Are you in the mood for some fiendish fun? In this collaborative workshop, participants will develop characters and plot for a comic murder mystery theater performance. You’ll learn about building the arc of a compelling story, writing dialogue, crafting suspense, creating clues, and pacing a script. We’ll begin by discussing the roles of a victim and suspect and getting familiar with the important concepts of motive, opportunity, plot twists, clues, and red herrings. Then we’ll do some brainstorming to select the setting and theme for our own mystery; invent a collection of characters and establish their relationships to one another; and write short biographical descriptions of the characters. As a group, the class will select the victim, establish the mode of killing, and outline the motives for each suspect. Together, the class will plan the event at which the murder will take place. Although we’ll meet as a group each morning, this course will depend upon your doing some writing on your own time! In the afternoons, working individually or in smaller groups, participants will write dialogue for the scene or scenes leading up to the murder and its announcement. After a read-through of the rough draft, the group will revise the script, adding plot twists and clues as necessary and establishing the process of guiding the audience toward a conclusion. This may involve writing a series of clues (separate from the script) that will be distributed to audience members, allowing them to “interview” characters in the play. The revised script will be printed for each participant, and we’ll rehearse by taking parts and reading through the scripts one or more times. At the end of the week, we will present a staged reading (not a full performance) of the play. If time permits, we may involve the audience in questioning suspects.
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