I really enjoyed reading an article online last week by Guardian writer, Alexis Soloski, in which she laments the lack of good theatre bars in NY. She explains it by saying, ” In 1774, with war approaching (you English remember the one), Congress passed a resolution discouraging “exhibitions of shows, plays and other expensive diversions”. Nearly 150 years later, a rather larger House forbade the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors. Neither prohibition lasted very long – only a decade or so in each case – but perhaps a whiff of those puritan impulses still lingers.”
It seemed rather relevant to me with all the work we are doing with ‘ a Play, a Pie and a Pint’. Yup, just like NY, good theatre bars in Philadelphia are few and far between and I am afraid that unless your play is being served up in a theatre pub, you are probably going to have to make do with a weak cup of coffee and some peanut m and m’s before you enjoy your show. That post show discussion, drink in hand, will have to take place somewhere else (a few notable venues excepting).
And it’s not just the absence of good theatre bars – maybe we can also blame Congress for the expensive formality that now accompanies ‘quality theatre’. Whilst we do not extoll drunken theatre viewing (it’s not fair on anyone and besides, it will make you snore), but serving up a drink, alcoholic or otherwise, and something to eat with your theatre experience is a way of expanding the event, of savouring a shared experience. Look how well the pub theatres in London do this. Crucially, less formal does not mean low-quality, it just means the etiquette books have been rewritten.
With ‘a Play, a Pie and a Pint’ we are bringing the best playwrights and the best artists and directors to our own form of ‘brilliantly casual’ theatre, where, if you want a drink and something to eat, you can enjoy it whilst watching some amazing live theatre.