Geoff Sobelle Is Not a Foodie, No Matter How Good His FOOD Might Be

Performance Artist/Actor Geoff Sobelle Brings Internationally Acclaimed Theater Expereince to Oz Arts Nashville

By: Nov. 30, 2023
Geoff Sobelle Is Not a Foodie, No Matter How Good His FOOD Might Be
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“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” – from The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Although Geoff Sobelle’s life currently focuses on food – or, more aptly, FOOD – he admits that he’s never considered himself a “foodie.” In fact, he’s never really used the term.

Geoff Sobelle Is Not a Foodie, No Matter How Good His FOOD Might Be “I have two toddlers at home,” he says. “So, we don’t go out to restaurants very much at all, and that seems a big part of being a foodie. With toddlers, my life has changed.”

But with FOOD, his critically- and audience-acclaimed performance which opens tonight at Oz Arts Nashville for a two-week run, his life is in many ways consumed by not only the consumption of food, but the consideration of the role food and dining and everything connected impacts everything of which one might conceive.

“I love to consider themes that are way too big to wrap your arms – and minds – around,” Sobelle contends during a phone conversation Monday afternoon. He had just arrived in Nashville, checked into his hotel room and settled in for an interview with BroadwayWorld.com. “FOOD is not just about dinner. It’s 'Food' with a capital F. When you start to get into it, you realize that it means something different for everyone, yet it’s a very universal concept and everything in life is somehow connected to food.”

Combining absurdist humor with the magic of stage illusion and physical theater, in FOOD Sobelle explores the often funny and fascinating human relationship with what we eat. Audience members find themselves arrayed around a 500-square foot table topped by an elegant white linen tablecloth which serves as the arena/canvas/stage/playing field for Sobelle during the presentation that draws upon his background as a performance artist/magician/actor and raconteur.

Described as a “singular theatrical experience filled with sounds, scents and images that shape a conversation about personal memories, consumption and the evolution of food production,” FOOD begins the moment the audience enters, with Sobelle telling me he will be mingling with the guests before the show starts.

“I have always loved food and I have been fascinated by it for as long as I remember,” he confesses. “I’ve often even been troubled by it, by where food comes from and our relationship to it.”

Geoff Sobelle Is Not a Foodie, No Matter How Good His FOOD Might Be Sobelle recalls a time in his youth when he attended school on a working farm for a short time in high school, where he (along with other students) would work on the farm as a way of understanding the ecology of food and the process of taking food from farm to table.

“it gives you a very real sense of where you are in the food chain,” he maintains. “It was really quite thrilling.”

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it…and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied…and it is all one.” – from The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher

Up to that point in his life, growing up in Los Angeles, Sobelle says he had no real notion of just exactly where food came from before it appeared on the dinner table: “You went to the grocery and bought food, or to a restaurant and it was served to you – but I had no direct access to the growing of food, to gardening. As part of my work on the farm, part of my job was to care for the animals and I learned what food they supplied.

“It took a while for me to be hit by the reality of that,” he continues. “Coming back into the city after that experience, I came to the horrifying realization that meat isn’t just something you find shrink-wrapped at the grocery store.”

Geoff Sobelle Is Not a Foodie, No Matter How Good His FOOD Might Be As a result, Sobelle was “a little freaked out” and became what he calls “sort of a vegetarian,” which he described as more of a process than a decision. “Becoming a vegetarian – or when you deprive yourself of something – then that simple exercise changes your relationship to food.”

Settling into Oz Arts Nashville for a two-week run, Sobelle suggests that every performance of FOOD is unique – not only from the theatrical reality of one audience offering vastly different energy than the one before or after it, but also suggesting that the regional setting for the run or, more specifically, the physical setting of the theater itself creates a different kind of energy for each performance.

“Every show changes with the energy of the audience. They supply the materials and these moments are different in the content from night to night, the timbre of the show differs every night,” he says. “If you were to see it multiple times, it might reveal something new to you every time.”

Geoff Sobelle Is Not a Foodie, No Matter How Good His FOOD Might Be The Nashville run is, in fact, the fifth after performances in Philadelphia (two weeks), the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (where it ran for a month and became the most sought-after ticket of the whole festival), a one-weekend run at Arizona State University’s Gammage performing arts center and a three-week stand in Brooklyn. Along the way, Sobelle and FOOD have earned stellar reviews from The New York Times, Vulture and The New Yorker, among other media outlets.

“In Edinburgh, in an international setting versus a university setting, it was very different, very European – not just because of where we were, but how it is presented and how the audience responds, while here it seems much more American. There’s a definite U.S. sensibility to it. Maybe it’s a language thing: When not everyone is speaking the same language, there are different cultural references and recipes and ideas. It’s really thrilling to feel that with different cultures.”

FOOD runs at Oz Arts Nashville November 30-December 10. For more information and for tickets, go to www.ozartsnashville.org.



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