Bread and Puppets, a puppet theater troupe on a cross country tour, made a stop in Charles Town, West Virginia on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. They set up their outdoor stage at Claymont Court, and about 150 people showed up for a remarkable evening performance of “The Grasshoppers Rebellion Circus.”
The Bread and Puppet Theater 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 the neighborhood. More complex theater pieces followed, in which sculpture, music, dance and language were equal partners. 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.
Listen to my interviews with troupe members and a couple of friends in the audience. This is political theater, inspiring witnesses through music, images, words, dance and movement. For political activists, it introduces us to the idea of being possibilitarians.
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“We are the Bread & Puppet Theater because we offer good old sourdough rye bread together with a great variety of puppetshows, some good, some not so good, but all for the good and against the bad. The art of puppetry helps women, men and children alike to overcome the established order and the obsessive submission to its politics and consequent brutalities.”