Denver’s BookBar Blends Literature and Theater [3]

BookBar [5] in Denver, Colorado, recently partnered with the Denver Center for Performing Arts [6] (DCPA) on a five-week micro theater run, Bite-Size [7], which featured performances focusing on or referencing a literary scene, book, or author and that took place in an intimate bookstore setting.

Julia Rada, Buba Basishvili, and Meghan Frank performing at BookBar. Courtesy of AdamVisCom.
Julia Rada, Buba Basishvili, and Meghan Frank performing at BookBar. Photo courtesy of AdamVisCom.

The idea was conceptualized by actress and director Meridith C. Grundei for DCPA’s Off-Center program. Over 200 playwrights responded to DCPA’s call for 15-minute plays this past January; a team of judges then selected 10 finalists, with five of those finalists chosen to have their plays performed concurrently in one of five different BookBar spaces. The performances ran from October 26 to November 18.

“This experience has been unique and transformative for DCPA, BookBar, and the community,” said BookBar owner Nicole Sullivan. “This project has brought new guests from all over metro Denver to another Denver neighborhood and, most importantly, to an independent bookstore.”

For the performances, BookBar closed to the public at 6:00 p.m. so theater staff could transform various bookstore rooms to small theater stages. Seven groups of 10-15 audience members rotated through each play, with bar breaks between sets where patrons could grab food and drinks and play Scrabble and magnetic poetry. 

“For DCPA, this has allowed more of their patrons to experience theater that is more intimate, immersive, and accessible while connecting with a smaller Denver community,” Sullivan added, noting that she is thrilled to have had the opportunity to work closely with theater staff, playwrights, and actors while also opening the bookstore up to other forms of art and community.

BookBar will publish the five winning plays as well as the plays by the five finalists as part of its first-ever BookBar imprint. A launch party for the books is in the works for next month. Watch Bookselling This Week for details.