Boozy Bard brings drunk dramas to Best Place
Jeremy Eineichner's drama teacher at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis introduced him to Shakespeare.
"He realized I had acting talent and thought I would do well in a Shakespeare performance, so he handed me 'MacBeth' and said, 'Read this,'" he says.
Eineichner says his first thought was that Shakespeare was boring, but his drama teacher assured him otherwise.
"He told me there was 'nothing but sex and violence in it' and so I read it, and was like, 'Holy sh-t, there is nothing but sex and violence in this," says Eineichner. "Then he handed me 'As You Like It' and he said, 'this will get you laid.' And that was it. I was hooked on Shakespeare."
Last year, Eineichner started a theater group called Boozy Bard Productions, an ever-changing collection of actors who get together monthly to perform a Shakespeare play at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, 901 W. Juneau Ave.
"We're doing Shakespeare the way it was meant to be done: Drunken and vastly unprepared," says Eineichner.
The actors arrive right before the performance, aware of the play's title but unknowing of their character. They pick their role for the night from a hat, on stage, and have just a few minutes to get into costume and prepare for the part.
"Ninety-nine out of 100 times we don't care about gender – men play women, women play men," says Eineichner.
The next show, however, will be "As You Like It," and for this performance only, Eineichner says they will "gender lock" the main roles to avoid confusion because cross dressing is already an integral theme of the play.
"As You Like It" will be performed at Best Place Aug. 10, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $10, but cross dressers will receive a $5 discount.
Most of the events take place in Blue Ribbon Hall, but if the weather is agreeable, the performance will take place in the courtyard. During past performances, if the audience was too large, the show was moved to the Great Hall upstairs.
"When we performed in the Great Hall, we used Capt. Frederick Pabst's former office as a changing room," he says. "That was fun."
Best Place is a good fit for Boozy Bard shows for a variety of reasons, including the fact they serve many different micro and macro beers.
"Libations are a large part of the gig," says Eineichner.
Hence, it's not uncommon for the audience – as well as the actors – to get "spongy" (as Shakespeare wrote in "MacBeth").
"We're trying to perform the way Shakespeare's shows were originally performed to the common people: in taverns," says Eineichner. "Those audience members back then had been drinking all night and they would yell at the performers and the performers would yell back. We encourage that, too."
Eineichner has three associate producers: Joanna Dankle, Josh Bryan and Amanda Marquardt, who was the inspiration for the creation of the Boozy Bard.
"Amanda mentioned to me once that, when living in L.A., she would have parties where a whole bunch of actors would come over and draw roles from hats and perform just for sh-ts and giggles," he says. "And I thought, 'Hm. I could make a show from that.'"
According to Eineichner, the popularity of Boozy Bard productions has to do, in part, with the timelessness of Shakespeare's writing.
"The language is dated, but thematically and story-wise, the same things motivate characters in the plays that motivate us today," says Eineichner. "We've all felt unrequited love or pangs of jealousy when we see someone succeed and think success should be ours."
Eineichner has a history in many forms of performance besides Shakespeare and "serious" acting. He's also done sketch comedy, stand up, burlesque and is a frequent guest of the Dead Man's Carnival.
He played The Snowman (the narrator / lead) in Alchemist Theater's "Rudolph the Pissed-Off Reindeer."
"You name it, I've done it," he says.
The Boozy Bard productions, including the upcoming "As You Like It," are about an hour and a half and the scripts are edited-down versions of the original texts. For the first performance, however, the group did the entire play – and it took four hours.
"We decided after that we were never doing that again," says Eineichner. "Half the actors couldn't stand by the end of it."
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