Homage to the Small Shop

At the butcherThis project takes its inspiration from the age old human institution of the shopping street. An essential part of the community life of many cultures, and reflecting the nuances and preferences of individual traditions, shops and what they sell have also often become the subject of various kinds of artistic expression. Thus they are represented in literature and music, as well as theatre and the visual arts. From the baker to the butcher, the sweet shop and the flower shop to the Blacksmith, the cobbler and the tailor, these shops feature in the grand themes of human experience.

Delicatessen have been performing a repertoire of Mediterranean, Balkan, Spanish Sephardic and Yiddish songs for about three years. We realised quite early on that many of the songs we were playing were stories being played out in or around shops, or involving goods bought in specialised shops. In fact, this seemed to be a common thread transcending geographical and cultural borders. There are songs about thwarted love symbolised by a young girl eating sweets made from bitter almonds, songs about being in love with the handsome young butcher, songs about eating fruit, drinking coffee, drinking wine and dancing the night away in the taverna at the end of the street.

With this project we want to expand our musical performances to include visual aspects such as theatre and performance. Where possible and appropriate we also would like to give an audience the experience of tasting different kinds of foods as part of their experience of the event. We want to offer an audience a sensual journey on several levels, that is auditory, visual and culinary. Thus we hope to encourage people to participate in the evening in a visceral sense on the one hand, making them feel as if they are part of the crowd wandering through our imaginary street, and on the other hand bring awareness of the importance of the small shop as a vital expression and function of community firmly into the foreground.

To achieve this we also plan to directly involve the community around the location of our chosen venue. This will hopefully include working together with shops in the area to provide food and other goods and offering members of the community to participate in the performance where possible.

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