National Theatre of Scotland performs in Back Bar

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David McKay, right, Alasdair Macrae and Annie Grace perform the play “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart” in Top of the Hill’s Back Bar.

The National Theatre of Scotland, which performed two years ago in Memorial Hall, is returning to UNC to open Carolina Performing Arts’ new season.

This time, however, they are performing one of their world-renowned plays in a bar.

“The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart,” a play written in verse by David Greig, follows the story of an uptight literature enthusiast who finds herself lost inside some of the mythical, devilish tales that she studies. It will be performed in Top of the Hill’s Back Bar.

The show, which is sold out, features live music, dancing and actors clambering over tables.

“They are renowned for taking theater out of traditional spaces and traditional venues,” said Marnie Karmelita, director of artist relations at CPA.

“And that is exactly what happened with this piece.”

Karmelita said one of the reasons CPA decided to feature the play in the 2012-13 season was that it requires a nontraditional venue.

“We were really attracted to the company, but this piece in particular — it’s just a really human piece,” she said.

Andy Clark, one of the actors in “Prudencia Hart,” has been performing the show internationally for nearly two years.

“A lot of people have come to see this show who have never seen theater before and been utterly transformed,” Clark said.

“I’ve talked to businessmen who have brought clients because they thought it would be an interesting thing to do and been blown away by it. I think a lot of people will come to see it,” he said.

Although the show sticks to a consistent script from venue to venue, certain aspects depend on the environment — including the audience.

“The illusion is that we’ve just pitched up here, and we’re telling this story,” said Wils Wilson, the show’s director.

“We try to keep up that sense that we’re just using whatever comes to hand, which is true to an extent,” she said.

At each location, the actors run through what they call a “place and call” before the show to determine exactly what kind of space they have to use.

“Oh, that gong has to be used at some point,” said Clark, referencing a gong that hangs over Top of the Hill’s bar.

The cast also relies heavily on the feeling and participation of audience members in the intimate setting.

“One of the joys of it is actually being so up close to the audience and watching their reactions, and them feeling like they are an important part of the proceedings,” said Annie Grace, one of the actors.

Wilson said that audiences should be prepared for a type of show that they’ve never seen before.

“You should just be open to it,” she said. “Be open to a new kind of experience.”

And the connection that the actors form with the audience continues even after the show is over.

“This is the only show I’ve ever been involved in where the audience actually comes up and hugs you as they’re leaving,” Grace said.

“They feel like they know you as characters and they followed the whole story. They’re filled with this warmth. And I suppose a wee bit of love, too.”

Contact the desk editor at arts@dailytarheel.com.

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