Continuing their partnership with Fuller’s pubs, 2023 will see Open Bar Theatre tour Sense and Sensibility followed by two Shakespeare plays to pub gardens up and down the country, bringing classics back to the people. Updating the satire in the plays to suit modern day, and performing with a physical, high energy style and a dash of audience participation, Open Bar Theatre perform for today’s groundlings, those who want to sit back with a big glass of something cold and be entertained.
With an in-house casting process that focuses on inclusivity and representation, the shows’ casts include an often untapped mine of talented un-agented actors, performers who have not taken the traditional drama school route into the profession and actors from working class backgrounds. In contrast to pre-conceived notions of classical theatre casting, actors will perform outside of their ‘usual roles’, and the show’s cast is as varied as the audience, with past performers including Nathaniel Curtis as Romeo.
The first in their season is Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (10 May – 10 June). With a cast of four playing 17 characters (plus intervention from the audience), it follows the three Dashwood sisters as they suddenly lose their father, their home and financial security. Battling to establish themselves in the world and with a cheeky nod to the contradictions of 19th Century society, they fall madly in love, suffer heartbreak, and find themselves at the centre of plenty of gossip.
Next up is Twelfth Night (3 July – 24 August) with four actors, original songs, and a modern aesthetic. Audiences can expect tomfoolery, disguises and audience interaction as shipwrecked twins Viola and Sebastian negotiate tricky love triangles in the classic farce of mistaken identity.
And finally, in Romeo and Juliet (24 July – 15 September), Open Bar Theatre up the comedy and take out some of the dignity that the two houses are alike in, and take over Fullers’ bigger gardens. With original songs and Elizabethan costumes, young love, passion and sword fighting takes place across a two-storey rig.
Later in the year, the company will also be staging A Christmas Carol.
Co-Artistic Directors Nicky Diss and Vicky Gaskin said, “Bringing classic texts to life for an unconventional audience in unusual settings has always been our forte. Before we started making theatre for Fullers, we brought lively theatrical adaptations to libraries throughout London with our sister company Open Book Theatre. Just as we did with libraries, we found theatre and pub gardens is a perfect combination and in Fullers we have found a supportive and enthusiastic partner who see our productions as the cherry on the cake of their punter’s experience.”