You’ve heard for weeks now that Rick Bayless is going to be in a play. Is it Shakespeare? (“Would that such unctuousness were found/In cochinita pibils yet unroasted.”) Is it Mamet? (“Are we talking about tacos, or just talking about tacos?”) No, it’s Cascabel, and Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss explains a little more about just what this combination of dance, theater and food exactly is:
It is being designed to evoke something of the spirit of the film “Water for Chocolate,” with food, circus stunts, music, dance, and the enchanting spirit of magic realism brought together for multidimensional storytelling.
Weiss explains that Bayless has been dancing for several years, since a dance contest benefit for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (which he won). He was wowed by the highwire work of circus arts performer Tony Hernandez in a play called Hephaestus, and had also seen a food-circus show combination by Seattle-based Teatro ZinZanni in New York. As Bayless tells it, “So I said to Tony, ‘Let’s take things to the next level. Let’s make food a character in the story along with circus and dance.’ I wanted it to be a complete experience, too, so that the audience actually gets to eat, not just watch actors eat. And then we got together with the brilliant Heidi [Stillman, of Lookingglass Theater].”
The audience will have a four-course meal, cooked in part by Bayless and by a team of five cooks on site, while the story, with its elements of magical realism, will prompt contemplation of the themes of the dinner as well as the play. “It’s about the emotions that food, like music, can evoke, because this is a story of love and awakening,” Bayless told Weiss. “And it’s about creating community by sharing food.”