America is built on the concept that consumption keeps our world afloat. We know in order to have a thriving economy we have to put our money where our mouths are and invest, consume and purchase to keep the system running. What happens when the system falters and we end up in a recession? How have we failed the system? How has our culture failed us? And should we question our correlation of consumption and success? The Thick Rich Ones in collaboration with CounterPULSE present Minced Meat, a work that examines our relationship with cravings and consumption, asking what are we really hungry for? How far will we go to feel full? And what is given up an effort to consume more?
Greeted with champagne and hot dogs the audience is invited to relax and witness as the performers, both actors and dancers, act out confessions surrounding their own consumption. Upon entering the space the audience observes a party scene that goes haywire. In a desperate act to be seen, one unwanted guest can’t help but rub and grope herself shamelessly, taunting guests to consume her violent human harvest. Elegantly dressed men and women fight each other for hotdogs. Wailing women attempt to consume an innocent man until his escape reminds them they were never really hungry. And men attempt to eat a woman but find themselves helplessly consuming her excrement in the form of ping-pong balls.
Employing dark comedy, Minced Meat is a layered showcase of juxtaposed ideas, where the hilarious and macabre meet to wine and dine. Throughout the evening-length work performers explore fetishes and fantasies, exposing the secret acts people perform in an effort to fill up, all the while scrutinizing the role consumption plays when we feel less than adequate. “Perhaps we consume to feel more real. What we take in, identify with, and own represent us, and without it, we fear we just might disappear,” notes Ashley Trottier, who co-choreographs the piece with Jochelle Pereña. “As we ravenously strive to do more, have more and be more, we have less time to wonder if we will ever be satisfied. Do these things really make us who we are?”
“Minced Meat is designed to engage the audience in the same way a train wreck would,” explains Pereña. “You find yourself fascinated but simultaneously horrified, and then horrified at yourself for being fascinated. It’s a paradoxical dance of push and pull that keeps you questioning your own perspective, and your own consumption of what you watch.”
With a sound score by composer Gretchen Jude, which includes well-known tunes by Herb Alpert, Edith Piaf, and DeVotchKa, as well as original, sometimes discordant works by Jude, a comfortable familiarity clashes with something unexpected and disturbing. This dichotomy is echoed in the set, designed by Brian Quakenbush. The audience enters the theater as if entering someone’s house for a dinner party. Welcomed on to the living-room-like stage, they are offered a drink from the bar and then escorted to their seats. Made to feel at home in this intimate setting, viewers may be awkwardly surprised as performers emerge from the seats next to them, or crawl out from behind them.
In this surreal environment, without real boundaries between the audience and performers, reality and reason are suspended. As they watch the non-linear story of confessions and cravings unfold around them through movement and theatre, the audience has the opportunity to relate to, and even discover their secret selves reflected in the actions of the performers. Now voyeurs of their own private thoughts, these guests are invited to peek into their own subconscious, unlocking their own consumption psychology.
Sometimes graceful, sometimes grotesque, Minced Meat is always absurd and comical. Cartoon-like facial expressions, coupled with ridiculous scenarios – desperate struggles over the last hot dog, for example, or dancers devouring each other, body part by body part – keep the audience chuckling and chortling. However, as the audience laughs their way out of the theater, a question lingers like a sticky residue: are we in fact what we eat?
Get a taste of Minced Meat with our mini reel!