Mackerel
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AndSoForth: Coming to a dinner table near you

Posts tagged THEATRE

andsoforth: Coming To A Dinner Table Near You
purveyors of dinner theatre fun

19 March 2015


DINNER, THEATRE, ANDSOFORTH

When you’re new to a city, whether as a tourist, sojourner or lifer with no intentions of leaving, dinner theatre is one way to acquaint yourself with the locals and their vibes. A wide range of concepts are available and we’ve had our taste of a few; from the medieval with flagons and mussels in white wine sauce aplenty, to the traditional Chinese tea-house with kungfu artist pouring tea while doing back-flips, to a more straightforward sit-down meal with butoh performance taking place on a stage not 20 metres from the dinner table.

So, what else could you pair with your meal other than the recommended Pinot Noir?

Enter Stuart and Emily, the founders of ANDSOFORTH and purveyors of contemporary - and nomadic - dinner theatre fun. With three major dinners to date - The Hideaway, The Experiment and The Heist - ANDSOFORTH is steaming ahead with the countless ideas they have for upcoming events. And the best part? Venue, menu and entertainment are never a given.

Contemporary dinner theatre might have fewer flagons, but there is the odd wench and raucous entertainment - The Heist.

THE INTERVIEW

Mackerel: Let‘s start at the very beginning. What was the genesis of ANDSOFORTH?

ASF: Emily and I were bored of the dining scene in Singapore and we needed something more. Travelling was just about good enough to scratch that itch until Emily discovered Gingerline in London and we fell in love with all of its immersive/interactive experiences. That’s when we knew we simply had to bring it to Singapore. ANDSOFORTH was birthed out of our combined love for theatre and food; elements that we believe bring people together, create conversational pieces and allows for an amazing night out. We love that as a couple and we wanted to re-create and share the fun with others like us.

Mackerel: From your experience so far, what seems to pique your diners‘ interest the most?

ASF: Most want excitement, a thrilling experience. Then there are some who expect a lavish and expensive dinner, which cannot always happen given the low ticket prices. The people who come for the experience leave wanting more. But those who come expecting to be treated like kings and queens miss out on the fantastic people they could have chatted with, like the actors who work tirelessly to give them a three-hour long performance. There is no backstage. The actors have to stay in character the entire night. Even if they have to use the toilet, they are doing so in character. This way we never break the story or illusion of the magical world we’ve created just for those 80 people.

Mackerel: What sets ANDSOFORTH apart from other dinner theatre concepts?

ASF: I think we have a mind of our own. We like to challenge the boring and push boundaries. Dining with strangers? Going for dinner without knowing what you’ll be served? Not knowing the story or the characters of a play before coming to the show? A secret location revealed only on the day….I believe these elements make it hard for people to copy but even if they do, we welcome them! Because it means that people are making use of atypical spaces in Singapore and they are providing jobs for the creatives, which then adds to the cultural experience of Singapore. This is competition that is beneficial to our country and something we believe will help open the minds of the more conservative and broaden their appreciation for arts and culture.

The Experiment

The Hideaway

The Experiment

Mackerel: Tell us about your most disappointing and most satisfying ANDSOFORTH shenanigans.

ASF: People who don’t know who or what we are turn up because a friend or colleague buys them tickets. So, their expectations are all over the place and they sometimes leave confused about what they feel they should have gotten out of the event. Which is sad because seats are limited and there are always others who actually want to be there but just can’t get tickets. On the up side, customers tell us what a fantastic time they had and how they wish for us do another one soon and that we should never stop creating ANDSOFORTH stories. It is extremely heartwarming.

Mackerel: What is your biggest challenge? Finding a suitable venue? Engaging a decent chef?

ASF: Venue is and will always be the biggest challenge, simply because a space needs to meet certain criteria before we can consider it and sometimes the rental can be a killer. So, we take our time to hunt for spaces. A chef willing to take on the challenge is also hard to find. Feeding 80 people a 3-4 course meal a night where some have really specific dietary requirements is no easy feat. But, when we do find one, they (the chef and his/her team) usually bring on their A game and work their hardest, often improving as they go.

STUART, EMILY, ANDSOFORTH

Mackerel: Who are the masterminds behind this?

ASF: The dynamic duo of Stuart and Emily! Emily is in charge of logistics, customer data (that’s to make sure they get seated at the correct tables and get their dietary specified meals), human resources, printing the design collateral, finding the casts, and cashiering. She’s also in charge of PR and Marketing and has recently ventured into costume designing and sourcing. Stuart conceptualises and directs, writes the script, acts (sometimes), designs the set, builds the set, designs the soundscape, controls the multimedia during each show and cleans the toilet. We do many things but we get a lot of help and advice from friends and we honestly would not be able to do this without them. That’s we try to credit as many of them as possible on our menus and are in the process of adding them to our website. Collaboration is the glue and backbone of ANDSOFORTH.

Mackerel: What are your objectives?

ASF: We want to create exciting, fun and social dinners. Our goal is to bring the creatives we know and don’t know together, with a vision of creating art for the common man. Food is a good excuse to attend an event but the adventure starts the minute you show up at our doorstep. Inclusivity is our main aim; our team is always expanding to whoever wants to be a part of it. We call our contributors “Batman” because most of them have day jobs, but want or need an outlet to do something or be part of creating something fun. So, they come after work to help with the plating in the kitchen, or with bringing the food to the tables, folding menus, setting up tables, fitting actors’ costumes, make-up, cashiering, sometimes even sweeping the floor. We love these guys the most; they are passionate, reliable and the best part of it is that we get to make new friends.

Mackerel: How did you choose the name?

ASF: It was a three-month long debate, with propositions and plenty of fierce rejection between Emily and myself but the name came about when we were having our private yusheng* picnic party at Marina Barrage. It was Chinese New Year 2014 and we hadn’t had the chance to celebrate, so we felt that we owed it to ourselves to get some yusheng as a treat. I was telling Emily about the concept for the first event but didn’t want to describe everything in detail so I kept saying, “so on and so forth”. Somehow, that stuck and we decided to shorten it to what is it now. ANDSOFORTH is all about collaboration!

* Yusheng = A raw fish (usually salmon) salad that is better known as the Prosperity Toss or “Lo Hei”. Eaten typically during the Chinese New Year period.

To book your next dinner theatre experience in Singapore:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andsoforthsg

Website: http://www.andsoforth.com.sg/

Text: Carol | Photos: Marc and ANDSOFORTH.