Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. A Recipe of Me by Kate Kilpatrick is an incredible ensemble play with authentic middle school characters for middle school students. We see people all the time but don’t always know their stories. A Recipe of Me is great for social-emotional learning and understanding others.
Leah and her siblings are relegated to the kids table in the kitchen AGAIN for Thanksgiving at Grandma Lucy and Grandpa Elliott’s house. Worse, they’ve had their phones taken away. This leads to the siblings searching the cupboards for snacks. What they come away with is Grandma Lucy’s secret family recipe box.
They think they’re going to find juicy gossip. Instead, they find heartfelt stories about their family told through recipes. Stories they never knew.
A beautiful look into the world of a family rooted in love and food. Food is the language that everyone can speak.
This play was written specifically for middle school performers and won top honors at both the Florida Jr. Thespians District and State levels.
Why did we publish this play?
A Recipe of Me is a play specifically written with middle school aged characters for middle school performers, and we’re always on board with that. Further, it’s a thoughtful, engaging look at how we see other people – especially the people we see all the time like our family. A beautiful show with dynamic characters AND easy to stage. The original production had a card table with five chairs – the rest was taken care of by an ensemble and the imagination.
1. Why did you write this play?
This play started with a passion project called Come to the Table, where we took a cast of middle school students to an assisted living facility in their community and had them interview the seniors about their favorite family recipes and food traditions. I knew I wanted to write a play about the importance of food and tradition in family cultures, and how food – similarly to theatre – is a universal way to bring people together. I always knew I would use elements of the interview transcripts while writing the play, but I also wanted to prioritize writing something for middle school students where they actually got to play middle-school-aged characters; from the beginning, I knew I didn’t want middle schoolers playing seniors. I believe A Recipe of Me authentically captures the love and respect cultivated in our interviews in a creative, fresh perspective to which middle school performers can easily relate.
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
Food is love. Family is love. Food is family.
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
I think the use of the ensemble allows so much room for play and creativity throughout. Whenever there is a breakout Recipe of Me moment, there is an ideal moment for devising tableau, pantomime, and other collaborative unique to each production. For me, those ensemble moments are what breathe life and detail into the story.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Use this script as a way to inspire young performers to connect with their own family food traditions and stories. The more you can get them invested into the story, the stronger the play will be. Our auditions for the show (before the script was even written) was asking the students to prepare a story about food in their family (Have you ever been cooking and something went wrong? Who taught you how to make your favorite recipe? etc.), and at our very first rehearsal, students made their own Recipes of Me and shared them with the cast and crew. There is so much flexibility in this story – find the heart and playfulness that resonates with you and your cast.
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
Simply put, because it was written for student performers. Students helped me devise and revise the script. Even the characters that are from different eras are portrayed as their younger, middle-school selves. It doesn’t ask young performers to try and put themselves in the shoes of adult characters – it was truly intended for young people.
6. Do you have any advice for people looking to perform this play online or socially distanced?
Utilize your ensemble! You can easily create striking stage imagery with a distanced ensemble. Physical closeness will not make or break this story. For those attempting to stage it online, I would say the same – think of ways you can use your full cast when supporting the break-out Recipe of Me moments throughout the play.