Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Orlando Theatre Pot-Luck

Sun, 07/13/2008 - 17:08 -- rprice

Back in April, a bunch of local theatre folks got together to have dinner and meet up. Tonight was the second installment in what seems to be a 3-or-4-times-a-year event, held in local theatre spaces. The April 6th pot-luck was hosted by Mad Cow Theatre downtown, and today's was held in the lobby of the Orlando REP.

From the Wikipedia page on Potluck:

Folk etymology has derived the term "potluck" from the Native American custom of potlatch; the word "potluck", however, is actually of English origin. It is a portmanteau word formed from (cooking) pot and lucke. The earliest written citation is from 1592: "That that pure sanguine complexion of yours may never be famisht with pot lucke," Thomas Nashe. As this shows, the original meaning was "food given away to guests", probably derived from "whatever food one is lucky enough to find in the pot", i.e. whatever food happens to be available, especially when offered to a guest. By extension, a more general meaning is "whatever is available in a particular circumstance or at a particular time."

Potlatch is actually a good custom from which to derive this kind of dinner - the potlatch is often celebrated at special events, like births, celebrations of the harvest, and weddings. It is a show of wealth and prosperity, where the person holding the potlatch holds a feast, and trades some prized commodity for things they might need.

The tech community's BarCamp and the PR and Media community's BlogOrlando could be seen as a kind of potlatch - we're trading ideas and experience.

The idea for the Theatre Pot-Luck was originally spawned by local actor John Baker via Elizabeth Maupin's Orlando Sentinel theatre blog, which is also the best place see announcements for other upcoming events. The Orlando Arts Blog is another good place to check. Apparently, the Orlando Shakes has volunteered to hold the next one in a few months. Right now there is no organizer, it just sort of happens as someone steps up to offer space - which is, in my opinion, as it should be.

With Florida Creatives and BarCamp, the geeks are really fixated on a single person having all the ideas, and I think this is stifling the creativity and experimentation that could be happening if the organizations were more headless. One way we can do that with Florida Creatives is having chapters in other cities, which we are getting going in Melbourne/Brevard now, and hopefully more successfully in Jacksonville some day - the only stopping other cities is an initial organizer.

Yes, someone does have to take the reins, but only until it gains critical mass. Even when I tried to move the Happy Hour to the Fringe Beer tent some of the downtown folks still went to Crooked Bayou looking for their regular 3rd Monday beer-and-tots... funny.

I really meant to take some pictures, but when I was there, I just didn't see an opportunity.

What goes on at a theatre potluck? Well I talked to Arwen Lowbridge from Fractured Atlas in New York - she's down here visiting so she could check out Beth Marshall and Tod Kimbro's My Illustrious Wasteland - they were both also there, along with Betsy Maupin, of course - I ate dinner with them and (for a few minutes) John DiDonna, but he had to run.

Arwen and I waxed delicious about non-GMO, CSA farms, picking your own fruit, and having fresh food delivered to your house. I also had my first face-to-face meeting with Maupin, who said something to the effect of "You look bigger than on the Internet".

I later moved over to a table with David Almeida , Marcie and Stephen J Miller from Here Be Dragons. There were some interesting threads there too, like one about experimenting with different roles while you're in school, because once you're out, you get cast as yourself for the rest of your life. The other hot topic was nudity, since David had done a play at Fringe with an extended nude scene.

I also got to hear about the history of this event, which is really important to me. The more I get into this, I see myself leaning more towards the role of documentarian and historian. I'm actually thinking about shooting a 20-25 minute documentary in a few weeks if I get the logistics figured out - I also hope that I will be able to get the help with editing that I'm hoping for... more on this later.

Looking forward expectantly to the next Pot-Luck - next time I promise to bring something. Betsy's chicken and David's brownies were great, and I heard good things about some lo mein and Stephen's apple pie too.


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Submitted by John DiDonna (not verified) on

Hello! This came up in a search! Sorry I had to run, but it was great to sit down for just a few moments and try to catch a breath with some great people!
Next time I promise to bring something to the pot luck as well, sand ince I am Italian you can probably guess it will have tomatoes and basil in whatever it is! Very nice postings about goings on!
All my best,
John DiDonna