Bread & Puppet Theater: Total This & That Circus
Presented by Bread and Puppet Theater
September 1, 2013
As part of a world-wide birthday celebration of "50 Years of Sublime Arsekicking Puppetry," the award-winning Bread & Puppet Theater from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom presents their Total This & That Circus on the Cambridge Common, a public space they used to frequent prior to the mid-1980’s. For the past few years, the company has once again revived its descent upon the park, resurrecting that age old Harvard Square tradition of outdoor theatrical political rabble rousing.
Total This & That Circus includes the following ingredients, as described by Bread & Puppet's artistic director Peter Schumann:
Daffodil combat forces battling F-35 jets; the elimination of the 800,001st Palestinian olive tree, totally unattended by the National Outrage Orchestra; an Animal Rental Facility, which offers disenchanted customers of civilization instant transformation into frog or deer, cricket or rat. There will also be new characters, such as underprivileged Corporate Dwarves, overshadowed by Ordinary 99% Giants promoting brand-new economy-shrinking ventures, while the Lubblerland National Dance Company enhances the program with eternal values gloves-on dances presented to the gloves-off practitioners in Guantanamo and elsewhere.
Please take note that if some of the circus acts are politically puzzling to adults, accompanying children can usually explain them. The audience is welcome to examine all the masks and puppets after the performance, and Cheap Art will be for sale. Examples of Bread & Puppet’s work can be found at www.breadandpuppet.org.
Harvard Square's Revival Month:
Bread & Puppet’s outdoor Circus on the Cambridge Common kicks off what now has become Harvard Square’s annual “Revival Month.” The finale to this entire month of “reincarnations” will be the return of the HONK! Parade on Sunday, Oct. 13th. Bread & Puppet will join two dozen HONK! Festival street bands and hundreds of local participants in a procession to "Reclaim the Streets for Horns, Bikes, and Feet" on Massachusetts Avenue leading into Harvard Square’s 35th Annual Oktoberfest (from noon-6 pm). For complete information on Harvard Square’s “Revival Month” visit www.harvardsquare.com. For more information on the HONK! Festival and the parade that runs from Davis Square to Harvard Square, log onto www.honkfest.org.
Bread & Puppet 2013 Celebrating "50 Years of Sublime Arsekicking Puppetry" in the Boston-area:
The Circus on the Cambridge Common also serves as the local launch of a series of national and international "50 Years of Sublime Arsekicking Puppetry" anniversary events. Besides the aforementioned HONK!, there will be a Total This & That Circus performed as part of Lawrence, Mass.' Bread & Roses Festival (www.breadandrosesheritage.org) on Monday, September 2nd. Soon after on Saturday, September 14th, Boston College will host "50 Years Bread & Puppet: Cheap Art and Political Theater" (www.bc.edu/BP50), a day-long symposium packed with scholarly and artistic presentations showcasing the breadth and depth of Bread & Puppet's influence on politics as well as art.
Special thanks to the Cambridge Arts Council and the Harvard Square Business Association for helping make Bread & Puppet's return to the Cambridge Common possible; funded in part by the Cambridge Arts Council.
BRIEF BACKGROUND ON BREAD & PUPPET THEATER
Bread & Puppet Theater is one of the oldest and most unique theatrical companies in the United States. The theater champions a visually rich slapstick style of street-theater that is filled with huge puppets made of paper maché and cardboard, combined with masked characters, improvisational dance movement, political commentary, and a lively brass band for accompaniment. The company’s performances are described by The New York Times as "a spectacle for the heart and soul."
Bread & Puppet is based on a large farm in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. It was founded by Peter Schumann, German born artist-dancer, in 1963, and for the next decade his giant puppets figured prominently in anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in New York City, Washington DC and other cities in the US and abroad. Indoor performances were both simpler and more complex, ranging from quiet, intense masked shows ("Fire", "Man Says Good-Bye") with 4-6 players, to huge, lengthy spectacles ("Cry of the People for Meat").
In 1970, an invitation from Vermont's Goddard College to be theater-in-residence, facilitated a longed-for change to country life. "Our Domestic Resurrection Circus," an outdoor festival of music, art, puppetry and pageantry, began then, and ran almost every summer, growing to crowds of tens of thousands, until 1998. Since then, a smaller (but with giant puppets intact), more dispersed version continues on Sundays in July and August; the company continues touring and workshopping the rest of the year in New England and around the globe; and Schumann continues as director and artist — and bread baker — with a vengeance!
Bread & Puppet is one of the oldest, nonprofit, self-sustaining theatrical companies in this country.