Step-by-step: murder mystery night
As far as adult social events are concerned, murder
mystery nights promise lots of fun for a modest amount of effort.
They're particularly good for bringing friends together - after
all, who can resist a night of spirited
Murder mystery nights promise lots of fun for a modest amount of
effort. As a more unique fundraiser, it's sure to get people
talking and attract new faces. Enlist the help of a local
am-dram group or book a specialist supplier such as Murderplays (murderplays.com) to help you put on an
engaging evening that will be enjoyable for everyone - and will
raise much-needed funds for your school.
Matthew Barker, deputy head, Bridgewater School,
Worsley, Manchester (467 pupils): 'We were inspired
to try a murder mystery event after I saw some of the plays
performed at my wife's school. The drama teacher, Chris
Martin, was also the owner of Murderplays.
I organised our first play in conjunction with the PTA and the
event had a fairly short turnaround, which is one of the great
things about it. We only started rehearsing a couple of weeks
beforehand and publicised it about four weeks before. We held it in
the school drama studio with a fairly minimal set but great
attention to the costumes. The students really enjoyed seeing
their teachers dressing up and performing!
We charged £5 per adult ticket and £3 for students, which
included a hotpot supper, and tickets were sold via the school
office. Around 120 people attended, and we held a raffle and also
ran a bar and sweet stall to boost profits.
Costs were fairly minimal - beyond the play itself and the
hotpot there were only minor costume costs, but most staff taking
part were happy to source their own costumes. On the day, the staff
taking part stayed after school for a final run-through and a group
meal - it's also a great event for staff relationships.
It's full-on for a couple of weeks and it can be difficult
getting everyone together at the same time, but it is well worth it
as a fundraiser and a teambuilder for the staff taking part. You do
need one person who is willing to drive the whole thing through. We
received very positive feedback from visitors, and so far we've put
on six plays, each raising around £700.'
Murder mystery step-by-step
Six months before: Agree a date with the
school or alternative venue and ensure a key-holder is available on
the day. Book a supplier and decide on the play and
Two months before: Start advertising the
event and selling tickets through an online platform or in
person, and consider offering an early bird discount. Decide
whether you will be providing a meal and begin sourcing costumes,
if needed. Cast the play, getting the staff involved if possible,
and start rehearsals. Approach local companies to ask for donations
of prizes for the winners, and put out a request for
volunteers to help on the night.
One month before: Continue promoting the
event, both at school and publicly through social media. If
planning to sell alcohol, apply for a Temporary Event Notice.
Increase the number of rehearsals in the run up to the
Two weeks before: Send a press release to
local media. Ensure you have enough helpers on the day.
Collate a list of volunteers and allocate roles. Source
any additional costumes and props, free-of-charge if
One week before: Compile a list of guests'
names to tick off on the door. Hold a dress rehearsal.
On the day: Set up the hall for the
event, including seating and decorations. Ensure all props and
prizes are at the venue. Have a final run-through of the play after
school and provide a group meal for the cast.
After the event: Have a post-event debrief
to discuss what worked well and what may need tweaking for next
time. Thank your volunteers and ask for feedback. Give details
about how much was raised and how this will be spent.
Tips and advice
Venue: Make sure there is enough room for a
performance area and for your guests to sit around
Theme: Choose which murder mystery play you
want and theme the rest of your event around it. Use your theme to
help define the dress code.
Meal: Consider whether to provide food or ask
guests to bring their own. Discuss how the play will be broken up
so that you can plan food and refreshments around intervals.
Ticket options: Sell individually priced
tickets, as well as group tickets (i.e. a table of eight) in
Suppliers: Employing the services of a
specialist supplier will mean you have an initial upfront
cost, but it will be worth every penny! Go to our suppliers
directory to find murder mystery companies.
DIY: If you're feeling ambitious, you could
write and perform your own play. Give yourself plenty of time to
work out the logistics and recruit actors. Local amateur dramatics
societies or secondary school drama students may be able to
Prizes: Source prizes for the winning team -
the table who successfully guess the murderer and motive. If guests
are wearing fancy dress, offer a prize for the best outfits.
Boost profits: Raffles make a great profit
booster, as do quizzes.
Personalise it: Make it fun by personalising
the script to include jokes about your school staff and PTA,
Costumes: Ask local theatre groups if you can
borrow or hire items. Ask for sponsorship from companies for any
Casting: Be firm and decide on the casting
rather than asking people to decide who they want to play, as this
is the easiest way to ensure you have the best people for the
Event length: This can be a long evening with
two intervals, a meal, a quiz and the denouement, so aim to start
early and stick to your timings. Remember, there needs to be a long
enough interval to give attendees time to choose their killer and
reasons, plus time for you to mark these so the winner can be
announced after the big reveal in the second act.
Download a print-friendly PDF version of our
step-by-step guide to running a murder mystery event.
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on
the guidance provided.
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