Case Study: Murder Mystery Birthday Party

While Live in Theater is known for its outdoor immersive theater productions, we have also worked to create tailor-made shows for special occasions such as birthday parties. In this latest case study, we’ll see how Live in Theater created a special immersive murder mystery event for a birthday celebration.

We’ve all been there before. You know you want to celebrate an occasion, but you just don’t know exactly what you want to do. One thing is for sure. You want to impress all of your friends with something new and exciting. After all, how many times can you go out for drinks in an overcrowded bar?

Enter Live in Theater!

What: A Private birthday party in the “Murderer-is-in-the-room" style set in the 1920s.

When: 2017

Context: Our birthday host K reached out to us, wanting to create a special experience for herself and her friends on her birthday. One that they wouldn’t soon forget! Our creative team went straight to work, fueled with the excitement of a new project.

Goal: to create a murder mystery birthday party set in the 1920s with guests playing individual characters in a “murderer in the room” type scenario.

Challenges:

1. The first great challenge is to create a new original story that could incorporate all of our client’s ideas and desired story lines, while keeping all the exciting elements of a mystery. How can we create this story efficiently, but at the same time provide a highly detailed and individual approach?

2. The second challenge is to engage participants in the scenario, where each can play a significant role. After all, these are party-goers, not professional actors! How can we get these participants to not only play these roles, but enjoy themselves in the process and move the story forward?

3. The final challenge is the staging of the play, which took place in K's home. How do we make sure the blocking is on the spot, without rehearsing it there?

Solutions:

1. We decided to create a unique story for this event, combining the structural elements of our award-winning murder mysteries with a completely new exciting plot and a set of original characters, each one created by K and her friends. (How cool is that?! We can’t stop being amazed by our audience). We were thrilled to receive the characters' bio and incorporate them in the plot, giving our host and her friends some suggestions. Character cards were created for each attendee, detailing their character's personality, friends, enemies, and specific traits.

2. Inviting guests to become part of the process and create their own characters allowed for a new level of engagement. They were excited to bring these new personas to life. Since the murder mystery was brought to K’s home, the attendees of K’s birthday party were encouraged to dress according to the time period, with flapper dresses, feathered headbands, and suits, which made them as much of the characters and a part of the play as our actors. LIT Actors were the key element to bring this play together. Being masters of interactive acting and improvisation, they made everyone feel comfortable to play, enriching each guest’s experience by allowing them to have conversations in character, explore the world, and face mysterious facts of the story.

3. Establishing a good communication process with a client helps us to work through the technical aspects and logistics for actors and helps create effective scenes. Luckily our host K was in touch with us throughout the entire preparation process. She was ready with images of her apartment and ideas and suggestions for the murder mystery from her guests, such as specific props like electric cigars and chain watches. While K had her own ideas, she was open to our suggestions and feedback, making this a truly collaborative effort.

Conclusion:

Our creative team worked tirelessly to customize every aspect of the party. One of the main attractions to immersive theater is the energy, camaraderie, and sense of fun these experiences can create. However, it can be difficult for participants to break out of their shell. Each audience brings different elements to our performances. The key to a successful event is through creative direction and our talented actors. Our actors work day and night to flesh out the characters they are given, and in this case help participants in fleshing out their own characters, making them feel comfortable and ready to let loose.

The event was a huge hit with K’s guests. Some participants were able to live out their own fantasies and alter egos, from “The Darling Debutaunt”, an untouchable member of high society with dirt on almost anyone, to “The Wolf of Wall Street”, the self-made stockbroker looking for fun. Each guest was able to sink into their roles and immerse themselves in the story, making for one memorable party!

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