Since September, we have been working with an incredible intergenerational group to create The Youth/Elders Project – a space where identities, personal histories and queer perspectives get turned into performance. As we get closer to our Mainstage performance later this month, some of the participants will be taking over our blog to talk about the journey to here. In today’s post, Neila Lem, Shauna Sloan, and Jordan Campbell pay tribute to the ever-present snacks. Snacks generously supplied by The 519 and lovingly set up by Kate, LeeLee, Vanessa, and Aisling.
friends like family
sharing thoughts texture, taste
comfort food smooth and silky
smooth and silky
crisp and juicy
oh so firm mmm –– oh
mmm –– oh
mmm –– ah
We would like to use this blog post to to acknowledge a very important member of the Youth/Elders Project (YEP). This important piece of our team has been with us from the very start, and their presence has kept us grounded, connected and nourished. We would certainly not be where we are today without this essential element of our ensemble. We are referring, of course, to the SNACK TABLE.
While a snack table could be easily overlooked as an added bonus hiding modestly in the corner, our snack table has been front and centre in our consciousness. The snack table is something to look forward to, something to respect, to worship and to admire. Forever a creature of mystery, the snack table sometimes provides a stripped down, simple spread of cheese, crackers and fruit, while at other times surprising us with a luxurious array of sandwiches, lunchmeats, juice, pizza and delectable treats. Though we never know quite what to expect from the snack table, nor do we have any interest in understanding how the snack table comes to be at every single Youth/Elders session (as they say, “don’t meet your heroes”), the snack table is ALWAYS there. Amidst the whirlwind of a process that the Youth/Elders journey has been, filled with ups and downs, tears, struggles, laughs and confusion…. the snack table has always been there, providing snacks.
When a break is called, and we are able to release from the tension of holding the space for YEP activities, the snack table provides a casual, unstructured space for connection. Through the range of intimate and revealing activities lead by LeeLee, Evalyn and Vanessa, we opened up, we shared, we connected and we grew as artists and as queer people… but the snack table is responsible for our fluid repartee as comrades and as equals. Without the one-on-ones and the group jokes that happened over snacks, we would only be coworkers or acquaintances. We became friends around the snack table.
What better way to connect with a stranger than over your shared love for broccoli, or your excitement at the new kinds of cheese or your fascination with the texture of a baked good? The snack table is an excellent low pressure, high euphoria environment.
While we love learning about people’s experiences and vast histories through the stories we share in every rehearsal, we are equally enthralled to know —
Who of us will eat food off the floor?
Who dips their apples into hummus?
Who scoffs at pre-packaged Oreo cookies?
Who eats only the fruit?
Who eats only the carbs?
Who fears the doubles dippers?
Who lingers at the end of rehearsal in hopes of taking home the left over snacks?
Who has no shame in eating the last cracker?
Who loves the nostalgia of juice boxes?
Who brings coffee and does not venture to the snack table?
Who refills the water jug when it has emptied?
Who makes the most crumbs?
Who makes no crumbs at all?
Who cleans their face with a napkin?
Who cleans their face with their sleeve?
All of these things teach us as much about each other as every vulnerable moment on stage. We cherish the experience of getting to know these details, and we have the snack table to thank. If you do not have a snack table in your work or community space, I’d highly suggest you think about starting one. You’ll be surprised at the results.
Long after this year-long project wraps up, we will remember the moments of vulnerability we shared, we will remember the diverse community we forged, and most of all, we will remember the snack table.