By Randy Gener
NEW YORK CITY and MONTREAL | The last week of New York’s Tilt Kids Festival emerges from the oven of circus joy. Cuisine & Confessions, a delightful confection by the Montreal-based circus The 7 Fingers (Les 7 Doigts), runs April 11 – 16 at NYU Skirball.
What’s on the menu? This busy company behind Traces and the Tony Award- winning Pippin promise “a feast of circus arts flavored with theatrics mixed with cooking show and a dash of dance, served with side orders of pasta and banana bread and topped with original music.”
Plus: Audiences will get treated to à la carte tastings following the final course.
This circus’s dream kitchen has been a hotbed of intrigue and gossip. Based on what we hear The 7 Fingers‘s cast members have been drenched in sweat, spit, flour, free falls of pepper and jalapeño yuks.
“It’s been called A Chorus Line for Foodies,” stated one wag who did not know about 7 Fingers until the troupe crossed the footlights to enter a recent Broadway musical.
“Something’s always cooking,” blurted a wolfy snuffleupagus, adding that “from the moment the house opens to the final bow,” there is always something awesome or kooky on display.
Why? Because all the stage is an acrobatty kitchen in Cuisine & Confessions. Personal stories, memories and family recipes are shared. The stage becomes a giant kitchen where conversation, tea and Nutella quickly turn into elaborately choreographed family meals. Food, kitchen appliances and recipes combine with elaborate choreography, jaw-dropping acrobatics and original music.
And so the gossip continues. Here are nastiest tidbits told by the titillated tattlers:
(1) The U.S. President tweeted:
“Those are not fake food or alternative recipes. The cast really cooks! That slice of bologna I had was biggly.”
There are 3 dishes cooked live on stage: an omelet, banana bread and a pasta dish. The choice of recipes were derived from the real, personal stories of the cast.
(2) An irate, sex-obsessed boy declared:
“If all the stories are true, where is the scene where that sexy acrobat has a wet dream about me?”
The show was built on real-life personal stories of the cast. Creation began with extensive story-telling sessions, and directors Shana Carroll and Sebastien Soldevila extracted facts, themes and images and wove them throughout each act, all based on these real stories.
(3) Dr. Ruth walked out of a cast member’s bedroom and said:
“Personal items and photos of cast and creative team make up the set.”
Set designer Ana Capellutto had each artist and designer bring photos of their childhood kitchens, their current kitchens, and their dream kitchens. These photos inspired the final design. She also asked each performer to bring in a personal item to keep somewhere in the set, to help create this intimate kitchen space.
(4) A Homeland Security officer did an inspection:
“Damn, I thought they were illegal from Canada. Those dishwashers are documented immigrants. The cast really cleans.”
The cast has to take turns washing the dishes after the show.
(5) “The cast learned to chop and dice. All food prep happens live on stage,” said no one in particular.
Food preparation happens either during pre-show (with audience assistance!) or within the performance (also at times with audience assistance!).
Montreal chef Alex Winiki worked with the team to refine the recipes. He also gave weekly cooking lessons to the cast, so in addition to their acrobatic training they had to learn how to chop, slice, dice, and other kitchen skills. Each cast member was given a chef’s knife to practice with at home.
(6) What did Dr. Sigmund Freud opine after the juggler’s psycho-analytic treatment?
“The fridge holds memories.
The cast has collected postcards from every city they’ve toured and placed them on the fridge; an ever-evolving set-piece.
(7) A clown philosopher walked out and opened with:
“Food is the universal language here.”
The show has been performed in seven languages. Wherever it has been performed, it has been translated into the local language. To date, the show has been presented in English, Italian, Spanish, Russian, French, Swedish, and German.
The troupe’s name “Les 7 doigts de la main” is a riff on the French equivalent of “two peas in a pod” — only with a seven-fingered hand. “It’s really a great title for us,” laughed Carroll. “It represents the quirky spirit and beautiful deformities of our company.
Cuisine & Confessions is directed by Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila and produced by NYU Skirball.
The 7 Fingers (Les 7 Doigts), based in Montreal, was created in 2002 with the goal of making circus a transformative experience for audiences, and nurturing new generations of circus artists. The company’s credits include the New York productions of Traces, which ran for one year and is currently touring; the Tony Award-winning revival of Pippin; Sequence 8, and direction of the immersive Queen of the Night, as well as two appearances on “America’s Got Talent” and direction of the first segment of the opening ceremony of Sotchi Olympics. http://www.7doigts.com/
Tilt Kids Festival is made possible thanks to the support of Air France and Delta Air Lines, French Ministry of Culture and Communication, Howard Gilman Foundation, Institut français-Paris, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, SACD (Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques), Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, FACE Foundation, Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium, La Roche-Posay, and Florence Gould Foundation.