“There’s something about the kitchen, often one of the most creative rooms in the house, that creates a feeling of togetherness. We want to invite you into the performance kitchen and see first-hand how the cake is made.” – Buck Jabaily, Founder, Baltimore Performance Kitchen
Buck Jabaily has a problem with the way theater is presented in America. Instead of simply complaining about it, he has created the Baltimore Performance Kitchen, which offers groundbreaking solutions to his concerns. The new organization, which kicked off their inaugural season last month, is bringing a new kind of theater experience to all the citizens of Baltimore.
For Jabaily, the diversity of theater audiences in any city is no way representative of the diversity that each city boasts. He cites many reasons for this, including accessibility, cost, and relevance. His solution? To create a roving theater that will utilize different spaces throughout the city, access diverse populations, create and present new and original works designed to appeal to a wide range of audiences, and offer all tickets free of charge. With this model, Baltimore Performance Kitchen is paving the road for a new way to think about how art is created, presented and utilized for building and strengthening community.
Jabaily’s views, opinions, hopes and dreams for theater and art in our city emerges out of many years experience working within many of our cities cultural institutions. He is the founder of Baltimore Performance Kitchen. Buck was the founding artistic director of Single Carrot Theatre, has worked administratively at CENTERSTAGE and Everyman Theatre, and in 2010 became the executive director of Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, where he served for two years. Jabaily is also a board member for the Network of Ensemble Theatres, and sits on the advisory board for the Baltimore Art + Justice Project.
Jabaily also find himself unsatisfied with the way most theatrical performances end – the lights go on and everyone goes home. A large part of the mission of the Performance Kitchen is to not only facilitate a gathering of a diverse community, but to encourage dialogue inspired by the shared experience of art. All performances at the Performance Kitchen end with audience centered exchanges, where audiences are invited into the kitchen for opportunities to see how the work is made and to have hands-on involvement.
“I’ve always been more fascinated with process, than product,” says Jabaily, “and a big part of the Performance Kitchen is to allow audiences a glimpse into how theater is made.”
The kitchen is also a place to experiment. Sure, sometimes you may start with a plan or recipe, but its hard to resist the urge to add a pinch of this, and a dash of that. This is another goal for the Performance Kitchen, to provide a free place for artists to play, experiment, try new things, and see what happens. They are then able to engage in dialogue about their creation, to better understand it, and grow.
“We call the gently structured audience centered post show exchange ‘Act Three.’ Loosely guided by us, and using the artist’s work as the jumping off place, we want to give you a platform to explore what is on your mind. By providing a forum to have substantial conversation with strangers, we’re hoping to foster community among our audience members. We will encourage the dialogue to continue in person and through social media platforms following the performance.”
Their first production, Red Flags, is an original commission created and performed by Bashi Rose, Vincent Thomas, and LOVE the Poet. The show “explores signals of awareness that warn and awaken the human soul and mind. Political, personal, and spiritual themes are examined with a mixture of movement, poetry, film, music, and theater.” Performances take place Wednesday through Saturday, October 24th – November 4th at Arena Players. Click here to reserve your FREE tickets!
Also in October, world renowned and local choreographer, Liz Lerman, will be in a two week residency at The Performance Kitchen as she explores the US Civil War and the contemporary wars of the past decade through the experiences of the healers involved. There will be two showings of the work, along with several other public events. Public events will take place at Mobtown Ballroom on Thursday, October 25th (sold out) and Friday, October 26th. Click here to reserve your FREE tickets!
From December 5th through 16th, you can take in a workshop production at the Theatre Project leading to the Arena Stage premiere of The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century). This production by Double Edge Theatre is part of a developmental residency hosted and presented by Baltimore Performance Kitchen, where audiences will get an opportunity to see the first iteration of the work, which is a visual feast with actors and set pieces flying and moving through the air. Click here to reserve your FREE tickets!
As Baltimore Performance Kitchen looks forward to 2013, it brings with it a roster of adventurous and insightful artists seeking new methods to create their work, generate new material, and find new ways to interact with the audience. For the audiences, comprised of any citizens of Baltimore who wished to attend, Baltimore Performance Kitchen is making theater more accessible, in every way imaginable.