Drinking and Writing Theater
Peanut butter and jelly. Sonny and Cher. The CTA Blue Line and safety issues. Some things were just meant to be together. The Drinking and Writing Theater hits the nail on the head with two actions that although don’t necessarily require each other, can play an influential and enhancing role in the experience of each.
Fair warning: this is not theater in the conventional sense. There is no plot or narrative structure, protagonists or antagonists to root for or against. The edition that I saw (Volume III: To Cure a Hangover) is presented more as a scientific lecture, with professors Steve Mosqueda and Sean Benjamin complete in white lab coats, clipboards and, of course, perpetually refilled beers. The troop has been kicking around Chicago as members of the Neo-Futurists for a while now where D&W first began in 2002. After the duo realized what they were doing was expanding beyond the scope of the Neo-Futurists, they began to look for their own space. Longtime companion, fellow radio show correspondent and all-around beer connoisseur Pete Crowley came to the rescue with the opening of his Haymarket Brewery and Pub in December 2010.
As for the show itself, John Coltrane and (ahem) the Cure set the mood and there are sporadic readings from many authors with a spotlight on John Cheever and Charles Bukowski. Audience participation ranges from trivia questions rewarded with drinks to being victimized by a simulated hangover. The show is all in good fun though, despite the fact that it’s based around the somewhat socially taboo concept of excessive alcohol consumption. But as Sean and Steve point out, abstinence is not a cure. And without giving too much away about the results, I’m going to recommend stocking up on chorizo and cabbage before the next time you plan on a night of heavy drinking.
Just as there is no one way to drink or write, there is no one way to stay up to date with the Drinking and Writing crew; their creativity doesn’t recognize restrictions of medium. You can check out videos on their site, including a poetically gloomy rant by a corkscrew. There is also an annual festival that includes guests from the local worlds of each verb in question. Last year’s event honored the late Mike Royko and self-proclaimed drinkers and writers could contribute to the “2 Drink Minimum Writing Contest.” The Beerfly Alleyfight (which took place at Rock Bottom last year) connects the dots between beer, food, and art. With performances around the country and the world, it’s needless to say these guys keep busy when off stage.
The current installation of the play is set to run through the first week of February. The future schedule is yet to be released, but the half-dozen volumes already written guarantee each month will bring something new to check out. Judging by the self-imposed experiments they conducted and the slurred and stuttered words throughout the performance, you know these guys are committed to their research.
See: At Haymarket Brewing (737 W. Randolph) every Saturday, 4PM, $15
Listen: Monthly radio show.
Participate: Classes coming soon.
Marvel: Steve and Sean’s Western Ave. Project.
Expect: Review on the Haymarket Brewery and Pub on this site in due time.