Manuel Pelmuș
Tricks for Tips

Performance / Commissioned work



Congress Graz

Production specifics
Commissioned and produced by steirischer herbst ’19

Manuel Pelmuş’s scripted performance for waiters and three dancers explores the economy of the rapidly expanding gastronomy industry and its effects upon behavior. For waiters, tips are an essential means of boosting their notoriously meager income. For the new gentry, giving generous gratuities is a mark of sophistication and genuine class, as is punishing poor behavior by giving no tip at all. To win over customers, many waiters develop routines and small performances, lending a completely new meaning to the old saying that every waiter might be an actor. Such naturally occurring performances of everyday life are the point of departure for Pelmuş’s intervention. He presents waiters with instructions for a set of performed actions that aim to extract higher gratuities, and also performs this script himself with dancers Liv Schellander and Elizabeth Ward. They mimic empathy, affability, and eagerness, just to trick customers into offering them extra cash. Pelmuş’s proposal playfully undermines the new roles of master and servant arising in gastronomy and elsewhere, amplifying and enacting a form of soft resistance and double agency.

Performers: Manuel Pelmuş, Liv Schellander, and Elizabeth Ward