Plates fly, knives tossed; KITCHEN preps to open
The Kitchen, Arnold Wesker’s dark comedy about the inner workings of a restaurant kitchen, hits the University of Minnesota’s mainstage on February 23rd ,2017. Tensions rise, and antagonism reaches a boiling point as the cooks are pitted against the waiters. Luverne Seifert, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities faculty member and recent recipient of the Fox Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement, directs twenty-eight student actors in this frenetic and violent comedy. The Kitchen opens on February 23rd in Rarig Center’s Stoll Thrust Theater and plays through March 5.
Featuring twenty-eight student actors, this University production bubbles with energy. Plates fly, waiters dance, and music is woven throughout. Assistant director Logan Rodgers says, “This is a story of common people and the magic woven into everyday life. It reminds me that people are their stories rather than their jobs.” Like any good cook, Seifert lined up his ingredients ahead of time: students began character research and physical skill building in an extended workshop during the fall semester. Now Seifert mixes and matches in rehearsal to create an exciting and delectable dish: he responds with, “It’s just cooking!” when asked how rehearsals are going. “It’s been a rewarding experience, working with Seifert”, says junior, Jake Mierva, “He’s always open to collaboration”. Senior Brad Prom concurs, saying, “One of the things that will stay with me is the joy in finding the fear and vulnerability in a character. If you fail, you try again. If you succeed, you go farther”.
The Kitchen was first produced in 1959, written by the late and celebrated Sir Arnold Wesker. This behind-the-scenes look at a high-scale restaurant highlighted the differences between the kitchen’s working-class cooks and the waiters who moved between the cooks and customers beyond the doors. Looking at the play today, it raises issues of immigration, minimum wage, working environments, gender, and equal rights, all of which remain vital. The Kitchen’s first Twin Cities staging was done by Tony Award-winning company Theatre de la Jeune Lune in 1984. They infused the societal commentary with Jeune Lune energy and humor while still maintaining the class conflict at its heart. That production received such praise and support that it was restaged fourteen years later, and Seifert himself played one of the main characters.
The Kitchen opens February 23 in Rarig’s Stoll Thrust Theater and runs through March 5. Tickets are now available for purchase.