The Experience: Being in a fairytale isn’t as easy as it looks–but don’t take that from me. Try it for yourself.
Once Upon a Bar invites participants to stumble into an inner city bar–a sanctuary of poor decision-making for adults across the world. Note: this is not for children. One-by-one, characters from childhood fairytales drift into the bar and begin drinking away their woes, engaging bar-goers in their tales. And as our favorite storybook characters get increasingly drunk, incomprehensible, and unable to fulfill their duties, it becomes the participants’ jobs to play “hero” and piece together the story before “happily ever after” becomes unattainable.
Desirability: Think along the lines of drunk fairy Godmother in cougar mode. This experience presents childhood fairytales with R-rated twists. Audience members grow close with the characters who tell their tales from their own points of view, respite with drunken complaining, oftentimes parodying the original version of the tale and the fairytale tradition in general. The weird guy at that one bar who tells everyone who comes in his story? The fairytale characters take on that role in Once Upon a Bar.
Exclusivity will be cultivated in the sense that three fairytales may be progressing in the bar at any given point, giving participants the freedom to seek out different characters from different tales, hidden in different corners of the bar. Participants may choose which storylines to get involved with, and storylines may begin to intertwine.
Dual desires: There’s a reason we call them “storybook weddings:” they seem to harness all the raw romanticism that we only usually find in fairytales. And yet, society always grounds us with a harsh wake-up call. Charles and Diana didn’t in fact end with, “And they lived happily ever after…”
While we enjoyed the idealism of fairytales as children, we as adults often become disheartened at the notion that life doesn’t seem to produce “storybook” endings. Where are the knights in shining armor? Where are the fairy godmothers? Where are the Prince Charmings? We wanted to turn the fairytale on its end and display storybook characters as humans who do make mistakes–a Snow White who passes out from one-too-many appletinis; Prince Charming as a grade-A, uh, douchebag; a fairy Godmother who’s exhausted from giving so much goodness all the time and receiving nothing in return. While individuals desire to experience the fantastical fairytales they adored as children, we think Once Upon a Bar can capture and fulfill a second desire–a desire to interact with childhood heroes (and villains) at their most vulnerable, wasted, confused, lost, and in need of help. If we can watch and interact with our heroes as they make mistakes, we can better realize that any person can be a hero.
Breaking the 4th Wall: The audience becomes a part of the story by socializing with the characters of the play. The story occurs not only around the audience, but also incorporates the audience as characters as storybook characters become incapable of fulfilling their responsibilities..
Challenge: The audience can influence decisions within the plot by interacting with the actors and actresses. As the characters get progressively drunker, some roles may need to be fulfilled by audience members. For example, Cinderella’s fairy Godmother might not be sober enough to transform Cinderella into a princess in time for her ball; audience members will receive magic spell-instruction from a drunk fairy to help out Cinderella!
Cost plan: During the first stages, we expect to function as a kind of traveling performance group, that uses bars as performance venues. This way, we will not have to secure a location and a liquor license. If successful, the next step would be to buy a space in a cheaper district of a mid-size city like Boston or Detroit.
Example program: “Snow White and the 7 Drunks”
Enter the building, and take a seat at the bar or a table. Listen to the evil queen complain about her basic-bitch beauty problems, and listen to the mirror talk sass to the actors and the audience members alike.
Enter Huntsman, who runs in breathless, in search of Snow White. After he struggles to find her and kill her, he joins the audience members in the tavern and drinks away his woes.
Watch Snow White’s relationship with the dwarves develop, as they get drunk together.
Everyone knows the evil queen is up to no good, but no one catches her roofie-ing Snow White’s appletini. Snow White gladly takes the drink, and passes out.
Enter a bro-y Prince Charming, with his posse of posers.
The night after a drunken hook-up, Snow White and Prince Charming are set to get married! Given the nature of this Vegas-style wedding, an audience member may have to volunteer to be the officiant of this last-minute wedding.