If you attend a Quantum Theatre performance of “Chatterton,” you won’t just watch the show. You’ll be immersed in it. You will, literally, have it for dinner.
Happening Sept. 14 through Oct. 28 in conjunction with the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, each performance starts with pre-show drinks in the city’s oldest churchyard. There is also a full intermission dinner prepared by a rotating cast of local chefs, including Bob Sendall, Bill Fuller, Kate Romane, Jennifer Gerasole, Derek Stevens and Dennis Marron.
The meals consist of a cold first course, followed by a family-style entree (including a vegetarian option), wine and dessert. There won’t be a set culinary theme, allowing individual chefs to showcase their creativity.
“I am particularly excited for this opportunity because I just love the idea of incorporating a meal into this performance, and the fact that it is in one of the most beautiful buildings in Pittsburgh will create such an incredible experience combining food and art,” says Stevens of Union Standard.
Beyond the meal, the performance itself is far from conventionally staged: Director Karla Boos adapted the play from Sir Peter Ackroyd’s novel about poet Thomas Chatterton, the Romantic Era’s most famous suicide.
She takes audiences through 12 masterfully dressed spaces inside Downtown Pittsburgh’s Trinity Cathedral. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, participants can literally follow different characters and plot lines in a time-traveling journey from 18th-century London to the present day.
“Karla wants to create these large-scale works to offer something different than more traditional theater fare,” says Managing Director Stewart Urist. “It gives people different roads into the world of what we do. We take theater into different neighborhoods. This is a really grand realization of that. We’re taking a landmark — Trinity Cathedral — and opening up all the public and private spaces.”
Romane, of Black Radish Kitchen, is downright giddy to work with Quantum Theatre.
“Any opportunity to creatively collaborate with their talented team makes us break into improvisational dance!” she says.
Since its formation in 1990, the East Liberty-based theater company has offered Pittsburghers unique cultural experiences in an array of non-traditional settings, from local parks, houses of worship and community centers to libraries, schools and breweries. In 2014, the company staged “TAMARA,” an elaborate dinner theater production held at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland.
Fuller, a chef with big Burrito Restaurant Group, was one of the participating culinary experts for that project and is excited to return for “Chatterton.”
“I really had a great time with ‘TAMARA’ and jumped at the chance to participate again,” he says. “Partnering with Quantum Theatre is always fun. I’m really looking forward to this.”