- Warren Belasco
I came across this quote last year when I was working on A PerFarmance Project in Cloneen, Ireland and it has again surfaced with the recent collaborations on the immersive dinner performance, While Rats Eat Pie. Belasco’s assertion that there’s no “mind-body separation” when it comes to what we eat is quite appropriate for our own use of a historically informed narrative that is told during the course of a dinner party. Each aspect of the piece, from the opening toast to dessert, is filled with multiple layers of meaning and historical significance. The mind and body both come to understand cutlery, stovetops, and glassware in new and evocative ways.
For myself, figuring out the copious amounts of challenges and questions the very act of cooking presents has been one of many joys experienced while working on this project with Colin Lalonde and Studio Porte Bleue. Infusing the day-to-day routine of cooking with stories of tragedy and joy has required us to physically choreograph the performance, which has forced me to reexamine and push myself in the realms of physical theatre. To be quite honest, physical theatre is an area that I have navigated with a great amount of awkwardness throughout my career as a tall and lanky performer. This is where Colin’s approach to movement based work has been influential, allowing me to acquire methods for bodily explorations of the text, space, and food preparation.
While physically realizing the text that we have devised, Colin and I have given careful consideration to the food preparation, with nearly every object in the kitchen/dining space being given a showcase moment during the course of the action. Each seemingly everyday item is shifted and infused with an idea, allowing for the spectator’s thoughts and questions to resurface well beyond the end of the performance. Opening a tin can of meat might trigger a question about humanitarian aid. Cutting a loaf of bread may lead to a criticism of biased journalism or Western intervention. Drinking a glass of wine could leave you wondering what resources are available to war correspondents with PTSD.
Our explorations have taken us in numerous directions as we’ve planned this darkly humorous dinner party. The food has been marinating in ideologies for nearly two months now as Colin and I have been working diligently with the research, writing, and staging. We’re nearly a week away from opening and the dinner is looking amazing. We look forward to seeing you at the table!