Audiovisual Cultures episode 87 – The Secret Library automated transcript of full live recording

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okay a very warm welcome to another episode of audio visual cultures i am very excited to have several guests today it’s been a while since we had a panel and i’m joined by some folks who are involved with otto t’s entertainment i hope i’m saying that right i’m sure i’ll be corrected in a moment if i’m not um and they faced a really massive shift like so many of us and how they’ve had to operate due to the pandemic and they moved from a wide range of live events onto online productions including virtual escape rooms which i’m very excited to hear all about and so um let’s first of all get all the voices attached to names so i’m gonna start with todd and we’ll go around everybody and do some introductions so um beginning with you todd if i could please ask you to tell us your name and your role in the company and it’d be good to hear where everybody is in the world as well if that’s all right that sounds great uh thanks so much for having us here on the podcast my name is todd zimmerman and i’m the producer of oddities entertainment and um i’m excited to share what we’ve been doing online because i think for your listeners your viewers they have an opportunity for um a chance to experience that so we’ll be talking quite heavily i think today about the secret library and uh the many iterations that are coming from that so we’re looking forward to this conversation

brilliant thank you todd and katrina could i come to you next absolutely um my name’s katrina michaels uh i’m an actor based in new york city although originally from london and i’m one of the performers in the secret library brill thank you and deborah what about you sure um i’m deborah bearsley i’m also in orlando um close to todd um and i am the project manager for the secret library and i work for for oddities um so i have a lot of i’ve been involved with a lot of kind of the design elements behind the scenes and things so excited to share that process because it’s it’s all new when we go virtual okay that’s brilliant that sets us up for quite a lot of stuff to get through um so i think it might be good to begin with we’ll come to the virtual side of things in a moment but it’d be great to hear more about how all of you were having to work before all of the world ended and things so the world didn’t end it just

changed so who was it jeff goldblum he says nature finds a way right and uh and so that’s what we’re doing um so for our company and myself included before the the world changed and adapted we were producing a lot of live shows for theme parks across the united states as well as performing arts centers we have all kinds of different shows that that we’ve been doing and we keep about 100 to 150 performers working throughout the year live in all of those different venues so it was quite a shock to us of course when when everything shut down and continues to be shut down for live performances for much of the world so we’ve been trying to find a way to to obviously bring those online but uh it was we were enjoying ourselves and for us it’s it’s about a paycheck just like it is for everybody else but it’s more than that because when you’re interacting with the audience or you hear the applause you hear the laughter it really feeds our soul so and we we’re lucky enough that it that it feeds our pocketbook as well uh that we’re you know able to make our living as performers but but it’s also because i might even say a little bit ego that uh that we just like to hear hey you’re doing a great job

brilliant thanks um katrina what were you working on before um so i come from a in person live theater background um i work predominantly on the regional scenes while i’m based in new york i love the auditions are in new york and then you’ll do a contract in colorado for five months or you’ll go to rhode island for two months and uh i do an eclectic mix of uh i trained in musical theater but i do love shakespeare as well i love like contemporary gritty dramas um weirdly actually when the pandemic hit my next play was a dystopian medical drama um and it was like life imitating art in the worst possible way uh for a while i was like well at least i’m doing some great background research uh for when the show happens uh sally got delayed for air got postponed for a year and just officially got cancelled for next summer um so for me um the thing i love about theater is that it is such a collaboration with an audience and that you kind of you tell a story together there’s that direct feedback um and that was something i was really craving how do i still connect and share in stories i’ve been doing a lot of voice over a lot of audio books but that’s me sitting in a booth and i was fortunate even though i’m i’m based in new york city i’ve worked in orlando orlando shakespeare and i know a lot of people in that environment and so this audition popped up and the fact that there is this kind of immersive element that we get to i get to see the audience you know when i’m singing i play several instruments in the show and i get to kind of have the space where i get to share in song and story with an audience right there and that was an element that was really exciting to me that in a world that has kind of an element of disconnect you know with your fellow human being that this show can inspire that human connection oh that sounds brilliant thank you and uh deborah what were you working on before everything sure so immediately before this i was um doing theater administration at a local community theater um here in central florida um it was a 500 seat theater it is a 500 seat theater it’s still there and you know obviously they’ve been impacted greatly by the pandemic just with all of the capacity limitations and things um so i ended up kind of refining my love for immersive theater um i actually was in new york city for about six years and i worked with an immersive theater company up there and it’s always been a passion of mine to to look into different ways of storytelling you know the world right now wants to be involved and have um you know make a decision about everything something as simple as like american idol you can vote from your phone you know and who’s the next winner like everybody wants to be involved um so finding new ways to tell stories and bring people into that um i thought was always a really cool concept so um you know i came when i came down to new york i actually started an escape room because i wanted to be able to integrate theater actors into that and kind of an element of storytelling into a game play um you know for reasons of being a small business mom and pop shop you know that ended up running its its uh course um but the love is still there so during the pandemic you know we had so much time for reflection i was like you know what i i would love to do something like this and that’s when literally todd called me and said hey i want to do something online and and this was born so fantastic well so i’m hearing a lot about immersive theater and i think you’ve set us up really beautifully there deborah to then talk a bit about the secret library and um explore that a little bit and see right what were the origins of that where did that come from and how do you reproduce that immersive experience for an audience in an online setting so todd would you like to take us through right how did that begin right so again everything shut down and we took a few weeks to decompress and then said you know what we’ve always wanted to do is an immersive experience and it’s very cost prohibitive and obviously i always come back to the cost of being the producer but it’s it’s hard to spend the money to you know build out a building or an outdoor facility that that really makes you feel like you’re immersed into something and so we said well if we we can’t do that physically how can we do that virtually and it you know it’s i just actually gave a speech on this the other day to uh to a conference about um immersive experiences online and it really is virtually impossible because when you are performing to a camera people may feel that they’re coming into your world but you’re sitting there and everything that’s facing back at you right so you have a computer screen facing back at you you have i’m sitting in my office so i have stacks of paperwork in front of me my dog’s at my ankle right now so we we were having a challenge trying to create that immersive uh feel so as we took a look at the secret library what we wanted to do is find something that could be accessed from anywhere in the world you know that that did have a mysticism to it but we had to set it in reality because to make you immersed into something you had to feel uh like those those surroundings were natural uh wherever you were so for us it was you know we talked about how do we do this do we do we do something cool and like oh we’re gonna do a wild west show or or because we’re using computers let’s go and set it in the future and maybe we’re you know going through space and this is the only way we can communicate is through through these tv screens and then we said you know what that’s not going to feel immersive what can we do that is um going to speak to people on that personal level that’s going to put them in a situation where we can talk about their actual lives right now and then twist it to take them into that mysticism and that’s where the secret library was born something that is what we say is the the archive that holds all the records of humanity kind of like the akashic record if you look into some of the new age um wisdom where where all of those stories of humanity are there and that way we could tell different stories to touch on what katrina said we are storytellers so we can tell different stories because a library contains all of this knowledge we can go in in multiple different directions and um you know we’ll talk about this in just a little bit but we have had you know sequels and now we’re working on a prequel and and different iterations that come from that with all kinds of different formats so we’re able to appeal to a wide audience well is that the secret library behind you and your backdrop a library a library the library

i don’t think there’s enough magic going on behind me for it to be the secret library but we’ve got to change the green screen effects guess what i know right

fantastic and katrina how has it been for you um trying to be a performer in immersive theater and then moving into a space and um was that the sort of thing you were doing before were you were ever acting in game spaces as well as deborah was saying and then are you or is that something you’ve moved into now um so i have some background in immersive theater i did i did a show it was a show for children in which the idea behind it was that it was the the kind of brain child of both an educational space but also a kind of choose your own adventure and that they can kind of take ownership over it and so and with kids you really learn to think on your feet especially in a domain that gives them that permission and you know there were certain lines that triggered certain tech and set and lighting and certain projections and puppeteering entrances but then the in-between was often very fluid because you’re basing off what they’re giving you and so in the same way in the secret library we have there is this theater element and that you know we rehearse scenes and we have set characters but everything shifts based on the audience you’re interacting with and how they want to you know they kind of take ownership of what the experience is um and so getting to respond to that and like having feeling solid enough in like what is the world of the story we’re telling was about my character what are the options available to me but how can i go down a different route because that’s the route they want to go down um and that’s the cool thing it’s almost like you’re giving the joystick to the um to the audience um and like that kind of there’s a level of trust and the level and play in that which i think is so unique to immersive theater to games of that it really lets the audience be in control of the experience and so as an actor that’s so exciting because it i mean it fundamentally means every single show is going to be completely different and they’re going to keep you on your toes um we’ve been doing you know the first incarnation of the secret library since we start rehearsing end of august um and you know opened in september so we’ve been doing this together for a while and every single show is different um and that i think is the real magic there katrina you said something about um you know the audience has a choice and and i think not to jump and interrupt but but um i’d like to hear your perspective on a couple of things let me preface it with when we created this to to really give it that immersive experience we asked all of our performers to not only um you know bring their characters to life but but bring their characters to reality in the fact that we asked for um you know facebook pages to be created or instagram accounts or uh linkedin or you know we wanted to give them an online presence that our audience could go and find these characters in the real world each of their characters has a website that is dedicated to their their character’s profession or backstory and so for those audience members that want to really kind of go down the rabbit hole or really explore there are opportunities to find um hints of of these characters living in the on the internet um so and i know katrina you’ve got some fun stories of of guests that have reached out to you but i want you to speak if you can on the creation process of of trying to help build this character not just you know when you are on stage for that hour and a half but but that lives in the real world sure um i mean it was a fascinating experience for me because i’m used to the reverse of i you know constructing my character based on the clues and the text and tailoring that to the text well in this case i’m creating the text the text is mirroring it’s it’s very it’s a flip of that kind of process um but the exciting thing about being engaged in that creation is that you know the materials so well you know i can my character works at a bar and i can rattle off the drinks menu and like you know when in doubt it gives extra fodder to rely on um and i had a lot of fun uh my bar is a literary themed bar so i got to come up with the most terribly punny names um such as a george r.r martini or a pitch of dorian grosgoose um frankenstein um oh terrible and i have so much fun um and so then i can make a game throughout the show of like kind of assigning a signature cocktail to a guest and you know that material at hand to kind of go back to is fun and it’s it is interesting having you know this online presence with the character of i’ve had people reach out to me through my character maggie’s instagram and i they genuinely like they think i am maggie and there are elements of me and maggie um but i i’m not a bartender musician on the lonely side i know but it’s if it is really like someone was asking where my next gig was and i was like i mean i’m performing virtually from my apartment that’s that’s my gig um but it’s so it is funny how it’s it’s fabulous it states like how much they invested and believed in the world and i think having those tie-ins to you know we had like we’re all so connected on social media and things and having this character have those elements as well grounds them as a human um and like they can i’ve had conversation one of the videos on my uh character’s instagram is me playing accordion and i’ve had you know people reach out to me asking about the accordion which i will always happily talk about so you know it’s a great way to connect and a fun like added it creates another layer of kind of immersion of that it integrates in that technology even beyond the show

sorry i hijacked that a little bit deb uh because i know that you wanted to talk about immersive too and the fact that oh please that uh what what you brought to the table from your time uh in new york and the escape room i think are are really important so i just jumped in but i was like oh katrina said something let me hear about it no no i i’m fascinated actually that this was actually one of the things is being able to talk to the performers too because you know we we had a really robust uh writing team when we were first coming up with this i mean we all kind of sat around a table or sat in zoom meetings you know just trying to like nail down the concept nailed down the story you know we had 30 plot points that came and went you know like and then the amount of research we have an entire tome that you know talks about all of these uh libraries these historical libraries that are actual actual places you know that had actual significance in history and we had to pull all of that material just so that we could give that tone to the performers so that way they had that fodder to keep pulling from as well but like we didn’t just create you know todd and i we we didn’t just create this it was such a collaborative effort we were getting materials every day i remember you know we had um you know our writing team would send us a draft of one scene while at the same time somebody would send me a draft a character you know like katrina would send me a the the the bar menu you know and then the next day somebody else would send me a song i think katrina even wrote an entire song

which it like it had a clue it fell by the wayside as we changed the gameplay in rehearsal but i once won with that and then there’s another song my character was linked to another one who’s a history teacher and i made a ditty that was a mnemonic device about the ptolemaic empire which i mean it’s


you know and during the pandemic which has been such a time of like you know we’ve all had to go inside of our bubble right um a lot of us were missing that creative outlet so i think that pulling in all of these performers and whatnot too and allowed everybody to kind of find a quick creative outlet you know in a time where we’re all very frustrated because we can’t live our not our lives as normally as we want right so you know i don’t even think we tasked people with some of the stuff that got created you know i just said hey could you write you know could you have a little ditty because i think that maggie you know i think katrina your character and this other character they know each other and they went to school together or something you know and next day i have a you know page long you know 12 verses of the ptolemaic empire you know so like it really gave us all a chance to be really creative you know and kind of push the boundaries of how can we keep telling stories in a new and imaginative way and just make everybody laugh because everything is so 2020 right now

um so just giving everybody that outlet that opportunity has been you know has been wonderful and and you know you both hit on something and and paul i’m just completely hijacking this whole conversation todd you’re making my job so easy i don’t mind at all you know as a as a producer and director i get accused of of monopolizing the time quite often so i’m good i’m just gonna you know lean into it anyhow deb you kind of mentioned you know having that outlet uh for people where they you know were stuck in their own bubble and and katrina talked about the autonomy for our guests and our audience members but that was also a part of the immersive process was you know we looked at what platform to use and zoom’s a wonderful platform to connect with people but you as a participant have very little purchase on what you can do and so um deb in particular went and found a great platform that we’re using it’s a conferencing style platform but it gives the participant quite a bit of choice in where they go and who they talk to and how they interact with the space so it’s not just one of us putting someone into like a breakout room or something but rather allowing them to to make this journey on their own which is going to make it a unique experience for each audience member and in turn for our performers because it is that different story every time we needed something when we were like first searching for this software we needed something that would universally uh translate because we had you know during this time so much new technology has been thrown at us you know everybody’s had to get used to using uh zoom and stream yard and all these things uh you know we just needed to find something that universally could be understood but we knew that we didn’t just want zoom because it didn’t give people you know the the autonomy to do what they want we had to assign people to break rooms we had to uh like curate their path you know and if they uh katrina’s character is the bartender if they didn’t want to talk to the bartender and they wanted to go talk to somebody else

it never happens her room is always full to be fair but let’s say that did happen we didn’t want to force somebody in there you know they can go enjoy and they can move on so the software that we found is actually a software that we’ve had to kind of hijack just a little bit um i mean it’s kind of the best way to explain it because it was not designed for our use at all um but that’s what we do we think outside the box so um this software was originally designed for like trade shows so you have a two-dimensional map you can invite your guests in and then each room or each booth as it were you know if you were doing a trade show each little booth on the map can fit a certain number of people so they’re automatically like little mini breakout rooms you just have a map that allows you to move through it right so when we looked at that i i’m like an avid um board game player i have an entire wall an entire shelf of board games you know and when todd mentioned we kept going down this path of it’s almost like a clue board kind of thing so that’s kind of where we developed that everybody instantaneously everybody has played clue you know in their childhood at some point or seen it or seen the movie or something they understand the concept of i’m looking at like this mansion and i can all the rooms are labeled and i can move around all the different rooms so it helped the education factor uh which helped them feel more comfortable immersing themselves they know that they have the ability to move from one room to the other whenever they want and now they’re in control you know so now it’s one step deeper than just a video conference and it’s a beautiful map we worked with the graphic designer to come up you know with exactly what we were looking for and since then deb in all of her talent has taken on kind of our map building for some of the further games and we’ve had such a hit within the the conferencing platform that we’ve been working with that they are now coming to uh to us but to dev more specifically to help build some of that richness into their uh layouts as well so it was all part of that immersion to make sure people were really feeling like they were being sucked into it and i think we’ve done a really good job i’m proud of us team where you go

i thought we’d like to hear i’d love to hear people going you know what we did good that’s great i love it it’s we need that positivity that’s fantastic um so i mean i i take it you’ve been getting feedback from users of this and um what what sorts of things are you all hearing from them so far so we’ve had some of that interactivity that katrina has had um and i suppose they’re believing it it’s plausible that these people are real which is fascinating um but are you hearing anything else from people who’ve given it a try you know before you just said it’s great to hear positivity before we go down that road of positivity let’s just go to the dark place when we started this we we you know came out of the gate and we had had you know two or three months of development you know a writing team of 12 to 15 people all the new technology um our performers we have um what do we have we have double performers so eighteen twenty performers uh that were part of this because we were double cast so we had this this pretty massive team heading into it and we were so proud of what we developed and we got out there and the response was um and and that was such a learning experience for us because we had taken all of our passions and we had poured them into this but we didn’t have a clear direction of who our audience was i think right off the bat we wanted to um hit on escape room players because we had these incredible puzzles that were put together and each uh performer had their own puzzle to lead the the group through and we had similar to a buzzfeed quiz that when you before the game even started you could go and find out you know what kind of adventure you were and what library you were associated with and then that led you for us that that was kind of a litmus test of how puzzly they were because some puzzles were more difficult than the others so it would help place them in the right areas of the game so they could start with a harder puzzle if they were gamers uh and then we had the second half of the the performance now and even then there was a bit of a murder mystery element to it without the murder uh let’s keep it positive but they um had this performance opportunity to also be a part of it and decide you know who was the nefarious bad guy and and what we want found out is that theatergoers who are coming for that side of things were very frustrated with the games and escape room players were frustrated that they had to suddenly interact with performers and and so our audience was giving us these really mixed uh reviews of of the game so of course we were like oh no and and that’s i think where deb was talking about the the many iterations and the different things we went through to get it to where it is now and part of that was just focusing in on on our audience and we’ve done that and since then one of the the reviews that i heard that i was so excited to hear was um i really enjoyed myself but moreover i’ve forgotten how much i missed human interaction and and to have that be something that they pulled out of the experience that meant that that our characters were real that our storyline was engaging and they took that 90 minutes and really were immersed which was what our goal was they were really uh were immersed in this experience to the point where they felt they had made friends through the characters and they felt like they had made a genuine human connection through a virtual medium so i was excited to hear that the creation of the you know we did have so many escape room players interested in the concept because the escape room community has just kind of blown up with with virtual ideas you know with virtual concepts a lot of the brick and mortar escape rooms have pivoted to the gopro style where you have you know their attendant their employee wearing a gopro and streaming live and they go through and the players just have to tell them okay pick this up and now do this and now unlock this you know so you have to act through a medium um there are other escape rooms where you know it’s kind of gone point-and-click where it’s almost all video game the vr space obviously is is really turning up the heat right now because more people are starting to get vr but that’s still probably you know a few years away before it’s real commonplace um so you know we wanted to try to make something as well knowing that we had this audience that have now come through and tried this and not quite had a a perfect experience in the first iteration right because it was too immersive theory right it was too dramatic it was too much conversation for them so that’s kind of why we decided to now create an escape room as well so we you know the secret library like todd said it gives us the opportunity to tell so many stories so there’s always another story to tell right so we are doing the next one it’s called escape atlantis and it’s actually a prequel to the the original experience but it’s very escape room it’s 60 minutes it’s you and your team of up to eight people and there is one attendant one character that’s there with you but they are not intrusive at all they will send you some hints when they think you need it and that’s about it they otherwise will leave you alone and maybe run some some technical components you know run a video here or there um so yeah we’re hoping we’re actually launching that this weekend so we’re actually hoping that that appeases the escape room community a little bit more not just the pieces we want to excite them and that’s what we’re doing there we go see this is why he’s the producer and i just whatever

but the but the great thing about the escape room um being a prequel is for those that did want a few more puzzles and and did enjoy the original experience they can go and they can see how it ties into the the show um and on on the back end for us the the performer that is going to be running the game by and large are performers that are doing the other experience so they also have that rich backstory of of the secret library and of we have a shell company called delfix solutions that is the um corporation that is that is funding the the research for the secret library so they have this whole history of delphic solutions as well the play off of and they’re going to be able to then infuse that into the clue giving and and bring those performances through the the escape route without being heavy-handed with it well okay and katrina how is this for you as a performer these um interactions with people and keeping up with the knowledge that you must have to have of the games and things i mean do you find it it must be quite tiring to have this online presence that’s not you but you’re maintaining it as well as maybe your own like uh painting is a generous one okay it’s an other layer if someone wanted to explore it but usually you know it stays within the experience itself um it’s just you know kind of a little easter egg in a way if someone happened to look it up um but it’s not you know i’m not suddenly a social media manager or anything in that level um as for i mean i find it there’s something like very invigorating about like being kept on your toes and it’s that while yes we have this kind of treasure trove of knowledge and backstory you kind of just get to say yes and in the moment it’s very improv and whatever is kind of given to you is like it’s a gift that then you’re gonna run with that um there was one show this was right before christmas and i always i sing a couple songs in the intermission and um or the interval and um someone one of the other characters in the chat i was singing what are you doing what are you doing new year’s eve and one of the other characters who is uh in the story frequents the bar a lot he was like oh i don’t have plans and so then i decided to seize upon that and yes and that and then formally ask him out and then nothing even one more story for like that we got to filter in and there’s another character that day who’s playing my half brother and so he got to jump in the overprotective half brother and so there’s something like so exciting and thrilling a little bit terrifying like where is this going we don’t know um but there’s the wonderful thing is you know i fundamentally trust everyone i work with it’s a really talented really supportive team so you know that like no matter what avenue you go down they’re gonna be there like not only like supporting you but having the merriest time too and so there’s something really gratifying in that um which kind of keeps each performance very much alive and of that moment too because it is while it is you know paying homage to everything that was created before there’s new creation happening in that moment and i think katrina you are uh i i hope that you can see or hear the personality and the charm that she always brings to her character through what she’s saying today but she really is a fan favorite and we get so much positive feedback about her her singing uh of course but also they just they really connect to to katrina’s character maggie um on a on a different level than they do for many of the other performers so when you asked about feedback there’s a lot of great positive feedback about katrina in particular

oh fantastic and um

so do you think this has um broadened out your audience because i mean you were with what you were doing before you seem to be us wide but this must be global why are you getting people from all over the place it is we we’ve gotten people from all over the globe literally we did a a 7 a.m performance on our time for a group that had um people in in hong kong was it down um so we are reaching parts of the the globe that you know we normally wouldn’t be able to our challenges and is is trying to keep enough performance times available for people to to join us from other places quite frankly because it is a it is a game that is is social it’s an experience that’s meant to be with a good number of people and while you get a very personal experience if there’s only three people there for the show that night it also can be a bit overwhelming when there are more performers than there are audience members so for us you know a really great number is between you know 30 and 40 people in the game it uh provides a lot of avenue for what katrina’s been talking about which is that changing directions and unique experience for our guests but it’s hard to have a you know a european time slot that’s enjoyable at 8pm um and then we’re having to do a a matinee and so we’ll get a few people from over there and maybe a couple from here but but we’re trying to find those times to concentrate the guests so that it’s a better experience for them yeah and earlier debra mentioned board gaming and um i’m a real lover of cooperative board games and so i was wondering is the is the escape room online is the secret library is it the sort of thing where everybody has to cooperate and you all lose or you all win or is it just everybody for themselves how does it work yeah so um it is a collaborative experience um it’s a minimum of four people is what we suggest and you can have up to eight people um so far in our early testing of it everybody seems to kind of stay together um and ever you know all four to eight people attack one puzzle at a time collaboratively um it is designed so that way you can split up you know we had one escape room player uh come in the other day and she’s she manages a an escape room in new york city and she came in and she was like okay i want to divide and conquer let’s have you two go here you two go here but everybody else was just a little too nervous um and they didn’t all know each other very closely so they all stuck together and she kind of guided them through it um but i think that when you get a real you know passionate team that has done this many times that you know when i owned my escape room there were some groups i i kind of my brick and mortar was at the beginning of the escape room phenomenon you know back in like 2014 um and only towards the tail end did i start seeing like avid players who have done every single one in town they travel nationally they always have to do them and they know how to do it and they go in there and everybody has a plan you know if my husband and i were kind of the same way i would go in he’d go in and search for everything and bring all the the pieces to me and then i would sit there and just analyze every single piece and then it’s like you’ve got a plan right so i it can be done you know broken up like that but ultimately it is a simultaneous or a collaborative experience um we have been talking about actually you know for some groups that are bigger than eight um we can kind of do a competitive side where we have two games running at one time and it’s a race the clock kind of competition um but we haven’t yet played with that but it is always an option we’re we’re staffing up and and getting ready to do it so we’re excited for the first group that actually wants to compete cool great stuff and um do you ever do any of the characters mislead anybody are there any sort of plants or are they just purely good information are there any plants in there that might be a bit misleading like do you make it hard for people do you have different difficulty levels for people is it difficulty or is it playing with them i think that’s the the real question right so general oh god no i was just gonna say yeah i think we have some red herrings built in but but this is where and i i’m gonna dab not to catch up but i do want to hear katrina’s aspect now i know that i’ve had to sit and i i’ve played multiple characters now as kind of the understudy for the show um but but i don’t i don’t live and breed them as well as some that are more dedicated to their their performance but i know that there are nights that a performer will come in and say i want them all to suspect me tonight so i’m going to do everything i can to be suspected or tonight i’m going to send them all to this person it’s not the right person but i’m going to send them all to this person and really cast a shadow of doubt on them so i think there’s a little bit of that that um ribbing between the performers uh that also keeps it fresh for them but katrina katrina have you ever been suspected i mean uh your character um the funny thing is often my character gets suspected because she’s quite optimistic and naive in a way and so then i get people who are like she’s too nice she’s too optimistic um but then i also uh one of the other actors who i actually uh she was my music director once in a show in orlando um so we’ve known each other for years but she decided to make me the top suspect and her life she was like i don’t even think that’s her real accent i think she’s faking it i don’t have people who would come into my room and this guy remember

um like so there is like fun lines of and so and that you know we all know kind of where the story is going but we can take a little detour and encourage guests to take a detour along the way um and because we have this kind of sense of play and trust with each other we can definitely go down that route um but the man who popped in said spell color

captain um but yeah so we can kind of it’s like a it’s a helpful you can nudge people in a certain way and especially like uh like any and it can help with like the pacing as well as you’re like judging you know how kind of how clued in they are and kind of experience they are trying to gather you can shift them this way and that so that they are going to maximize their time and kind of keep things fresh and enjoyable and to that end dev you also uh while you’re running things behind the scenes for each game you have the opportunity to interact with the guests and and she’s a bit mischievous herself uh so oftentimes she will help guide things just in the in the chat interactions between the other um performers or the the audience so it’s it’s it’s always a new experience but yeah there’s definitely some some leading misleading

i mean there are sometimes too that you know um not only are the character you know our actors creating and we’re creating on the fly but the the participants and this is exactly what we hope for the participants are creating on the fly we have heard some outlandish conspiracy theories like during the intermission when um you know katrina’s character is is playing sometimes they’ll have the opportunity to just chat with each other and be like well i think this is about to happen and you’re like what what did that have to do with anything you get that from but the fun part about it is you yes and it right so one of the characters will pick up on and be like oh that’s a really good idea you might be onto something come find me later and we’ll explore that you know so it just keeps giving us the opportunity to for everybody to kind of have fun with it you know and we have modes of um we separate all of the performers and the technicians for the show we have a feed where we can talk to each other privately so it’s almost like a backstage area so you can be like hey heads up this guest is going down this direction like lean into that and so that you know we can keep each other on board as we do this or sometimes it’s even i just move it can also be like hey i just made a backstory you know like uh this character suddenly decided that she you know played chess with this other character whatever you know and you’re like i don’t i i don’t know where it came from and now suddenly you need to make sure the other performer is aware that you have this relationship in case the act the participants go over there and ask her about it and that’s something that i had a friend who came over and watched as we were running the backstage side of things or the the back end side of things and they were like this is almost as exciting almost as interesting as watching the experience itself because he said i i had no idea first of all that the performers who i i keep talking about how great they are but they really are because they are multitasking like you can’t believe they are running first of all they’re acting like that’s their first job but then they’re running uh puzzles and helping to guide guests they’re having to think on the fly as the guests change things they’re having to run their own technical elements which is in and of itself sometimes a challenge but they’re also keeping this conversation going in the the channel behind the scenes and so they are just killing it but as as he’s watching them roll with the punches and us change out different um technical aspects throughout the game and talking about it and then just our own frustrations as humans when something doesn’t go right and you’re like no no we’re you know he was like this is amazing you should celebrate to watch the backstage is there an avenue then for a behind-the-scenes experience for people who’ve completed it at some point i don’t know put your producer hat on we’ll figure that out

yeah maybe we could live stream something that would be fun oh that could be fun

i feel like we would still end up with like two chats going on there’s like you know

the public behind the scenes and the private behind the scenes well it’s even reality tv is not reality right so you can create another whole experience i don’t know there’s a lot of work there

so um so like point people towards if anybody’s listening and they fancy having a go at this point them towards where should they go to sign up to do paula first of all you say if anybody’s listening they they better be listening come on you’re going to do this for yourself right this is my family’s podcast i this is how we communicate during quarantine

um so they can come and find out about the experience at uh secret library dot io that’s dot and um there’s an opportunity there to take a look at all the different experiences that we have we did have one for christmas where we dealt with uh krampus and the the lore of that with the secret library it was a super fun show and i’m so sorry that it’s seasonal because it was uh it was a lot of fun every night even for us to to watch what was happening because it forced us to really create new new experiences each night you know sometimes as much as we say the audiences can change the story sometimes they do sit back and watch and so oftentimes we have to to really drive their participation if they’re not being particularly interactive but with that one we had uh the opportunity to really delve into some improvisational chops um and then we have a couple with the new escape room that comes out uh next week and then we have a couple of new other experiences on the horizon they can find all of that at secret library.yeah thank deborah were you going to say something there no um i was going to jump in real quick about the um about krampus um that show it it’s amazing kind of we went through such a learning curve with the original experience right we we went through and now that we’ve done it and everybody is so comfortable with it you know with running it like we keep kind of driving home that we keep finding new things and that has now informed the subsequent games so like for for instance um there there is an ability in the in the platform you know you’re looking at a clue board right and you’re looking at all these little pieces on the board all these little avatars that are your character and all the performers and everybody right well you can watch them kind of jump around right you go into this room and then you jump over to this room and then you jump to that room right well we realized that people kind of that was very intuitive and there was something kind of fun about watching people kind of chase each other a little bit you know everybody trying to i really want to track down katrina because she has some important information oh wait he went to this room go get her you know so there’s like this chase element that we were actually able to integrate as a a real chase where you had to chase down krampus we said okay krampus had just got here you have one minute everybody bounce around go get him you have to corner him you know and it ended up being one of the most like adrenaline-filled kind of minutes for a virtual game you know like we’re all just sit everybody that does this you’re generally sitting back in your office or your living room or something maybe a glass of wine but now you’re like clicking around and all of a sudden you’re really really excited right and we’re really you know trying to keep an eye on those things that people really enjoy because we can exploit them a little bit and kind of integrate them into future experiences which i i’m really excited for you know like we thought we had had covered everything with the original experience but it feels like there’s just always more you know it’s so untapped it’s great and it’s funny we keep talking a little bit like a politician where we we’re talking about this thing that we love so much but we have to keep skirting the issue because there is mystery involved and because there are puzzle elements that we don’t want to give away the the endings to and so i’m listening to us talk and i know exactly what we’re talking about but i’m sure to the listeners it sounds a little bit like we’re avoiding answers um or or not giving you the full story and we’re not because because we want to keep it a mysterious element and um so i do apologize for the double speak or the confusing it all makes sense in our brains but it may not come across in it vocally right now

great and so um is there is there anything else that we haven’t covered yet today is there anything anybody wants to say i mean you’re all working your socks off by the signs of it on this but you sign like you’re having a blast which is really positive here but is there anything else you want to put out there for people

it’s always it’s like having a menu that’s just so big like what do i say now what’s really important

um i mean i think that as a producer i have to say please come and experience this for yourself and and that is to keep our performers working because they are the top in in the biz and they are just working so hard having a great time but but we’d love to have the opportunity for um for them to continue but more importantly we really do believe that we’ve hit on something that is universally enjoyable and an opportunity for some escapism and a date night or whatever else a good way to see family that you can’t be with um and we’re so proud of it and we really enjoy what we do so much we want to share that with everybody so please please please check it out yeah boss man summed it up pretty well

yeah i feel like this is the sort of thing that over the coming years researchers new academics and things are going to look at this kind of innovation and how people like you have have just taken this by the horns and just done something with it you know and created out of you know something really quite dark and difficult for the world and um so it’s an amazing achievement so well done and i’m really looking forward to giving it go myself it sounds really hilarious fun exciting you know brilliant thank you all so very much thank you for that thank you and let us know when you’re coming because we’re uh we’re excited to show you absolutely

yeah and i suppose if there’s an opportunity if anybody is anybody listening to this does give it a go just make sure you let somebody know because that would be lovely to to know about thoughts what do you say deb should we set up a discount for listeners i was just thinking that too all right so kind thank you absolutely so we’ll we’ll send you over a special code just for your listeners and and you can include that in your your byline so that they uh they have a chance to experience it for a discount that’s so generous thank you all so much that’s wonderful yeah hopefully it would be good if we it’d be great if we could get a little audio visual cultures team together

so todd zimmerman katrina michaels and deborah beard say thank you all so so much for joining me today it’s been a blast thank you thanks for having us thank you so much


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