On 23 April 2011 we staged our first event in our hometown of Madison Wisconsin. It was a prototype of what we hope will become an annual event for Spatula and Barcode. This secular event borrowed the structural armature of the Passover seder but stripped it of religious referents. There were sixteen seats at the table. This event was private and exclusive, but it was a “research performance” to develop future events that will be public and inclusive. Each guest was asked to devise and perform a short text that corresponded in content to a segment in the traditional service. Discussion topics included: viniculture, hygiene, seasonality, cynicism, slavery, shared history, kinship, plagues, sufficiency, hope, gratitude, presence/absence, renewal. We cooked a meal that riffs on the traditional dishes, and served as MCs. These were our research questions:
- What makes this event different from other events (either social or religious)? What makes it art or what would it take to make it art?
- Is it sufficiently secular? Is that possible? How could it be more so?
- What should we do to build on this framework next year? How should we expand the participatory structure, the time frame, the spatial arrangement, or the food?
- How might we structure an event that makes good on this Passover invocation:“All who are hungry, let them come and eat. All who are needy, let them come and celebrate with us.”?