Interactive Drama Stimulates Corporate Creativity

Interactive Theatre has the potential to provide corporate America with the negotiating skills, creative thinking, and cultural experience needed to succeed in the modern international marketplace, according to Dr. Jeffrey L. Bradford, Chairman of the Marketing Department at Drake University.

"American business is realizing that critical thinking, characterized by linear, sequential, and analytical thought processes, does not provide the competency necessary to solve problems in dynamic, complex and unstructured situations," said Bradford. "As these business situations have become the norm, corporate America is embracing the need for creativity and innovation."

Dr. Bradford believes that successful business practices in the next millennium will no longer rely primarily on convergent thinking skills dominated by quantitative analysis and written communication skills. Instead, successful strategies in the future will be based on divergent thinking that requires agility in oral skills and creative problem solving.

"Research has found that creativity, to a degree, is a modifiable and deliberate process that exists within every individual," said Bradford. "Management needs to search for methods that will enhance this critical skill. A new approach - Interactive Theatre - allows domain-relevant skills, creativity skills, and task motivation to occur simultaneously. Interactive theatre increases the creative thinking of its participants."

In Interactive Theatre, there is no script to be memorized. The actions of players, their dialogue, and the plot is constructed from the decisions of the players as they develop their characters and decide how they relate and interact with one another within a defined situation. This free-flowing interaction within a realistic business scenario allows participants to experience and refine their creative thinking skills.

"In traditional theater, the audience assumes a reactive role, responding to the performance in a passive fashion," said Jeff Wirth, author of Interactive Acting: Acting, Improvisation, and Interacting for Audience Participatory Theatre. "Interactive Theatre expands the experience of the audience by offering them a proactive role, in which they are invited to join as a collaborator in the creation of the performance.

"Interactive Theatre combines the richness of rehearsed material, the spontaneity of improvisation, and the empowerment of participation," said Wirth. "It draws on acting and improvisation techniques, as well as techniques unique to the interactive form."




For companies wishing to experience Interactive Theatre, Dr. Bradford recommends PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre, an Iowa-based firm that has been producing audience-participation events in the Midwest since 1987. The company is owned by Alan Lance Andersen and Dave Gene Reed, who write the scripts and supervise the productions. "Our dramas are based on the assumption that there is a little actor in everyone," said Andersen, "and we have been proved right time-after-time.

"PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre extends the traditional dinner theatre concept to include not only the dinner and the theatre, but also an opportunity for the audience to participate as performers," said Andersen. The company hosts dramas in restored Victorian mansions,
turn-of-the-century private clubs, and elegant historical hotels - complete with authentic costumes and props. "It's more like stepping through a time machine than attending a conventional theatre."

PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre's current offerings include interactive dramas targeted for corporate executives and involve real-life international business negotiation skills as part of the mystery plots.

"At a PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre event, your executives will increase their ability to solve problems in the realities of a business environment that is dynamic, complex, and unstructured," said Bradford. "PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre provides an excellent experiential training event that will increase their communication and negotiation skills, and help develop creativity."

"Interactive Theatre is the coming thing for stimulating team-bonding and creative thinking in the corporate world," said Andersen. "Our new shows incorporate social and business customs from other cultures which may be unfamiliar to American businessmen. It's a lot better to make cultural faux-pas at one of our interactive dramas and learn from your experience than to blunder at the negotiation table in real life."


PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre is now working with Des Moines' historic Salisbury House to offer Mystery of James Edwyn Wakefield: or, Murder in the Wakefield Family as a corporate incentive package. Salisbury House, featured on the national television series "America's Castles," is a tudor manor house, much of which was actually shipped over from England in the 1920s.

Mystery of James Edwyn Wakefield includes elements of mystery, intrigue, romance, suspense, and adventure -- all the ingredients of a Dickensian novel. Audience members have the opportunity to become 19th Century characters in a number of dynamic and complex mystery plots. It is a world of Victorian ladies and gentlemen, costermongers, Scotland Yard detectives, curmudgeons, sailors, servants, villains, thieves, rascals, and a murderer or two. Participants are caught up in a whirlwind of melodrama -- missing documents, escaped lunatics, long-lost relatives, unspeakable crimes, ghosts in the attic, and star-crossed lovers.

The show is set during the Christmas season of 1862, and features facsimile reprints of the Illustrated London News from that year which incorporate clues to the mystery plots. Participants also receive facsimile Victorian "stage money" banknotes, cheque books, birth and marriage certificates, and real vintage coins.

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For an incentive package in which corporate executives compete for a prize of significant value, PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre now offers a murder mystery treasure hunt with Real Treasure for the lucky finder.

The Mystery of the Winthrop Treasure is a week-long murder mystery and treasure hunt with thousands of dollars in real treasure. Variations of the interactive theatre event are planned to take place at a castle in Scotland, at an Adirondack-style Great Camp on a private island in the North Woods of Wisconsin, and in the remote Out Islands of the Bahamas by means of flying boat.

Participants will play the parts of characters who look like they stepped out of an Agatha Christie novel or a Humphrey Bogart movie while looking for a chest full of real gold and silver coins, jewels, and banknotes. And trying not to get murdered in the process.

Director Alan Lance Andersen explains. "In The Mystery of the Winthrop Treasure, you are not a modern-day tourist, nor are you a play-actor in costume on a stage. You are an adventurer in a real-life drama. The idea is to re-create the sort of adventure your character might actually have experienced."

"Corporate employees can sharpen their wits against each other, and the winner gets the financial rewards while everyone benefits from the interaction."

PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre lets you explore the actor within you. Who knows - you may knock 'em dead ...


For additional information, please contact:

Dave Gene Reed
PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre
31st Street at Ingersol
Des Moines, Iowa 50310

Phone (515) 277-8290




"A terrific personal experience, giving participants a truly stimulating involvement in theatre."

Martin Limbird, Iowa State University


"A delightful and stimulating intellectual exercise."

Raymond A. Cornell, Licensed Private Investigator


"This is not the stuff of the couch potato ..."

Finn Bullers, The Ames Daily Tribune


"The plot's more twisted than da cobwebs in an old lady's attic ..."

Lori Nilles, The Daily Freenam-Journal


"Oh, the pageantry of it all !"

Cindy Gabbert, SCCLP