Every year at the Pasadena Public Library, a show of sorts is put on display. This year’s Murder Mystery theme is based on the Netflix is Stranger Things. As always, teen volunteers are both cast and crew for the event. Teen Advisory Board members were interviewed about their experience planning the event.
photos by Alfonso Huerta
How did you first come up with the story? What gave you the idea? Did you do any research?
In all honesty, I just did research on the characters. By watching YouTube clips of scenes for each character, along with reading summaries on Stranger Things, I was able to envisage how that character would act and talk in a murder mystery situation. The storyline of who accused who was based off of how the characters acted toward each other in the actual show; of course there were some exaggerations in accusations and behaviors to enhance the experience. – Genevieve
How did you write it?
I used my research to craft a draft of what the characters would say. From there, I made revisions so that there would be more hints and indirect accusations. – Genevieve
What were you worried about?
I was worried that the accusations would go around in circles to the point where it’d be too difficult to decipher which of the suspects was the actual murderer. However, I was also worried that one character would have hints that were too obvious and would defeat the purpose of the participants to have a challenge in decided who the murderer was. – Genevieve
What kind of revelations were you hoping for from the participants?
I was hoping that the participants would realize that since Dr. Knoxwell wasn’t in town, that he couldn’t kill Eleven, even though he seemed like the most suspicious and obvious suspect. I wanted the participants to realize this, and from there, deduce that another suspect had to be guilty, eventually leading to Maxine Mayfield. – Genevieve
Were there any surprises? If so, what were they?
Liam who played Doctor Knoxwell, was such a great actor that people immediately accused him of being the murderer, so it was a huge surprise to most of the participants that he was innocent. –Genevieve
What is the purpose of the weapon clues?
Weapon clues are supposed to help participants deduce which weapon was used in the process of the murder- a crucial portion of the murder mystery. – Faith
How did your team go about planning the clues?
We first analyzed weapons used in the show, and then thought about appropriate weapons for the ‘80s time era. Then, we made sure to use the clues (the police report, walkie talkie convo, Morse code puzzle) to help implicitly eliminate possible weapons such as a syringe, a bat, a stereo, and a knife. – Faith
Were there any surprises or challenges? If so, what were they?
A challenge we faced was a miscommunication between the team members, which thus resulted in a hiccup in the clues we had created. At that point, all of the weapon clues were counteracting each other, and none of them pointed to the correct weapon. – Faith
If you were to do it again, would your team have done anything differently? Why or why not?
We should have started planning earlier in order to have more time to think the clues through, and get them done ahead of time. This would also give us extra time to revise and refine the clues. – Faith
How did you feel playing the characters?
If I dress and act very similar to my character, the participants would enjoy the event more. So, when the first group of participants approached me, I was sort of nervous. However, after that group I felt confident about saying my lines. –Taleen
I had a lot of fun! I think everyone has a mad side to them or an event/person that drives them crazy, and it was interesting channeling that side of me. I certainly didn’t think I would effectively portray a mother because of how young I look, but I think I pulled off the kookiness alright. –Faith
It was quite fun to play Dr. Knoxwell, simply because the personality our writers gave him was similar to my own. I got to play an older, crankier version of myself which I had a whole heap of fun with. – Liam
What were you worried about?
I was worried that some of the participants would be disrespectful and laugh at my acting but people actually said my acting skills were good. –Taleen
I was just worried no one would take me seriously, but the kids didn’t affect the process of the murder mystery, so I didn’t mind too much. –Faith
I was worried I would forget my lines. Being the first time I had done something like this, it was quite nerve racking to try and make sure I gave everyone the information they needed to solve the mystery. –Liam
Were there any surprises? If so, what were they?
The only thing I was surprised by was the compliment about me being a good actor. –Taleen
I didn’t expect kids to actually worry for me or become uneasy once I started acting- more on that later… –Faith
Kids just automatically assumed I was the murderer just because they didn’t like my character. It was particularly amusing to see the faces of all the kids who called me a murderer and ran off when the actual murderer was announced. –Liam
Anything interesting, funny, or fascinating about the participants’ reactions to you?
One funny thing that happened to me was that a couple participants were walking by me not noticing I was there. When they turned their heads to see me sort of hidden behind the walls of the library, they shook a little and said how they got scared. –Taleen
Some kids actually thought I was insane! They were worried that I was feeling ill, so they brought me bottles of water and asked if I needed to take a break. It was really sweet. –Faith
I was immediately surprised by how serious the kids got. They followed my every word really closely. I honestly didn’t expect them to have such a level of engagement to the mystery. –Liam
If you were to do it again, would you have done anything differently? Why or why not?
I definitely learned that I should stay in character even when I’m not reading my script lines. During the murder mystery, some people were walking by asking me general questions which I had answered in my own voice. It would have been more fun to have stayed in character. –Taleen
I would practice my delivery, I had a good number of participants try to leave before I was done talking because they thought I had finished talking. –Liam
All TAB members
How did you feel watching participants experience your mystery?
It was rewarding to see that all of our hard work came together smoothly. The location clues connected with the weapons which then connected with the character scripts. It was just really nice to see everything organized and operative. – Genevieve
I definitely felt hyped seeing everyone show up, dressed up, and truly engaged in the scheme of it all, in hopes of solving the mystery. It was pleasing to see everyone on TAB gather together, and to see all the work everyone put their energy and time into. –Faith
I think that TAB did a good job of picking a topic that was fresh and that everyone could connect to and really like. From the costumes to participating in the mystery itself, it seemed like everyone was really into it and really engaged which made it especially fun to help out. – McKenna
If this is not your first murder mystery experience, how did it compare?
I really liked this year’s Murder Mystery, especially since I got to enjoy it as a participant, rather than an actor. Everyone (volunteers and participants alike) seemed to be really excited about this event and I think they all had a lot of fun. This year was definitely less crowded than last year, which I actually liked, because it meant that we didn’t have to worry about splitting people into groups and that the participants were able to talk to every cast member. – Sophie
I think things went a lot smoother this year than last, mostly because there was no confusion about who was a suspect and who wasn’t (due to costume issues), and this year, each committee and team made sure everyone was in on what was going on- there were no misunderstandings or hiccups in the process. However, people always seem to fiddle with the actual weapons on display, both this year and last. Maybe we can try to be cautious of keeping the weapons and weapon clues safe and untouchable? –Faith
I worked on the scripts for the last murder mystery, Harry Potter, and I was an actor and decorator for the one before, Alice in Wonderland, and I can say that the timeline this year seemed really well organized. Nothing seemed like it was done at the last minute. It also seemed like participants were more engaged and more challenged. – McKenna
If this is your first murder mystery experience, what did you think? Was it what you expected?
I was a lot more involved in this murder mystery than previous years so I consider it my first experience. Being more involved made me realize how much planning, dedication, and collaboration go into making this event run successfully. I think it was a great experience, definitely not what I had expected. There were a lot more people, teamwork, and excitement than I had anticipated. – Genevieve