Disrupting the Dinner Table is a theatrical set-up around the dinner table as the centerpiece of a house. The house is the main manifestation of a sedentary culture, like Simone de Beauvoir describes it: “The ideal of happiness has always taken material form in the house … Within its walls the family is established as a discrete cell or a unit group and maintains its identity as generations come and go; the past, preserved in the form of furniture and ancestral portraits, gives promise of a secure future”.[i]
At dinner, family life, intimacy, conflict and marriage is executed. The table is what we could call a kinship object, which gives form to the family as a social gathering, as the tangible thing over which the family gathers.[ii]
The dinner table is a rich narrative topoi from which I’ll take the following: the TV show Dallas, (theatrical remakes/alterations of Miss Ellie calling to sit down and have dinner), Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, and Yuri Lotman’s insight into the domestic arrangements of the Russian aristocracy, as described in his book High Society Dinners.
Disruptions will vary and derive from banned lamentations around the topical space: table manners, eating disorders, food allergies, not getting enough, who cooks, who serves, as well as forms of union and forms of strike may prove to be yielding. Participants of the dinner may be performers, improv players, and audience members.
Also field trips to family homes in different cultures and their dinner routines may serve as a starting for a performative investigation that disrupts the dinner table and looks at the consequences of that disruption.
[i] Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Vintage, ( 1997), 467.
[ii] Sarah Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, (Duke University Press, 2006) 81.