July 16, 2024


Free For All Food

Food items As The Centerpiece On Stage

Food items As The Centerpiece On Stage

Few thriving plays and tv sequence have had a real aim on food items. The most effective of them are generally competitions like Prime Chef, whilst some other folks have engaged the audience with a razor-sharp glimpse at what delivers communities with each other politically, individually and culinarily like Padma Lakshmi’s new Flavor the Nation collection.


I would be challenging pressed to bear in mind anything on the phase that seriously focused on food items. Certainly, there have been performs established in places to eat, but they weren’t seriously about meals. So, I was curious about Woolly Mammoth’s new creation of This is Who I Am. The performance—broadcast stay from two destinations in the U.S. that are meant to be the West Financial institution and Brooklyn—involves a father and son cooking, mourning the reduction of their matriarch and intellectually sparring with each individual other. It is introduced by PlayCo and Woolly Mammoth Theater Enterprise, in association with American Repertory Theater at Harvard College, the Guthrie Theater and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Almost all of these theater firms have been shuttered in the course of the pandemic, so relocating to stay, virtual theater can make perception. Even so, there has been treasured tiny of it all around these days: incredibly. The clearly show operates by January 3rd and tickets are a fairly reasonably priced $15 to $30.

What is on the Desk

I was drastically moved by most of the production but wished a deeper dive into their lives. I would have like to have recognised what the mom died of—cancer is inferred—how a lot of decades in the past it transpired and in which in Brooklyn that the son fled. I missing my possess father just a several months ago and for me to in engage in communal grief with individuals on the stage I feel that I need to know additional about these who are struggling.

This has been a yr of enormous suffering and reduction for all of us. So, I was stunned that the pandemic was not described. It could properly have been intentional to take our minds off this oppressive illness and focused on just one family’s appear-to-Jesus cooking periods. Even so, for me being aware of less about them remaining me wanting a lot more.

Earning Fteer

The father and son prepare a vegetable-stuffed triangular dough pocket—called Fteer—that was the initially dish created by the mom for her husband to be. The sons ask why his mom did not make some thing far more challenging for the initially time: maybe some thing with meat. The father responds that this dish definitely encompassed who she was: hence the title “This is Who I am,” is connected to this dish as she mentioned she was a pocket of surprises.

The show runs from sentimental to tense, terse and angry. It is a tale of a father and son making peace with each and every other right after a agonizing interval of loss and grief. It is a tale of a son who was overwhelmed up in Palestine in far more means than one—physically and spiritually—who fled to Brooklyn only coming back sometimes when his mom was dying. It expresses the agony of a father who feels he has dropped his son to a “cold nation midway close to the globe.”


It is equivalent sections emotional and culinary sparring combined with remembrances of the mother and a refreshing choose on what is suggests to are living in Brooklyn and the West Lender today. It consists of the joyful, and culinarily vital, memory that sumac—the essential darkish brown Middle Japanese spice—can be quickly located in both destinations.

It operates a small hour and alter but provides us significantly to believe about as we remain at property and ponder loss—and the price of family—during the pandemic.

Ideas from the Director

This was plainly a labor of really like for the director, Evren Odcikin, the associate inventive director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). The theaters in Ashland, Oregon that host OSF have been shuttered this yr due to the fact of the pandemic. Some of his solutions have been edited and condensed for clarity.


“The engage in itself has a large amount of private resonance for me having dropped my mom in Turkey following a lengthy and tricky health issues. Constructing this piece at this time when so quite a few of us are going through these devastation has been a significantly-essential therapeutic method for me,” suggests Odcikin.

He went on to observe that the width and breath of casting a demonstrate has been considerably broader all through the pandemic than at any time before. “Yousof Sultani [the son] and I worked jointly very last year developing a engage in in Philadelphia, so I was currently a supporter. This is my first time doing the job with Ramsey Faragallah [the father], but I’ve long acknowledged his perform in New York City as a result of his collaborations with some of my favourite writers. What is appealing is that Ramsey and Yousof have never achieved in actual everyday living, so it was absolutely a exceptional course of action to construct a feeling of familial bond involving them.”


He explained how integrating food stuff, family members and mourning was a challenge. Amir Nizar Zuabi, the playwright, “built the psychological arc of the enjoy with the cooking in intellect. It all goes hand-in-hand. It is simpler for the actors to hit their various psychological peaks and valleys if they abide by the physical sensation of the cooking along with the story. So, they desired to know the recipe by truly feel and scent, so that as they are performing, they can issue-fix if something is not heading the way it is meant to.”

The participate in, in accordance Odcikin, unites the actors via food items. Throughout it the son states ‘It’s nice that we can scent the same factor. So “although the two characters—and the two actors—are worlds apart, by seeing them contact the same dough, chop the similar onion, smell the similar foodstuff baking, we can’t share in that facet of the demonstrate as an audience, their overlapping actual physical experience will help us really feel like we’re in their dwelling with them.”

Although he admits getting “a theater animal as a result of and by,” he explained yes to this production for the reason that “its bones and soul sing in this distinct digital structure. I imagine as we continue on to check out theater in this new actuality, we are bound to generate new sorts that are neither theater, nor Tv, nor film. I’m most curious about in which the artists guide us in this minute.” 


He adds that the Zoom structure forced him to concentration “a various sort of focus to the particulars of what seems within just the frame. The Zoom structure is a visual medium, and the smallest items can have a huge effect visually. There have been numerous variances in process that I experienced to work by for myself.”