Theatre company Open Bar perform plays in the gardens of pubs around London and the south of England. Pubs, as the natural hubs of our communities, are the perfect setting in which to recapture the raucous, accessible and inherently social spirit of a Shakespearean troupe performance.
In a unique partnership, the company is fully supported by Fuller’s who invest as full executive producers of the tours. In the current environment where performing artists are desperately struggling to find a way to make performances financially viable, Open Bar and Fuller’s have developed a relationship in which the theatre company are not reliant on ticket sales in order to perform their shows. The benefit for Fuller’s is the added value of being able to offer fresh food, including gourmet bar snacks and bespoke pre-performance pub menus alongside their selection of beers, wines and spirits – and to reach out to new customers.
2020 was such a rollercoaster, and nowhere has that been felt more keenly than in the pub and restaurant trade, and in the performing arts. Fuller’s is in a position to invest in high quality performances and essentially act like an executive producer. The company pays for the package of everything from writing the script to casting, to production, to transportation. But it’s far from an altruistic venture – it’s an investment. We host the performances in our pub gardens and Fuller’s takes the ticket sales and any food and drink sales. We wanted to put in every effort to showcase the amazing work Open Bar does and provide our customers with an amazing experience. We really hope other brands consider following in our footsteps, as it’s genuinely a win-win situation.” FULLER’S BRAND MANAGER MICHAEL TREVENA
“We’re used to making innovative theatre in unusual spaces, – our shows are designed to work with the elements and surroundings, not against them. As the audience gets more enthusiastic (and often drunk, we are in a pub garden after all) we use it to our advantage. We feed off their energy. They don’t have to understand every word but it’s important that we take them with us – that they leave humming the tunes and still laughing at the gags. With Fuller’s, we are in the extraordinary position of being able to produce full-scale professional shows regardless of COVID-19 capacity restrictions, maintaining high production values, employing artists and dreaming bigger and better.” NICKY DISS & VICKY GASKIN – OPEN BAR THEATRE
After last year, we all need a “Summer of Love”, and the two plays Open Bar are bringing to the stage are full of comedy, romance and adventure. Open Bar also compose original songs so that those less familiar with Shakespeare can easily follow the plot – because Open Bar perform for everyone – reconnecting to the travelling-troubadour-outdoor-everyman essence of an original Shakespeare performance.
Love’s Labour’s Lost (12th July to 18th August)
Four men decide to lock themselves away from all human connection (imagine!) to study and improve themselves, – but they soon find that it really isn’t as simple as that, especially when the Princess of France and her three beautiful friends are coming to stay.
Four couples separated by an oath, a “fantastical Spaniard” longing for a forbidden love, misplaced letters, a ridiculous play-within-a-play, a chorus of ukuleles, lightning-fast costume changes and drinks at your fingertips all make for a riotous Shakespeare comedy. Four actors will play all seventeen characters in this mischievous, and rather pertinent, love story.
As You Like It (26th July to 16th September)
Rosalind escapes her vicious uncle, dresses as a boy (because this is Shakespeare after all), grabs her cousin and heads for the forest. There she meets a group of shepherds, and the boy she loves who also happens to be on the run from her uncle.
Run away with Rosalind and Celia as the Forest of Arden quite literally lands in Fuller’s pub gardens this summer. It may look fresh out of Shakespeare’s day, but it’s as relevant as ever, with original songs to help audiences follow the plot and six actors leaping around an impressive two-storey set.