Q&A: The Executives Present: Everyone Lives in the End! (A Memento-Style Murder Mystery)

Interviews Tuesday March 19, 2019, 10:00am - by Elaine Bledsoe

If you missed The Executives' January show, have no fear, because Everyone Lives in the End! (A Memento-Style Murder Mystery) is BACK baby! This isn't your average sketch show, and Sara Kalkstein was kind enough to let us in on the process of making a themed, narrative-based new classic. Don't let this chance pass you by--see Everyone Lives in the End on Friday, March 22 at 7:00!

Sara Kalkstein on the street.

"A Memento-Style Murder Mystery"...what does that even mean?!

Christopher Nolan's film "Memento" inspired us to do a show in reverse-chronological order, meaning that if you performed our show scene-by-scene backwards, you'd end up with a (way, way funnier) Agatha Christie-style murder mystery format, in which characters mysteriously die one by one, until ultimately the killer is revealed. The fun challenge of creating this show is that you know at the top who the murderer is (OR DO YOU?!), so we get to have fun with the genre without relying on that particular source of suspense to propel the show.

This show has a (backwards) narrative arc, which is different than most sketch shows. How was the process different than your usual routine, both from the writing and rehearsing perspectives?

What's great about The Executives is that we like to do narratives in addition to the classic sketch-show format. The writing process for these kinds of shows is entirely different from typical sketch - it's much more collaborative. We spent the first few writing meetings outlining our characters and plot points. With those anchors in mind, we all went home and wrote multiple versions of each scene, then brought them back to table-read and see what needs tweaking to make the whole thing feel cohesive. A lot of that cohesiveness comes from adding in recurring jokes and callbacks, which was especially important in this show because of the backwards structure - we had a ton of fun brainstorming jokes that were not only funny and visually compelling, but also clued the audience in on the fact that time is running backwards. This was really important to prevent confusion, and they also provide some of the funniest moments in the show! And during the rehearsal process, we paid very close attention to the blocking of each scene, making sure that each stage picture at the beginning and end of each scene lines up with the chronology. These details create a really satisfying payoff for the audience. 

There are a lot of very silly characters in the show. Did the performers have any say in the development of them? Were the parts written with specific people in mind or did you cast it after the show was written?

We absolutely had people in mind because a narrative show like this really depends on consistency - if someone needs to miss a show, we can't just swap in another performer like you can in a regular sketch show. We had only one team member at the time who did double-duty as both a writer and performer, but the writers put a lot of thought into the strengths of our performers and how they fit into the character archetypes that we knew we wanted to feature, as well as what would be fun for them. We are fortunate to have performers who are very accomplished in singing, dancing, and a range of accents on top of all their comedic skills, so it's a pleasure to write pieces that feature these amazing skills. 

You guys really nail the tropes of a Clue-esque murder mystery. What were some of your influences in writing and performing Everyone Lives At The End?

Thanks!! We were generally thinking about Clue, Gosford Park, Agatha Christie, Downton Abbey. But the funny thing about genre is that sometimes the less you know about it, the better, because the things that are truly essential to the genre are the things that end up in the collective consciousness and that most of us know without having necessarily seeing or reading them firsthand. As soon as we started brainstorming, we knew what characters and tropes belonged here. 

This is not a show to be missed. Uncover the truth with The Executives Present: Everyone Lives in the End! (A Memento-Style Murder Mystery), on next Friday, March 22 at 7:00pm!

Everyone Lives at the End graphic with a red background and a spiral in the middle