MFA Thesising (“The Fall of the Family Felderbaum”)

You may have noticed it’s been a bit quiet around here lately. My posts have been less frequent than usual (which puts me at about the average posting rate of a normal non-insane food blogger). Still, these next few weeks may be a tiny drop quieter. As many of you know, I’m finishing my MFA program in dramatic writing at NYU. To finish this program I have to write a masters thesis play which will be read in front of a real live audience with actors and lights and everything on May 3rd. That’s less than a month away! Not to worry: I already have a first draft written, now I’m working on a major revision. The play, incidentally, is called “The Fall of the Family Felderbaum” and it involves (shocker!) a family restaurant. As a special treat, if you click below, you can read the opening sequence. It’s still a work in progress but it may be of interest to food lovers such as yourselves. And who knows maybe one day you’ll be waiting in line to buy tickets for it and you’ll say, “Ah, it seems like just yesterday I read the opening sequence to this play on a food blog. And now here I am about to pay $75 to see the rest. $75. I could have a meal at Babbo for $75.” Then you leave the line and have a wonderful dinner. I forgive you.

THE FALL OF THE FAMILY FELDERBAUM

by Adam Roberts

ACT ONE

PART ONE

(A parking lot. LEO enters. He is an old man with two canes and fake legs.)

LEO

When I was a young man, I knew a great chef who had a restaurant here–here on this very spot. Or was it this spot? I think it was this spot.

(He moves to a different spot.)

LEO (CONT’D)

Yes, this was the spot. For 100 years his family maintained the greatest restaurant in Ohio, Ohio. His food was exquisite. Foodies travelled far and wide to experience it.

(A FOODIE enters, exhausted.)

FOODIE

I have travelled far and wide to experience the exquisite cuisine of Felderbaum’s, the greatest restaurant in Ohio, Ohio.

LEO

My apologies but your quest is in vain. Felderbaum’s is gone.

FOODIE

Impossible!

LEO

It is no more.

FOODIE

For how long?

LEO

For 50 years.

FOODIE

You mean I’ve travelled 50 years to experience the finest food in Ohio, Ohio only to find that it’s gone? How devastating!

LEO

It’s true. It was burnt to the ground in a tragic fire.

FOODIE

A kitchen fire?

LEO

No a tragic fire.

FOODIE

Was it a tragic kitchen fire?

LEO

Depends on your perspective. From my perspective it was the least tragic thing in the world. It meant freedom–

FOODIE

You mean?

LEO

Yes, I worked at Felderbaum’s. I was a slave to the tyranny of that kitchen.

FOODIE

But surely you appreciated the fineness of the food? Can you tell me about it? What was it like to eat scorpion feces on star-shaped pieces of toast?

LEO

It was indeed brilliant work. My father–

FOODIE

Your father?! You mean–

LEO

Yes, my father was Franklin Felderbaum, the genius behind Felderbaum’s.

FOODIE

That means: you’re Leo? You’re Leo Felderbaum?

(Leo bows.)

FOODIE (CONT’D)

Oh wow! What an honor, what a privilege! It is said that you were twice the genius your father was.

LEO

Lies! I was only 1/4 the genius my father was!

FOODIE

Well 1/4 of 2 is 1/2

LEO

Which means?

FOODIE

I don’t know. But I’ve travelled far and wide to study the cuisine of Felderbaum’s, and now that I’ve met you I need to know all about it. What was the kitchen like in its heyday? Where did it go wrong? Who started that fire? Why did they do it? How does one make a proper béchamel? What is béchamel?

LEO

All these questions…they’re too much for me to ponder.

FOODIE

Forgive me. I do not mean to overwhelm.

LEO

No, forgive me. This is all so emotional. I haven’t been back since, since–

FOODIE

You burned down the restaurant?

(Beat.)

FOODIE (CONT’D)

With your parents inside?

LEO

I was a different person back then.

FOODIE

Weren’t we all.

LEO

I was so full of life, so full of boundless energy.

(YOUNG LEO enters and does a gymnastics routine across the stage.)

FOODIE

Is that you?

LEO

Yes it is. The younger me.

(Young Leo hops to his feet.)

YOUNG LEO

I am so full of life! So full of boundless energy!

LEO

I was a happy child. Maybe a bit too happy.

YOUNG LEO

Hurrah! Hurrah! I can lick my pinky toe!

LEO

But more than anything else, I wanted to be an actor.

YOUNG LEO

Oh to act. That is my dream. (He removes a flyer from his pocket.) And my dream is about to come true!

LEO

Yet, I was held back by a powerful force. The force of the family business: Felderbaum’s, the greatest restaurant in Ohio, Ohio.

(The stage shifts back to the past. Felderbaum’s rises in the background.)

[And that’s how my play begins!]

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