New York Bars Hosting Theatrical Shows in Which Actors Mingle with Patrons

New York Bars Hosting Theatrical Shows in Which Actors Mingle with Patrons
Arts & Culture

With the success of 'Sleep No More,' several other interactive productions have popped up around New York City

Tiffany Nesbit
  • 30 july 2014

When the most recent version of ‘Sleep No More’ opened its doors in New York City in 2011, people expected good things. After all, it was an expansion upon the 2003 and 2009 versions- both of which were well received. The production not only managed to draw in big crowds, but also won the 2011 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, in addition to special citations at the 2011 Obie awards for choreography and design. At the time, there were little interactive shows of comparison, but the success of ‘Sleep No More’ has lead some some New York bars to try their hands at hosting additional interactive theater experiences.

Play/Date‘ is a series of 25 one act plays performed back to back over the course of two hours at Fat Baby, a bar located on the Lower East Side. LED spotlights, a high-tech sound system, and microphones worthy of Broadway shows all assist the cast of 18 as they traverse the bar’s three levels for the performance. Also on the Lower East Side is ‘Clown Bar,’ a comedic show which takes place at The Box where the entire cast is dressed as clowns. Also of note is ‘Drunk Shakespeare,’ which is produced out of Quinn’s Bar and Grill in Hell’s Kitchen. In this show, actors are encouraged to drink as they perform a series of skits and challenges loosely based off of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth,’ making the experience part-scripted show and part-improv.


Though the plots of all the shows are very different, one thing that all of them have in common is how the actors interact with the audience. Because every audience is different, every performance becomes truly unique, making the shows something people can return to time and time again. These kinds of shows initially began taking place in bars to draw in a crowd after happy hours have ended, but bars also save the production companies a lot of money in terms of rental space. Most importantly, bars are places people tend to loosen up, making them more likely to cooperate with the actors and be one with the show.

All of these interactive shows are running for a limited time, but ‘Sleep No More’ did initially as well. If successful, it’s quite possible that these shows could not only become permanent productions, but more shows like them could pop up. ‘Play/ Date‘ takes place Sunday-Wednesday nights at 8pm with $30 ticket prices; the show being available until August 13th. ‘Clown Bar‘ takes place Saturday evening at 7:30pm with tickets beginning at $30 and the show continuing through August 23. Tickets to ‘Drunk Shakespeare‘ are $33, with performances happening at various times through mid- October.

[h/t] The New York Times

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