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Masks from Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater are featured in the exhibit “Masked Spectacle” at UVM’s Fleming Museum this spring. Bailey/Howe Library contains a significant collection of books, films and organizational records that document the work of this celebrated political theater troupe.
Rehearsing with Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread & Puppet Theater, by Ronald T. Simon & Marc Estrin.
The Bread and Puppet Theater, which started in the early ’60s on New York’s Lower East Side, migrated some years later to its present location in Vermont, and the wide open spaces obviously serve its expansive, anarchic being well. Photographer Simon has conducted a 20-year study of Theater founder Peter Schumann, and Simon’s 145 duotone photos show the influences of ancient theater and religions, particularly in the gravity of the massive faces of the puppets, made initially from straw, clay and, “according to some alleged medieval German formula,” beer. The book is organized around the eight “archetypical” themes of Death, Fiend, Beast, Human, World, Gift, Bread and Hope; however, like Bread and Puppet itself, which combines the creative with the mysterious, themes eddy into other themes. Estrin (Insect Dreams: The Half Life of Gregor Samsa) makes the strong social activist component of the theater clear, in tones that are by turns humorous and revealing, informational and awestruck (especially when it comes to Schumann). But the stars here are the enormous, fantastical creatures that enact possible freedoms each season. – Publishers Weekly
Bread & Puppet: Stories of Struggle & Faith from Central America, foreword by Grace Paley; introduction by Peter Schumann; compiled and written by Susan Green; photographs by Ron Levine and George Lange; edited by Greg Guma.
Brother Bread, Sister Puppet (videorecording). Written, produced and directed by Jeff Farber.
This film documents the Bread & Puppet Theater Company’s 1988 Our Domestic Resurrection Circus, an annual event held at the company’s home in northern Vermont. Members of the company discuss the political and personal reasons for their involvement in it and how they create the puppets, posters, music, etc. which are used in its performances.
The Bread and Puppet Theater Collection covers the period from 1962 to 1985 and contains flyers and advertisements, financial papers, correspondence, schedules of performance, news clippings and reviews, exchanges with other theater groups, scripts and publications, and photographs.