University serving up social potlucks

UBC Okanagan graduate student Gabriel Newman has created a community-specific show in Kelowna that mixes traditional storytelling and conceptual theatre with a smattering of interactive, home-cooked dinners.

As part of his Creative Studies master’s degree thesis, Newman plays host, chef and actor in his multi-faceted storytelling project called Social Potluck.

Newman is inviting an all-ages cross section of Glenmore residents to participate in five “intimate and casual” evening dinner conversations.

He will glean material from the June dinners for an original work he will write, direct and perform for Social Potluck participants on July 15 and a public audience on July 16.

“Everyone is a performer with stories to tell,” said Newman, who is working toward his master’s degree in Performance at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

“It is at the dinner table where we learn our family’s story, and where we test and hone our material. Our stories become our identity. Social Potluck celebrates the individual and the community’s ability to perform itself.”

Newman anticipates small, informal dinners in which guests supply a mix of stories—from funny anecdotes and historical tales, to tragedies and inspirational life lessons —told in a conventional, impromptu or spontaneous way. “It is very much like you’re coming over to my house for dinner,” he said. “Like my guests, I will be both viewer and participant. Everyone has something to bring to the table. Together we will create a live, improvised show about our community.”

Food is a central theme in the project, as well as the item of barter for both the dinners and final performances.

At no cost to his dinner guests, Newman serves home cooking using local ingredients. “It’s a trade-off,” Newman said. “I provide a dinner, and guests provide me with a story.”

Newman will document those dinner conversations at social potlucks planned for June 10, 11, 12, 17 and 18. Dinners start at 6:30 p.m. and take place in show-room space donated by the developers of the Bridges at Glenview Pond, on Glenview Avenue.

There is no cover charge for Newman’s staged performances (July 15, 7 p.m., for Social Potluck dinner participants and their guests, and July 16, 6 p.m., at St. David’s Presbyterian Church, 271 Glenmore Rd.

To join the list of prospective dinner guests/storytellers, contact Newman at 250-260-8757 or by emmail


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