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Mysterious History: The Story Behind a Classic IAC Production

How "Mysterian's Mysterious Mysteries" came to be.

Mysterian has returned from the murky backwaters of time and space with another bizarre story from the past in an all-new show, “The Fox Sisters.”

But before audiences can scream, laugh, and marvel at the weird tale of how three Rochester, New York sisters helped kick off spiritualism in the 19th century, let’s take a look at the origins of “Mysterian’s Mysterious Mysteries” and its life at the Count’s Den in Downtown Los Angeles.

This unique one-man show sees IAC regular Ian Heath playing a devilishly charming host in a pre-recorded video while he acts out the series of outlandish events, performing multiple characters. “Mysterian” perfectly blends elements of horror, comedy, intrigue, and real eyewitness accounts, seamlessly marrying traditional theatre elements with modern technology.

But how did Mysterian himself come to be? According to Ian, “Mysterian (or ‘Mr. Ian’) is me! He’s kind of a storyteller of sorts who came to be over months of conversations with Rachel [Adams, founder and Executive Director of IAC] about doing a storytelling show and how that might be formatted. And what kept coming back to me was doing a PBS-style host, sort of Mister Rogers meets Jonathan Frakes of ‘Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction.’ And so from there, we crafted this character who could narrate these stories on video which freed me up to do everything else.”

It was clear from the beginning that this show would be more than just an actor portraying events in front of an audience, that it would push the boundaries of traditional theatre. Who better to helm than Elif Savas, who has written, directed, and starred in more than her fair share of experimental productions, both at the Count’s Den and elsewhere. “What we are doing is bringing a few concepts together: that late-night TV aspect that Ian loves, plus theatre, and there’s a podcast-y quality to it, too,” says Elif. “So we are bringing the old fashioned, the very old fashioned, and the new-fashioned together. It’s not written like a play; it’s written more like a podcast, but performed like a play with TV.”

Ian elaborated further on the show’s fascinating mélange of genres and mediums, saying that, “Having this film aspect and then this live aspect allows me to approach these stories from a broader way, where I can just give plain facts (interestingly written, I’d like to think!) while also interjecting with all of these different characters and viewpoints, and allowing them all to play pretty seamlessly together in the show, whereas if it was just me without the screen, there would be more breaks to have the ‘talking’ section, and the ‘acting’ section. And if we didn’t have the live aspect, we’d just be making a YouTube video, which is its own thing.”

The first two installments of this series focused on two peculiar historical events that continue to plague the world with questions: Jack the Ripper, and the Roswell incident.

“Jack the Ripper is a classic mystery that everyone knows. And one thing we do with these shows is, you have your main mystery that it’s titled after, along with recreations of other events that surround it. So for ‘Ripper,’ we also talked about the Thames Torso Murders which were happening at the exact same time; someone was killing these women and leaving chunks of their bodies all over the city including in Jack’s territory,” said Ian.

“And for the second one we looked at Roswell and all of the different bits of information that came out about what crashed, when it crashed, what people said at the time, what people said later, what the government said.”

While the story of a grotesque serial killer terrifying the citizens of Victorian London and the ever-changing accounts of a series of UFO sightings in 1947 New Mexico don’t have much relation to each other, the one unifying thread is the stylistic approach that Ian and Elif took to crafting these productions. “We don’t go for dry seriousness; every one of these stories should be told with a joy for life and information,” Elif stated. “They should never be delivered with the attitude of ‘here are your greens, just eat them, isn’t that fun?’ Ian and I both love doing this, and we want the audience to feel it, too. Plus, they’re also learning something! Isn’t that cool? So all of the horror and humor and intensity is coming from a place of joy.”

Accompanying the new show, “The Fox Sisters,” is a reprise of “Jack the Ripper” and “Roswell,” which will certainly delight fans of the original productions, as well as give new fans the chance to experience them for the first time.

For Ian and Elif, it was fascinating to revive these past productions, having grown creatively since their inception. Ian says that, “It’s been about two years since we did the last Mysterian show, so there was a challenge at first in finding that specific voice again and the flow that worked, the sense of timing and character that permeates everything. However, it didn’t take long before Elif and I were able to tap into the original magic that made the first two shows such a blast to work on.”

According to Elif, she immediately recognized how they could capitalize on the lessons learned putting together these innovative shows and how they break new ground in the future. “Because this has become a series,” she said, “I’m starting to see how they all connect stylistically. The first installment was experimental, the second one saw us tightening the format of it, and with this new show, we have a stronger idea of how to turn this into a, hopefully, a classic so that we can do many more of these. We now understand the style and we’re far more comfortable with it, we know what works, so let’s see what else we can do.”

If you’d like to experience history’s weirdest mysteries like never before, don’t miss “Mysterian’s Mysterious Mysteries: The Fox Sisters,” along with revivals of “Jack the Ripper” and “Roswell”! And if you want even more Mysterian, check out a double feature - click here to see all ticketing options.


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