Upon returning from vacation this week, Acorn Productions producing director Michael Levine learned that Naked Shakespeare is imperiled due to a city ordinance prohibiting any bar from having an entertainment license if another establishment within 100 feet has one. The rule, passed three years ago in an attempt to dampen rowdy Old Port drunkeness, doesn't really make sense as applied to Naked Shakespeare -- a troupe of actors that's performed barebones Shakespearian works without costumes or props at the Wine Bar for several years.
"Common sense will tell you that this isn't that kind of crowd," Levine says, comparing the 15-50 people who come out on the first Monday of every month to watch informal Shakespeare to the hordes of wasted fools who tromp through the streets later in the week and on weekends.
Apparently, Levine has already been contacted by Brian Boru, which offered up its space for the performances that take place during fall, winter, and spring months. Levine also mentioned moving the whole event to Westbrook, where Acorn has hung its hat over the last few years and just opened a small studio theater. But ultimately, Levine and the rest of the group would like to continue their relationship with the Wine Bar, where "we're used to it, our audience is used to it, and we just enjoy it."
To do so, the city would have to modify the zoning rule and allow an exception in this case. The matter is being referred to committee.
The 2009-2010 Naked Shakespeare season is scheduled to begin in October. At that point, "we'll be doing sonnets and soliloquies somewhere," Levine says. "Will it be at the Wine Bar? I'm not certain."