Dining Room Tales is a social art practice conceived and directed by Xan Colman, in which strangers are invited to the dinner table, to intimately share in the life, culture and practice of internationally acclaimed artists over a communal meal they design for the audience.
For each ‘Tale’, Xan collaborates with another extraordinary artist to devise a performance that presents that artist’s practice over an evening of slow, relational, story-imbued time.
Driven by the premise that communities who engage with each other often, and with empathy, are healthier communities, Dining Room Tales is a highly specific practice to drive social resilience. It’s a practice of humanity and of art, shaped by a sustainability framework that emphasises slowness and social intimacy.
Crossing boundaries (of culture, geography, expertise) is a major catalyst for the new thinking we see as critical to the central concern of improving resilience. A second sustainability narrative underlies Dining Room Tales, and it’s about food: sustainable and ethical food production, and a return to local sustenance.
Dining Room Tales is a long-term global project, encompassing now nine original works. Xan collaborates with artists around the world, and takes the resulting works to as many diverse communities as possible.
It important to note that we travel light and work hyper-locally (with hosts, food producers etc) to deliver these works. We also work with environment groups to ensure our travel-related carbon is offset (one person-hour in the sky equals one new tree in the ground). We talk about the global local; small communities, leaning on each other from afar.
Dining Room Tales deploys food, performance and storytelling to cultivate cross-community connection to narratives of art, place, culture, family, and life practices which inform the way our society can better function through harmony. In the slow time of communal gathering, the structures of Dining Room Tales open space for critical conversations about who we are as a society, and the future we approach together.
It is from the relentless ripples of discrete stories that we begin to form our social narratives. We need to slow down more. Smell the roses. There’s time. Really.