Murder mystery over a zoom call: WeMove Theatre’s game with professional actors

WeMove Theatre’s newly devised game, using elements of theatre, is paying them dividends during the pandemic

The first two months of the lockdown were difficult for the Bengaluru-based WeMove Theatre group. With theatres shut and shows abruptly cancelled, they were uncertain of how to manage finances.

Theatre groups across the country shared a similar plight — many independent rural artistes even had to take up another profession. But as the pandemic continued, groups began using the online medium to restart work. They resorted to play readings on YouTube, performances over Facebook live and other things.

WeMove, meanwhile, has devised a game using elements of theatre.

“It’s a game for a group of four to 25 people. We give them a scenario, usually involving a murder. The objective is to find the murderer. We split participants into groups and one by one, they interact with the suspects, an investigating officer, and other officials, all played by our actors,” explains Abhishek Iyengar, WeMove’s co-founder. The game, comprising several rounds, lasts 80-90 minutes.

“It’s been a great success for us,” says Abhishek. So far, the group has hosted 10 public sessions and 30 corporate sessions. “They have taken care of our financial needs.” The ticket for a public session is usually priced at ₹200 to ₹250.

Abhishek says his teammates, Sindhu Hegde and Aditya Naik, came up with the idea in June. “During the lockdown, a friend wanted us to perform for a get-together. We knew staging a normal play wouldn’t work. It had to be interactive. That’s when Sindu and Aditya came up with this idea of involving the audience in the plot. It was a big hit. And, we thought we could refine it as a better product.”

Abhishek’s teammate, Pavan Sharma, already had a bunch of murder mystery play scripts. “We tweaked them for the game. We have 15 different plots,” says Abhishek.

This version sees the actors improvise a lot more than they do in a play. For, the participants’ questions cannot be scripted. “The basic things in the plot don’t change. But, yeah, it’s a lot more dynamic than a play. And, there’s a lot of fun and laughter. So, no one is complaining,” says Abhishek. “The public sessions are more interesting because you play with strangers. I know two people who became friends through our session and went on a bicycle tour the next day.”

Abhishek wants to experiment with this format in theatres. “Maybe we can have a green room at the theatre,” he says. “The game can be played online and offline. That would be interesting.”

For more information, visit facebook.com/wemovetheatre

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