From TV dinners to Chinese to-go boxes to ubiquitous plastic, Saturday evening's haunting Order to Go performance at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook forced the audience to look at the waste created by the American fast-food lifestyle.
"Remember what grandma used to say," sang Nobuko Miyamoto, a performer and the founder of Great Leap Inc., the organization that put on the show. "Mo tai nai," Miyamoto and the actors repeated in Japanese. The phrase means "what a waste" or "too good to waste."
While the evening had an overt message preaching against American excess when it comes to food and its preservation, the five female performers' songs, dancing, music and video montages also discussed other cultures'—and other eras'—more conservative take on food.
For example, emcee/actress Amy Hill recounted her family's love of recycling, including washing aluminum foil and carefully folding it for re-use and using margarine containers for leftovers in pre-Tupperware days.
She also reminded the audience members, who braved the cool night and occasional winds on the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, that many immigrant families reuse containers in their homes.
As the evening went on, the troupe used quite a bit of comedy to communicate its message. In one scene, a waitress' "angel" and "devil" side present their opposing cases for why taking dinner to go in a Styrofoam container is a good or bad choice.
"The convenience of carrying food in Styrofoam five minutes away means the container could last hundreds of years before it is broken down and able to be re-used," the "angel" calmly stated.
But the "devil" retorted, "After a trying day at work, will one container really change how much an entire planet consumes?"
In another skit, an actress stood still, slightly illuminated by a handheld light, as her costar stuffed plastic bottles and bags in her sweater until the bags almost covered her face. A video projection played in the background with statistics on a local landfill and the waste it holds.
At the end of the night, the women closed the show with a clever re-working of the Queen song "Bohemian Rhapsody."
"Plastic really matters… There are landfills by the freeways…Plastic, plastic, plastic," they sang.
The evening couldn't have ended on a more appropriate note.