The Nest: Five things we know about that bar

The Nest

Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company’s ‘The Nest.’ Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

The Nest Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest is set in a 150-year-old bar. And while the bar itself may be an inanimate object, you can bet it is one of the most essential characters in the provocative new play set to open in its world premiere in the Space Theatre on Jan. 22.

At the opening rehearsal on Dec. 18, the creative team introduced all of the play’s essential characters – including the huge, hand-carved mahogany gem that is being lovingly brought to life by DCPA artisans in the Space Theatre to draw the (human) characters together.

The idea of community, said Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, is critical to The Nest.

“This play is about the dream of wanting your life to turn out a certain way, and it hasn’t,” she said. “It’s about combative people trying to create their own tribe. It’s Chekhov meets Cheers meets Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

All anchored by the three-sided bar that seems to come from another time and place. “There is a sacred power to this bar,” Campbell-Holt said. And here are five things we now know about the old bird who occupies The Nest:

1 PerspectivesThe Nest. The bar lives in a nonspecific, Midwestern town that could be anywhere. It is not located in an urban center but rather somewhere more on the outskirts, close to a university and off the path from strip malls and other newer development.

2 PerspectivesDesigners have taken some inspiration for the bar in the fictional play from My Brother’s Bar, the very real landmark Denver watering hole located at 15th and Platte streets. The bar, which has never had an external sign displaying its name, opened in 1873 as the Highland Saloon. From the beginning, it has played only classical music – at first to soothe the frayed nerves of the miners who sought respite there. In the 1960s, Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac frequented My Brothers Bar, then known as Paul’s Place, which provides some of the setting for On the Road. The Nest, once glorious and now fading, also seems to carry its history and weight in every splinter.

3 PerspectivesThe Nest is embroiled in the common conflict of old vs. new world, just as My Brother’s Bar is today. You could not get a better sense of the world of Rebeck’s play than to simply consider the incursion of Brothers Bar and Grill, a cookie-cutter national franchise that moved into LoDo in 2010, causing nothing but headaches and name confusion for the long-established My Brothers Bar ever since. The newcomer calls itself “a modernized throwback to the old Midwestern corner tavern.” While My Brothers Bar remains an actual, old Midwestern corner tavern.

“This play is about our fetishization of history,” said Campbell-Holt. “There is a trend right now in bars and restaurants to open them tomorrow, but make them look like they are 100 years old.”  

That sounds much like when Fado opened next to the trendy new Coors Field by actually importing an authentic Irish pub lock, stock and whiskey barrel, from Ireland.

“There is something lost in that,” Campbell-Holt said. “There are places that actually opened 100 years ago – and there is something different about them.”

4 PerspectivesIn the play, there is an outside commercial interest in The Nest. Not in the bar as a whole but specifically in the handcrafted, bar-back mirror that stretches 14 feet long and 10 1/2 feet tall. “The reason there is a real financial interest in the mirror is that people don’t make this quality of work anymore,” Campbell-Holt said. “One of the essential questions this play asks, I think, is, ‘What is history worth?’ ”

5 PerspectivesThe regulars at The Nest have been coming to the bar for generations. The place has spawned many relationships and been the site of many breakups. “There is something this bar provides that nothing else in their life is providing them with,” said Campbell-Holt. “Hopefully all of us have been to a bar like The Nest at one time or another.”

Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson told all those gathered on the first day of rehearsal he loves the play because it is funny, biting and sardonic.

“But it also has a melancholy running underneath it,” he said. “What do you do if you are a middle-class person in America today and you didn’t end up where you thought you would? These are exciting ideas for us to be bringing to our audiences and, hopefully, to the entire American theatre.”

The Nest

  • By Theresa Rebeck (right)
  • Jan. 22-Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Nest:

    Cast list announced
    Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She’s getting even
    ​American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story


    The Nest First rehearsal for ‘The Nest.’ Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

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