Editor’s note: Full-length version of story.
A surreal meal
Looking for a relaxing night of dinner theater? You won’t find it in the events produced by University of Maine intermedia graduate students.
Their two-hour “culinary incidents” focus more on art than theater. Here, food, actors and audience members all have equal roles.
The intermedia artists behind the events describe their productions as planned chaos. A human experiment on the human experience.
This is no passive evening of entertainment. And it’s attracting the attention of the professional art community from here to New York City.
“Uncanny, uncomfortable is what we’re after,” says installation artist Richard Corey, one of the five graduate students producing UMaine’s culinary incidents. “The idea is to force the audience to become a community and find a certain comfort in their neighbors. We’re not interested in people coming for just entertainment; we’re interested in immersing the audience in our art.”
The first culinary incident in May 2010 was a class project led by visiting convergent media artist Leon Johnson, now at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. An Evening with Professor Enki focused on the eccentric scientist and his offbeat colleagues who travel the world in search of greater understanding of morality and memory.
On each of the four nights of the show, an audience of 40 walked into Lord Hall Gallery to take a seat in Professor Enki’s laboratory and become one with the experience — and his experiments. The 14 students in the class, plus a couple professional actors from the community, took on scripted, disquieting roles in an environment featuring rich structural, sculptural, video, audio and “set” items.
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