Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Interactive Mystery scenario

A list playwright asked people to share what they knew about Interactive Mystery scenarios for a freiend who;d been asked to write one. On May 23, ss wrote: "Ayn Rand's The Night of January 16th has a strong mystery, good surprise and some minor audience involvement."
I disagreed:
Jan 16th has WAY too much in the way of dialogue! The interactive things are basically improv scenarios which allow the actors to engage the audience in conversation, table by table, so that the people have the illusion of "knowing" the characters. The audience then gets to work out some plot turns themselves, and either compete to "solve" the crime or participate in the solution. About ten years ago some acquaintance of mine -- I don't even remember who!-- thought she'd like me to write one for her. She brought me a typical pattern. As I recall it went something like: 3 actors seated with the customers, in character; 2 enter, argue: distraction-- (maybe the lights go out) during which one of the entering pair is murdered. Partner is accused, but another actor supplies alibi, then a 3rd is accused. Detective appears, questions. Then the actors fan out into the audience and discuss backstory, who they suspect, why they could or could not be the perp etc. They gossip, joke, reveal, then the detective consults the audience and a choice is made-- through vote, or drawing slips of paper with instructions, or by audience suggestion-- as an improv troupe does-- and the next scene the actors play is based on the choice. There are about 5 choices/scenes/discussions followed by a solution. At some point early on the "body" is removed, and that actor -- well disguised-- comes back as another character. The whole thing lasts about an hour and 20 minutes.


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