It’s Thyme for Stage III

by Jordan Orlando

Most people love going out to eat, especially somewhere nice — dimmed lighting, sparkling white plates, mouth-watering food, and servers dressed in formal attire. What people don’t think about, is what goes on behind the scenes.

In the kitchen, where knives are just about the only things that sparkle, exists a whole different world. It’s a place where anything can be said by anyone of any background. It’s a space where both food and people can become overheated. It is the area behind the glamorous dining room where reality can be all too real.

How To Use a Knife kicks off the Stage III season. In the play, the scenes of a hectic kitchen are stirred together and served onto the stage. The play follows Chef George, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, and his not so glorious return to the kitchen. George is in the midst of trying to find his place again in this topsy-turvy Wall Street restaurant when a government official waltzes through its doors. One might suspect she is in town to collect the green cards of the two spicy Guatemalan line cooks who specialize in messing with the food runner. However, she is in fact looking for an East African man from Uganda who is a suspect in a confidential criminal case.

Playwright Will Snider has had years of unforgettable experiences in the world of the kitchen. How to Use a Knife was inspired by these moments in passion driven, fast-paced, and at times, dangerous kitchens. The setting of a kitchen is the perfect recipe for a play. This story has a dash of diversity, a sprinkle of talent, and a large scoop of excitement.

Snider has admitted in past interviews that when working in restaurants, he was not unlike the character Jack, a young, aspiring writer who is often the butt of the joke in the kitchen. The characters in this play move with speed and intensity. Snider wanted the language to do the same, “[The kitchen] is one of the last work environments with no HR Department. And people say things to each other in the way that you might [when] playing sports, or what I’ve seen from like a war movie. You could say really cruel and un-[Politically Correct] things to one another and the game of it was you couldn’t get offended because it was happening in the moment.”

How to Use a Knife is Snider’s first work to receive this much attention. The National New Play Network presented a Rolling World Premiere starting at the Capital Stage Theatre in California, and ending at the InterAct Theatre Company in Pennsylvania. How to Use a Knife has been produced at several other theatre’s throughout the county.

The cast features a unique combination of familiar faces and FST newcomers. Sam Mossler, who plays Chef George, is no stranger to FST. Mossler first came to FST 30 years ago when his mother signed him up for Summer Camp. “FST’s dedication to producing plays that speak truths and challenge audiences has never relented and that makes me so proud. And to have the opportunity to come home and work on this gorgeously brutal new piece, with such an apt and timely message, and so much opportunity for important conversations (and so many delicious swear words) in the company of artists that I admire so deeply…it’s everything FST taught me to seek in my artistic journey.”

Sam Mossler (Center) in Kids Komedy Club in 1993.

Another familiar cast member, who is no stranger to the Bowne’s Lab stage is FST acting apprentice and member of FST Improv, Michael Fraser. Michael most recently was seen in Deck the Halls: ‘Tis the Season. Rounding out the cast and making their FST debuts are Cedric Cannon, Chris Tipp, Alfredo De Quesada, Omar Pelaez, and Alexis Hyatt.

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