Archives for posts with tag: participatory

Two years ago I wrote a seven character murder mystery play called “Bingo! it’s Murder” It takes place in a bingo parlor and the audience actually gets to play several games of bingo as the characters appear, until a murder happens and a detective takes over. I named the characters Belle, Irene, Nick, Oliver and Ginger. Why is that important? Well, what do the first letters of every name spell? Ooh! As someone who shudders when people name the lawyers in their plays something like Dewey, Cheatem and Howe I’m sort of surprised at myself but…I had to do it!
Several theaters have expressed interest in producing “Bingo! It’s Murder: and one is actually planning to do so in 2015 but i’m the kind of person who likes things done “yesterday”. I’m getting impatient so…I decided to turn “Bingo” into a One woman play and produce it myself using people in the audience as the other characters. I’ve already produced several other plays using that system and it’s been very successful and cost effective. Take a look at my website, for more information about the one woman plays.
“Bingo, IT’S MURDER” will be presented in Miami Beach the end of February, I’m busy buying bingo cards…should I get the disposal paper ones or the heavier, re-usable ones? finding bingo trivia for the before-play game…did you know bingo was first called Beano? and buying cute, clever and inexpensive prizes. I love dollar stores!
Everything is in place, all i need is an audience. I’ve sent out press releases, emailed information to my mailing list..(want to join?) tweeted and put information on Facebook and distributed flyers. Anyone want to make a reservation?


There is no “forth wall” in a participatory murder mystery dinner theater; the actors are seated with the guests and must stay in character while eating dinner.  The scripted  scenes take place  in the middle of the audience and between those scenes the actors mingle;  they answer questions, argue with each other, spread gossip, share information and clues and sometimes, even “die”, hopefully next to a doorway so they can disappear.

The plays always involve the audience and everyone in the audience becomes a character. The plays include Lights,  Camera, Murder where the audience is told they  are extras rehearsing a scene,  in “Reunions are Murder” they are members of a family , in  Murder They Vote, they are delegates to a convention and in Cruising Is Murder they are passengers on a cruise ship.  Some audience members take their parts very seriously and make up whole identities and stories, others say they want to just sit and watch but invariably  end up participating and trying to solve the murder.   All of this goes on during dinner; sometimes the people seated at a table don’t realize that one of them is an actor until he or she does or says something.  This  sometimes confuses the waiters.  An  actor playing a gambler, was shot during the salad course and removed from the room by the rescue squad (two other actors)  The waiter, puzzled, asked, “is he coming back?  Should I still serve his dinner?” Another waiter said, upon seeing a woman clutch her throat and collapse, “now I understand why she didn’t order an entree”.   Sometimes a guest will offer to bride a waiter or server– “tell us who did it”  or a guest will try to “help” the detective by tackling the trying-to-escape  murderer.  That’s a little too much participation.  Actors in interactive shows learn to be alert and careful and, when they are threatening the audience with a gun (a starter pistol, no bullets) learn to keep their backs to the wall.

Actors on a stage with a forth wall rehearse and block movements and pretty much know what to expect; actors in participatory theater have to think and react quickly to many unexpected developments. That’s live theater and it is challenging and different and, most important, it’s fun!–

You’re going to attend a participatory murder mystery play and, to have the best time possible and get the most out of the experience there are several things you should do and not do.  The last post talked about the “dos”;  this post will list the “don’ts”   If you follow the “dos an don’ts” you’ll have, as we say, a great “crime” and, as a bonus the actors in the play will be very appreciative.

1–Don’t interrupt or talk back to the actors when they are performing one of the scripted scenes.  It’s tempting sometimes but…don’t do it.

2   Don’t touch the actors, don’t try to stop the murderer from escaping or tackle him or her (it’s really happened) and don’t try to “help the victim”.

3   Don’t follow the actors when one of them leaves the room,  You wouldn’t ever  go up onto a stage to do so; when an actor in a murder mystery leaves the room he or she is doing the equivalent of going “backstage”

4    Don’t try to make the actors break character when they are mingling with the audience  by saying things like, “how long have you been acting”, or “what’s your real name?”  The actors work very hard to create and stay in character so they can make the play fun and enjoyable for everyone.

5   Don’t take flash photographs or videos of the actors’  during the play; it’s distracting and annoying and, if the material is copyrighted (and it usually is) illegal.  The actors will almost always be willing to, and enjoy posing for pictures with you or for you, after the show

Finally and  most important, don’t forget to make a reservation to attend a murder mystery event soon, You’ll have “The Crime of Your Life”.  Visit our websites for a listing of upcoming shows.—–