You might be forgiven for thinking The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries is associated with Hogwart's wizards. However, this new online experience hosted by International Children’s Festival of the Arts is less about Harry Potter and more about Sherlock Holmes.
Developed by Outside the March, this performance piece is orchestrated by phone. Once an individual is immersed in the experience, they become the main character of a mystery in their life.
This highly personalized and improvised adventure is a series of phone calls about 10 minutes in length. At the start of the experience, one provides a personal mystery affecting their life. A detective from the ministry is assigned to the case. They will phone and collect information while assisting in solving the clues.
But what mystery does one choose. Is there a noise in the basement? Where do my socks disappear? Why do only a few seeds sprout from a whole package? When will I see my grandparents? From the initial conversation, follow-up characters will phone with amusing new twists.
“We are an immersive theatre company that had to re-examine our preconceptions on delivering theatre. Prior to COVID, we hadn’t thought much about how to create theatre without an audience,” said Mitchell Cushman, artistic director for Outside the March.
“We realized we wanted an intimate experience – no screen time. It burns you out. So we turned to the telephone and we are addressing the mundane mysteries that way. Our favourite is the land line. When we’re on smart phones, we get distracted. This piece is intended to be analog.”
Actor-inspectors are trained to make a series of six calls telescoped within one hour that works toward unspooling the mystery.
The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries is suitable for anyone six years and older. Although part of the children’s festival, the detectives also solve puzzling mysteries for adults. It runs in 10 time slots on June 5 and 6. The cost is $30 per household. Visit stalbert.ca/exp/childfest/