From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]borderstan.com.
The Dunes, a newcomer, opened at 1402 Meridian Place in October of 2011. SpeakeasyDC, a well-known fixture of the DC performing arts scene, began as part of Washington Storytellers Theatre in 1997. Bryan Joseph Lee, Director of Performing Arts at The Dunes, and Amy Saidman, Artistic Executive Director at SpeakeasyDC, are the duo behind the series. Lee describes The Dunes as a “multi-use art space” that has been expanding to incorporate fine art, music and the performing arts.
As The Dunes included more live shows in its programming lineup, a partnership with SpeakeasyDC seemed like a natural fit. Saidman said her organization was excited to be working with the relative newcomer. Both confirmed that the night’s performance, “Vol 1. Into the Fire,” was intended to be part of the series, “At Your Service: Uncut Stories from Inside the Restaurant Industry,” but neither provided specifics about the future installments
After an introduction and brief anecdote from Saidman, The first storyteller, SpeakeasyDC instructor John Kevin Boggs, kicked off the night at 8 pm, and three stories from food service workers unaffiliated with Speakeasy DC followed. Bartenders Frankie Jones and Andrea Tateosian each shared their stories about life behind the bar, and local actor (and experienced waiter) Alex Vaughan shared the tale of his most harrowing night working at a tapas restaurant.
Each of the storytellers discussed his or her particular experience in the food industry, but the universality of the emotions in each — anger, exhaustion, confusion, pride, self-doubt — gave the stories their impact. A certain sarcastic, often self-deprecating, sense of humor characterized the tone of the evening, and the overflowing crowd in the small space laughed appreciatively and knowingly along with the performers.
The night was exactly what it aspired to be: an introduction to both The Dunes and SpeakeasyDC, and an excuse for people of different ages and backgrounds to listen to each others’ stories and maybe tell a few of their own.
Although there is no definite information about the next performance in the series, both organizations have busy programming schedules in the coming months. Check their websites for details about upcoming shows, and follow The Dunes’ Facebook page for updates about its dedicated performing arts space, “Upstage.”