For a different spin on Shakespeare, check out Shakespeare in the Pub performances around the DC area. These libation-friendly theatrical events are the brainchild of John Stange and Kelsey Meiklejohn, who approached The Limerick Pub in Wheaton several years ago about performing their favorites by the Bard while imbibing.
“A good half of the point is just actors blowing off steam,” Stange says. “Screwing around with the classics over beers is fun as it is. Doing it in public where we can make spectacles of ourselves? Catnip.”
The other half? Stange says Shakespeare in the Pub is a gateway drug to live theatre for people who think they hate live theatre, creating a truly visceral experience for audiences.
“The performance happens in and around the audience. The rustic characters and the sex jokes are front-and-center. We break the fourth wall and ad lib when something’s not working. Everyone’s liquored up and uninhibited.”
For Stange and his fellow producers, there’s a social barrier that they’re all about lowering “until it’s barely a tripping hazard.” Everyone in the group is active in DC’s small to medium-sized professional theatres, and Stange says anyone who has the chops to cold read classical text and is comfortable thinking on their feet “is welcome to the party.”
Shakespeare in the Pub performances run monthly at The Limerick and neighborhood bars The Pinch in Columbia Heights and Evening Star Café in Del Ray. Shows usually run about 90 minutes, and actors embrace an improvisational style that Stange says can be synonymously described as “drunken anarchy.”
“I use my family as a litmus test, most of whom don’t necessarily think of themselves as ‘theatre people’ or think they ‘get’ Shakespeare,” Stange says. “I want to trick those guys into having a good time. Get ‘em hooked, then maybe they discover some of the many companies in town doing brand new contemporary plays or the Women’s Voices Theater Festival or Capital Fringe.”
Check out a leather and rock n’ roll version of Much Ado (or Abrew) About Nothing with Nu Sass Production’s Angela Kay Pirko at the helm at The Limerick on November 16 or Grain of Sand Theatre’s Carl Brandt Long – with a penchant for weird mythology and ghost stories – directing Macbeth at Evening Star on December 7. Go towww.shakespeareinthe.pub to learn more about upcoming performances.