The Start: A Promotion for the Student-led “Dial M for Murder”

by Ro Byer and Acacia Mays

Curtain rises.

An empty stage with two microphones waits behind the proscenium. Two spotlights fade in on C. stage. MONROE and ACACIA enter from stage L. and R. respectively and take their places in each spotlight.


MONROE.

(Adjusting the microphone before him so that it isn’t up so high.) Should we start with the show dates?

ACACIA.

Oh, yes—May 4th and 5th, curtain at 7:30 pm. Seats will be limited, so you will have to RSVP in advance.

MONROE.

And the plot. Tell them about the plot.

ACACIA.

How about the title? Shouldn’t we tell them the title?

MONROE.

Well, why should they care what it’s about or what it’s called? Maybe start with a pitch. It’s a thriller—a suspenseful thriller—with love, death…

ACACIA.

(Interrupting.) Yes, with all the classic thriller elements. It was originally written for the stage by Frederick Knott, but the show became famous once it was brought to the screen by Alfred Hitchcock.

MONROE.

(Continuing.) …deceit, betrayal, murder—I suppose I covered that bit with “death”…

ACACIA.

…And starring the one and only Grace Kelly.

MONROE.

(To ACACIA.) …This all sounds rather vague, doesn’t it?

ACACIA.

Like the back cover of every crime novel ever written. But there’s only so much we can hint at without giving the show away.  

MONROE.

Indeed. It’s a bit dry. Let’s start over. How about we start with ourselves? I’m Monroe…

ACACIA.

(Interrupting, again.) Our names will be written into the text. Let’s not be redundant.

MONROE.

A pitch, then! It’s a thriller…

ACACIA.

(Dismissively.) We need to start with the club. That’s how we got into this mess in the first place. Monroe and I run Ghost Light Ensemble, our campus theater club.

MONROE.

We host theater workshops. Those are what the incessant Bollywood emails are about. (Aside, in a low whisper.) Sorry for the spam.

ACACIA.

And last semester I led a workshop on stage combat and physicality, and we hosted a few screenings at my apartment…

MONROE.

Yes, the banana bread was delightful. Although, I’m still not sure if this is the proper place to begin. There’s more to it than that. As Acacia said, we started Ghost Light Ensemble. Our intention was to cultivate interest in narrative theater at BCB.

ACACIA.

Narrative theater is something near and dear to both of our hearts, though Monroe has tended towards dramatic plays and I towards musical theater.

MONROE.

And, aside from providing a platform for a type of theater missing elsewhere within the community, we wanted to share our passion for storytelling.

ACACIA.

We always had it in mind to end the year with a student-led production. It would be the culmination of the theater enthusiasm we’d been stirring up. The big question was:

BOTH.

What show do we choose?

MONROE.

But as we searched for scripts, bigger questions emerged: Would people want to be in the show? Could we afford to spend so much of our precious free time? Was the Factory haunted? Would anyone come and see our show?

ACACIA.

Once we settled on Dial M for Murder, we had to face another question: auditions. We were prepared to serve a pared down version of the show with five actors, but as it turns out we needn’t have worried. We have an ensemble of nine dedicated students who have been willing to spend long hours rehearsing in the Factory each week.

MONROE.

And we’re all excited to show the community what we’ve been working on! However, I must admit, I sometimes worry…

ACACIA.

About what?

MONROE.

The whole thing! So many aspects of a production could go wrong. What if someone gets sick or injured? We have no understudies. What if someone forgets a line? The show is so dependent on details. What if the audience doesn’t like it? We’ll have to see them around campus afterwards, potentially with our heads hanging in shame. What if we fail? Don’t you worry too?

ACACIA.

Well, sure. We have keys and coats and invisible doors to keep track of on stage. And the amount of lines…

(Pause.)

Still, I really think we pull it off—even the invisible door.

MONROE.

(Muttering to himself.) That invisible door is a bastard… spent a full hour learning how to open the door, close the door, walk through the door.

ACACIA.

Now everyone is going to be watching our invisible door more closely.

MONROE.

You’re right. We can’t start with the door, of all things.

ACACIA.

Invisible doors aside, I still think we’ll manage a great production.

MONROE.

Yes, invisible doors aside, we’ve all invested so much time and effort—rehearsing two hours a day, three days a week. And everything has really been coming together. The actors have truly stepped up to the task of performing these challenging roles. The scenes have started coming to life, evoking suspense and humor.

ACACIA.

Just a few more rehearsals now, and we’ll be ready to open. I think performing in front of classmates is always an interesting experience. Unlike with professional theater, you know the performers offstage, and it can feel like a magic trick seeing them change into someone new in front of you. (To MONROE.) Ready to start promoting the show?

MONROE.

On May 4th and 5th at 7:30pm, in the Factory, Ghost Light Ensemble will be putting on Frederick Knott’s Dial M for Murder. We extend a warm welcome to all who are interested! Remember to look out for that RSVP link!

(Pause.)

Well, seems we’ve gone in a circle. I’m still not sure if this is the best way to start…

ACACIA.

(Miming checking her watch.) I’m sure it’ll do just fine.


BOTH nod in agreement and walk downstage C. to light the ghost light. An old theater tradition, ghost lights are left standing to guard an empty auditorium from ghosts, allowing it to remain a space for actors.

Exeunt ACACIA and MONROE.

The ghost light remains on stage as the curtain falls.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.