Stage managers rule. In this innovative and imaginative venture that combines theatricality, games, and last-man-standing types of reality shows, the stage managers have gotten together and created an immersive, interactive, virtual experience that might one day go in real life.
So go play, and get lost in this virtual world with a ‘Twist.’ I think you’ll be happy you did.
These particular stage managers come from New York City (Joshua Gustafson), Washington, DC (Max Schwager), and Lexington, Kentucky (Eric Mattingly). When the pandemic hit, they wanted to create something that would not only give people a creative outlet, but possibly generate income as well. And “Twist” was born. From Gustafson’s initial idea through the intense collaboration with Schwager and Mattingly, a versatile game was created, tested, and now is ready for its closeup.
I was privileged last night to watch their inaugural public presentation of the game (it’s been in beta development since the end of July). Unlike a murder room, this has multiple rounds. Our rounds averaged 4-5 minutes (five rounds per game). In a normal game, they will average around 10 minutes (still at five rounds per game). Full disclosure: I’m not a game player and I’ve never seen an elimination television show, so this was new territory for me, which is why I watched, listened, and learned.
They have nine variations of the game that they have created and three are in development. Bounty and Five Course Meal were played in speed rounds. These are games of strategy, scheming, teamwork and tested the ability to keep confusing rules in one’s head. You can kill people 20 different ways, steal (or attempt to steal) their tokens, forge alliances, lie to them, and make them become ghosts or other things.
In Clue, for example, all the players are in a “mansion” that has a lounge, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, cellar, attic, hallway, porch, and a lift. These different breakout rooms hold different numbers of people and points/tokens are won or lost depending on if there are too many or whatever other wacky rule governs each individual space in that particular game.
All of the active players had played most of the games at least once before. They were, coincidentally, almost all theatre people and there was a little bit of that insider’s feel of collaboration on a stage piece until the double-crosses and misdirection started. Stage managers aren’t tolerating that in rehearsal or during the run.
These stage managers have developed a very fun way to join with family, friends, and work colleagues (this could be a very interesting team building exercise, as they noted). The competition is lighthearted and the action at your own pace. You’re in charge of your decisions, and you learn from every game. It’s fun and, if they can carry this over to a physical setting, could be an unusual and intriguing way to spend an afternoon.
And it’s just lovely to see stage managers in the spotlight. The last time I remember stage managers being publicly acknowledged was at Signature Theatre in 2015 when Jeffry Denman, who was playing Michael in the world premier of John Kander’s and Greg Pierce’s “Kid Victory,” stepped forward one day after a matinee and publicly thanked every backstage person involved — and by name. It was breathtaking to see and hear the acknowledgement, as the sustained applause showed. ‘Twist” puts the spotlight on the creative and problem-solving skills these professionals bring to all theatre work.
I would do this again and the next time I’d participate, not just watch. There would be no expectation of winning, but the sheer zaniness of the roles and consequences, and wonderful lightheartedness of the play would be a reward in itself. Thank you, gentlemen.
What’s planned includes a late night cocktail game and a brunch with mimosas game. Starting in November will be pay-what-you-can games. Ticket prices will be set after that. Users will have a choice of one, two, or three games, with a capacity of 10 to 20 players for any one game.
So go play, and get lost in this virtual world with a “Twist.” I think you’ll be happy you did.
Running Time: Each game runs approximately 50-60 minutes. The group will have one-, two-, and three-game night options.
Game Advisory: For players 18+ as sometimes adult language slips through. You will also need a laptop or similar device and What’s App on your phone. They will explain it all.
“Twist” is played in a virtual environment. For more information, please click here.