We had our first American Night potluck last night, with 17 audience members in attendance. The picnic group was a wonderful mix of subscribers, people who were new to the Bruns, and even one former staffer! People really did what was asked: They brought dishes to share that were from their cultural backgrounds. Different folks interpreted this variously: Some people brought something their grandmother made and some people thought more broadly about which communities they belong to. Okra pickles, a feta watermelon salad (Northern California representing!), and Portuguese sweetbread were all big hits. We passed a mic around and people explained what they had brought, and shared the stories that went with the food, resulting in a fascinating and lively conversation! There was plenty of socializing among strangers, and many people lingered almost ’til curtain time. It felt like a fun party that really created some community among audience members who would probably never have met each other. We’ll even planning on following up by email to get people’s recipes for a cookbook we’re making!
All in all, a successful first experiment. Many of the participants came up to us and expressed their appreciation: “Cal Shakes has never done anything like this before. Thanks so much for inviting us.”
The remaining two Potluck Picnics take place Thursday, June 13 and Friday, June 21. Information on how to RSVP can be found on the Cal Shakes special events page.