Mike Durkin Explores Philly Food Ethics in New Theater Piece

June 8, 2016
Animal Farm to Table comes to Painted Bride June 10 & 11.

“You are what you eat” takes on new meaning in Animal Farm to Table, a new work by Mike Durkin of Renegade Productions. The theater artists explores Philadelphia food ethics and psychology through the lens of George Orwell’s Animal Farm in this work-in-progress showing, coming to our stage June 10th and 11th at 8pm.

“[Animal Farm to Table] is kind of like food therapy—an attempt to understand who we are by what we eat,” says Durkin. Over the past year, Mike Durkin has been engaging Philadelphians in talks about their consumption habits, studying the ripple effect that both eating and buying certain foods can have on our lives. The conversational journey has taken him from subjects ranging from food deserts in North Philly, to food allergies, to America’s growing obesity issue.

From his research, Durkin has crafted a piece that combines theater, dance, and community engagement into what he’s calling a ‘new form of dinner theater.’ Roughly half of Animal Farm to Table is performance, drawing inspiration from fragments of George Orwell’s dystopian novella Animal Farm. With the help of Lesley Berkowitz, Doug Greene, Lisa Fischel, Shamus Hunter McCarty, and the musical accompaniment of Adam Vidiksis, Durkin will examine food culture via themes from the novel including food as work, food access, and food as class. Then, the piece will move into a guided talkback, wherein the audience is encouraged to share their insights and memories about food. The piece ends in a communal meal, prepared over the course of the production.

This kind of hyrbid theater work is one of Durkin’s main interests. Recently, the Renegade Company wrapped up “In the Community Garden of Earthly Delights: A Pop-Up Cocktail Performance,” a series of vignettes performed in a community vegetable and flower garden in the Southwark/Queen Village Community Garden.

Animal Farm to Table comes to Painted Bride Art Center June 10 & 11 at 8pm. Tickets on sale now—$20 General Admission, $14 for Painted Bride Members. Visit our official event page for Animal Farm to Table for tickets.