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NWR: accommodating dietary needs

FI's daughter is cast in her school's drama production, which means four months of rehearsals that span dinnertime. We attended the parent meeting tonight, during which we were told that each castmember's parent is responsible for feeding the entire cast of 45 kids on three occasions leading up to the performance. We were then given a list of food allergies, sensitivities, and restrictions. These cover most of the common bases: veggie, vegan, celiac, dairy, gluten, peanuts. It's a bit much. FI and I think it's ridiculous, first that we can't just be responsible for feeding our own child, but also that we're so restricted in whatever meals we're expected to donate. 45 people is a huge amount to feed when we have an hour at most between the end of work and the dinner break during rehearsal. And last, as someone with a nut allergy, I'd be wary of eating anything prepared by someone I couldn't trust to take my needs into consideration and would probably bring my own food anyway just to be safe.

Is this even reasonable? FI feels pretty strongly that this is a bad idea and wants to talk to the teacher, but his daughter is afraid she'll be ostracized and her stage time will be cut if FI complains about having to provide food.

Re: NWR: accommodating dietary needs

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    As a former drama kid, it's a nice idea since I spent the month leading up to performances eating dinner out of a vending machine. We didn't get long enough breaks to go anywhere to get food and weren't allowed to order delievery. 

    As an adult, yeah that's a bit much to ask. I can't think of anything that's easy for a group with that many restrictions. With all that plus food sanitation that sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. If her program is anything like mine was, complaining about anything will get stage time cut. To lessen the effect I'd get other parents to complain with you, particularly the parents of the leads and take the issue to school administration.  
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    Really, what I'd love to tell the teacher is that because her diehard rehearsal schedule means FI's daughter isn't home to do chores, and I have to provide gas money because FI's daughter no longer has time to work at her paying job, I don't have the time or money to prepare made to order food for 45 people. I was in band in HS, not drama. Is it normal to have 5 hour rehearsals every weekday, plus weekend rehearsals, for 4 months before opening night? It's Fiddler on the Roof. For the fall production they did Midsummer Night's Dream. That schedule wasn't so bad and we were only expected to provide snacks, which I could handle. I feel terrible because it's daughter's senior year, but the teacher's demands on the cast are making her participation hard for the rest of our family. The teacher has been at the school for at least 30 years, so this isn't new.
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    Can you ask for a meeting with the teacher and principal to voice your concerns and let them know that meeting those dietary needs is not a possibility for you?

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    I did band and orchestra through college, and my brother was a drama geek well into his adult life, so I thought I knew something about performing art groups and rehearsals, but this teacher has taken it to a new level...and I'm disappointed by that because I wish daughter didn't have to make the hard decision of doing the musical or living the rest of her life. I think the teacher has been there too long and has a God complex, but there are plenty of kids and parents for that matter who hang on her every word as gospel. Sucks.
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    Of the things you listed, I have Celiac Disease and I'm allergic to nuts. If my child had the same dietary restrictions, there is no way I would allow 45 random sets of parents to cook for them. It sounds rude, but there are very few people I can allow to cook for me because I can't chance them not understanding. My own parents aren't even comfortable cooking for me. 

    I suppose it's possible the drama teacher was trying to accommodate everyone, but it sounds like they don't have a clue. I questions if these kids will even be eating the meals prepared by the other parents anyway, and what's the point in going to all the effort to avoid these things if they won't be eating it anyway. I would maybe check with the kids that have the special dietary requirements to see if they are planning to eat the food or if they will be bringing their own. 
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    I would talk to the teacher and express your concerns about liability and prepping food for that amount of kids with that many restrictions.. If you are up for helping out in other ways, maybe instead volunteer your time for something (not sure of details or what else they may need help with).

    Regarding time, I do think that is probably a bit much. I was in the pit orchestra for all our school musicals, but we practiced just as much as the cast and were there with the cast. We practiced probably 4 nights a week for about 4 hours, then occasionally a weekend practice for a couple hours as it got closer to opening night. My senior year we actually did Fiddler! It can be very time-consuming but it also depends on the director. The first year I was in pit, we had a horrible director and would routinely have 7 (!!) hour practices on school nights that kept us there well past midnight (and caused us to drive home after curfew). But my subsequent years we had a great director and our practices were much more productive (and shorter).


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    This is ridiculous. I'd be really concerned about feeding the wrong kid the wrong food or cross contamination. That's a lot of food and a lot of restrictions. It's not even like you can just order pizza or subway. I'd ask around to the other parents and see what they think and what their food plans are.
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    I don't even have kids, and I think this whole thing is ridiculous. You and FI can't be the only parents that are uncomfortable with this, unless the other parents are all cast members on "the Real Housewives of wherever" and can afford $300 plus for feeding 45 people... which I doubt they are. Like pp's have said, I'd be sitting down to talk with the teacher, and if no understanding can me made, go to the principal. If it comes to the point that FI's daughter is penalized because you won't provide meals, go straight to the school board.
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    ConKFA319ConKFA319 member
    First Comment
    edited January 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_nwr-accommodating-dietary-needs?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c0372e7b-8144-413a-9505-a14bfcb63efdPost:a1974df8-07a5-4ef7-9719-82f43359a45a">Re:NWR: accommodating dietary needs</a>:
    [QUOTE]Really, what I'd love to tell the teacher is that because her diehard rehearsal schedule means FI's daughter isn't home to do chores, and I have to provide gas money because FI's daughter no longer has time to work at her paying job, I don't have the time or money to prepare made to order food for 45 people. I was in band in HS, not drama. <strong>Is it normal to have 5 hour rehearsals every weekday, plus weekend rehearsals, for 4 months before opening night?</strong> It's Fiddler on the Roof. For the fall production they did Midsummer Night's Dream. That schedule wasn't so bad and we were only expected to provide snacks, which I could handle. I feel terrible because it's daughter's senior year, but the teacher's demands on the cast are making her participation hard for the rest of our family. The teacher has been at the school for at least 30 years, so this isn't new.
    Posted by CA.Giraffe[/QUOTE]<div>
    </div><div>It was for me, when I did our spring musical in HS. 5-6 hour rehearsals, every day after school, and occasionally on the weekends (although that was more for blocking for principals than for those of us in the ensemble).

    At the beginning of our production, we were sent home with a form to fill out advising of any food allergies, and asked to contribute a small sum of money to cover our dinners for the duration of our rehearsals. I want to say it was around 30 dollars or so. </div><div>
    </div><div>All of our dinners were catered by a local deli/pizza/Italian place, and they were DELICIOUS (and any dietary restrictions/allergies/sensitivities were taken into account). And the money that we contributed actually went to TIP the pizza place, who DONATED food to the cast and crew every day, and they, in exchange, got a HUGE 2-page spread in the playbill as an advertisement and a thank you.

    </div><div>Perhaps this is something you can discuss with the teacher/director? To shop around your town to local restaurants to get donations or relatively inexpensive catering? A two-page spread is great publicity, and it would save you and the other sets of parents from having to take out a loan and blow a weekend prepping just so they can make a dairy/meat/gluten/sugar/salt/nut-free dish that people may or may not eat.

    Edited for clarity.</div>
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    ConKFA319ConKFA319 member
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    edited January 2013
    Edited: double post. Sort of. Damn TK, eating posts and then regurgitating them. Yech.
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    That sounds nuts- especially for HS students! I was in plays in middle school and I had to quit because my single mother wasn't able to give me a ride (and she didnt' trust many other parents who lived near us - unreliable).  5 hours a day + weekends is a huge chunk of time. What about homework?? I know that there is plenty of down time because not everyone is onstage at once, but still!
     If my mother was told she had to make that many meals for that many people, she would have pulled me out in a heart beat! Speak to the teacher, and if necessary, move up in rank.
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    This is completely ridiculous--not just the time/cost/# of meals, but that the drama teacher anticpates that parents of high school students are that involved (especially by senior year).  I had parents who would have been involved as I wanted them to be, but I would never have asked them to make food for my track team.  I even refused to bring parent's notes for Dr Appointments and missing practice because I figured at 17, I was treated like an adult and my word should have been taken if I said I had to be late for something because of a Dr. appointment or other.

    I'm sure you're not the only parent who is totally miffed by this request--talk to some of the other parents and approach the drama teacher together.  Or if it was me, I'd have my KID approach the drama teacher with her peers and together say that they will not be asking their parents to fullfill this request.
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    Yeah - this is way over the line.  I was a varsity swimmer in high school.  The team numbered 60 people and we would have pasta dinners the night before meets.  However, the parents who hosted them volunteered.  No one was ever coerced into doing it.  I know pasta is cheap, but to feed that many people with pasta, salad and bread couldn't have been a drop in the bucket, aside from the prep time that it required. 

    If you know some other parents, I'd speak to them and see what their feelings are on the subject.  Either as a group or alone, I think you have every right to discuss with the teacher the inherent problems with her plan.  I know you don't want your daughter to pay the price, but maybe she also needs to see that taking advantage of people isn't appropriate and they deserve to be called out.
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    ConKFA319ConKFA319 member
    First Comment
    edited January 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_nwr-accommodating-dietary-needs?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c0372e7b-8144-413a-9505-a14bfcb63efdPost:6f42f1ce-630a-437b-8fbd-c411f7e2689f">Re:NWR: accommodating dietary needs</a>:
    [QUOTE]I messages 2 of our local drama teachers, who both teach at leading schools in the state and one of who has been doing it for 25 years and is getting an auditorium named after him for his excellent work, and asked about their rehearsal schedule. One runs the schedule you described for 6 weeks for a straight play and 8 weeks for a musical. The other rehearses 12 to 14 weeks depending on the show. He rehearses 2 nights a week for 4 hours and 6 hours on Saturday. They both agree that 30 hours a week for 16 weeks is insane and they'd have a riot on their hands if they tried to schedule that way.
    Posted by StageManager14[/QUOTE]

    <div>Yeah, it was pretty hardcore, not gonna lie.

    NYU, I know it's unusual, but it's an idea. I'm not saying it would all have to be from one place, either. I just feel like, if meals MUST be provided to the group, then that's a possible solution to look into, and one that would take the responsibility off the parents, who likely have jobs and other obligations that they would, to some degree, have to shirk, in order to cook that much for that many people.

    At the end of the day, though, I agree that it's insane to expect the parents to fork over that much time and money for food, not to mention face the liability of possibly causing one of the kids to have a reaction. Definitely get together with a group of parents and talk to the teacher. Maybe suggest the above option as a "compromise," so to speak? It doesn't have to be donated, maybe just discounted or something of the like. Or, you know, the kids can bring their own dinners, or be allowed to order food in, if they so choose. But to have this as a REQUIREMENT for all the parents of the kids involved is just ridiculous. I'm definitely with you there.</div>
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    When I AD'd our middle school musical last year, we would have cast dinners on our late nights (nights we kept the kids until 8pm). We'd either order pizzas, with the kids paying $2/slice (which gave us enough for pies and tip, and a few slices left over to be sure no one ever went hungry, since our pizza place did cut us a discount) or we had wonderful theatre parents would would volunteer to make dinner. Was it a great thing for the kids, the cast  dinners? Absolutely - they bonded well and it was awesome. But it was ALWAYS something the parents volunteered to do, and always easy/cheap dinners (hot dogs, mac and cheese, cookies for dessert etc). Kids who didn't like/couldn't eat the dinner brought their own.

    Also - 30 hours a WEEK? That's ridiculous, and that's where I'd start my complaints. We probably did around 10 hrs a week until crunch time, where we started adding late nights/Saturdays. Even in high school, rehearsals weren't more than 2 1/2 hours a day until the last week or two before tech week rolled around (when yeah, we'd do 8-9 hour Saturdays). Unless she's in a magnet/conservatory school, I'd be concerned with the teacher emphasizing this so much over other committments. We wanted our kids to take the show seriously, but we all hounded them to get homework done - and if another teacher let us know it WASN'T getting done, they risked losing scenes. School comes first.
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    I'm sorry, FIVE hours a day? My mom used to direct musicals. With both her schedule, and my own high school's schedule, it was 2 hours. Maybe 3 for dress rehearsals/full run throughs. And that was for like a week or two before, and I think they would get pizza. Or have the kids come back at 5 or 6pm and run until 8 or 9 so they could have early dinner. I know at our local school, where my mom did the musicals, there was an "after school bus" around 4:15 and a "late bus" around 5:30, so all sports practices and rehearsals had to be over by 5:30 at the latest for kids to be able to get transportation home. School ended around 3.
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    For middle school plays we did roughly 5 hours 3 days a week for... probably around that same 4 month time frame. We were not provided food, though. Mostly we just had supervised study hall when it wasn't our scene. 
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_nwr-accommodating-dietary-needs?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c0372e7b-8144-413a-9505-a14bfcb63efdPost:6f42f1ce-630a-437b-8fbd-c411f7e2689f">Re:NWR: accommodating dietary needs</a>:
    [QUOTE]I messages 2 of our local drama teachers, who both teach at leading schools in the state and one of who has been doing it for 25 years and is getting an auditorium named after him for his excellent work, and asked about their rehearsal schedule.<strong> One runs the schedule you described for 6 weeks for a straight play and 8 weeks for a musical.</strong> The other rehearses 12 to 14 weeks depending on the show. He rehearses 2 nights a week for 4 hours and 6 hours on Saturday. They both agree that 30 hours a week for 16 weeks is insane and they'd have a riot on their hands if they tried to schedule that way.
    Posted by StageManager14[/QUOTE]<div>
    </div><div>This is about what we did ,too. It might have been 3 months, but it was a LOT of hours. And we were ALL expected to be there. Despite the fact that I was an extra and I just did it to hang out with my friends.</div><div>
    </div><div>That said, we got a break for dinner, and we just ate out of vending machines. No one provided shiiiiiit. Then again, this was 15 years ago.

    </div>
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