Escape into another
time and place, into the fantasy world
of Charles Dickens' Victorian London.
The growing popularity
of "reality television" programmesespecially PBS's "Manor House"
that there may be considerable public interest for our "reality
theatre" format in which the public participates in a community-wide
costumed historical re-creation of the world of Charles Dickens.
The project would comprise a three-day event culminating in an
evening performance of our interactive dramatization: The
Mystery of James Edwyn Wakefield, or Murder in the Wakefield
PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre has been producing
audience-participation events in the United States since 1987.
The company is owned by Alan Lance Andersen and Robert Alan Cook,
who write the scripts and supervise the productions. Both playwrights
are professional members of Mystery Writers of America.
PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre 's "reality
theatre" concept is to market travel, lodgings, fine dining,
and participation theatre in one comprehensive package. We hope
to work with airlines, travel agencies, caterers, innkeepers,
and local entertainers. We may also work with historical societies,
horse-drawn carriage operators, actors, and musicians in England
to provide a reasonably authentic re-creation of Victorian life.
PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre extends the
traditional dinner theatre concept to offer much more than just
dinner and theatre. It also gives the audience an opportunity
to participate as performers. It's more like stepping through
a time machine than attending a theatre event. There are no lines
to memorize, and each drama never ends the same twicebecause participants improvise their
lines while attempting to achieve the goals outlined in their
The Mystery of James Edwyn Wakefield includes elements of mystery, intrigue, romance,
suspense, and adventureall 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 melodramamissing 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 we have facsimile reprints of the Illustrated
London News from that year which incorporate clues to our
mystery plots. We also have facsimile Victorian "stage money"
banknotes, cheque books, birth and marriage certificates, and
real vintage coins.
"In traditional theater, the audience
assumes a reactive role, responding to the performance in a passive
fashion," writes 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
"Interactive Theatre combines the richness
of rehearsed material, the spontaneity of improvisation, and
the empowerment of participation," writes Wirth. "It
draws on acting and improvisation techniques, as well as techniques
unique to the interactive form."
John Kennedy Melling, former editor of the
British crime writer's Black Dagger series, author of several
mystery related books, drama critic, and BBC broadcaster, said
of the Mystery of James Edwyn Wakefield, "My first
impression was of the immaculate way they have prepared the package.
The clever way they mingled seven compact stories held together,
a winning use made of Dickens characters, names, and plots make
for a compelling production, unique indeed. I stress the uniqueness,
because while there are mystery companies in the States and more
here in England, they are all based on only one story. I know
of NOTHING here remotely approaching this scheme. TERRIFIC!"
Descriptions of Characters
Photos from Past Productions
Wakefield in Illinois
Wakefield Main Page