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

April 10, 2006 | By | COMMENTS

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.


by Adam Roberts



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


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.)


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.)


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


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




It is no more.


For how long?


For 50 years.


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


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


A kitchen fire?


No a tragic fire.


Was it a tragic kitchen fire?


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


You mean?


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


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?


It was indeed brilliant work. My father–


Your father?! You mean–


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


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

(Leo bows.)


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


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


Well 1/4 of 2 is 1/2


Which means?


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?


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


Forgive me. I do not mean to overwhelm.


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


You burned down the restaurant?



With your parents inside?


I was a different person back then.


Weren’t we all.


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

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


Is that you?


Yes it is. The younger me.

(Young Leo hops to his feet.)


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


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


Hurrah! Hurrah! I can lick my pinky toe!


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


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


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!]

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Mike B

    I want to see the full thing! Really, quite enjoyable. I have to ask: have you been reading David Ives? There’s some of his styling in your writing (not that what you’ve written isn’t original; I don’t mean to suggest that at all). Do let us know how it goes.

  • Ratna

    Ha-ha! Just love your writing… and now that there’s going to be dramatization of your work! I think Babbo can wait ;)

  • Jason Sholar

    I also want to read the entire writing. Share, share, share, share, share… ***The crowd gets restless***

  • Sil (Bs As)

    it`s not fare! I wanna know how it ends!! Lovely…good luck!

  • Amity

    Not only will I buy the $75 entrance fee, I’ll buy the plane ticket to NY, the hotel room, the cab fare, the pre-show coctails, etc., etc., etc. Excellente, AG!

  • Gwen

    This is great. I wish I could come to NYC to see it, and of course eat at Babbo!

  • Nina

    I love it! I beg you for more with my puppy-dog eyes!

  • iamchanelle

    good luck on all you preparations, and thanks for the sneak peak! very funny!

  • Rachel

    is there any chance that those of us from new york might be able to come and see your show on May 3rd? pretty please…

  • gidget bananas

    What Jason said!

  • tejal

    I laughed aloud at young Leo licking his pinky toe. I laughed aloud at lots of bits actually. It’s great–how long will the finished piece be? And do you cast the actors yourself and direct them, or does someone else take care of that?

  • Devlyn

    Are you going to share the whole thing once it’s done? I would also be interested in reading it.

  • holly

    go ohio! are you letting everyone in on the secret of our great cuisine? lol

  • saucymomma

    Bravo! Please post the play when you can. I’m on the edge of my seat. I’d gladly come see your production. As for dinner or anything else Mario B. I’ll pass….he’s a jerk who really went Italian mafia on a small mom & pop gelato joint way out here in Texas.

    Let me know when opening night is!

  • Anne

    I love it! Not big on theater in general, but this sounds like a play I’d actually like to see! :)

  • Alexandra

    great writing! I am trying out the balsamic glazed chicken that I read about in a previous post…check out my site and I’ll have it posted up tonight after I eat :) we’ll see how it turns out…already I made the same mistake with not putting foil on it and so its sooooo dark now and it’s only been in 20mins!

  • David

    Good work, you and your professors should be proud. I remember my MFA script, not an easy thing to do, and each one doesn’t get easier.

    And the choice of setting, for us theatre and food junkies was briliant.

  • p

    scorpion feces on star-shaped pieces of toasts? lol ^^

  • Kirin

    Ya I’d a ticket to opening nite! Enjoyed the bit you let us peak at, sounds like it would be a fun nite out, Dinner at Babbo,your play then post-play cocktails while waiting for the early edition reviews. Good luck with the thesis. I know what a bone crusher that can be.

    Got the chicken marinating in the fridge,and the pears are to the ready for tomorrow, thanks for sharing play and yummy foods!!

  • Meg

    Great start – I look happily forward to skipping Babbos for the privilege of seeing the play. Will you have a cameo or is that too much to ask? ; )

  • jiji

    You have such a great ear for dialogue!

  • Darrell

    I’d just love to seee this play!

  • Dennis

    Hate to be the naysayer but I didnt like it. Obviously in the minority. Sounded like Vaudeville but maybe that is the intention. Just that Forum already did that. “scorpion feces on star-shaped pieces of toasts” isnt that funny. Funny is on the border of real. But then I’ve read plays that “read” poorly but are dynamite on stage (Albee is usually a good example). Still would like to read it some day.

  • A Big Fan of the AG

    Hmm, will there be celebrity sightings at Felderbaum’s? Just think of the possibilities – Ohio celebrities…there’s ah, um, well…Marge Schott!!! Yes, Marge Schott at Felderbaum’s!!! Good luck with the MFA thesis, AG, I know it will be a huge success.