Food on stage
When we commissioned our six playwrights for MOUTHFUL I gave them a writer's brief that stipulated each piece must physically involve a foodstuff or drink on stage. I love seeing actors eating on stage (even more than I love good scene changes) - it's almost impossible to play false while eating because if you are really eating on stage then the honesty of that interaction seems to imbue everything else you do with truth.
Of course it throws up some technical and practical challenges - two of the pieces require cooking on-stage - which will be wonderfully evocative and atmospheric for the audience in the bijou 98 seat Trafalgar Studios, and also a small nightmare for stage management in prepping things sufficiently. Especially when one of those cooking processes is boiling some potatoes and the duration of the scene is only 5 minutes. Though the Metta Theatre vegetable patch has finally come into its own - providing enough potatoes for all 31 performances!
One of the pieces also requires a fully realistic whole dead cow. Of course it does! It's time like these that I'm eternally grateful to Neil LaBute who has written nothing more complex into his piece than a jug and a glass of water. Bless you Neil...
And of course the actor who ends up having to eat most of the food on stage turns out to be vegan so we have to make vegan chocolate look like Dairy Milk and vegan butter look like... well all butter looks kind of the same doesn't it. And actually it's used for a scene in a dystopian future where dairy butter no longer exists so it's technically more accurate. As MOUTHFUL is about how our food system is in crisis we can hardly complain - given that one of the single biggest differences any individual consumer can make to the system is giving up meat (and replacing it with proteins that use fewer resources to be farmed - ie veg or insects).
Eating insects, that sounds weird, or does it? After MOUTHFUL you might try anything... especially on press night when we've got chilli and lime crickets as an interval snack [is feeding the national press insects the best way to get good reviews...?]