In the days leading up to the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump, Joe’s NYC Bar; a social animation project building a global conversation about the world we live in, will open it’s doors in NYC for the first time in it’s 15 year existence.
Set in a New York City dive bar, it’s an interactive, immersive, improvised theatre happening where the audience is invited to join the conversation.
Originally conceived in 2001, the piece was spotted by international producing house Civil Disobedience during its sell out run at the Orlando Fringe. There, producer Barry Church-Woods encouraged the company to consider presenting the piece as part of the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world.
‘It was love at first sight’ jokes Barry. ‘I hadn’t really planned on seeing the piece, but met Christian Kelty, the shows creator the night before during a show in a public toilet that was getting a lot of traction’.
‘We got to chatting in the bar after and he told me about Joe’s NYC Bar – and then forced me to buy a ticket! It was worth every penny’.
Last August, with US producer Carla Stanton, Beckett Thomas Productions took the plunge and Joe’s NYC Bar enjoyed a month-long sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival.
There it garnered a string of great reviews and delighted audiences with its unique format mixing light-hearted banter with real-time chat about current affairs.
Throughout August, it consistently ranked in the top 20 of the best-reviewed shows of the festival, no mean feat in a festival of over 3400 shows.
It’s runaway success attracted a multitude of world-class musical guests including Michelle Shocked, Ali McGregor, Tomas Ford, Black Diamond Express, Baby Carla and DopeSickFly – all showing up to provide some tunes while adding to the debate.
Fundamental to the show’s success though, were the audience who brought with them their own chat and ideas about the state of the world we live in – and what better time and place to engage barflies than New York City on the verge of a Trump Presidency – and everyone is welcome, regardless of their politics.
Indeed freedom of speech, thought and opinion are central to all partners presenting Joe’s – and audiences are guaranteed that there will always be at least one character who’ll have your back if your ideas are less than conventional.
‘It’s a tricky balance to ensure that no one in the audience feels alienated’ stated Christian. ‘We are all in this together and whether we like it or not, we share more in common than not; even if we don’t personally agree with each other’s politics. That’s not to say that you won’t be called on your bad behavior or challenged should you be disrespectful while drinking at Joe’s’.
‘Thankfully it’s rare that we have to intervene with the show’ says Carla, ‘though in Scotland we did have a couple of near misses. The Edinburgh audience likes to drink and when a show is set in a bar, then it’s seen as carte blanche to overindulge. Add to that the fact that they’d just come through Brexit and there’s still a fairly vocal swelling on the ground for Scottish Independence – and the nights those factors collided became very impassioned’.
Generally the company is skilled in diffusing tempers and mediating conflict though they admit that the night a drunken audience member claimed to be working for ISIS was particularly challenging.
‘There are some things you don’t joke about when you’re in the middle of the biggest cultural gathering on the planet’ says Barry. ‘Thankfully, drunk people need to pee a lot – so when his time came, he found himself with his coat and phone as he tried to reenter the space.’
Of the New York City run of the show, Civil Disobedience couldn’t be more excited. ‘We’re dying to get into town and support this show – especially since on top of our existing relationship with Beckett Thomas, we’re partnering with PM2 Entertainment‘ says Barry. ‘We’ve been friends with Peter Michael Marino and fans of his work for years so when we decided to set up Civil Disobedience there was always an aspiration to partner with him on something.. we just didn’t realise at the time that it would come so soon – and with Peter’s brilliant standing in NYC already, we’re sure it’s going to be an incredible collaboration’.
If you are keen to hear more about this project, then please contact Barry Church-Woods; firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance to arrange a call.
Presented by Beckett Thomas Productions, Civil Disobedience Productions, PM2 Entertainment, and Ryan’s Daughter.
Featuring NYC performing artists Frank Cardillo, Walter Michael DeForest, Kelly Kinsella, Peter Michael Marino, Julia Register, David Rosenberg, Adam Sullivan.
WHAT: Joe’s NYC Bar
WHEN: 8:00 p.m. January 6-13 & 3:00 p.m. January 8 & 14
WHERE: Ryan’s Daughter, 350 E 85th St (off 1st Ave), New York, NY 10028
HOW MUCH: $25 (includes ticket service charges)
MORE INFO: www.joesnycbar.com