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Boozing With The Bard: How The Masses Find Common Ground With Shakespeare

From a theater company where audiences drink along with the actors to a book of cocktails inspired by his plays, alcohol has long been "a great provoker" in making the Bard's work more relatable.
A trio of illustrations from the cocktail book Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Ophelia, King Henry VIII and King Lear. Source: The Folger Shakespeare Library / James Monaco

It's not often that an actor is encouraged to toss back a real cocktail while on stage. But at the nightly performances of the off-Broadway play Drunk Shakespeare, having a drink — or five — is actually required.

The brainchild of producer Scott Griffin and director David Hudson, is akin to watching a live version of Comedy Central's "," only the audience is drinking along with the cast in real time — and sometimes even changing the direction of the performance. It's improv combined with classical theater, which Hudson says is built around the premise that the show's quasi-fictional company of actors, known as the Drunk Shakespeare Society, are "a group of professional drinkers with

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