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Ten top tips for starting a pub theatre

Joan and Dan had taken on a helluva challenge – to run the first combined dinner and theatre venue in a foreign (though English-speaking) capital city with minimal resources.

The deal with the brewery was (so they told me) ‘buy X amount of booze for the bar and you can use the clapped- out back hospitality room for anything you like.’  And no support of any kind.

Running the bar was fine – Dan knew about that.

But getting bums on seats for a play and EATING AND DRINKING first…?

A big plus, I said to them, is that Mr Joyce comes to you with a scandal. The Dublin press has hyped it for you. Take a look at this…

And besides, it’s a fantastically good play… the best new text I’ve ever found (so far).

Dan was hooking up clapped out lanterns in the performance room. Joan and I cobbled together primitive press handouts.

Eating in your theatre seat was new to London. Sitting on with your drink while the actors fretted and strutted a hand’s reach away hadn’t happened for – centuries.

Before long, the packed houses for Mr Joyce gave Joan and Dan welcome cash to play with. In time, they came up with this tempting food offer.

Note the extreme eminence of the quoted reviewers – top of their game!

We were being showered with thanks and praise by happy customers for presenting such enjoyable stuff.   

There were queues at the box office (a table jammed near the entrance to the auditorium) and we sold out the first run.

The unsatisfied demand was so great, we took a chance and brought the show back. Hurriedly, we cobbled together a hand-bill.

Meanwhile, between the two runs, we filmed the production – not immaculate, but considering it was shot in two days… You can read about the movie elsewhere on this site.

We had no publicity agent, no press rep.

This was the level of outreach we/they could afford at the time.

We scattered the bumf round the bar and asked local shops to take flyers or hang a poster.

And there was welcome free puffery around the Dublin court case.

Felt like the start of… a major alternative to standard theatre fare… historic… long queues for tickets… Dan and Joan had taken a daring leap and landed on their feet.  Win-win.