Café DaPoPo

TIME: ongoing


For many, Café DaPoPo was synonymous with DaPoPo Theatre.


When in January 28, 2007, seven artists associated with DaPoPo Theatre – Eric Benson, Stephen Bourque, Sarah "Pip" Bradley, Andrea Dymond, Mike Chandler, Kim Parkhill and Garry Williams – concocted an evening of performances tailored to taste called Café DaPoPo Menz & Mollyz Diner, they could not have known they would be making a bit of local theatre history.


The company ran the popular performance event on the last Thursday of the month. Regular performances also took place during Pride week, as well as special performance for the Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax Festival of Working People & the Arts, and for by the Halifax run of the traveling "Hello, Sailor!" exhibition in 2011.


Performers were often asked: what is Café DaPoPo? In the words of Amanda Campbell, taken from her TWISI: The Way I See it Blog, posted May 30, 2009:


"The last Thursday of every month, upstairs, in a coffee shop/bar called Menz Bar on Gottingen Street in Halifax, is a little theatrical haven waiting to be discovered. Upon entering, guests are presented with two menus. One is a typical restaurant food-type menu, while the other lists a selection of theatrical treats (including scenez, songz, shtick, sonnetz, soliloquiez, show tunez, Shakespeare, sock puppetz, sweet dessertz, rantz, lecturez, happeningz, and surprisez) that can be ordered by individuals or by entire tables. Like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’, the guests of the Café decide what sorts of theatrical meals will quench their artistic hungers this particular evening. The actors (who rotate a bit each month) prepare an impressive spread of possibility, but only perform the choices of their audience on that particular evening. It’s an intimate arrangement, if you have ordered a piece the actors stand close, sit at your table, sock puppets sing over your shoulder and you are thrust into the center of the action. You become a scene partner, a character yourself in this magical world, or at the very least, a cohort in the kookiness. What is even more fascinating, however, is the theatre that you are not quite privy to. The monologue that is performed just beyond your earshot suddenly looks fascinating. A scene plays out like a silent movie across the room. And, as performer Keelin Jack states, “if you see something that looks interesting, you can always get up from your chair and go take a closer look.”


The huge appeal for me in Café DaPoPo is that it presents its theatre in succinct smatterings with wide variety. Essentially, you get to dabble. It’s like buying a platter filled with selections of Hors D’oeuvres; you can have a little bit of Shakespeare, one scene from a Brad Fraser play, a song from Into the Woods, and a few pages read aloud from a Charles Dickens novel all in one night (and for cheap!). This way the audience gets introduced to an array of different theatrical and literary works without the concern of being bound to something lengthy that doesn’t suit its tastes. Like at the finest restaurant, everyone is offered the potential to walk away with something new to explore more fervently."


Café DaPoPo performers have included (but are certainly not limited to!) Kristi Anderson, Aaron Andreino, Bonnie Archibald-Awalt, Avery Jean Brennan, Andrew Chandler, Ann Doyle, Zach Faye, Chris Ferrill, Sophie Fong, Ivan Frisken, Peter Gorman, John Han, Ira Henderson, Meghan Hubley, Keelin Jack, Matt Peach, Nathan Pilon, Ali Joy Richardson, Emily Shute, and Margaret Smith, Holly Winter, and Richie Wilcox.


Venues have included Menz & Molly Bar & Diner, The Glitter Bean (formerly Just Us Café!) The Good Food Emporium, Ouro Preto, Bearly’s House of Blues & Ribs, the TNS Living Room, Museum FLUXUS+ (Potsdam), Freies Museum Berlin, The Ward Room, The Grad House, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.


Although Café DaPoPo no longer runs monthly, it remains a popular event for fundraisers, and as a touring show.



Garry Williams performs a "Pretentious Song" with a puppet at Café DaPoPo.