[act-ma] Bread and Puppet Theater returns to the Cyclorama -- February 4-10

Mary Curtin marycurtin at comcast.net
Tue Dec 18 20:09:29 PST 2007

For Immediate Release
Theater (both Adult and Children-of-all-ages shows) /
Visual Art Exhibit
December 2007
Media Contact for Bread and Puppet: Mary Curtin, 617-241-9664, 617-470-5867
(cell), marycurtin at comcast.net
Media Contact for the BCA: Alyssa DiPasquale, 617-426-1522,
adipasquale at bcaonline.org
[high res digital images available]


[photo by Jack Sumberg]

returns to the 
Boston Center for the Arts
February 4-10

as part of the 
BCA 2007-2008 Cultural Partners Series

(Boston, MA) The Boston Center for the Arts co-presents the Bread and Puppet
Theater as part of the BCA 2007-2008 Cultural Partners Series. Events run
from February 4-10. Performances, Art Exhibit, and Cheap Art Sale [details
below] all held in the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama, 539 Tremont
St., South End, Boston. Wheelchair accessible. Tickets for the performances
available for purchase [cash or check] in the Cyclorama one hour before each
show and during regular gallery hours. For advance tickets, log onto
www.theatermania.com or call 866-811-4111 (toll free). For detailed
information regarding the week’s events, call the Boston Center for the Arts
at 617-426-1522 or log onto www.bcaonline.org.

The award-winning Bread and Puppet Theater, featuring Artistic Director
Peter Schumann and his troupe of seven Vermont puppeteers, will join forces
with over 20 local puppeteers and the 17-piece locally-based Second Line
Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band and their musical friends. Bread
and Puppet Theater’s residency at the Cyclorama includes two different
puppet shows (one geared towards adults and one "family-friendly”) and a
political art exhibit. Each of these events will also include an opportunity
to savor Schumann's famous sourdough rye bread, laden with garlic aioli, and
to purchase the theater's legendary "cheap art." 

The following events will showcase the Bread and Puppet Theater's signature
powerful imagery, masked characters, and giant papier-mâché puppets.
Although all Bread and Puppet events have a seriousness of purpose — a few
laughs are always thrown in!

The Bread and Puppet Theater’s The Divine Reality Comedy 
“hits you harder than all of the breathless cable news coverage in the
[Claudia La Rocco, New York Times, Dec.1, 2007] 

Evening Shows [recommended for ages 12 and older]:
The Divine Reality Comedy 
Feb. 7-10, Thurs.-Sun., 7 pm
$12 general admission [students, seniors, & groups of 10 or more $10]
Description: The Divine Reality Comedy, a brand new translation of Dante's
Divina Commedia, consists of four parts: Paradise, in which the old human
Born-to-Die gene is replaced by the brand new Born-to-Buy gene;
Post-Paradise Horsemanship; Purgatory, in which the shadows of the
indefinitely detained speak to you; Hell, the Guantanamo interrogation
process in which an eight-inch papier maché population recites actual
interrogation transcripts and then witnesses three cases of torture as
demonstrated on three over-life size puppets. The show will be performed by
Peter Schumann and the Bread & Puppet Company, along with a large number of
local volunteers, including members of the Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure
Society Brass Band and their musical friends. Informal talk back with the
artists follows each performance. 

Family-Friendly Matinees:
The Divine Reality Comedy Circus
Feb. 9-10, Sat.-Sun., 2 pm
$10 / $5 students and seniors / children 2 and under free
Description: The Divine Reality Comedy Circus features the following acts:
Grand Forgiveness Society of Glover VT; the triumph of the small farmer;
advice on where to get really cheap drinking water; a celebratory ballet by
a flock of roosters; the Rotten Idea Theater Company's distillation of
political issues; and much more. The show will be performed by Peter
Schumann and the Bread & Puppet Company, along with a large number of local
volunteers, including members of the Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure
Society Brass Band and their musical friends. Take note that some of the
circus acts are politically puzzling to adults, but accompanying kids can
usually explain them. 

Visual Art Exhibit:
The University of Majd: the Story of a Palestinian Youth
Mon.-Sun., Feb. 4-10
Free and open to all.
Description:  Peter Schumann’s most recent visual art exploration,
consisting of 7 large paintings created after his most recent visit (Fall
2007) to Ramallah.
Exhibit details:
Mon., Feb. 4, 6-8 pm: opening reception; 
Tues.-Fri., Feb. 5-8: regular gallery hours (which include the Cheap Art
Store): 11 am-6pm [Thursday & Friday hours extended up to and after the
Sat.-Sun., Feb. 9-10: one hour before and after each matinee and evening

All Bread and Puppet Theater shows, created and designed by Peter Schumann
with input from the company, use music, dance and slapstick to get their
point across. Their distinctive imagery — featuring puppets (of all kinds
and sizes), masks, costumes, paintings, buildings, and landscapes —
seemingly breathe with Schumann's distinctive visual style of dance,
expressionism, dark humor and low-culture simplicity.

The Bread and Puppet Theater is one of the oldest, nonprofit,
self-supporting theatrical companies in this country. Schumann founded Bread
and Puppet in 1962 on New York City’s Lower East Side. The Theater is now an
internationally recognized company that champions a visually rich,
street-theater brand of performance art. Its shows are political and
spectacular, with huge puppets made of papier-maché and cardboard, a brass
band for accompaniment, and anti-elitist dances. Most shows are morality
plays — about how people act toward each other — whose prototype is
"Everyman." Their overall theme is universal peace.

Besides rod-puppet and hand-puppet shows for children, the concerns of their
first productions in New York were rents, rats, police and other problems of
that neighborhood. More complex theater pieces, in which sculpture, music,
dance and language were equal partners, followed. The puppets grew bigger
and bigger. Annual presentations for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and
Memorial Day often included children and adults from the community as
participants. Many performances were done in the street.

During the Vietnam War, Bread and Puppet staged block-long processions and
pageants involving hundreds of people. In 1970 Bread & Puppet moved to
Vermont as theater-in-residence at Goddard College, combining puppetry with
gardening and bread baking in a serious way, learning to live in the
countryside and letting itself be influenced by the experience. In 1974 the
Theater moved to a farm in Glover in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The
140-year-old hay barn was transformed into a museum for veteran puppets.
"Our Domestic Resurrection Circus," a two-day outdoor festival of puppetry
shows, was presented annually through 1998.

Through invitations by Grace Paley, Bread and Puppet Theater became a
frequent attraction at anti-Vietnam War events in the '60s and '70s. By the
'80s, the puppets had become emblematic of activist pacifism and a sine qua
non of American political theater, as exemplified by the massive, ascending
figures that are burned into the memory of anyone who marched with or saw
the haunting, massive June 12, 1982 Disarmament Parade in New York City.

The company makes its income from touring new and old productions both on
the American continent and abroad and from sales of Bread & Puppet Press's
posters and publications. Internationally, Bread and Puppet Theater performs
massive spectacles with hundreds of participants, sometimes devoted to
social, political and environmental issues and sometimes simply to the
trials of everyday life. The traveling puppet shows range from tightly
composed theater pieces presented by members of the company, to extensive
outdoor pageants which require the participation of many volunteers. At most
performances, the company distributes bread and aioli (garlic sauce) to the

Peter Schumann was born in 1934 in Silesia. He is married to Elka Leigh
Scott and they live in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. They have five children
and four grandchildren. You cannot understand Bread and Puppet's work
without acknowledging that it is grounded in dance, but not in formal or
classical dance. Schumann's artistic pedigree is a mixture of dance and
visual art.

He studied and practiced sculpture and dance in Germany and in 1959, with a
childhood friend, musician Dieter Starosky, Schumann, created the Gruppe für
Neuen Tanz (New Dance Group), which invented dances which sought to break
out of the strict limits of both classical ballet and the expressionist
dance tradition.

He moved to the USA with his wife, Elka, and their two children in 1961. His
formative years in the Lower East Side during the early '60s were heavily
influenced by the radical innovations spearheaded by John Cage and Merce
Cunningham. Schumann rejected the elitism of the '60s arts scene and
embraced the anti-establishment, egalitarian work of American artist Richard
(Dicky) Tyler. He embraced Outsider Art: everyday movement, improvisation,
direct momentary composition, and the jazz impulse toward overall
creativity. He became a regular at Judson Poet's Theater and Phyllis
Yampolsky's Hall of Issues, where puppet shows included making music and
marching around. Street Theater productions followed, at rent strikes and
voter registration rallies in the East Village, with crankies on garbage
cans and speeches by a Puerto Rican neighborhood organizer, Bert Aponte.

He admired the abstraction of Merce Cunningham, and attended lectures at the
Cunningham studio, but ultimately rebelled against it. In an interview with
John Bell in 1994, he said that what "Cunningham demanded of his dancers was
a classical ballet background. He refused to work with anybody who didn't
have that. I totally disagreed. I had traveled around in Europe teaching
dance; to Sweden, to a dance academy and various places, pretending I was a
great ass in dance, and gave them classes. And they took me — I was fresh
and I just did it. I said, ‘I'll show you what dance really is; what you do
is just schlock,' and I tried to liberate them from aesthetics connected to
modern dance and classical ballet and to these various modes of existing
dance at the time.'" There is dance at the bottom of all of Schumann's work,
but since puppet theater is traditionally a "melting pot" of all the
different arts, the dance component is frequently obscured.

For more information on the Bread and Puppet Theater, log onto


The Boston Center for the Arts is a not-for-profit performing and visual
arts complex that supports working artists to create, perform and exhibit
new works, builds new audiences, and connects art to community. Please visit
us at www.bcaonline.org for more information.


--submitted by marycurtinproductions [for the Bread and Puppet Theater]
c/o Mary Curtin
PO Box 290703, Charlestown, MA 02129
617-241-9664, 617-470-5867 (cell), marycurtin at comcast.net
"dedicated to staging insightful entertainment, particularly in
non-traditional venues"



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