News: "A Cocktail Party Social Experiment" Returns--with Distance


A Cocktail Party Social Experiment, 16 Dec. 2019. Photo courtesy Wil Petre & Team.

What: A Cocktail Party Social Experiment (w/ Distance)
Conceived, developed, and hosted by Wil Petre

When: Thursday nights:
June 11th, 2020
June 18th, 2020
June 25th, 2020
& Thursdays moving forward

Where: 8:30pm EST via Zoom

Estimated Run time: approximately 75 minutes – and after party

Wil Petre, an NYC-based cocktail guru, and a performer best known for his off-Broadway work (including Third Rail Projects’ The Grand Paradise) invites the audience to join A Cocktail Party Social Experiment (w/ Distance) – an unconventional hybrid of story slam, game night, and boozy voyeurism, playing Thursday evenings at 8:30pm EST via Zoom. The suggested ticket price is $18, and reservations can be made here.

Is it possible to have a meaningful conversation with a perfect stranger in our socially distanced and anxious world? This question has inspired the theater artist and storyteller Wil Petre to create A Cocktail Party Social Experiment (w/ Distance), an immersive evening of cocktails and storytelling. The project was developed over the past two years in tandem with A Cocktail Party Game, an actual game employing a deck of symbolic cards, containing a selection of drink recipes as well as conversation prompts, such as: “When was your moral compass off?” or: “What happens next?” The guests of this show are asked to turn off their cell phones for the duration of the event; some can participate in the game-play and others can just watch and listen – while party guests skip the small talk and get into the good stuff.

“I created A Cocktail Party Game and A Cocktail Party Social Experiment (w/ Distance) to give people permission and a formula to have a real conversation, all the while retraining their ears to listen,” says Petre, whose first-hand knowledge of how meaningful and healing a conversation can be comes from years of experience as an NYC bartender. “In a society where social media-dominated communication induces feelings of alienation and detachment, I am interested in creating intimate experiences that blur the line between performance and an intimate connection. It will also be deeply important in these formative first months of a pandemic to look at and speak to strangers with a remembered sense of curiosity, and not with suspicion,” he explains. A Cocktail Party Social Experiment (w/ Distance) is an online translation from a successful analog live event - A Cocktail Party Social Experiment - that was held monthly at Chelsea Music Hall until May 2020. (You can read our review of the pre-COVID in-person version here.)

Creator and host Wil Petre is a performer, director, and experience designer specializing in intimate performance in public spaces. He has been praised by The New York Times as “a supremely charming actor who finds every laugh in the script and many that aren’t.” Notable recent appearances include Third Rail Projects' 2016 show The Grand Paradise, of which he was an original cast member; Petre was also an original creative cast member of Queen of the Night, the 2015 Drama Desk recipient for Unique Theatrical Experience. He has worked and acted in theater in NYC, nationally, and internationally and works in film and TV. As a storyteller, Petre has told stories with The Moth, winning the first slam he participated in and appearing in many subsequent Moth StorySlams and GrandSlams, along with other open mic venues and festivals. He has also taught at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for almost a decade and is currently based out of Brooklyn, NY, where he operates a cocktail experience company Aqua Regia and its signature bar for one. He occasionally performs boylesque under the name Handsome Peter. 

A Cocktail Party Social Experiment (w/ Distance) will run weekly indefinitely. For details, visit the show's site.  

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