This morning, KERA's Jerome Weeks commented on my Facebook check-in at Shakespeare in the Bar last night with a link to a New Yorker article about Drunk Shakespeare, pointing out that New York did it first. I squinted at the screen, rubbed my aching head and thought, damn it, it's only Tuesday.
Sure, it's not technically a new thing. But when was the last time you were hungover after a night of Shakespeare? In spite of the ubiquitous high school English teacher assuring all of her students that The Globe theater was a rowdy, crowded place where the audience talked during the performance, threw garbage at the performers and drank to their heart's delight, very few American experiences with the Bard see this sort of revelry.
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Even the casual, often dumbed-down Shakespeare in the Park productions are watched in sober silence (unless you've learned to plan ahead with numerous bottles of wine, like this woman). Last night, on the patio of Wild Detectives, something wonderful happened when a group of actors staged the first Dallas version (in recent memory) of Shakespeare in the Bar.
These actors - many of whom you're likely to see on local stages - dodged through the picnic tables and shouted their lines over the steady hum of roughly 100 people, drinking beer and snickering at the occasional inappropriate Shakespearean joke. They inserted contemporary asides here and there, broke character to shout line (take a shot!), and as the audience grew drunker, so, it seemed, did they.
The appropriate word to describe the evening, I think, would be mirthful. The actors were having fun, and so suddenly, was the audience. You could see why these plays, particularly Twelfth Night, remained relevant. There were lines so funny they made you snort. By Jove, Shakespeare would've been proud.
Next time Shakespeare in the Bar happens, drag yourself off your couch, grab a brewski and prepare to laugh. No, you can't throw tomatoes.