For every single Metta show we've ever made we have at some point hosted a company meal - generally dinner - and almost always in our home. In the same way that eating on stage is such an honest activity that it engenders honesty in performance, so too eating as a company breaks down barriers, forges bonds and engenders a sense of community. And since having children the whole notion of post-rehearsal or post-show drinks, has gone out the window so the company meal provides a rare opportunity to be together as a company in a non-work environment.
With MOUTHFUL - a play exploring the global food crisis - set around a dining table and involving various foodstuffs on stage the notion of a company meal felt like a necessity (as well as a pleasure). So this week we cracked out the bread-maker and whipped up a lentils-in-the-slow-cooker-special. Luckily our rehearsal room is a 3 minute walk from our flat so with some strategic timing I left for rehearsals with the lentils slow-cooking away and a loaf due to be ready 15 minutes before our lunch break. Much to Will's amusement I had also laid the table for lunch that morning at 6am when the boys got up. There were 10 of us for lunch and it's never to early to lay the table in my book! So we broke for lunch, hopped across the road to the flat and there we were - bread still hot from the oven, lentils (suitably vegan for our vegan cast member) and some obligatory hummus. And back in the rehearsal room an hour later. Boom!
Eating together, just that one meal, that one day has already shifted something within the company - and as we edge towards production week it's so vital that we're working together, as an ensemble, and all pulling in the same direction.
There are very few traditions that we observe within the Metta family (me, Will, our two little ones and now our full-time administrator Anthea) but eating together is one of them. Every lunchtime (when we're not in rehearsals for a show) the five of us sit down together and share a loaf of home-made bread, cheese, tomatoes, occasionally an avocado, always hummus. It's a small thing, but actually it's a huge thing. As chronic workaholics/parents of young children we're up at 6am and working til 1am most nights so breakfast, lunch and dinner are some of the only times that we stop. A time to check in, talk to each other, laugh - simply be together as a family. Precious times.