Bread & Puppet Theater Makes Rare San Diego Appearance with Free Public Show on Nov. 6
SAN DIEGO – The circus in coming to town – but this is no ordinary circus. Bread & Puppet Theater (B&P) is an internationally celebrated political puppet theater company that champions a visually rich, street-theater brand of performance art, filled with music, dance and (as its name would suggest) puppets. Each performance ends with the troupe breaking bread with the audience. The 59-year-old, Vermont-based theater company is making a rare cross-country tour this Fall. Three local performing arts organizations, Fern Street Circus, The San Diego Guild of Puppetry and Animal Cracker Conspirac, have teamed up with San Diego Parks and Recreation to host B&P for its first show in San Diego in decades. The free public show will be held on Sunday, November 6 (2 p.m.) at North Park Community Park (4044 Idaho Street, San Diego). Donations are welcome. Believing that theater is a basic necessity like bread, B&P brings its work to the streets for those who may not otherwise go to the theater. Its shows are political and spectacular, with puppets often on stilts, wearing huge masks with expressive faces, singing, dancing and playing music. The current production, entitled Our Domestic Resurrection Circus: Apocalypse Defiance, is a bright, raucous melee of short acts governed by a brass band, addressing the heart of the current moment with diverse puppetry styles and spanning many moods, from slapstick to the sublime. After the show, B&P will serve its famous sourdough rye bread with aioli, and “Cheap Art” – including books, posters, postcards, pamphlets and banners from Bread & Puppet Press – will be available for sale.
Fifty-two years ago, Bread & Puppet Theater performed Our Domestic Resurrection Circus for the first time at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT. Since then, this capacious and provocative title has served as the basis of annual spectacles that generations of audiences have come to rely on for satire and celebration in the face of intolerable circumstances. This year, B&P will take up the tradition again, albeit with a timely subtitle: The Apocalypse Defiance Circus.
According to Peter Schumann, Founder of B&P, the show is “in response to our totally unresurrected capitalist situation, not only the hundreds of thousands of unnecessarily sacrificed pandemic victims but our culture’s unwillingness to recognize Mother Earth’s revolt against our civilization. Since we earthlings do not live up to our earthling obligations, we need resurrection circuses to yell against our own stupidity.”
About the Local Presenters
Fern Street Circus, a project of Fern Street Community Arts, is San Diego’s original single-ring social circus. Based in City Heights, Fern Street brings free-of-charge circus performance and instruction to underserved neighborhoods of Mid-City and South Bay. Performances integrate professional circus artists and their students. https://www.fernstreetcircus.com/
The San Diego Guild of Puppetry is the primary puppetry resource for San Diego, offering a wide variety of programs for all ages (performances, workshops, school residencies, camps, giant puppet parades, mask and puppet making activities and more with a special focus on procuring funding to bring free puppetry programming to underserved communities. https://www.sandiegopuppetry.org/
Animal Cracker Conspiracy is a multi-disciplinary performance company creating visual theater performances for adult audiences, zany and thoughtful puppet shows for families, as well as touring stilt-dancing performances, giant puppets, and public spectacle for the world. Mixing and mingling many styles of puppetry, with masks, circus and visual arts, film creation, video projection, and new forms of storytelling, they have devised live visual theater, street performance/theater, solo works, exhibitions and touring shows. https://www.animalcrackerconspiracy.com/
About Bread and Puppet Theater
Bread & Puppet Theater was founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City’s Lower East Side. Besides rod-puppet and hand puppet shows for children, the concerns of the first productions were rents, rats, police, and other problems of the neighborhood. More complex theater pieces followed, in which sculpture, music, dance and language were equal partners. The puppets grew bigger and bigger. Annual presentations for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and Memorial Day often included children and adults from the community as participants. Many performances were done in the street. During the Vietnam War, Bread and puppet staged block-long processions and pageants involving hundreds of people.
The theater has been based in the NorthEast Kingdom of Vermont since the early-1970s and is one of the oldest, nonprofit, self-supporting theatrical companies in the country. Bread and Puppet is recognized throughout the world and has won distinction at international theater festivals in Italy, Poland, Colombia, and Yugoslavia, beginning with their break-out performances at the 1968 Nancy Festival in France. Notable awards include the Erasmus Prize of Amsterdam, 4 Obies, the Puppeteers of America's President Award, and the Vermont Governor's Award. https://breadandpuppet.org/