ARTS BRIEF: The Filet's The Thing!
By Andrew Seccombe

Dinner followed by a night at the theatre? Why not combine the two, asks Marlo Hunter, artistic director of “Eating Their Words.” In a city that delights in cross-pollinated art forms, Hunter believes that gastronomes and theatre lovers alike can indulge in delicacies not found elsewhere.

“I really wanted to see what would happen when you put chefs and playwrights together,” she explains. “There’s an inherent theatricality to dining out. It’s very similar to a production—the mechanics are hidden to make the magic happen.”

The recipe? Take a few stellar playwrights—established theatre darlings or the greenmarket’s freshest new talent—and have them collaborate on a theme with one of the city’s finest chefs. The result is a 20-minute work from each playwright, which in turn inspires the chef to concoct a similarly styled menu.

Not only can diners relish a meal informed by a few robust world premieres, they’ll also be able to savor the flavors with the playwrights at their tables. Indeed, the group’s Sept. 16 event features the combined talents of Neil LaBute, Brooke Berman, Steven Levenson and Country’s Chef  Willis Loughhead, with “Lawless Cuisine” as the featured motif.

But vegans beware: Hunter emphasizes how the art will not be simmered down according to preference. “I treat the chef as an artist,” she says. “You can’t go to a play and ask that you skip four scenes for your viewing pleasure. To me the story and the meal are one and the same.”

Having worked as a director and choreographer in New York for nine years, Hunter says she’s keen to introduce playwrights such as David Lindsay-Abaire, Douglas Carter Beane and Paul Rudnick into the mix, with the concept allowing her the chance to realize select ambitions rather quickly.

“As a theatre director who directs new work, I’ve always wanted to work with exciting playwrights,” she says. “But I didn’t want to wait years. I wanted to work with them now!”