Stage Meals

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Stage Meals by which are meant meals consumed or apparently consumed on the stage in the course of a dramatic performance, have received little attention in the literature, but have a locus classicus in the form of an essay by Osbert Sitwell (1963).

This makes the point that actors have sometimes counted upon receiving actual nourishment from stage meals. Sitwell cites some legal proceeding in France in the summer of 1841, when an actor called M. Clary was accused in court by his manager of impossible obstinacy and non-cooperation. His defence was that when he was playing the part of a prince or a marquis or other person of distinction on the stage he expected treatment in the matter of food and drink conformable to his temporary rank and the spirit of the part he was playing. Yet the manager starved the actors. They had to drink seltzer water instead of champagne and had even been given a pasteboard turkey which they were expected to pretend to consume.