Food For Thought Productions, the award-winning theatre company, which began life in September 2000, may be the answer to the question—How do you provide live theatre during a time when we are told to isolate and keep a distance? Having presented over a thousand shows with Oscar, Tony and Emmy award winning writers, actors and directors including Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Elaine May, Mary Alice, Elaine Stritch, Marian Seldes, Danny Aiello, Kathleen Turner, Tony Roberts, Carole Shelley, Peter Bogdonovich, Judd Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Bond Davis, Eric Stoltz, Kyra Sedgwick, Rose Perez, Judith Light, Christine Baranski, Earl Hyman, Rita Moreno and so on, Food For Thought keeps going. And we expect audiences, hungry for live theatre, will keep coming. Unlike other theatre companies which are trying to figure out if and when they can continue, FFTP is set to open – safely – on July 13th, 2020 at The Coffee House Club (20 West 44th Street, 6th floor). And as a special gift to NYC, tickets for the first show will be free.
Our first production in the COVID world will be on Monday, July 13th at 1:30pm and will be performed by Louise Lasser and Bob Dishy and directed by Antony Marsellis. The program of staged readings revolves around memory loss in Robert Anderson’s “I’m Herbert” and Arthur Miller’s “I Can’t Remember Anything,” as well as a brief memory piece “Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem” by Daniel Rose. (It’s also interesting to note that “I Can’t Remember Anything” opened Food For Thought’s second season, in January of 2001 with Arthur Miller in attendance (and Bob Dishy performing). Miller went on to direct several of his own, and other, productions for FFTP).
FFTP has become synonymous with “intimate theatre.” The point has always been to have audience members up close and personal to the actors. In our new configuration, the audience can consist of as many as the law allows. The plays that are presented usually comprise only two actors. These numbers fit with Governor Cuomo’s ruling that small groups of people can congregate in a space in NYC. Audience members will wear masks, and they and the cast will be seated at least six feet apart from each other.
Food For Thought Productions was created by award-winning playwright Susan Charlotte to provide a home for the oft-neglected one-act play. Charlotte premiered a play by Tony Kushner and continued to premiere plays by other writers of note such as Tennessee Williams, John Guare, Joyce Carol Oates, Murray Schisgal, A.R. Gurney and Lynn Redgrave. The idea was to present thought-provoking plays with the crème-de-la-crème of theatre and film, followed by Q & A’s with the cast. Audiences soon flocked to this unique theatre company where they could see unknown plays by major writers and have a chance to speak to luminaries from the entertainment world.
Food For Thought has had several homes, the latest of which is the Coffee House Club, which has been a perfect match. Founded in 1915 by several members of the Knickerbocker Club, led by Frank Crowninshield, publisher of “Vanity Fair,” they decided they were fed up with that august institution’s emphasis on the rich and socially prominent. Styling themselves the “Foes of Finance,” these urbane conspirators founded The Coffee House, a club that would seek its members from among New York’s intellectual, artistic, literary and theatrical circles. The Club adopted a tersely worded constitution designed to forestall any future backsliding into social snobbery: No Officers, No Charge Accounts, No Liveries, No Tips, No Set Speeches, NO RULES. Its many illustrious members have included: Cole Porter, Henry Fonda and Jerome Kern.
Food For Though plans on resuming its schedule of one show a month which will include plays by Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, Mel Brooks, Dorothy Parker, to name a few. For those who can’t attend they can feast on food for thought fare via zoom.
Though the world has changed, Food For Thought remains essentially the same—same caliber of actors, writers and directors; the same enthusiastic audiences; and the same thought provoking Q &A’s. The only difference—the audiences are slightly smaller. As the world keeps changing and the unanswered questions continue to grow it is comforting to know that there is still something people can count on.