More than 130 years after the dedication of the Statue of Liberty and more than 100 years after Ellis Island’s busiest year, America finds itself mired in a conversation about where immigrants fit within our national fabric.
It’s a conversation that members of the local performing arts are well positioned to both facilitate and contribute to, said local theater veteran Joan Bruemmer-Holden. But if theatrical performance can bring audiences closer to important issues that rattle the country, that experience may as well be heightened by engaging other senses that are not typically employed by theatrical experiences.
That’s the concept behind the “Feed” series of experiences offered by Boulder’s The Catamounts, a theater company that bills itself as specializing “in theater for the adventurous palette.”
When it comes to the “Feed” series, the term “palette” is meant literally as the experiences revolve around a multi-course dinner that encapsulates a theme and each course is accompanied by a theatrical performance relating to that that theme.
Bruemmer-Holden, who has been involved with several “Feed” productions, said that while the experience might sound similar to dinner theater, it’s different in that it involves careful pairing of all elements of the experience.
“As you are eating … and watching the performance, all the of the senses are feeding each other at the same time,” she said.
She said that should particularly be the case with this weekend’s “Feed: Dreams” that will take place at Lone Hawk Farm in Longmont Sunday. The event will be themed around the question: In this time of great turmoil, how can we still find the American dream?
Bruemmer-Holden said Sunday’s experience will be the second “Feed” event to focus on the immigrant experience, following winter’s “Feed: Melting Pot,” which focused on the experiences of early immigrants.
“We wanted to examine the complicated cultural time that we are in where communities are trying to decide whether to welcome immigration and make it enrich and enhance community or whether they are concerned and rejecting it,” Bruemmer-Holden said. “We all believe that our communities benefit from being inclusive. It enhances our communities with different cultural perspectives.”
A perspective that is definitely up for a lot of debate these days, she said.
The short performances, which will feature performers Sam Gilstrap and Karen Slack, will include theatrical takes on a Palestinian poem, a Ted Talk and a piece by Shakespeare.
There will also be an interactive and improvisational portion of the evening in which Gilstrap will combine the immigration stories of the audience with that of his own.
The food courses, provided by Chef Bob Sargent of Savory Cuisines, will feature a diverse array of dishes that will benefit an event that delves into the experiences of immigrants from across the globe. Dishes will include Brazilian beef paired with Chimichurri sauce, roasted kielbasa and Greek yogurt.
Sargent said he hopes the “Feed” experience will underscore the role of food in creating cultural understanding and appreciation, which is one he often saw championed by the late-celebrity chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain.
“Food is a great way to break the ice of a lot of people who don’t think outside the box,” Sargent said. “Sometimes by feeding them food from other cultures and watching them enjoy it, you can strike up some common ground.”
If you go
What: “Feed: Dreams”
Where: Lone Hawk Farm, 10790 N. 49th St., Longmont
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $125 (includes dinner, drinks and live music)