[act-ma] 1/25-1/31/2010 : Bread and Puppet Theater's "Tear Open The Door Of Heaven" & "Dirt Cheap Money Circus" at the Cyclorama

Mary Curtin marycurtin at comcast.net
Thu Jan 7 09:45:07 PST 2010



the images and puppets are something to behold...”
[“Tear Open The Door Of Heaven,” nytheatre.com, Dec. 4, 2009]

Boston Center for the Arts
January 25 through January 31

presented in partnership with the
Boston Center for the Arts as part of the
Cyclorama Residency Series

(Boston, MA) Bread and Puppet Theater presents “Tear Open The Door Of
Heaven” and “Dirt Cheap Money Circus” : two separate performances presented
in partnership with the Boston Center for the Arts as part of the Cyclorama
Residency Series.  Performances, Art Exhibit, and Cheap Art Sale run from
January 25 through January 31.  All held in the Cyclorama at the Boston
Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., South End, Boston.  Wheelchair
accessible.  Tickets for the performances available for purchase [cash or
check only] in the Cyclorama one hour before each show.  For advance
tickets, log onto  <http://www.theatermania.com/boston/>
www.theatermania.com/boston/ or call 866-811-4111 (toll free).  For detailed
information regarding the week’s events, call the Boston Center for the Arts
at 617-426-5000 or log onto  <http://www.bcaonline.org/> www.bcaonline.org.

The award-winning Bread and Puppet Theater, featuring Artistic Director
Peter Schumann and his troupe of Vermont puppeteers, returns for a fourth
year to the BCA’s Cyclorama bringing their signature powerful imagery,
masked characters, and giant papier-mâché puppets.  Their residency includes
two different puppet shows, “Tear Open The Door Of Heaven” (January 28-31,
evening shows primarily for ages 12 & older), the “Dirt Cheap Money Circus”
(January 30-31, family-friendly matinees), along with a week-long political
art installation, “Relics of the Paper Maché Religion” (running January
26-31, with an art opening on January 25).

Although all Bread and Puppet events have a seriousness of purpose — a few
laughs are always thrown in!

Detailed information:

Evening Shows [recommended for ages 12 & older]:
Bread and Puppet Theater: Tear Open The Door Of Heaven
Jan. 28-Jan. 31, Thurs.-Sun., 7 pm
$12 general admission [$10 students, seniors, & groups of 10 or more]
Description: “Tear Open The Door Of Heaven” is a pink and blue puppet show
about Heaven and its effects on the Underneath, presented by the
practitioners of the brand-new paper maché religion.  The play features over
life size puppets representing God, his daughter and stepdaughter, a US
president and his war-waging office, mountaintop removal protesters, money
printing artists and stargazers of the North East Kingdom of Vermont.  The
six acts of the play are supplemented by six dance interventions performed
by the Lubberland National Dance Company.  Performed by Peter Schumann and
the Bread & Puppet Company, along with a large number of local volunteer
puppeteers and musicians.  Informal talk back with the artists follows each
performance.  Sourdough rye bread will be served and cheap art will be for
sale after each performance. [Evening show clips by Till Osterland:

Family-Friendly Matinees:
Bread and Puppet Theater: Dirt Cheap Money Circus
Jan. 30-Jan. 31, Sat.-Sun., 4 pm [Take note that the Sunday matinee
performance will be ASL interpreted by Jody Steiner.]
$10 general admission [$5 students, seniors, and pre-school children
(children 2 & under free)]
Description: The family-friendly "Dirt Cheap Money Circus" features the
billionaire bonus celebration dance, the logic of the US Healthcare System,
the history of humanity and the removal of a mountaintop, interspersed with
appearances by Karl Marx, who confronts the 2010 economic situation with his
existential thoughts about money and our relationship to it.  All with live
circus band accompaniment.  Performed by Peter Schumann and the Bread &
Puppet Company, along with a large number of local volunteer puppeteers and
musicians.  Take note that some of the circus acts are politically puzzling
to adults, but accompanying kids can usually explain them.  The audience is
welcome to examine all the masks and puppets after the show.  Cheap art will
be for sale after each performance. [Circus show clips by DeeDee Halleck:
<http://blip.tv/file/2687523/> http://blip.tv/file/2687523/.]

Visual Art Exhibit:
Bread and Puppet Theater: Relics of the Paper Maché Religion, visual art
installation created by Peter Schumann
Mon.-Sun., Jan. 25-Jan. 31
Free and open to all.
Description:  Bread and Puppet Theater Artistic Director Peter Schumann’s
most recent visual art exploration, consisting of very large to very small
paintings depicting matters that concern us all.
Exhibit details:
--Mon., Jan. 25, 6-8 pm: opening reception, with refreshments, an art talk
given by Schumann, short skits performed by the touring company, and live
music composed by Michael Romanyshyn.
--Tues.-Fri., Jan. 26-29: regular Cyclorama hours: 9am-5pm [Thursday &
Friday hours extended up to and after the evening performance];
--Sat.-Sun., Jan. 30-31: one hour before and after each matinee and evening

For this residency at the Cyclorama, the Bread and Puppet touring company
includes Schumann, along with Danny McNamara, Maura Gahan, Greg Corbino,
Diana Sette, Maryann Colella, Susie Perkins, among others.  Both shows will
be performed by the company and a large number of local volunteers and
musicians, including the popular Somerville-based Second Line Social Aid &
Pleasure Society Brass Band ( <http://www.slsaps.org/> www.slsaps.org).
Both plays will also be accompanied by singing and miscellaneous gongs and

Somerville-based composer Michael Romanyshyn has composed three short pieces
to be performed at Peter Schumann’s art opening.  The pieces include “You
Are” [a composition for 6 clarinets and 2 drums, featuring Romanyshyn, Dana
Colley, Steve Rauch, Maury Martin, Ben Pasamanick, Grant Smith, Trudi Cohen,
and Shaunalynn Duffy], “7 Questions for Grace Paley” [a composition for
clarinet and tuba performed by Romanyshyn and Kaolin Kinsey], and a brass
band tribute to Stephan Brecht, which was originally performed at Brecht’s
memorial service.

In addition to Peter Schumann’s art installation, the Cyclorama will also be
decorated with the unique Bread and Puppet collection of powerful black-line
posters, banners, masks, curtains, programs and set-props.  All pieces are
created by Schumann, including sculpting and painting all the major masks
and puppets, with input from the company.  After each evening performance
there will be an opportunity to savor Schumann's famous sourdough rye bread,
smeared with garlic aioli; and there will also be many opportunities during
the week to purchase the theater's legendary "cheap art."

Bread and Puppet Theater is an internationally recognized company that
champions a visually rich, street-theater brand of performance art that is
filled with music, dance and slapstick.  Its shows are political and
spectacular, with huge puppets made of paper maché and cardboard, a brass
band for accompaniment, and anti-elitist dance.  Most are morality plays —
about how people act toward each other — whose prototype is "Everyman".
There are puppets of all kinds and sizes, masks, sculptural costumes,
paintings, buildings and landscapes that seemingly breathe with Schumann's
distinctive visual style of dance, expressionism, dark humor and low-culture


The Bread and Puppet Theater is one of the oldest, nonprofit,
self-supporting theatrical companies in this country.  It was founded in
1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City's Lower East Side.  Besides
rod-puppet and hand-puppet shows for children, the concerns of the first
productions 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.

Since its move to Glover, VT, Theater for the New City has been the
company's New York home.  It has performed one or more productions at TNC
each year since 1981.  Last summer, the company also appeared at Lincoln
Center Out of Doors.

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 audience.

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 five 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.  There's dance at
the bottom of all of Schumann's work, but since puppet theater is
traditionally a "melting pot" of all the different arts, this is frequently

Schumann 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 at that time, 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, "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.'"

The most recent creative history of Bread and Puppet Theater was written by
Holland Cotter in the New York Times in 2007.  Cotter described Peter
Schumann's epics as "spectacle for the heart and soul."  He commended
Schumann for the courage "to live an ideal of art as collective enterprise,
a free or low-cost alternative voice outside the profit system."  He
testified that one summer, on a mountainside in Glover, VT, Bread and Puppet
gave him the single most beautiful sight he's ever seen in a theater.  And
when Bread and Puppet led the nuclear freeze parade in New York City during
United Nations sessions on disarmament, it was "one of the most spectacular
pieces of public theater the city has ever seen."  He added, "For me the
real affirmation of the disarmament pageant lay less in the fact that Mr.
Schumann came to New York and created this hugely ambitious collective work
of art, than in the fact that immediately afterward he returned to Vermont,
to a farm, to a barn, to the outdoor baking oven, to his workshops and to
his own work, which has come to include an increasing amount of painting,
most of which stays out of the art world’s sight."

For more information on the Bread and Puppet Theater, log onto
<http://www.breadandpuppet.org/> www.breadandpuppet.org.


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.  Visit
<http://www.bcaonline.org/> www.bcaonline.org for more information.

--submitted by marycurtinproductions
c/o Mary Curtin
PO Box 290703, Charlestown, MA 02129
617-241-9664, 617-470-5867 (cell),  <mailto:marycurtin at comcast.net>
marycurtin at comcast.net
"dedicated to staging insightful entertainment, particularly in
non-traditional venues"
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