Thursday, December 26, 2013

  • Bread and Puppet Theater Founder Peter Schumann on 50 Years of Art and Resistance

    Bread_and_puppet

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of this country’s most beloved theater companies. Founded in New York City in 1963, the Bread and Puppet Theater’s first productions ranged from puppet shows for children to pieces opposing poor housing conditions. The group’s processions, involving monstrous puppets, some about 20 feet high, became a fixture of protests against the Vietnam War. "We don’t have playwrights in the theater. Our playwright is the daily news, is this — all this horror that happens," says theater founder Peter Schumann. "And it’s not so much that we want to do it, but we continuously get obliged to do it, because the goddamn media don’t say it. They are — they live by omission, rather than by reporting." In the early 1970s, Bread and Puppet moved to Glover, Vermont, where they transformed a former hay barn into a museum of puppets. Today, Bread and Puppet remains one of the longest-running nonprofit, self-supporting theater companies in the United States. We spend the hour with Schumann, asking him how the theater addresses the most urgent political issues of our time, from nuclear weapons to mass domestic surveillance. Soon to celebrate his 80th birthday, Schumann also discusses why he refuses to retire and the place of older people in our society.