Brandon Potter, as Benedick, (facing) addresses Dylan Key, as Claudio, as they perform "Shakespeare in the Bar: Much Ado About Nothing", in which actors perform a "barely rehearsed," to a crowd at the Oak Cliff bar/coffeehouse The Wild Detectives on Monday, March 23 in Dallas.

Brandon Potter, as Benedick, (facing) addresses Dylan Key, as Claudio, as they perform "Shakespeare in the Bar: Much Ado About Nothing", in which actors perform a "barely rehearsed," to a crowd at the Oak Cliff bar/coffeehouse The Wild Detectives on Monday, March 23 in Dallas.

Smiley N. Pool/Staff Photographer

Nov. 16 update: 

Shakespeare in the Bar is back! Performances of The Tragedy of Richard III will be Dec. 7 at The Wild Detectives and Dec. 14 at Small Brew Pub. Both performances begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets for tare on sale for $7 each and you may purchase up to eight tickets per purchaser. The money goes toward Literacy Instruction for Texas. Tickets for the Dec. 7 performance are available here and for the Dec. 14 performance here

Tickets for both performances sold out in under 10 minutes. May the ticket gods be with you for the options below:

For those not able to snag tickets online, there will be 50 tickets available at the door of each show on a first-come-first-served basis. Those tickets will be made available at 5 p.m. the day of the performance.

The cast is also running a ticket raffle. To enter to win two tickets email shakespeareinthebar@gmail.com with your name and which performance date you would like to attend. There will be 13 sets of tickets raffled for each performance.

Original story: 

The line on Eighth Street in Bishop Arts stretched down the block. Whispers of a marriage, a death, a funeral and tacos passed from person to person like Telephone from the unassuming front door of Wild Detectives. 

The bar's backyard picnic tables were filled with patrons, drinks in hand, waiting for the show to begin. An actor stepped into the center of the gathered crowd and declared, "I present to you, a barely rehearsed Much Ado About Nothing!"

The show was the third barely rehearsed play presented by Shakespeare in the Bar, a mini-theater company comprised of local actors and actresses. Founded and produced by Katherine Bourne, Alia Tavakolian, graduates of Southern Methodist University, and Dylan Key, a University of Dallas grad,  Shakespeare in the Bar aims to bring the Bard's texts back to the people as they were intended. 

"A lot of the jokes were for the lower man in the crowd," Bourne said. "I think simply bringing it back to the atmosphere that it was written for, people catch on quicker. They resonate with the language quicker."

The inspiration for the group came out of Bourne's summer with the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago, where she learned about the value of not overplanning performances. She also saw Backroom Shakespeare, a company that performs the works of the Bard at bars after a single rehearsal for each show.

Upon returning to Dallas, she connected with Tavakolian and Key to begin planning how to make Shakespeare in the Bar a reality. The group found its home at Wild Detectives, where it has produced Twelfth Night, Love's Labour's Lost and Much Ado About Nothing.

Generally, Bourne, Tavakolian and Key select a play and reach out to actors they know and invite them to perform. Bourne said it is important that the actors are committed to memorizing lines and keep it relatively together performing while drinking, after all, the show must go on. 

Once the cast is picked, they gather to do a couple of read throughs, then hold one blocking rehearsal at Wild Detectives the day before the official performance. During performances actors often ad-lib to keep things going, but when someone does call for their line, the entire bar is asked to take a drink.

"I really think it is an actor's playground," Bourne said. "They want to do the work. They want to play with us."

For their fourth show, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bourne said the group is mixing up their formula by producing two shows. The first, a traditional Shakespeare in the Bar presentation at Wild Detectives on June 29, and then a second performance without any additional rehearsals in between the two will be put on at Community Beer Company on July 6.

"If we were going to do a second show, we had to make sure we maintained the under-rehearsed nature of it," Bourne said about the changes.

The two spaces are purposefully radically different to help continue the experimental and spontaneous nature that is part of the Shakespeare in the Bar charm. Bourne and Tavakolian said the actors are much more comfortable at Wild Detectives because they know the staff, the space and where the audience will gravitate toward. At Community Beer Company, however, everything will be new. 

"Its much more industrial, more found items, whereas the backyard feels like a magical garden," Bourne said. 

Brandon Potter, as Benedick,  kisses Katherine Bourne, as Beatrice, during a performance of "Much Ado About Nothing."

Brandon Potter, as Benedick, kisses Katherine Bourne, as Beatrice, during a performance of "Much Ado About Nothing."

Smiley N. Pool/Staff Photographer

Bourne, Tavakolian and Key said they are overwhelmed by the positive response to the performances. There are over 3,500 people confirmed on the Facebook event page for A Midsummer Night's Dream. To help ensure that both performances retain their intimate nature, the group has set up Eventbrite pages for the free tickets to both events. The Wild Detectives performance sold out almost as soon as the group announced the tickets. The Community Beer Company performance is waitlisted and the page  to add your name to the list is here

There will be a live-stream of the Wild Detectives performance on June 29 provided by Culture Nugget at this link for those who couldn't snag tickets.

Slow Food Dallas is sponsoring chef Melissa Wagner from Urban Acres to serve a forest bruschetta for the performance at Community Bear Company on July 6. Tickets for the food can be purchased on the Eventbrite.

The trio of producers begs that those planning on attending arrive early, both shows begin at 9 p.m. Audience members should also be prepared to stand for the show if seats run out. They also suggested buying your alcohol in bulk from the bar before taking your seats.

Other advice for audience members?

"I would ask that they throw all of their preconceived notions of Shakespeare out the window and just be open to whatever it is they see happening." Tavakolian said. "There's no splash zone."

Ricco Fajardo, who play Balthazar, blows kisses to the audience at the conclusion of a performance of "Much Ado About Nothing."

Ricco Fajardo, who play Balthazar, blows kisses to the audience at the conclusion of a performance of "Much Ado About Nothing."

Smiley N. Pool/Staff Photographer
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