Kaleideum’s Peppercorn Theatre will present Stoo’s Famous Martian-American Gumbo, a new play for young audiences ages 6 & up, this July at the Arts Based School. In this out-of-this-world new play, Stoo is a Martian boy who discovers that he can’t grow his favorite fruit from Mars now that his family lives on Earth. Together with his diverse group of human friends, Stoo sets out to invent a brand new “special food” from delicious things on Earth. The result is a “Martian-American gumbo” – and a heartwarming tale about the unifying power of friendship, music, and sharing a meal.

The play, written by Brooklyn-based playwright Matt Barbot, was commissioned by Peppercorn Theatre more than a year ago. Barbot visited Winston-Salem in August 2018 and interviewed community members including Derek Hicks (author of Feeding Flesh and Spirit: Religion, Food, and the Saga of Race in Black America), Shereen Gomaa (of Delicious by Shereen), Mike Wakeford (Executive Director of New Winston Museum), and Sara Pesek (board member, World Relief Triad) to learn about the role that food plays in the cultural experience of our community. The script was then workshopped with Peppercorn Theatre’s “Young Dramaturgs” – a classroom of seventh grade drama students from Mineral Springs Middle School. These students provided feedback and insight about the experience of young people growing up in Winston-Salem.

The result is a warm, honest play written about and for the young people of Winston-Salem. Director Kaiser Ahmed (Associate Artistic Director of Jackalope Theatre Company in Chicago) says “Food is a great connector of people. This play invites us to break bread with one another – to taste, watch, and listen to stories of this world and of an imaginary Martian world. And in the most innocent and indirect way, it is an immigration story, crafted to reflect the diverse make-up of the Winston-Salem area. We’re creating a truly magical, engaging experience for our audiences that promises to be one-of-a-kind.”

One of the ways Stoo engages audiences is through taste. Each audience member will receive a sample pack of foods that Stoo and his friends experience throughout the play, and will be prompted at the right moment to taste each one with the characters.

Stoo’s Famous Martian-American Gumbo features Kemari Bryant (Stoo), Shanice Goode (Kacey), Karla Hernandez-Gonzalez (Billy), Salma Elsaie (Amira), Thao Nguyen (Tim), and Jasmine Fuchs (Jen). Costumes are designed by Ketti Shum, scenery by Taja Seafus, lighting by Kim Smith, and sound by Nik Parnell. Music direction is by Kate Carson-Groner, and choreography is by Thao Nguyen.

The 50-minute play will be performed at the Arts Based School (1380 N Martin Luther King Jr Drive) in the Alex Ewing Blackbox Theatre from July 12-28, 2019. Tickets are $10 for Kaleideum members, and $12 for non-members. Discounted tickets are available for $4 for EBT cardholders through Kaleideum’s “Theatre for All” initiative. Showtimes and tickets are available at peppercorntheatre.org.

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