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FOOD for thought

RISING’s intimate dinner party performance, serves absurdist meditation, leading you to ponder between bites: why do we eat what we eat?

FOOD at Melbourne’s RISING Festival, Photos by Maria Baranova.

At Melbourne’s annual RISING Festival, audiences have been invited this year to a unique experience: an intimate dinner party performance titled FOOD. Master illusionist from New York, Geoff Sobelle, uses his theatrical talents paired with comedic undertones to deliver an unforgettable performance. 

The performance is unlike any other. As attendees gather around a massive white banquet table, set with a plate, cutlery, and a wine glass, they are not there to indulge in a meal but to engage in a thought-provoking exploration of food, and its deeper meanings.

Dressed as a waiter, Sobelle interacts with his audience, prompting them to reflect on the last thing they ate. 

Did you enjoy it? Was it made by someone you love? Who takes care of you? 

These are just some of the questions posed by Sobelle, whose work is dedicated to exploring the uncommonness of common themes.  

“We came into it thinking it was going to be artistic, food-related”, said Simone Priestman, who attended the performance with her son, Taylor Priestman. He said they “didn’t know what to expect” and never knew “what was going to come next”. 

The show’s interactive nature allowed the pair to be active members of Sobelle’s commentary. They recited scripts provided to them on unsuspecting menus and were among the few chosen to be served food. 

However, as Sobelle makes clear, this isn’t a dining experience.

As the performance progresses, the table transforms into a barren land. Dust storms sweep across, train lines and subdivisions cover the landscape, and soon, agriculture and industry dominate. Sobelle illuminates how all this growth starts from the ground, fills kitchens, piles onto plates, and is eagerly consumed. 

FOOD at Melbourne’s RISING Festival (Credit: Dionne Yiangoulli)

Through this transformation, he provides a visual and sensory journey that prompts the audience to think about the origins of their food and the complex systems that put it on their forks.

“It was very clever,” said Simone, reflecting on the experience. 

“It delivered beyond my expectations.” 

Sobelle’s performance is not just a visual spectacle, but also a blend of humour and deep insight. His comedic undertones keep the audience engaged while he delves into serious topics of food consumption, and the socio-political factors influencing our dietary choices. 

Audience member, Ian McCory, described the performance as a “political magic show”. He said he “wasn’t sure how it was all going to fit together” and was “very curious going into the experience”.

Sobelle challenges the audience to consider the labour, resources, and processes involved in food production.

By doing so, Sobelle aims to foster a deeper appreciation and awareness of the food we consume by looking beyond the surface of our everyday meals.

FOOD will run at Melbourne’s RISING Festival from May 31st to June 8th. Standard tickets will set you back $89, while Concession card holders can experience FOOD for $80. 

The unique nature of the performance makes it a must-see for those interested in theatre, food, and thought-provoking art.

For more information and show times, visit RISING’s official website here

RISING Festival (Credit: Dionne Yiangoulli)


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