Bread and Puppet addresses current issues through humor

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Bread and Puppet addresses current issues through humor

Bread and Puppet performs

Bread and Puppet performs

Ian Major

Bread and Puppet performs

Ian Major

Ian Major

Bread and Puppet performs

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Throughout the summer, Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover, Vt. hosts recurring weekly shows. This summer’s final Sunday afternoon “Whatforward Circus” show took place on Aug. 28 at 3 p.m.

 
This radical political theater group, founded to oppose the war in Vietnam, has taken on very contemporary issues like sexual identity and bathrooms, as well as many other issues that have ties right here at home in the United States, during this year’s circus.

 
With clear skies and semi-sweaty warm temperature hovering around the low 70s, audience members flowed in, dropping their $10 suggested donations into buckets around the several entrances to the outdoor performance space. Spectators filled up the majority of the main hill seating area at the amphitheater performance space.

 
There were two separate brief moments following a couple of the skits. One was followed by a brief moment regarding the recent Black Lives vs. Blue Lives controversies that have taken place this past summer. During this time, one of the actors in the play displayed an African American puppet in representation of one of the victims.

 
To go with this, the second moment was dedicated to Berta Cáceres, a Honduran indigenous rights and environmental activist, who was killed on March 3. Cáceres was killed by a group of soldiers who were appointed to the ambush. The actors made sure to note Hillary Clinton’s ties to the issue as the United States Government’s Secretary of State in 2009. Prior to her death in 2014, Cáceres said in an interview that Clinton should be held responsible for her actions in favor of legitimizing the coup in Honduras.

 
One of the funnier and lighter sided skits that took place was about transgender bathroom uses. An actor who appeared to be a man dressed as a woman in a very comical way came running out onto the stage ground to face both a women’s and men’s bathroom door.

 
The individual frantically opened the women’s door and was screamed at, then opened the men’s door to face the same response from a man behind that door. The play then jumped into a brief musical with one line being “bring us your pee, bring us your farts, and bring us all of your body parts.” The skit ended with the bathroom signs being flipped over to read “everybody” as opposed to male or female.
A couple of other more prominent skits that took place were a brief tribute to Muhammad Ali and a comical colonization skit.

 
As always, following their plays, Schumann’s notorious sourdough bread and aioli were served at the bread oven located adjacent to the amphitheater.

 
B&P was founded by Peter Schumann in 1962 in New York City. In 1970, the Theater moved to Vermont; first to Goddard College in Plainfield, and then to a farm in Glover. The farm is home to indoor and outdoor performance spaces, a print shop, a store and a large museum showcasing over four decades of the company’s work.

 
The theater’s name — Bread and Puppet — comes from the sharing of Schumann’s homemade sourdough bread, which is served for free with aioli to the audience members of each performance as a means of creating community revolving around the events they hold. Also fueling the name is one of B&P’s central principles: that art should be as basic to life as bread.

 
Each year, the B&P staff use Stone Age-like puppeteer technology and brass and percussion instruments to put on their liberalism-focused shows related to some of today’s modern capitalist, political, and global current events that have taken place.

 
During their time in Vermont, B&P was well-known for hosting its annual Domestic Resurrection Circus in and around its natural outdoor amphitheater performance space. In the 1990s the festival became very large, drawing crowds in the tens of thousands of people who would camp around the area for the week-long event.

 
In 1998, a man was accidentally killed in a fight one night during the festival, and the result ended with Schumann deciding to cancel the festival. Since then, the theater has primarily focused on weekly performances throughout the summer months.

 
For more information about the B&P Theater, and a show calendar, you can visit breadandpuppet.org.

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