What’s Upstairs?

I’m really excited. And nervous as the gingerbread man at a weight-watchers meeting.

Smack bang in town, where the cafés and clubs of Long Street meet the soaring office blocks, is Alexander Bar. It’s a two story building in that particular old school Cape Town style; you know what I mean – the kind that could hold an airy design studio or a dingy rock club. It’s seated on the corner of Strand and Loop, coolly sipping a martini on the deck as the city rolls by.

It’s Nicholas Spagnoletti and Edward van Kuik’s bar and they’ve created a sophisticated and funky space filled with old-world charm; serving good wine, classic martinis, whiskies, and classic café fare. The bar is filled with playful touches from the décor through to the games available.

The bar opened in 2011 and is now expanding, and there’s nowhere to go but up.

So what’s Upstairs?

Nick and Ed have recruited me as their theatre hustler to manage their new project, Alexander Upstairs. It’s an intimate and simple space. The playing area 3m deep and 5m wide with a 2.8m ceiling. We’re installing 40 raked seats, black surrounds, a projector and screen, lighting and a sound system.

I’m nervous because I’m in charge of a lot of things, I’m nervous because I’ve given my time and love to running a theatre before. I’m excited because I’m working with genuinely awesome people who are really passionate. OK, I know I just dropped two of the most overused adjectives in there, but I really mean it and couldn’t find my thesaurus. Like the whole bar, Nick and Ed bring energy and love of details to the space. Little things that other people gloss over are taken care of instantly. It’s beautiful.

I’ve put together the first two and half weeks of programming and I’m working on the press releases and material to publicise it. We’re launching next month with a party on the 19th October

One of the most interesting things is that we’re not going to run the venue like a traditional theatre. We’re going for a versatile programming model, scheduling performances in up to three slots per day and avoiding  long runs of shows. This means one off performances and recurring weekly and monthly events. For instance we’ve got Brydon Bolton curating a weekly Tuesday night Jazz session and Stuart Lightbody doing a monthly magic show. The space will be perfect for music, stand up, revues, comedy, readings, storytelling, screenings, book launches, nude beat poetry and a bunch of things that haven’t occurred to me yet. If something popped into your head as soon as you started reading this then you should get in touch with me.

upstairs@alexanderbar.co.za

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About Jon Keevy

Jon Keevy is a writer of stories and plays and also runs Alexander Bar's Upstairs Theatre.
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