Pubbin’ with the Bard: SMU theatre alums put up Shakespeare in the Bar at a new coffee house in Dallas

“A man cannot make him laugh – but that’s no marvel; he drinks no wine,” says Falstaff in Shakespeare’s Henry IV part 2.

Bard, beer and brews? Who could ask for more from an evening?

Twelve actors will perform a “barely rehearsed” version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at The Wild Detectives tomorrow night.

The origins of the project begin with Dallas-area actress and SMU theatre alumna Katherine Bourne, who spent the summer in Chicago working with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. While she was in Chicago, she saw a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at The Back Room Shakespeare Project.

“Shakespeare in alternative spaces is not a new concept on the national scale, but Dallas certainly doesn’t have anything like Shakespeare in the Bar,” Bourne said.

Bourne met up with fellow SMU alumna and founder of the Davis Street Collective Alia Tavakolian and Artistic Associate and Dallas director Dylan Key to further discuss her idea of bringing this “Shakespeare in the Bar” concept to Dallas.

“I think we’re all responding to a desire, shared by many DFW theatre artists, to build new audiences for theatre in the metroplex,” Key said. “By producing this piece at Wild Detectives, we’re hoping to achieve that by meeting people on their own terms, audiences who otherwise may not frequent brick-and-mortar theater.”

The play is advertised as a chance for audiences to “get to know their inner groundling.” In Shakespeare’s time, a groundling was the poorest member of the audience who had probably just left work, so the cast and crew of Twelfth Night encourage the audience to yell and have a great time along with the actors.

The cast has had the script for three weeks and altogether has had a few rehearsals in preparation for this evening’s performance.

“There is little pressure here,” Tavakolian said. “We take the work seriously, yes, but we do our best to have loads of fun.”

“The hope is that this patched- together performance will bring out moments of clarity and great discovery between the actors,” Bourne said. “A long rehearsal setting is a great thing, but very often actors can use it as a crutch to avoid making “mistakes” or make any bold choices. We don’t have the time to be shy or proud in this situation. We just have to do it.”

Key agrees with Tavakolian, and has high hopes that this 85 minute Shakespeare comedy will attract those in Dallas that would not typically be drawn to the theatre.

What should audiences expect from the evening?

Tavakolian says, “A night filled with surprises, laughter, beer and the work of the Bard!”

Cheers and see you there, groundlings!

For more information about the show, visit the event page on Facebook.

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