[act-ma] 1/24/2011-1/30/2011: FW: Bread and Puppet Theater's "The Return of Ulysses" & "Decapitalization Circus" at the Cyclorama

Mary Curtin marycurtin at comcast.net
Wed Jan 5 17:11:26 PST 2011


The Return of Ulysses
Decapitalization Circus

“Reducing the proceedings of the
historic dramma per musica to 75 minutes,
brazenly updating the Baroque accents
and adding two timely prologues,
(Peter Schumann) labelled his
marvellous mishmash a ‘respectful truncation’.”
[“The Return of Ulysses,” www.ft.com <http://www.ft.com/> , Dec. 6, 2010]

Boston Center for the Arts
January 24 through January 30

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

(Boston, MA 02116) Bread and Puppet Theater presents “The Return of Ulysses”
and “Decapitalization 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 24 through January 30.  All held in the Cyclorama at the Boston
Center for the Arts (BCA), 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 performance.  For advance
tickets, log onto www.breadandpuppet.org <http://www.breadandpuppet.org/>
or call 866-811-4111 (toll free).  For detailed information regarding the
week’s events, call the BCA’s Bread and Puppet Theater information line at
617-800-9539 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 fifth
year to the BCA’s Cyclorama bringing their signature powerful imagery,
masked characters, and giant papier-mâché puppets.  This year, their
residency includes two different puppet performances, “The Return of
Ulysses” (January 27-30, evening performances primarily for ages 12 &
older), “Decapitalization Circus” (January 29-30, family-friendly matinees),
along with NOLANGUAGE, a week-long political art installation (running
January 24-30, with an art opening on January 24).

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

Detailed listings information:

Evening Performances [recommended for ages 12 & older]:
Bread and Puppet Theater: The Return of Ulysses
Jan. 27-Jan. 30, Thurs.-Sun., 7 pm
$12 general admission [$10 students, seniors, & groups of 10 or more]
Description:  This "respectfully truncated," rough-hewn, and bold DIY
adaptation of Claudio Monteverdi's opera was first developed this past June
by Bread and Puppet in collaboration with the Theatre Department of
Concordia University in Montreal and the Montreal Baroque Festival.  The
production was initially performed as a dress rehearsal in the DB Clarke
Theatre at Concordia and then presented as a festival performance in the
plaza of the Centre Mondial.  During July & August in Glover, VT (Bread and
Puppet’s base of operations), the opera was pared down to approximately 75
minutes, including 10 minutes of prologue.  The performances have been
conceived to include 20 volunteer puppeteers and 15-20 volunteer singers and
instrumentalists in the chorus and orchestra with Peter Schumann playing the
role of Penelope.  Schumann describes the plot as follows: "In order to
commit genocide on their competitors, the Trojans, the tricky Greeks employ
their multitalented sky, full of custom tailored divinities, to justify the
crime, just as we employ our Judeo-Christian sky, occupied by a divine air
force and permitted by the in-god-we-trust court system, to justify our
atrocities in Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere.  By order of Jove, the
boss, and with special help from his daughter Minerva, Ulysses finally
returns home, where he has to murder 100 evil suitors in order to be happily
reunited with wife and property."  The piece includes two prologues, "Modern
Sky" and "Antique Sky."  For Boston, The Return of Ulysses will be 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.

Family-Friendly Matinees:
Bread and Puppet Theater: Decapitalization Circus
Jan. 29-Jan. 30, Sat.-Sun., 4 pm
$10 general admission [$5 students, seniors, and pre-school children (2 &
under free)]
Description:  The family-friendly "Decapitalization Circus" demonstrates in
numerous death-defying stunts the fantastic effects of the capitalization of
life in the U.S. and citizens’ courageous efforts of decapitalization.  The
performers represent the whole scale of the social spectrum from benign
billionairism to despicable homeless anti-social-elementarianism.  All the
acts are FDA and FBI certified displays of patriotic correctness and defy
all imaginable forms of terrorism.  The Possibilitarians, a
multi-instrumental variety ensemble, provide the appropriate-inappropriate
sounds for the Circus.  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 performance.  Cheap
art will be for sale after each performance.

Visual Art Exhibit:
Bread and Puppet Theater: NOLANGUAGE, visual art installation created by
Peter Schumann
Jan. 24-Jan. 30, Mon.-Sun.
Free and open to all.
Description:  Bread and Puppet Theater Artistic Director Peter Schumann’s
most recent visual art exploration, ranging from very large paintings to
very small string booklets, which depict matters that concern us all.
Exhibit details:
--Mon., Jan. 24, 6-9 pm: opening reception, with refreshments, an art talk
given by Schumann, short skits performed by the touring company, and live
music performed by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra
<http://www.bostontypewriterorchestra.com/> ) and the Dirty Water Brass Band
(www.dirtywaterbrassband.com <http://www.dirtywaterbrassband.com/> ).
--Tues.-Fri., Jan. 25-28: regular Cyclorama hours: 9am-5pm [Thursday &
Friday hours extended up to and after the evening performance].
--Sat.-Sun., Jan. 29-30: 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 Maura Gahan, Greg Corbino, Maryann Colella,
Susie Perkins, among others.  Both the evening and matinee performances 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), who
is the host band for the yearly HONK! Festival (www.honkfest.org
<http://www.honkfest.org/> ) held in Davis Square.

In addition to Peter Schumann’s NOLANGUAGE 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 performances 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 performances 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
performances, 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.  The company also appeared at Lincoln Center Out of
Doors in 2007.  In Boston, Bread and Puppet Theater has had a consistent
presence since early on, most recently as an annual partner in the Boston
Center for the Arts Cyclorama Residency Series.

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 performances 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 performances 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 performance 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 [on behalf of Bread and Puppet Theater]
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"
 <http://www.marycurtinproductions.com> www.marycurtinproductions.com
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