The Art of Dining


Writers: Tina Howe


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Contemporary, Unit/Single Set
Time & Place
New Jersey, present day
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Small Cast, Theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly female cast
Includes adult, mature adult characters


On a cold and windy November night, Ellen and Cal prepare to open their restaurant, The Golden Carrousel. The entrees are prepped, the desserts are decided, and the small dining room is booked - their futures depend on a successful opening for future business. Perfectionist Ellen is an exquisite chef, changing the menu every night and frantically ensuring that each course is an artistic masterpiece of taste. Cal’s primary concern is paying back their loan, but he overindulges on her creations, leaving almost nothing for the guests. The patrons of this little restaurant are an eccentric group: couple Hannah and Paul Galt, writhing in ecstasy at just reading the menu; neurotic writer Elizabeth Barrow Colt, crippled with a profound fear of food and eating; self-assured publisher David Osslow, who eats his fill and then some; and friends Herrick Simmons, Tony Stasso, and Nessa Vox, a crass and hungry trio focused on their careers and each others’ entrees. Each table has its own conflicts play out while Ellen and Cal desperately try to keep dinner going each night. With many productions using real food from a real kitchen onstage, The Art of Dining is an exploration of appetites (food and otherwise) and the social manners at play when satiating those desires.

Lead Characters

The Art of Dining guide sections