On August 4, the Seattle Immersive Theater (SIT) sent out a promotional email about their next show: Serial Killer Speed Dating—a production from LA's Abel Horwitz—was to take place at Capitol Hill's Liberty Lounge on August 19 and 20. “We’re dying to see you there” read the email, promising speed dating with a twist.
Unlike a typical theater performance, this one seemed particularly dedicated to its dating game premise. Attendees had to register for one of three events: There were two options for male/female pairings and one for “gay,” which turned out to be for gay men only. A second “gay” edition, this one for women, was “coming soon.” The performance would seat participants with a potential soul mate for five minutes at a time. It was unclear how many participants would actually be actors, how many would be spectators, and how many would be spectators open to a potential romantic spark, but if you correctly identified the “serial killer” from your brief dates, you could win a prize.
But, abruptly, the show was canceled. Tweets about the event were deleted, all mention of the event has been scrubbed from Seattle Immersive Theater’s Facebook page, and the ticket link is now defunct. (Seattle Immersive Theater’s website is also currently down, although SIT says it it being reworked and will be up again soon.)
Perhaps the show was doomed from the start. After its announcement, it drew criticism for being tone-deaf to violence against women. “In this day and age where women are being more vocal about rape culture and the abuses they suffer at the hands of men, making everyday survival into a fun little game is irresponsible,” said Maggie McMuffin, a local performer. “Yes, humanity sucks and the world is hard, but if there’s no hope or catharsis in your art then you’re not making a statement about it, you’re just surrendering to it. Art should lift people up, transport them. Give them the fire to fight.”
Bold Type Tickets has confirmed the cancellation of all three events, as has Abel Horwitz, the creator of the show. “SKSD is my event,” he wrote in an email, “but the logistics, marketing, and booking was through Seattle Immersive.” When I reached out to SIT, they said not enough men signed up. “Out of all the tickets sold, only 1 male ticket was purchased,” a representative told me. “We have no idea why the guys didn't sign up.”
One idea: men don’t want to go on dates with serial killers. Not that women do, but the stats on intimate partner violence mean the situation is a bit less hypothetical. As one woman wrote in a discussion of the event on Facebook, “Isn’t trying to guess which person might murder you just, like, regular dating?”
Serial Killer Speed Dating offered a possibility of exploring fear, however real, in a controlled environment. McMuffin thinks the event’s quiet cancellation is its own kind of misogyny, since it capitalized on the true-crime trend and then ignored those who actually wanted to participate: “You basically canceled a show because dudes didn’t want to see it," she said.