Satisfy Your Thirst
Here’s my story about Thirst Theater from the latest issue of Twin Cities Statement.
Satisfy Your Thirst
Unique theater returns to Joe’s Garage
By Anna Pratt
Thirst Theater, a cross between dinner theater, improv and reality TV, incorporates real-life happenings at Joe’s Garage into its edgy dramas. The theater company, which showcases a handful of fast-paced skits on Monday nights now through March, debuted at Joe’s in 2006 under the direction of Chris Carlson, Tracey Maloney and Alan Berks, who are reputable local players. Later, the group did a stint at Jitters in Northeast Minneapolis, which has since closed. Now, after a two-year hiatus, Thirst has found its way back home to Joe’s, with the same formula, plus old and new faces.
Each play takes place literally in a bar/restaurant. There’s no designated stage or special lighting and sound effects. The barebones setup allows for the unexpected. For example, one night when two guys came to blows in the bar, the audience watched as a manager tried to intervene until he learned that it was part of the act.
Unlike more traditional theater, which goes through many different phases before the final product reaches the audience, Thirst is raw and immediate. The boundaries between actor, audience and playwright are blurred. Co-founder Chris Carlson explains, “An actor who might be feet away from you onstage at the Guthrie Theater ends up being 16 inches away from you at Joe’s.” He adds, “The drama comes out of the life of the bar.”
Plays, which deal with such universal themes as love, life and the pursuit of happiness, are written under tight deadlines, while the actors are given mere hours to rehearse. The results are lively, heartfelt, funny and everything in-between. Featured playwrights include Craig Wright, who was Emmy-nominated for the HBO miniseries Six Feet Under and is a writer and producer for the shows Lost and Brothers & Sisters, Tom Poole, Carson Kreitzer, Joseph Scrimshaw, and Allison Moore — plus other notables, according to information from the group. Actors, all of whom belong to Actors’ Equity, were still being cast as of press time.
Carlson hopes that Thirst inspires people to engage on a deeper level with their environment, to view it as theater. “There’s something about seeing art in life. We want to celebrate life and drama and everything about the social gathering that is a bar,” he says — which just goes to show that there’s no reason to thirst for theater in this part of town.
For reservations call Joe’s Garage at 612-904-1163 or check out thirsttheater.com.