Artsweek’s Audrey Bachelder recently met with playwright Nancy Nufer to talk about her hilarious new play Food Confessions, which premieres tomorrow at the Lobero Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara. The show runs from Sept. 21 to 23 and student tickets are just $22 each. For food lovers, a Supper Club ticket is also available for $47 and includes premium seats as well as a light dinner and dessert catered by Aldo’s, Fresco Café, Olio E Limone Ristorante and Sojourner Café. Yum!
Describe Food Confessions in three words.
Saucy New Comedy.
Who are the characters in Food Confessions? How would you best describe them? How did you come up with them?
There are a total of seventeen characters in Food Confessions… but since they’re being played by five actors it feels less like a crowd and more like a hungry mob. Each of our gents plays three characters, and we ladies each play four. And I must say… they’re all delicious. From Eggbert to Coco to Monte to Honey to Caesar to Olive to Louie to Colby and back again… they taste great and are less filling.
These characters range from specific archetypes to the more complex and unconventional. Each one is based on someone I know, or a composite of people I’ve heard stories about. Some are true to life, and others have wandered off into the stratosphere with very little regard for the truth. But I refuse to answer which-is-which on the grounds it will definitely incriminate me. Plausible deniability is key.
How long did it take you to write the play? How many different scenes are there?
If you were to break up Food Confessions in a traditional sense, that is based on the scene shifts and changes, you’d find four scenes in the first act and three in the second. But the stage has three playing areas: The Kitchen, The Bar and The Diner… and the stories flow from one to another inside of scenes, so it’s more of a smorgasbord in structure than a seven course meal.
This evolved over the two years I worked on the script along with the help of some very talented actors in the workshops, our gifted director Jenny Sullivan, and several theater professionals who weighed in along the way.
Food Confessions began as a series of monologues and I had no idea the characters were connected to one another. But none of these characters are receding violets and they cried out for interaction and interpersonal relationships and, well, I simply obliged. Sometimes you ride the horse, but an awful lot of the time the horse rides you.
What made you want to write a comedy about food?
I’ve always been a natural voyeur so I’m listening to others and jotting down little notes all the time. This puppy was predicated on my pal Sara Bashor and her deeply felt principles regarding how Mac ‘n Cheese must be served. Her original diatribe was so riveting, I had to get it on paper and see what happened next.
Once that story was written, Food Confessions snowballed into the myriad ways we relate to each other via food. What else is intrinsically involved in our lives every day? Frankly, I thought “breathing” was a little lackluster.
Are some of the stories based on real-life experiences that you and your friends may have had?
Absolutely, but … I’m reticent to name names. That’s how litigation finds its footing. Better to pretend all the crazy people on stage came out of my head. Just in case someone’s laughing at rather than with them.
So for the record: All my friends and family are sane. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
How does it feel to be a performer in a play that you wrote? Do you always have a role in your plays?
In my twenties/thirties I used to do stand-up with my comedy partner Mary Small. So back then I wrote and performed my own work.
But I didn’t intend to be in this piece… it just worked out that way based on what our producers wanted. And it feels very vulnerable to be onstage in Food Confessions. There’s no way to hide behind: “Hey, I’m just the actor. I didn’t write this stuff!”
What is your all-time favorite meal?
Depends on the time of year, really. Spring and summer I love all the healthy, fresh produce and I eat in a way that’s endorsed by the world at large. But when fall and winter sashay in I start craving comfort foods and large meats. And, of course, melted cheese. Lots and lots of melted cheese. Heaven!
Which types of people should come see your play [i.e. the sullen teenager who could appreciate their family more, the picky eater, the boyfriend who does not understand boyfriend food etiquette, etc.]?
EVERYONE should come see my play. And preferably a couple of times. That way they can be sure they’re not the ones with the issue. It’s obviously the other guy. Whoever that might be.
The essential message of Food Confessions is: We all make sense to ourselves. And in that way we are all the same… even more so because of our differences.
What would you like your audience to take away from Food Confessions?
If we’re very good and very lucky… audiences will leave the theatre telling one another their own stories. And then, hopefully, they’ll share them with me. It’s never too early to start work on a sequel!
But that’s just the way I casse-role. (Sorry. I had to do at least one.)
For more information and to buy tickets, go to http://www.lobero.com/events/food-confessions/ or call the Box Office at (805) 963-0761.