Joe’s NYC Bar is an interactive, improvisational, immersive theatre experience in which the audience is transported to a bar in Brooklyn.
See the show or be the show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August. #JOESNYCBAR
Just the Tonic at The Caves (Venue 88) 22:00 Aug 5-14, 16-28
What was the inspiration for this performance?
Joe’s NYC Bar was inspired by my time working as an actor at The Sterling Renaissance Festival in upstate NY. We built characters, relationships and scenarios and then got out in the lanes and improvised scenes while incorporating the patrons.
The audiences loved it and I was profoundly inspired by the potential of what else it could become. Interactive improvised theatre. I wanted to see if we could do the same thing with a dramatic bent to it, discussing current topics and issues as well as universal life experiences which we all go through.
How did you go about gathering the team for it?
I’ve been based in Orlando, Florida for the last 20 years and the talent pool down here is immense. I don’t think people have any idea. For Joe’s to be successful you need performers who are great character actors as well as excellent improvisers.
In addition they need to be able to read the audience and know who wants to interact and who wants to just be a fly on the wall. We have two waves of actors coming over from America and this ensemble is the core that has been engaged in the process of building the show into what it’s evolved into.
Most importantly we have a huge amount of trust in each other. We have to. No script. No net.
How did you become interested in making performance?
I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid and studied theatre in college so I’d be a better writer (and to meet girls). I realized this was the medium I wanted to work in. I love experiencing live performance. The genuine connection between performers and an audience is intoxicating.
Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
I think our rehearsal process is as unique as our show. We start with ensemble exercises that get the actors in sync with each other and then we craft characters and build relationships.
We play out scenario ideas but nothing is written in stone. We look at the themes we’ve been exploring as well as the state of the world we live in and see how we can incorporate those things. Because we are unscripted, we can be as topical and relevant as we want. The last building block for us is the audience.
They’re the x-factor and we spend time learning how to interact
and incorporate them.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
A true one of a kind performance, we want the experience to be both innovative and entertaining.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
We build a “safe-space” for the audience so they can speak if they are so inspired. If they just want to sit back and watch, that’s cool to. Nobody is going to put you on the spot. We also don’t want any audience members to feel left out. There will always be a character that agrees with your point of view and I think that’s important to keep an audience engaged and invested.
Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I think people have been sitting in pubs drinking, laughing, telling stories, and arguing their point of view since the dawn of man. I guess that might be the tradition, raising a pint and singing a song to the sorrows and joys of being alive.
what is gained by live musicians on stage?
As with any good NYC bar, there’s always live music at Joe’s. Music is an essential component of the show. It helps set the mood and move the audience. We’re putting together quite a line-up of Edinburgh and Fringe performers. I’m excited to hear what they’ll bring to the show.