After seeing their 2020 spring performance canceled due to Covid-19, Kaitlin Chin, owner of Cirque du Nuit, wanted to create something for the Covid world, she said, but “was not interested in passive performances.” The show Thickett emerged using Zoom meetings and the chat platform Topia to create a fairy tale world where players can explore and solve puzzles.
Foxes, rabbits, and ravens, oh my
The basic premise is that Thickett is a corporation where participants are employees in one of three departments: the Department of Confidence (Foxes), the Department of Relationships (Rabbits), and the Department of Knowing (Ravens). Each quest is different and each department has its own mission, such as correcting a corrupted fairy tale. It’s about “how we make [stories], how they change,” Chin says.
Each quest starts in Zoom and transfers to the world of Topia. In this world, players can wander, exploring caves, finding objects that play short videos, and meeting other people. When players are near others, their video feed will pop up and they can talk together. People are encouraged to dress up for Thickett since they are visible on the platform.
Not just another Zoom performance
The nonplayer characters are Cirque du Nuit performers who take on different roles, such as Death, the Barkeeper, and the Sugar Plum Fairy, in the Topia universe, where they give players riddles and tasks, like creating tiny performances themselves.
Chin explains that they wanted people to connect in a way that went beyond the ubiquitous Zoom meeting and use their brains to solve riddles and break codes. There’s even a meta-story to Thickett, elements of which are revealed with each quest.
Chin has been impressed with the creativity of the players who have developed their own unusual solutions to problems, calling them “sassy.” Depending on how the players finish their quests, each completed story enters the Book of Turns, changing the world of Thickett. While they plan for three seasons of Thickett, it may change depending on what happens with the Book of Turns, Chin said.
However, while people may be intimidated since season two is about to start, new players can come at any time and enjoy, explains Myriam Bloom, art director and puzzle designer. People can come for one-off quests or come for several.
Thickett presents an opportunity for exploration and interaction, much needed in these claustrophobic times of the pandemic.
What, When, Where, and Accessibility
Thickett is created, performed, and produced by Cirque du Nuit. Various weekends starting Friday, April 9, through July 24, streamed online via Zoom and digital platform Topia. A single quest is $22.50.
Image Description: Three crests for the three 'departments' is centered, slightly transparent, against a wooded backdrop. There is a crest with a fox, a rabbit, and a raven. The text, "Whose tale will you tell?" is at the bottom of the image, placed against a wall (which might be made of stone) covered in green leaves.