Meet Co-Founder of Seven Stages Dan Beaulieu

Dan Beaulieu is the co-founder and artistic director of Seven Stages, a merry band of players dedicated to bringing Shakespeare out of the mists of the past into the midst of common spaces in our modern world. They hold performances anywhere they can, but the most popular are staged at local bars under the title “ShakesBEERience,” where regular folks are encouraged to leave their tables, grab a script and assume a character alongside seasoned actors. So, Seven Stages invites you to head for your favorite watering hole wearing nothing but hose and cotehardie, because “Ale the world’s a stage.” And always remember, “Two beers or not two beers; that is the question.”

Sharp Face No Tree Working1 3038 1 Copy

Photo by David Mendelsohn

  • Seven Stages strives to buck the idea of being defined by any one thing. The goal is to create programming that speaks to people of every age, race and creed.
  • ShakesBEERience was a flagship program to share our approach to Shakespeare — which I think of as “passionate irreverence” — in a setting that lowers inhibitions.
  • Portsmouth is to Seven Stages as London was to Shakespeare, which is simply to say, it’s the place we do the bulk of our work.
  • It was born in the well-worn wooden cultural oasis known as the Press Room, taken in lovingly by Book & Bar while the old digs got a renovation, and is back in residence at The Press Room.
  • We’ve created programming in Brooklyn, in the Bay Area of California and all around the world, thanks to the wonders of Zoom and an international ensemble.
  • Everything we do is free for all, or pay-what-you-will — we strive to break down fiscal barriers between our audience and these stories.
  • The series has been sponsored since its early days by the amazing team at Throwback Brewery, who take a very similar approach to crafting their beer as we do to Shakespeare: passion, creativity and a willingness to play.
  • There’s a level of intimidation and austerity associated with Shakespeare that just isn’t what this guy was about.
  • I think he’d have been a big fan of the 2004 Red Sox, who played loose and without regard for “The Curse” — exactly the kind of attitude needed to break the curse. I think he’d respect “Live Free or Die,” not as a neat motto, but as a direct command.
  • We don’t try to recreate Shakespeare. We seek to emulate his ethos and approach to the classical texts he was playing with in a modern, exciting and accessible way.
  • We’re looking at bringing “Titus Andronicus” to life on ice. I grew up playing hockey and have always been fascinated by the violence that is thrust up against the beauty and grace of the game. “Titus” shares a lot of that as well.
  • My favorite play is “Twelfth Night, or What You Will.” It’s dope. “Hamlet” isn’t bad either.
William Shakespeare 1536x922

Visit for play dates and more info.

In Shakespeare’s time, water was unhealthy, so alcoholic drinks were basic hydration, says Richard Ross, writing for The Drinks Business magazine: “Each of Shakespeare’s 38 plays has at least one mention of alcoholic drinks, so they’re deeply embedded in his writings.” Ross notes that drinks were indicators of social position. Ale was a peasant drink that was popular with the Bard. Wines were imported, thus expensive, so William caught a vicarious buzz by having his more princely characters guzzle them.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Thanks to the award-winning Erika Cook for playing Portia in this scene from “Merchant of Venice.” Thanks also to Gay Bean and Heather Vitale of the Community Players of Concord for wardrobe and assistance, and to David Pelletier of Rye for the location. Finally, thanks to Jeanne McCartin for the idea for this installment of “Transcript.”

Categories: Q&A