An interactive play about the art of food and community in Five Points has packed the Savoy

“Recipe” depicts the neighborhood’s history, including the lives of real people.
3 min. read
Adrienne Martin-Fullwood performs in the first act of “Recipe” at The Savoy at Curtis Park, Jan. 19, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A play that gets audiences out of their seats and deep into the history of Five Points has been extended after shows in its initial run sold out at the Savoy at Curtis Park.

"Recipe," a collaboration of Emancipation Theater Company, Grapefruit Lab and Theatre Artibus, was initially scheduled to close this weekend at the Savoy. Instead, two shows were added, Jan. 24 and 25. They quickly sold out too.

"It kind of took us by surprise," said Emancipation Theater's Jeff Campbell.

Campbell said "Recipe" would not get another extension because of the difficulty of organizing more dates for the complex project.

"It's a pretty large cast and pretty large production, a lot of moving parts," he said. "I'm glad it came together so well."

During the show, audience members in small groups are led by actors through the Victorian-era Savoy, experiencing moments from the neighborhood's history and the lives of real people in much the way friends and family might share stories over a meal.

Scenes were built from interviews with people from the neighborhood and from research into census and other records.

In one scene, a brother and sister recount growing up in a large and lively Five Points family. Members of that family, now scattered, attended one "Recipe" performance.

Mitchell Marquez and Laura Chavez-Slack perform in "Recipe" at The Savoy at Curtis Park, Jan. 19, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Other characters include members of the Danish Sisterhood Ellen Lodge No. 21. The group offered support to women who had emigrated from Denmark, met at the Savoy from 1905 to 1920 and remains active, now in members' homes. Immigrants from Hungary also play parts in "Recipe," as does the Peruvian founder of Rodelle. Rodelle had offices and labs for its vanilla extract business in the Savoy from 1948 to 1982 and now is based in Fort Collins.

Buba Basishvili performs in a scene during "Recipe" at The Savoy at Curtis Park, Jan. 19, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Campbell takes the lead in a scene recreating the Friday Night Fish Fry at Brother Jeff's Cultural Cafe in the '90s. They were evenings of food, music and poetry. "Recipe" audiences play, well, the audience at the cafe and get a taste of fried fish.

The evening ends with audience members and characters from different eras and communities together in one room, celebrating the possibility of making connections.

Theatre Artibus artistic director Meghan Frank told Colorado Public Radio that the project grew out of a Curtis Park Neighborhood meeting she attended. That led to asking people to share their memories. Food, belonging, home and community emerged as themes.

"We felt like food was a great way to start the conversation since it seems to be a great common denominator and a place where stories happen, around the table and with neighbors," Frank told CPR.

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