“Attention, agents. I am Agent Battle, and I am the lead on this mission. What I am about to tell you is absolutely confidential. You have all been selected as special operatives of the A.R.A.–The Artifact Retrieval Agency. We expanded our reserve of agents for this important assignment. We are dealing with a master thief by the code name Anonymous…”
So opens Anonymous, our latest interactive mystery, with a mission brief from the militant and stern Agent Battle. Our audience becomes secret agents on a massive manhunt for a cat burglar extraordinaire. But the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse is full of twists, turns, puzzles, and secrets, so our guests better keep their eyes peeled and ears open as the story unfolds. How did we create such a unique story? Learn about the genesis of this one-of-a-kind mystery and how writer/director Daniel Stallings found his inspiration below.
MISSION BRIEF: THE MAKING OF ANONYMOUS (Part 1)
Anonymous began with a simple desire to perform in one of my favorite places on the planet: Red Rock Books. Red Rock Books is an independent bookstore in my city and has been a longtime supporter of the arts in our community. They have served as a box office for us for many years, so I decided it was high time to produce a show in their wonderful store. Bookstores are naturally full of nooks and crannies and places to hide with a good book, so Anonymous was born from this idea of exploring every inch of the store.
With my shows, the venue is important. I want the venue to make sense, to inhabit the same world as my stories, to maximize the usage of the space. Red Rock Books has so many little hideaways tucked behind the shelves, around corners and stacks of books, and so on. One thing I noticed was the ease with which you could hear conversations around the store. Eavesdropping has not been a game mechanic we explored before, and Anonymous felt like the perfect opportunity to try it.
But just who is Anonymous? Where did the idea for the plot come from? I started with the bookstore as a guide. Books had to be involved somehow. While thinking of books, I wanted to create a story that wasn’t focused on a death like my other shows. I wanted to have the mystery to be more focused on who is a mastermind behind an innocent face. That led to the idea of robbery as the central crime. Another inspiration was the Carmen Sandiego educational games I played as a child. I adored them. I wanted to create something similar, a legendary thief stealing priceless artifacts of cultural and historical value with uncertain motives, a thief no one could catch but there was an agency dedicated to hunting that person down. But what to name this mega-thief? Anonymous. The most famous pseudonym in the world.
What would be stolen? A book, of course. What better place to hide a stolen book than in a bookstore. I made it a lost manuscript belonging to one of the 20th century’s greatest authors after a program I attended at a Ridge Writers meeting. A stolen manuscript worth a fortune. A legendary cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. A secret agency with uncertain motives. And a neighborhood bookstore that will become the final battleground…
Anonymous was born.
Agents, you now have the mission brief on how Anonymous was created. But how does one interact with the show? Learn all about our revolutionary eavesdropping mechanic in our next behind-the-scenes blog post–Listening In: The Making of Anonymous (Part 2)!
And don’t forget your tickets for the show!
–Master Mystery Productions