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Shakespeare at the Bar July 15, 2015

Posted by Alex Sawit in Happenings at the Shop.


“Shakespeare at the Bar: Wine and Poetry Night at Cyrano”

Guest post written by Claire Alcoba Miranda

July 15, 2015



Here’s the top half of the event poster emailed last week.



   Poetry and wine make a glorious combination, especially when monsoon rains bring on cabin fever. So on the first mild evening in days, playful souls looking for fun ventured out, taking advantage of the break in the rain (and of the light weekend traffic), to join others of their kind. A gathering of former-strangers-suddenly-friends happily sampled the first Shakespeare at the Bar, hosted by Cyrano Wine Shop last Saturday, July 11.

   Dubbing themselves “The Drunk Poets Society”, their rules were simple:

    – Read aloud a favorite Shakespeare sonnet or play excerpt.
    – Most important of all, no previous experience required.
    – If you came empty-handed, there was Google.
    – Drink some wine.
    – Repeat as you like.

   Think of it as karaoke but with spoken dialogue instead: the words are all provided and you just add your game face.

   None of us were real poets, but who doesn’t love a drinking game? Here was an evening where Shakespeare was fun, easy, and accessible. There was no pressure to do heavy mental lifting except to discover a new favorite Shakespearean line, and make new connections with fellow enthusiasts of either wine or poetry. Or a combination of the two.

   Sam Alapan, a lecturer at MINT College, read from King Lear. Kate Marshall, a Red Cross worker, picked a sonnet. There was a communications professional, an anthropologist, a writer…even a girlfriend-boyfriend pair of baristas from the café next door, just passing through at the end of their night shift but who stopped for a turn at the mic. Readings ranged from the well-loved Sonnet 18 and Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” to the less well-known yet surprisingly beautiful words of Caliban from The Tempest (“The isle is full of noises…”).


Kate soothes us with her sonnet.


Sam flies with it like a Lear jet.


“Hmm…should we really kill ALL the lawyers? Is there a downside?”


We should’ve told the barista love birds to read from Romeo and Juliet.


   After the first set, during which each volunteer got a turn at the mic, the conversation became an energetic discussion of memories of high school English classes, and of the practice of culture in general. There was a lot of laughter, especially when, after glasses had been refilled and a cheese plate appeared, someone asked whether the sonnets have been translated into Filipino. They have. Shakespeare in the vernacular resonates with something universal: the ache of love and the way beauty captivates us all. The Tagalog versions elicited audible swoons all around, like from Sonnet 18: “Dapat ka bang ihambing sa arawan?” (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”).

   The second set was a spontaneous combination of sonnets in English alongside whatever Filipino translations we could find, including dubious ones procured from Google Translate. As the wine flowed, spirits grew bolder and the applause more generous (Cyrano also offers, quite fittingly, what it calls a “Hangover Menu”, consisting of very reasonably priced sobas and ramen; a must try is their roast beef soba).

   One would think that Shakespeare belongs only in the classroom. But here was something fun yet cultural and open to all, a chance to try something new and to find much in common with friendly strangers.

   The Drunk Poets Society. It was so much fun, we plan to do it again. Actually, Camille Basa had an excellent suggestion: read famous love letters next time?







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