Theater and Concert Reviews.
Bread and Puppet
by ROBERT MASSIMI 6 months ago in ENTERTAINMENTFrom The Radical,To The Absurd.Robert Massimi.
Bread and Puppet has been around since 1963. It was founded by Peter Schumann as a way of using puppet shows as a good versus the bad. Schumann's belief was that the art of puppetry helps women, men and children overcome the established order and the obsessive submission to its politics and consequent brutalities.
In 1963 Peter Schumann began Bread and Puppet on the Lower East Side (The East Village) in New York City, New York. During the Vietnam War, Bread and Puppet held block-long processions and pageants. Set in one of the most radical places in the United States, Bread and Puppet was able to move about putting forth its subversive views of the world.
In 1974, Bread and Puppet moved from The Lower East Side of Manhattan to Glover Vermont. A 140 year old hay barn was turned into a museum for veteran puppets. Until 1998, Bread and Puppet hosted a Domestic Resurrection Circus, a two day outdoor festival of puppetry shows. The show was cancelled thereafter due to fights and rowdy behavior.
The newest Bread and Puppet show put on last evening was "Diagonal Life Circus". What was disappointing about this show (many disappointments here), was that it lacked the puppetry that one has come to expect when seeing Bread and Puppet. Flanked with a very good band, the show began with some deft puppetry but then the next thirty minutes had very little. Rather, Bread and Puppet went with other props and a vast awry of absurdity blended with some "Political Facts" that were anything but. One skit went off on Richard Nixon in regards to Chile. This was very confusing being that Bread and Puppet is a liberal, radical Theater Company. According to great scholars like Noam Chomsky, another radical, socialist, Atheist, Nixon was the most liberal president post World War 11; it made no sense that a "cutting edge" Theater group would relive their happy past with Nixon.
In what tries to be cutting edge radical, Bread and Puppet lives way in the past with its politics. With so much more they could go on.... global warming (now called climate change); the they movement for women or men that do not want to be identified as either or; gender neutral; the woke movement; the current president that the left loves to bash; the slogan and mantra of The Theater For The New City "we are all immigrants". So much for the left to choose, so little time with the climate about to end time. With last nights performance, it strikes me that Bread and Puppet is tired, it once had national and international acclaim, but it seems that a lot of its audience is there as a remembrance to what it was, or, maybe to see the puppets, the very big puppets.
The music that Bread and Puppet puts on is really good. Songs from yesteryear and some really good musicians actually make this slow and sorrowful show bearable. At one hour and ten minutes long, Bread and Puppet would have done well if it had more puppetry and less dialogue in it's show. The pageantry and regalia of these big puppets is worth the price of admission. The verbiage of the Rain Forrest and Chile and the indigenous South Americans from long ago is really immaterial to the audience. Since it is Bread and Puppets mission to bring forth radical politics, maybe they would be better off hitting China instead. To go back to the by-gone era of Nixon is just Schumann trying to get back to the glory days of love and piece at Height and Asbury... the tie dyed shirts and the acid trips. Too anyone who is even attuned to today's politics or yesterday's history, Bread and Puppet does not really bring anything interesting to the table other than it is back in one of the most radical theater spots in New York City... The Theater For The New City which is run like a glorified homeless shelter but for the downtrodden of theater trying to be someone in theater.
Theater for the New City, Richard Nixon, Noam Chomsky, Betrayal, Tina The Musical, Bread and Puppet, Crystal Field.ENTERTAINMENT