Mayan Madness dinner theatre will take place in Clearwater this month, offering a three-course Guatemalan meal, silent auction, and a participatory whodunnit, with proceeds from the night going to a good cause.
The murder mystery event, co-sponsored by Hope for the Pokomchi and Clearwater Theatre Collective, takes place Nov. 23 at the Blackpool Hall, with doors opening at 5 p.m. and dinner a 6 p.m.
Funds raised at the dinner theatre go to helping people of the Pokomchi, one of 21 Mayan Indigenous groups in Guatemala, who are direct descendants from the anciant Mayan culture.
“In my mind it has three purposes—raising funds for the work with the Pokomchi, then raising awareness of that work, and creating a grassroots community event, which is fun for the community,” said Linda Brierly, part of the organizaing committee for the event.
“It’s a night out; it’s a gala and entertainment.”
Brierly, who also lived in Guatemala for 10 years with her husband and worked closely with the Pokomchi, said a large portion of the money goes toward educational efforts.
There’s an educational centre in Guatemala, which hosts seminars and training courses for all ages and varoious walks of life, from children, to midwives, to nurses and pastors, and a portion of the event’s proceeds will help the centre continue its work.
Jean Nelson, who will be a player in the murder mystery, added some of the money will also go to needed infrastructure in the Pokomchi village.
“In the past, there has been a focus on replacing the open fires in their houses with stoves, which are very efficient because they use less than a tenth of the amount of wood that the open fires use, and also building water tanks so they don’t have to walk so far to get water,” said Nelson.
“Because they’re not short of rain there and these water tanks collect the rainwater, it really does keep them supplied with water until the next rainfall—once they have one of these tanks, water isn’t a problem.”
The third infrastructure piece involves building sanitary outhouses, and when paired with efficient heat, a decent water source, and access to education, they get a good start at having the necesseities of life.
As for the murder mystery, Brierly assures it’s a humorous production, not at all scary, and also involves Pokomchi themes throughout.
The play, written by Steve Raschke, tells the story about different aspects of the Pokomchi culture, with half the characters being part of the Indigenous group, and every character that’s featured having a reason to murder the victim of the play.
“She dies very early on and the rest of the play is flashbacks, with each of the potential murderers being involved in a flashback when they could have had a reason to kill her, but it also brings in the culture all through the play,” Nelson said.
Tickets for Mayan Madness are $25 for children and seniors, $30 for adults and are available by calling 250-674-3222.