Summer is a welcome time when the weather is inviting and people are out looking for a good time. It’s also a time of year when actors are looking for innovative and fun opportunities to perform. For performers during the summer in Rhode Island, it’s all about the opportunity, not the pay. Unfortunately, for the size of the city there are very few performance venues.
Most actors are “hams.” No doubt about it, they love being in the spotlight. And in Providence, RI it seems there are almost more actors than there are residents. Perhaps it is the location of Providence – situated between Boston, MA and New York City. Luckily, an innovative art form called “Bar Plays” has sprung to life here. And as an added bonus, it not only serves to bring something extra to bar patrons (and more business to the bars), it benefits a charity as well.
Officially titled “Plays Set in Bars Placed in Bars”. The project is described as “a festival of plays, which, as the name states, are set in bars, inns, pubs, taverns, blind-pigs, honky-tonks, lounges, taps, or other dispensaries
of beer, wine, or spirits. Although in support of Perishable Theatre, this is an independent project. It is not produced by any theater, bar, or institution.”
Perishable Theatre is Rhode Island’s research & development theatre. Perishable runs a number of programs that help grow and encourage new artists and new art forms in the medium of performance. It also grows audience appreciation and openness in attending, accepting and enjoying these new works. The artists who work with Perishable are quite dedicated to it.
The talent behind the idea and producing all the plays is Words Progress Administration. This is a newly formed group of artists that share a commitment to advancing word based art. This is the first public event for the WPA. Its membership at this point consists entirely of the Bar Plays producing staff, who are: David Higgins, who has written for puppets and for humans the last two years. Amanda Weir who started out writing for puppets and switched to humans as well, James Celenza, who has been part of the Providence Playwrights Festival and active in staged readings, Adara Meyers who has been busy acting as a producer both for herself and others, including the Providence Playwrights Salon. Rounding out the group is Mathew Provost who has written for large and small screens and, of course, has a stage play in the fest.
The plays run short times and usually two to three run back to back in a night. Sometimes other art groups perform as a sort of “intermission” such as improv groups – like The Bit Players. There are over a dozen plays -some original by local playwrights who have written for a specific bar. A variety of venues are lined up and include Trinity Brew House, Red Fez, Everyman Bistro, The Wild Colonial, E&O Tap, Abe’s, AS220 and Nick-A-Nee’s.
The event series is already a big hit among performers and patrons alike. It seems destined to become a yearly event in the City of Providence, RI.