On Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m., City Tap House will present “Shakespeare @ the Bar,” a $5 production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew by the Margo Jones Syndicate as part of the Philly Fringe Festival. The show is expected to last around two hours, and patrons will receive a complimentary craft beer of their choice.
Despite having spoken of and worked on the collaboration since May, the Margo Jones Syndicate will only be rehearsing the show once in the bar itself. The reasoning behind this minimal rehearsal process? “This is exactly how Shakespeare performed Shakespeare: He performed it in a bar to drunk people!” said Amanda Virigili, the marketing coordinator at City Tap House (Ed. note: You'll probably need to give them more than one free beer).
Forget the elegant and almost religious productions and crowds depicted in Shakespeare in Love (fantastic movie, but no). Shakespeare’s actors supposedly only got two rehearsals in which they briefly rehearsed the staging and dancing before facing the rowdy and drunk crowds of London, who would scream and laugh raucously, throwing rotten vegetables at the actors.
These productions of Shakespeare in bars aren’t uncommon in major cities around the US. In fact, Shakespeare in the Bar, a popular company in Dallas performing (you guessed it) Shakespeare in bars, just recently took an extended hiatus after seven productions. They themselves were inspired by a similar production in Chicago in 2014. Called a wide variation of Shakespeare @ the Bar (including Shakespeare at the Bar, Bard in the Bar, Bard at the Bar, etc.), these companies and ensembles perform Shakespeare in packed bars all over the world.
The Taming of the Shrew itself is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, and although it was believed to have been written sometime around 1590, it continues to be a beloved piece of literature all around the world. It inspired the classic teen film, 10 Things I Hate About You, with iconic performances from Heath Ledger (RIP), Julia Stiles (bae of our hearts), a baby Joseph Gordon Levitt and Alex Mack (Larisa Oleynik).
Regardless, this will be one of the first times a similar show is produced in Philly, and it is sure to be an interesting experience. With City Tap House’s wide variety of IPAs, porters, stouts, wheats and sours, you’ll have ample opportunity to enjoy Shakespeare as it was originally enjoyed. When we asked Virgili what to expect from this show, she told us to “expect the unexpected. We really don’t know what to expect either, but I think it’ll be a great time.”
Pro tip from Amanda: Are you not 21, but eager to watch this sure to be hilarious show (and all the drunk people there)? Anyone over 18 but under 21 (or not drinking) will be able to watch the show for free, since the $5 goes towards the craft beer.