescherscmitts strafe the airfield we were on.... I could go on forever hehe but we work on DRAMA LIBRE for ourselves too, not just for our guests!

Rinaldo: I think my best work is with background scenery,  most Drama Libre builds are in a large skybox (40 to 60m per side) and need to have walls around the four sides,  The right textures on those walls can really add depth and atmosphere to a set!   I'm also very proud of the waterfall I made for our Niagara set,  giant pickup truck I made for "Tailgatin",  and since I am from New Jersey... the turnpike/parkway highway interchange cloverleaf I build for the New Jersey event.

'Art for Escher's sake

Dagmar: All of them :) but if I had to single one out I'd have to say the 'Art for Escher's sake' is one of my favorites  it was a long time coming and  it was born at just the right moment and time to get the best angle on it.

Cathy: Battle of Britain (4/24/2010)...I love the historical sets.  This set was a British airfield during WW2 under attack by German planes. The planes actually buzzed the airfield.

Vapor: How has been your experience with Drama Libre and is it always easy to lineup songs matching a different theme every week?

Zak: It’s been a wonderful experience!  It’s been amazing to watch how the club has developed and grown over the years.  The sets keep getting better and better and I’ve enjoyed seeing how the builders often ‘think outside the box’ with some very interesting builds using the latest SL capabilities.   It’s been a blast to add the audio tracks and help ‘bring the set to life’ with music. 

On choosing theme-based music, some themes are easy to choose tunes for and others I can get full brain-lock after one or two songs.  It really depends on the theme.  Themes like ‘Woodstock’,  or ‘Moulin Rouge’  or the holiday-based themes you can pick from a large style/genre of music.  Or pick tunes with titles relating to the theme – tunes about driving for ‘Mad Max’ or songs with ‘blood’ in the title for ‘Vampire Night’.  But with some themes, I can get really stumped.  For example, what would you play for ‘Siberian Gulag’, or volcano-pummeled ‘Pompeii’, or ‘Survivor’ – a plane crash in the snowy mountains?  LOL.  Yeah, I don’t know either!  A couple songs might come to mind but after that, it’s all Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.   But usually it’s not that difficult, and also we’ll play lots of non-theme music just because it’s good music.   The different themes do make for some fun playlist creations, and definitely keeps things stirred up which helps the music stay fresh and not get stale.

Battle of Britain
Rinaldo: Drama Libre has been more fun than a barrel of monkeys!   I fill the DJ position here about once a month,  and also work on the build team.  Finding music for a Drama Libre party theme is always interesting,  and has broadened the scope of my musical appreciation.   It can take hours to put together a  play list for a Drama Libre event but that is almost as much fun as the actual party,  because I enjoy browsing music from different genres, eras, and styles.   And then at the actual event our guests always have great requests,  it's like being in a musical think-tank sometimes,  as the party-goers provide their own suggestions for songs that match the theme.  Some themes are easier to find music for than others.  For example, the "Party Like a Rock Star" event we did last year was a piece of cake because all I needed to do was make a playlist of all time favorite rock songs.   Themes like "Stormin Normans" (premise: the Norman conquest of England!)  can be much harder to prepare for,  "Gates of Mordor" was another difficult one,  although there is plenty of Lord of the Rings music available,  a lot of it is movie soundtrack instrumental and other types of songs that would be party killers.  But then I found that Led Zepellin and other very popular bands were inspired by Tolkien,   and so those bands provided a backbone for the show.  Then  there are always some rarely played gems like Leonard Nimoy singing "Legend of Bilbo Baggins" that are like icing on the musical cake!

Magda: Drama Libre is a joy to play for. The builds are inspiring, the staff is supportive, the fellow DJs share tips and hints, and the crowd is just wonderful. It is truly a drama-free environment.

As for the theme - some are a cakewalk, in terms of finding related songs. Others are a challenge. But not only is our audience very flexible in terms of their musical preferences, they come with great musical requests that others respond to. Foreign locales can be among the most challenging of sets to provide music to go along with the theme - but they are a LOT of fun and extra-rewarding.

John: I have a lot of fun working as a DJ in Second Life.  Drama Libre just cranks up the experience by leaps and bounds.  It is not always easy to match the music to the themes, because I can't control the subject.  My passion and usual genre is classic Rock, so sometimes it's as easy as rolling out of bed, but it can be a challenge too.  It always gets done though.  I'm pretty sure everyone has a lot of fun when I take my turn at the Drama Libre crowd!

Venue Details
Event Timing: Every Saturday ( 7 to 11 pm SLT )
Venue Owner: Peachy Sassoon and Xerxes Sismondi
Builder Team: Rinaldo Debevec, Dagmar Klaar, Cathy Ryder and Xerxes Sismondi
Venue Djs: John Seattle, magdalena kamenev, Rinaldo Debevec and Zak Volare

Teleport to Drama Libre

Drama Libre Group Link: secondlife:///app/group/792d6dfe-4a03-df74-80d4-8e090f5ead3b/about

Drama Libre Website:


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