November 26, 2016
“How did this happen?” “What is this?” “Where am I and how did I not know about this before?”
Oh friends, we have heard a lot of that this year. For those who are new to Nordo and those who have been with us since we were spring chickens I would like to take this moment to tell you our story. To tell you how far we’ve come. And I will start by saying we wouldn’t have any of this if it weren’t for generous gifts from people like you who believe in us and believe that radically innovative art is an essential part of the fabric of not only Seattle, but also our culture at large. We hope you remember Nordo when you consider your charitable giving for 2016.
Seven years ago the circus that Terry and I worked for closed its doors. Knowing we wanted to continue working together, we conceived of an immersive theatrical spoof of fine dining and the culture of the celebrity chef. Simultaneously it was a love letter to food well made and well sourced. We hired the circus’ accordion player as our composer, (Annastasia Workman), the circus’ stage manager to be one of our lead actors, (Opal Peachey), and convinced the owner of Theo Chocolate to let us use not only his empty warehouse but also his confection kitchen for a show that would run for six weeks. We had no idea what we were doing. The audience had no idea what we were doing. But to our surprise, they looked past the humble bathrooms, (Honey Buckets dressed up with velvet curtains,) our insistence that they not sit with the friends they came with to increase the “adventure”, (we learned to stop doing that,) and saw what we were: a group of artists full of mirth and heart that wanted to integrate food, music, and service into storytelling. And they, (you?) asked for more.
We didn’t know then we were brick by brick creating an artistic institution that has no comparable rival in the US or the world. A show that integrates food and storytelling seems to crop up every so often in New York or Chicago, but there is no other company working to perfect the Immersive Theatrical Dining Event as a new form of performance. We were Seattle’s first Immersive theater company, a term that is just now coming in to fashion. To my knowledge there is no other chef creating food dish after dish, show after show to help tell a story. There is no other composer writing music to score a menu, or restaurant designer completely changing the look of a restaurant eight times a year. (Although I hear some have tried.) And I have never in my twenty years in the professional theater world seen a company that strived to treat their audience like treasured guests in their home, to curate a seating chart for the best conversations, to bring people together who never would have crossed paths and ask them to share a meal.
With Hotel Nordo we are one show in to our first fully curated season. We feel that every show in the lineup is going to blow the doors off the place. And meanwhile we are quietly creating smaller experiences like YUREI: The Lost Chapter of Hotel Nordo, an immersive reflection of the Japanese Internment at The Panama Hotel, the timing of which coincided with our national politics in a way that could not be planned but was deeply moving and profound. And behind the scenes, a diverse group of artists and community members now call Nordo home. The after-hours conversations about race and gender have created a sanctuary and are sincerely and organically changing the direction of our work.
You’re watching us grow up, growing in to our role in this community, growing in to our beautiful Culinarium, and gathering the courage to go deeper. Support from you facilitates that growth. We are a lean operation committed to fair compensation to our artists and staff, as well as keeping our ticket prices within reach. Consider the price of a five-course meal of ethically sourced cuisine, then add a night at the theater, and you see how support from our community keeps Nordo alive. Please consider a gift this year.
We are humbled and grateful to our incredible audience. Every orphan feather or abandoned fringe that lay on the floor of Hotel Nordo at the end of the night reminded us that if we give all of ourselves, you will give it back. Thank you, thank you.
Best Wishes for the Holiday Season,
Are you sure?