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Fanbase Press Interviews Mister & Mischief on the Immersive Production, ‘The Apple Avenue Detective Agency,’ Debuting at the WOW Festival

The following is an interview with Mister & Mischief (a.k.a. Jeff and Andy Crocker) regarding the upcoming debut of their immersive production, The Apple Avenue Detective Agency, debuting at the WOW Festival (Without Walls Festival) in San Diego, CA. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Mister & Mischief about their shared creative experience in bringing the production to vibrant life, what they hope that audiences will enjoy about the show, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The Apple Avenue Detective Agency will soon be debuting as part of the WOW Festival. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the show’s premise and format?

Mister & Mischief: Our official description:

Inspired by real childhood events, this adventure inducts audiences into a pint-sized investigator club to uncover local mysteries and find closure for a good friend in very real trouble. Mischievous, melancholy, and deeply personal, this playable coming-of-age tale takes audiences from a backyard clubhouse through the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood, all the way to the treacherous border of growing up. When you’re a kid, the world is full of mysteries, and no one solves them alone.

If you love Harriet the Spy and Encyclopedia Brown, the story may sound familiar, but this one has its roots in a true story.

Mister Mischief

As for format, it’s a guided adventure through a narrative and a neighborhood. There are no planted clues or fabricated characters, guests will be inducted into the Apple Avenue Detective Agency and head out for an investigation of the real world. There are abundant detective tools and fruit snacks to help guests along the way.

BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in developing and staging this immersive experience for audiences?

M&M: That is an excellent question. Our experiences always start with a kernel of an idea and a world that we would be excited to play in ourselves. For Apple Avenue, the kernel was a true story from Andy’s childhood, and the world is a nostalgic neighborhood where you play until the streetlights come on.

From there, our process looks a lot like other narrative entertainment endeavors with a few special differences: We write a story outline that included scripted lines and designed audience activations, leaving lots of room for surprises, as we won’t know what guests will do.

Next, we hire a cast, design a set, and rehearse. Our rehearsals include a lot of experiential exercises. For example, the cast and crew playing the TTRPG Kids on Bikes together; reading through the script in a pillow fort built by our 7-year-old daughter; or inviting real kids to lead the actors on neighborhood investigations.

And because our work is so dependent on bringing the audience along as collaborators, we open up the rehearsal process to audiences early and start iterating the script and overall experience from there, making small adjustments each time to make sure the themes and intentions are having the impact we are trying to achieve.

BD: Would you recommend any particular age groups for ideal participants in the show?

M&M: While it’s about kids, it’s intended for big kids (12+) and grown-ups who want to spend some quality time with their younger, most imaginative selves.

BD: What makes the WOW Festival an ideal venue for The Apple Avenue Detective Agency?

M&M: This is our second time producing work for WOW, and we love the mission that Amy Ashton, Mia Fiorello, and the La Jolla Playhouse team have undertaken to bring a bounty of non-traditional theatrical experiences to San Diego. The answer to the question is that we get to present our work alongside some incredible and unique creators that play with the relationship between audience and artist.

BD: The show will be appearing at WOW Festival from April 4-7, 2024. Are there any future to showcase Apple Avenue at other venues?

M&M: We always want our work to be experienced by as many folks as possible. Though we don’t have any concrete plans in the future, it’s likely that the Apple Avenue Detective Agency will appear again in southern California.

BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?

M&M: For the Fanbase Press readers that are interested and excited about immersive and interactive experiences (theatrical or otherwise), we’d recommend they sign up for our newsletter. While we don’t publish on an aggressive schedule, we like to use it to announce new work and recommend experiences around the US that are worth their time.

Immersive theater is growing and starting to overlap and blend the boundaries of traditional games and storytelling in really exciting ways. We love to share both our work and highlighting others that are sharing that interdisciplinary language.

We can tease that if they would like their escape rooms to be more existential and their theater to be absurdly playable, now would be a great time to subscribe to our newsletter.

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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