My wife Julia and I had the opportunity to support a fellow ERPA winner, Connie Hall of Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant. We did not exactly know what to expect, except that food and theater would be involved. We were blown away. When we got back to our neighborhood and walked down our block, we were still stunned. After the show, we did not know how we would be able to re-integrate back into society.
Although I am supposed to be the poet in the ERPA crew, I must use a cliché to explain Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant: “You have to do it, to get it.” As difficult as it is to put it into words, I will still give it a try. Simply put, Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant is that juicy, delicious intersection where a good show and a good party meet.
Hospitality – The host meets you at the door.
From the moment we entered the lobby, we were invited into a world. Our hosts were happy that we came and made sure we had a good time. They let us know we were not audience members, patrons or customers, but honored guests.
Food & Merriment – There is plenty of good food and drink.
Not only did we eat, but we ate well. As soon as we stopped laughing and enjoying a segment of the show we were being fed more than we could eat. Biodegradable plates, bowls and cups rotated with delicious food made with fresh ingredients and prepared with intent and love.
Characters Abound – So many new people to meet.
Everybody was a character: the hosts, the cooks, the bartender, even the members of the audience got to be characters. I was “Dr. Feel Good,” and my wife was “Donna Matrix.” The crew and everyone at our table stayed in character through the whole show and by the end of the show we felt like we were leaving newly made friends.
Community – At some point it turns into one big party.
The Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant crew does a great job of getting the guests to participate in the fun. The people in the lobby and at our table talked and laughed together. It was like being at a great party and a great show at the same time. Warning: Somebody might end up kissing someone they have just met or covered in chocolate, or both.
My only criticism of Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant is that they did not have a big box in the back of the room to drop gifts in when we came in and donations when we left. Thank you to the whole crew for a great show and a great party. I am feeling some serious ERPA pride.
kahlil almustafa recently completed the “100 Poems For 100 Days” project where he wrote 100 poems in the first 100 days of Barack Obama’s presidency. In addition to writing poetry, almustafa also conducted Living Room Readings where he went into people’s homes and had participants to write “Barack Obama Inauguration Speech Remix Poems.” He uses poetry to engage with communities in critical dialogue.
Check out www.kahlilalmustafa.mvmt.com for more info.