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"The Waiter Project" Public Reading Series's video poster

“The Waiter Project” is based off of true stories and tells the tale of eight down and out waiters and their lives in a NYC restaurant Read more

New York, NY Theater
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This project was successfully funded on April 21, 2012.

“The Waiter Project” is based off of true stories and tells the tale of eight down and out waiters and their lives in a NYC restaurant

New York, NY Theater
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About this project

"The Waiter Project" is an original play, conceived and created by Elizabeth Swearingen that began its journey in 2009. It has been staged as a reading at Primary Stages and in the Fall of 2011 "The Waiter Project" kicked off The Barrow Group’s Reading Series, which I directed.

While at The Barrow Group and working on "The Waiter Project", I met Elizabeth who was a part of the cast. After hours of rehearsal followed by the performance, Elizabeth and I had a talk. We discovered that our vision of the play was so similar, that we knew we had to collaborate, and have done so ever since.

"The Waiter Project" has undergone important changes since its last public reading, and is being perfected through a series of workshops we hold on a regular basis; the play speaks for itself and has been a magnet for an incredible amount of talent – only to show its bottomless potential for success.

Here is what Elizabeth Swearingen says about "The Waiter Project":

"Born out of repressed hostility and riddled with sarcasm, I wrote a story about what I know best: waiting tables in New York City. But before I wrote, “Act I” at the top of the page, I knew that this story was bigger than me alone, and to tell the most truthful story I had to go beyond myself. Inspired by Michael Bennett and his process for A Chorus Line, I reached out and contacted friends who had worked or were currently working as waiters in NYC, via social networks and text messages, and asked if they would be interested in sharing some of their stories. And on March 30, 2010 I held my first open forum for “The Waiter Project.”

The format for these open forums was rather simple: I came up with a themed questionnaire (based off the themes I wanted in the play), hooked up a video camera and a tape recorder, put a bottle of wine on the center table, and sat back and allowed the group to vent. What I heard was the raw truth: completely unpredictable, heartbreaking, hilarious and new. Conceived out of these stories were the characters of eight down and out waiters working in New York City who have their lives pulled into focus when a Reality TV network shoots a series based on their lives within the restaurant. The play explores the duality we experience while working survival jobs as well as the element of waiting in general. As the plot unfolds the Reality TV cameras force the characters into a confrontation with images of themselves that fail to accord with their own sense of self-perception.

I know from personal experience that rarely do you meet a waiter in this town that is, well, just a waiter. Most are theatrical vigilantes struggling with the duality of both grand artist and tiny proletariat. To support myself artistically I have worked in restaurants around the city for the past five years. And every one is exactly the same: full of fascinating individuals performing mundane tasks all waiting for an opportunity to do whatever it is they came here to do. The days of ‘the starving artist’ are dead in our modern economy. We live in a fast world, connected yet isolated, exposed to the immediacy of fame and money. ‘Get rich, get famous quick’ is at the forefront of our social mentality. Thus the element of Reality TV plays a huge role in “The Waiter Project” by giving the waiters a glimpse at fabricated opportunity."

“The Waiter Project” gives a unique and rare opportunity to artists from all walks of life to feel themselves at home on stage and at ease with the language - because the play speaks theirs.

The aim of the reading series planned for late April and May is to involve a diverse group of artists representative of New York City, to introduce “The Waiter Project” to a wider audience and ultimately to raise funds for a full-scale production.

The reading series is a crucial step for us towards the ultimate goal of having “The Waiter Project” produced – WE NEED YOUR HELP.

If you are interested in hosting a reading in your living room, or know someone who is in the position to provide performance space – please come our way, we welcome any suggestions.

Please feel free to visit "The Waiter Project" Facebook page for the latest updates on our work, and contact us at

To contact Irene Kapustina, please visit

To contact Elizabeth Swearingen, please visit

I would like to thank you for your support. It makes us, artists, believe that dreams do come true.

Irene Kapustina


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Funding period

- (33 days)