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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Mystery Game versus a Mystery Play

Every now and then I get an inquiry that asks something similar to this;


 " Hello, my uncle Morty is retiring this Friday and we're having some family over and some pot roast and we saw your mystery deal on the interwebs and thought it might be fun for Uncle Morty,  how do we get these Mystery things for Friday?" 
I have to respond something similar to: "Congrats to Uncle Morty but my 'Mystery Deals' are actually theatrical plays, you know like, Death Of A Salesman, Our Town or The Odd Couple, you know something you would go see performed by actors. I think what you may be looking for is a Murder Mystery Game, a LARP, you know, Live Action Role Play."

As clear as I try to be over at Play-Dead.com  - sometimes  I need to re-explain and draw a line between the two and while I'm at it offer some general help / tips etc...  Here it goes:

What are the differences between a Play and a game?



A Play is a theatrical performance with actors, a director, a crew, a set, props and a script.

A Game is generally an outline or scenario with participants. (whoever wants to play)



Hosting a Murder Mystery Play

You can find many resources for Murder Mystery play scripts online. This site, Play-dead is one of those resources. It is very easy to purchase performing rights for a play. A play, of course, will require a group of people such as actors, a director, costumes etc... If you do not have a theatrical group, here are some ideas:

Local Community Theater group- Check in your area or search online. Most communities have amateur theatrical groups. The benefit of a community theater groups is that it's a volunteer-based organization.

Local Colleges and High schools- Most schools have theater departments or personnel that may be willing to stage a play for you.

Create your own Group- You may have a theatrical background or know someone who does.
If you don't wish to stage a play yourself, you can also find groups online that supply their own acting troupe and Murder Mystery Plays.



Hosting A Murder Mystery Game

You can find Mystery Games online that come in all shapes and sizes. Some are set for dinner parties with elaborate plots which include kits with all the material you need. Others are very simple with a set of rules and basic plot. Most Murder Mystery games involve everyone, much like role-playing games. (called a LARP- Live Action Role Play)  You will not need any theatrical performers, just yourself and your guests.  You assume a "character" and essentially play out a story.

Resources for Murder Mystery Games:

Murder Mystery Games

Mysteries On The Net

Free Form Murder Mystery Games




Finding a Place

If you prefer a more theatrical Murder Mystery or don't wish to host a game at your home, you will need to find a venue. Finding a place is really not difficult. My home group started out performing Mysteries at a local Historic Mansion, moved to a Community Center and finally found a home at Banquet Facility.
Many popular Murder Mysteries are based in a Dinner Theater setting. The idea of a dinner and show is very appealing to audiences.


Venue Ideas:

Local Community Center / Theater - check your local area most Centers have a theater or large room for rent.

High School - many will rent theater space to you.

Local Historic Homes - many Historic Homes in large cities host murder mystery plays.

Banquet Halls - sure, their main businesses are weddings and reunions but they offer ample space plus most have their own kitchens or catering services so Hosting a "Dinner Theater" would be perfect.

Hotel Conference room - many large hotels have conference rooms perfect for hosting a play.

Restaurants - some restaurants have "party" rooms that supply enough space to host a dinner theater. If you choose to create your own theatrical troupe you will, of course, need a place to rehearse the play. If you have secured a location that will let you perform the show, they may also let you rehearse there. If not, there is nothing wrong with a good old basement or garage. My local group spent years rehearsing in basements.


Promote Yourself

Local newspapers have calender sections strictly for Theater auditions and performances. Smaller local papers and publications are always looking for interesting stories, so call the paper and see if they would like to do a story. If you have a website, Blog,  Facebook, or twitter, by all means, promote your performance. Best yet make a short video and post it on youtube to attract attention - (here is an example )

Extra Bonus idea Contact local businesses in your area to see if they would like to purchase an ad in your program. Leave a few pages free in your program for his purpose. Selling advertisements will generate added revenue. Another idea is to see if the businesses would like to donate any items, gifts, coupons etc.. as prizes for your play. At the end of the evening whoever guesses the "murderer" will receive a prize from a local business plus this business gets a free promotional plug. Hopefully, these tips will get you started in the wonderful world of Murder Mystery Hosting!
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