The Stranger Stranger Supper Series

The Stranger Stranger Supper Series

Little Szechuan St Paul is proud to be selected by The Stranger Stranger Supper Series, a three-part event that merges performance with food, created by award-winning local playwright Rachel Jendrzejewski. To find out who’s going, check out the series’ facebook page. Here is from the news release:

This January, playwright Rachel Jendrzejewski invites the public to participate a unique string of performative meals at three restaurants along University Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. Supported by Irrigate Arts, the project is designed to build business and community amidst the Central Corridor Light Rail construction work. The suppers will take place at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro on Tuesday, January 15; HOMI Restaurante Mexicano on Tuesday, January 22; and Little Szechuan Chinese Restaurant & Bar on Wednesday, January 23. All performances begin at 6pm.

For each event, up to six members of the public can receive a “character” created by Jendrzejewski; then they come together for supper as those characters. Whatever happens is the performance. No acting experience is necessary to participate. These “main characters” will be selected by lottery and enjoy their meals free of charge. Those interested in playing a “main character” can find submission details at http://strangerstrangersuppers.wordpress.com/participate.

Anybody else is welcome to dine at the restaurants to watch the encounters unfold or even interact with them, perhaps inventing additional characters. These guests will be responsible for their own dining expenses. Reservations are recommended. A schedule with contact information for each restaurant can be found at http://strangerstrangersuppers.wordpress.com/partners.

In addition to offering the public a festive opportunity to support local businesses by exploring new restaurants – or visiting old favorites in a new light – the project invites questions about performance in everyday life. The characters at each dinner may or may not be obvious. People unaffiliated with the eries may dine at the restaurants during the events. It will be up to individuals to determine who is “acting” and who is not. What is “art” versus “real life”? Is there perhaps, sometimes, little difference?

Minnesota Public Radio has the coverage on the first event of the series:

A new take on the dinner theater

Let’s face it: Your dinner-party guests aren’t nearly this interesting.

Playwright Rachel Jendrzejewski is staging a series of “performative meals,” in which six actors come to dinner and remain in character for the whole two or so hours.

At the inaugural supper at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro this week, Jendrzejewski brought together a choreographer, an aerobics instructor, an entomologist, a grocery store manager, and a novelist. Jendrzejewski had assigned the dinner guests their character profiles ahead of time.

“I wanted them to all be characters who could be residents of St. Paul, but who might not necessarily come together for a meal,” she said.

At Ngon, only one of the five performers had acting experience. One of the more boisterous performances came from a guy whose real day job was in IT a Ph.D. student researching neuroeconomics. Immersing himself in the role of the choreographer, he busted out some moves that were a cross between Michael Jackson and “Gangnam Style”‘s PSY, Jendrzejewski said.

The performers can prepare for their roles, or improvise entirely. And the playwright pays for their meal, courtesy of a grant Jendrzejewski (pictured left) received from Irrigate Arts.

“Maybe after this shared experience, they can get together again at the same restaurant,” she said. “And it gives them a reason to go to a restaurant they had never been to before.”

The Stranger Stranger Supper Series is designed to build community and support businesses along the Central Corridor light-rail line during construction. The next two shows will be Tuesday at HOMI Restaurante Mexicano and Wednesday at Little Szechuan.

Eavesdroppers — er, audience members — can also join in or watch the interactions from a nearby table. But they must pay for their own meals.

Jendrzejewski randomly selects the submissions she receives — and will have another drawing at 5 p.m. today. Find out more about the project here.

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