UVM Theses and Dissertations
This thesis is an exploration of the factors that have sustained Bread and Puppet Theater, even as it evolved in form and content. Beginning with an overview of the history of the Theater, chapter 1 explores the many influences on the group, including the New York avant-garde dance and theatre scene and its move to Vermont. Following Bread and Puppet's engagement with the social movements of the 1960s, the chapter illustrates Elka Schumann's centrality to the Theater, where in previous histories she has been absent. Chapter 2 examines the relationship between art and politics as conceived by the Schumanns and expressed in the work of the Theater. It recognizes that members of the Theater struggled with the desire to make good and socially relevant art while recognizing the need to make a living through this work.
Chapter 3 considers the material make-up of the Theater, from the highly stylized celastic puppets of its early days to the rough and simple papier-mache that has become its hallmark. The creation of theatre in the form of posters, banners, and booklet art accompanied this evolution and became an important form of theatre art. Finally, chapter 4 is an examination of work that the Theatre created utilizing environmental themes dealing with the impact of war on the environment, the nuclear threat to human civilization, and the relationship between humans and nature.