Difficult Hope

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Title: Difficult Hope An Ethnography of the Bread and Puppet Theater
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: McCann, Austin
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2009
Publication Date: 2009


Subjects / Keywords: Ethnography
Political Art
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This is an ethnography of Peter Schumann's Bread and Puppet Theater, based in Glover, Vermont. Bread and Puppet is anomalous: this anti-capitalist "Cheap Art" organization has maintained its distinctive aesthetic and its radical independence for more than four decades. The theater is based on the charismatic authority of Peter Schumann, a German artist concerned with cultural revival in the face of political horror. Schumann's promulgation of the synergy of art and politics has serious implications for the reception and canonization of his work. My thesis interrogates Bread and Puppet's aesthetic, then turns inward to questions of structure. The ways in which the Bread and Puppet lifestyle is enforced as orthodoxy, the structural problems attendant to charismatic authority, the dialectic of meaningful and divisional labor: these are major concerns in my research. Lastly, the question of embodied knowing and learning becomes ethnographically vital, as I look into how the experiences of participants are shaped by, and in turn shape, the work. It begs the question: how did a poor puppet theater become one of the greatest "countercultural" projects of the past century?
Statement of Responsibility: by Austin McCann
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2009
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Vesperi, Maria

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2009 M12
System ID: NCFE004141:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: Difficult Hope An Ethnography of the Bread and Puppet Theater
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: McCann, Austin
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2009
Publication Date: 2009


Subjects / Keywords: Ethnography
Political Art
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This is an ethnography of Peter Schumann's Bread and Puppet Theater, based in Glover, Vermont. Bread and Puppet is anomalous: this anti-capitalist "Cheap Art" organization has maintained its distinctive aesthetic and its radical independence for more than four decades. The theater is based on the charismatic authority of Peter Schumann, a German artist concerned with cultural revival in the face of political horror. Schumann's promulgation of the synergy of art and politics has serious implications for the reception and canonization of his work. My thesis interrogates Bread and Puppet's aesthetic, then turns inward to questions of structure. The ways in which the Bread and Puppet lifestyle is enforced as orthodoxy, the structural problems attendant to charismatic authority, the dialectic of meaningful and divisional labor: these are major concerns in my research. Lastly, the question of embodied knowing and learning becomes ethnographically vital, as I look into how the experiences of participants are shaped by, and in turn shape, the work. It begs the question: how did a poor puppet theater become one of the greatest "countercultural" projects of the past century?
Statement of Responsibility: by Austin McCann
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2009
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Vesperi, Maria

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2009 M12
System ID: NCFE004141:00001

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DIFFICULT HOPE: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE BREAD AND PUPPET THEATER BY AUSTIN McCANN A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Scie nces and the Division of Humanities New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology/Theater Under the Sponsorship of Dr. Maria D. Vesperi Sarasota, Florida May 2009


Bread and Puppets radicality, how ever, is not sim ply its will ingness to include political questions and political action in its art, but its belief that the direct engagement of Americans with papier-mch, wood, clot h, and cardboard puppets offers a profoundly effectiveand democraticmeans of explaining to ourselves and to others who we are and what our life in twenty-first-cen tury world means and could mean. -John Bell (Bell 2008:191) _______________________________________________________________________ Peter Schumanns Praise to the Happiness1 PRAISE TO THE HAPPINESS WHICH IS DUE TO OUR EXCELLENT BREATHING PRAISE TO THE HAPPINESS WHICH IS YOUR EXCELLENT BIRTHDAY PRESENT THANKS TO THE BATHTUB THANKS TO THE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE THANKS TO OUR RAMBUNCTIOUS CHILDREN DAMNED BE THE HAPPINESS WHICH CO MES FROM THE HAPPINESS SALESMEN DAMNED BE THE HAPPINESS WHICH IS AN INDUSTRIAL GIANT WHO TRACKS US DOWN AND THEN IMPRISONS US AND OVERDRESSES US FOR THE IMMINENT SLAUGHTER! PRAISE TO THE TA-TA-TA! 1 Sung to the tune of Praise to the Lord, The Almighty. Music by Lobe Den Herren. Taken from a 2008 Insurrection Mass and Funeral March for a Rotten Idea. ii


A cknowledgements To Mom, Dad, and Tyler: my best friends To Roxanne: you taught me the meaning of love To friends who cared to listen: Sam, Jord an, Samantha, Justin, John, Bill, and Kerry To Bread and Puppet: Peter, Elka, Linda, Ta ryn, Hillary, Rachel, Dave, Angela, Danny, Maura, Noah, John, Hurriyah, Sasha, Matt, Megan, and Hannah To Steve Miles and Uzi Baram: your passion ate commitment to your respective fields energizes my intellectual spirit To Maria Vesperi: I am forever indebted to you for the warmth, wisdom and advice youve given me during my academic career, culminating in this thesis iii


Table of Contents Quote.....ii Acknowledgem ents..iii Table of Contents..iv Abstract..v Chapter 1. An introduction I. Good digestion II. Research III. The arrival (close encounters with a stirred mind) Chapter 2. Cheap Art in the U.S.A..19 I. The Cheap Art Philosophy II. The Kasper Act III. Photographs of My Corpse: A Puppet Service for Guantnamo Chapter 3. Schumanns Search for Meaning...53 I. The crisis of modernity II. Palestine and the continuing question of political art III. Rurality and domesticity IV. Puppetry and the new American rituality Chapter 4. There were times when I felt like th e whole thing was really out of control: The way things work....92 I. Charismatic authority and the anti-structure II. Seniority and other accidental hierarchies III. Internship demographics IV. I cant get no satisfaction : consensus and check-ins V. The government will not set you free, c hores will set you free!: Utopia and communitas Chapter 5. The future.132 I. Captain! My Captain! II. The Lubberland National Dance Company III. Bread and Puppet in the Obama Era IV. Conclusions Bibliography..155 Appendix...160 1. The WHY CHEAP ART? Manifesto. 2. On Schumanns Outsider Artist status. 3. A workshop in Atlanta with a group of high school students, focusing on the Kasper act. 4. A description of Photographs of My Corpse: A Puppet Service for Guantnamo 5. An argument between John Bell and Greg Cook. concerning Bread and Puppets agrarianism. 6. Bread and Puppets July 2007 parade. 7. The text of the Chores cantastoria by the Modern Times Theater. iv


v DIFFICULT HOPE: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE BREAD AND PUPPET THEATER Austin McCann New College of Florida, 2009 ABSTRACT This is an ethnography of Peter Schumann s Bread and Puppet Theater, based in Glover, Vermont. Bread and Puppet is anomalous: this anti-capitalist Cheap Art organization has maintained its distinctive aes thetic and its radical independence for more than four decades. The theater is based on th e charismatic authority of Peter Schumann, a German artist concerned with cultural reviva l in the face of political horror. Schumanns promulgation of the synergy of art and polit ics has serious implications for the reception and canonization of his work. My thesis inte rrogates Bread and Puppets aesthetic, then turns inward to questions of structure. The ways in which the Bread and Puppet lifestyle is enforced as orthodoxy, the structural probl ems attendant to charismatic authority, the dialectic of meaningful and di visional labor: these are major concerns in my research. Lastly, the question of embodied knowing and learning becomes ethnographically vital, as I look into how the experi ences of participants are shap ed by, and in turn shape, the work. It begs the question: how did a poor puppet theater become one of the greatest countercultural projects of the past century? Dr. Maria D. Vesperi Division of Social Sciences Division of Humanities


Chapter 1. An introduction. Since its inception in 1963, Peter Sc hum anns Bread and Puppet Theater1 has been one of the worlds most vital and influential art projec ts, gradually evolving from its electrifying adolescence to a conflicted popularity in adulthood and now a kind of grandfatherly steadfastness. Boldly confronti ng a cultural norm of artistic disengagement, it has remained true to its early ideals, even bettering them, like few other projects of its time. Of course, part of Bread and Puppets success is due to its detachment from its time. In the early 1960s, writer Grace Paley invited Schumann to work with the War Resisters League. This early collaboration pushed Schumann towards more active political participation, and within a decade Bread and Puppet had become insitutionalized in the monolithic U.S. counterculture. Yet Schumann was conflicted about this association, as he oscillat ed between doubting his audien ce and doubting himself. His habit of abandoning his post at the height of his popularity or seeming cultural significancefor example, leaving NYC in 197 0 and ending the Domestic Resurrection Circus in 1998indicates his stubborn independence, which has frustrated many who have tried to pigeonhole his wo rk as representative of this or that phenomenon. There are great divergences between Bread and Puppet and the various cultural blocs its work intersects. This disparity comes more often th an not from Schumanns status as a cultural outsider who revises, rejects, and misinter prets the signs of American existence in 1 Because the Bread and Puppet Theater is a public orga nization and I have stated permission, I have chosen to use the real names of my subjects. 1


fascinating, am biguous ways. Schum anns status also helps to explain his rejection of the disunion of art and politics, wh ich he has targeted as not only philosophically bankrupt but culturally harmful. I asked puppeteer Daniel McNamara whether the theaters foundation was artistic or politic al, and was gently corrected: Right, right: framework questions. Well, see I think the greatest goal of Bread and Puppet is to eliminate that false dichotomy of political/artistic. Even in the nature of that question, it presupposes that those are two separate endeavors and that one is forced to choose between one or the other. Bread and Puppets goal, I think, is to destroy that questions validity (laughs) by making it irrelevant, because you cant make apolitical art! So, I think the goal would be to make it clear to as many people as possible that s ituationthat, as an artist, you are politically responsible, because you have such a political imp act, and we show it really is necessary now to have the courage to really makeart thats needed. Yet Bread and Puppets call for a formal and thematic political engagement is complicated by the myriad contradictions running through the theater, including its odd political orientation, on which I continua lly ruminate: is Bread and Puppet truly interested in social change, or in obedien ce to an external Truth, imposed by Schumann? Schumann rules his theater with a papier -mch fist, baffling many who assume the theater to be collectivist. During my res earch, I have seen the necessity of this authoritarian rule, as the shows are made in Schumanns aesthetic. Veto power is an artistic necessity for this kind of project. The theaters internal, sub-Schumann political battles are more problematic, and raise a number of questions about the benevolence of anti-structural, charismatic projects such as this one. This thesis is not solely about Schu mann, although his cultural vision, grounded in a dialectic of historical political horror and yearning for a mythical domestic and rural good life is crucial to any understanding of the theaters work. Politically, my ethnographic research locates the nexus of his power and then interrogates the structures surrounding it from an anthropological perspectiv e. What is the authoritative basis of the theater? What is the structur al configuration? Under what conditions do puppeteers enter 2


and exit? The internal politics of the company under Schumann are more provocative than his totalitarianism, even if those inte rnal politics are related fragments of that political totality. Despite worldwide acclaim,2 Schumann is virtually unrecognized by the art establishment. He has flourished on the periphery for more than four decades, with a virtual absence of gr ants, awards, or coveted wall spa ce in museums to vindicate his efforts. Artist/critic Greg Cook suggested in an interview with me on the Bread and Puppet farm that the art world cherishes rascals, but it doesn t cherish people who challenge authority. According to Daniel McNamara, Schumanns apparent lack of concern over respectability or legitimacy, his embrace of the inferiority of puppetry, of garbage art, of cheap art, of crappy art, of dilettante art, unprofessional art, political art is an attack on estab lishments authority. Without this re quisite respect, the status quo would crumble. Perhaps a less serious but more engaged democratic art conversation one called Cheap Artcould be developed in the rubble. This thesis is also about the shows of the Bread and P uppet Theater. What do they look like? What is the process of their cr eation? What does the performers embodied experience of the work feel like? There have been times when I felt that the profound beauty and terror of a Bread and Puppet show can remake the world, and I have speculated more than once during the finale of the Circus as to whether Schumann, dancing to When the Saints Go Marching In in his classic, ironic Uncle Sam outfit on 12-foot stilts, is the ax is mundi. Ive also seen audiences who are at best perplexed and at worst hostile. But the Bread and Puppet Theater has faced its share of foes. 2 At the beginning of the first volume of his history of the theater, Stefan Brecht begins, Schumann is one of the great artists of this century (1988a:no page). 3


This thesis is also about m ethodology, specifically the Cheap Art movement invented by Schumann which pr opagates a series of artist ic tools whose methodological totality within the theaters practice is rare ly deeply explored. Most importantly, I ask: how did a puppet theater become one of the most successful an ti-capitalist projects of the late 20th century? I. Good digestion As long as one lives through an experience, one must surrender to the experience and shut ones eyes instead of becoming an observer immediately For that would disturb the good digestion of the experience: instead of wisdom one would require indigestion. -F.W. Nietzsche (1989:184) Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice. -Henry David Thoreau Peter Schumann has used the works of Marc use, Hlderlin, Marx, Bloch, and Joel Kovel as the foundations of shows. Despite this intellec tual credibility, he is an antirationalist, and his the power of his shows resists intellectual analysis. The primacy of the terror, anxiety, stupidity, and unfettered beau ty of Schumanns work are presented as unified, leading back to a noti on of the roots of drama as an integration of spirituality, utility, value and expression. During her week ly museum tours, Elka Schumann states that early ritual artistic integration was in formative to Schumanns art (CBC and Cayley 2003). Although any intellectual co uld feast off of the rich symbolism and idiosyncratic cosmology of Schumanns corpus, the primacy of embodied experience deprioritizes this analysis.3 There is a general lack of writing on the theatera few journal articles, the occasional references in a history of puppetr y, a couple of impressionistic personal 3 This, too, reflects Schumanns search for a new theater audiencecommon among 1960s radical theaterscomprised of truckers, nurses, farmers, and children. This despite his ambivalent feelings about the common man the U.S. (Brecht 1988a/b). 4


accounts, and Stefan Brechts m ammoth, desu ltory history from 1988which does not reflect disinterest in the theater, as much as Schumanns lack of interest in rational and/or textual analysis.4 This is not dissimilar to the an thropological hesitancy towards the primacy of textual representation in ethnog raphy, especially with regards to that ephemeral, embodied phenomenon of performance.5 All of this to say, in the summer of 2007, the value of a Bread and Puppet ethnogra phy was as unclear to Peter Schumann as it was to me. After becoming enchanted by Bread and Pu ppet and its myriad possibilities, I ended my three-year experime nt with higher education with a nave but well-intentioned enthusiasm. My collegiate experience was largely determined by alienation, Ivory Tower separation, and a lack of attention to the value of pr actical skills. Heres a semifictionalized reduction of my first month on the farm: PUPPETEER: Hey, Austin, can you saw this board for me real quick? AUSTIN: Mmm PUPPETEER: Do you know how to use a handsaw? AUSTIN (pause) : Well, uhyou seeFoucault once said, The work of an intellectual is not to mould the political will of others; it is, through the analyses that he does in his own field, to reexamine evidence and assumptions, to shake up habitual ways of working and thinking, to dissipate conventional familiarities, to re-evaluate rules and institutions and to participate in the formation of a political willwhere he has his role as citizen to play. So I think Iveumyou know PUPPETEER: Ill ask someone else. 4 During Bread and Puppets monumentally popular European tours in the late 1960s, Schumann would often be invited to panels to discuss his work with professors and other artists, yet he consistently expressed little interest in engaging in this conversation (CBC and Cayley 2003). 5 This is similar to two stories Eugenio Barba recounts in The Paper Canoe (1995). After seeing a production of The Mother at the Berliner Ensemble with Helene Weigel, Barba was extremely affected, sobbing in his seat, yet he felt confused because his theater education had educated him to be cynical and anti-sentimental, especially with regards to Brech t, who supposedly desired a fully objective, critical response (Barba 1995:84). Yet all of the intellectual theory surrounding Brechts work could not account for the visceral response to the performance. Decades later, Barba witnessed another striking performance by the Ensemble at a conference on Brechts work, which was met with total apathy by the scholars present. Barba noted his anger over the intellectual analysts cynical conception of Brecht as pass, their unwillingness to recognize the power of the work: Freedom, Penury, and Supermarket dance together. Many still ask themselves: What is the meaning, t oday, of making theatre? he notes bitterly (1982:8385). 5


This is a question of embodied knowing; at the beginning, I remained stuck with a situationally irrelevant pe rception of things. Working with a handsaw involved my bodys productive relations within the research field. It was an anthropological challenge: the objective observation or critique of m y subjectswhere th e eye of observing is connected to the I of imperialis m (Conquergood 1996:355)yielded to the active embodiment of the social existence of these individuals. Victor Turner knew about these heuristics of embodied experience. He wrot e that rituals and performances only have meaning in enactment, and the ethnographer must pa rticipate for understanding (1982:359). Insofar as sawing a board (and fors aking the primacy of mental over manual labor) is part of Bread and Puppets cultu ral program, I had to show an active participation in this process to gain anthropological legitimacy in the eyes of my subjects (and my academic overlords). Yet the existence of this thesis does not tell of a New College prodigal son returning, tail between my legs. It is the product of the cri tical lens I directed to my subject, unwittingly kick-starting this ethnogra phy. My experience on tour in the fall of 2007 ended abruptly and left me confused, and I took a winter and spring before reenrolling in school. After a year of good dige stion, the reasons for this project have become clear. II. Research I conducted field research w ith the Bread and Puppet Thea ter during four discrete time blocks: from June to August 2007 on their farm in Glover, Vermont; from 6


Septem ber to November 2007 on the Southern Tour; four weeks in July and August 2008 in Glover; one week in January 2009 at th e theaters Boston Center for the Arts residency. The first two blocks, which comprise the bulk of my time, were spent not as a student researcher but as, re spectively, an intern and a t ouring puppeteer. I did not begin official research until 2008. Nevertheless, my experiences in 2007 play a central role. As a successful countercultural project, the Bread and Puppet Theater interrogates dominant values, including those of formal education. The theaters hostility to academia made my research difficult at times, both in terpersonally and intellectually. One of the central philosophical positions of Bread a nd Puppet is opposition to the conceptual predetermination of language, as well as the ways language is given primacy as a tool for interpreting reality. This is expressed in Sc humanns distinctive (ab)use of the English language, in his work and in his interactions with others. Words presented an additional challenge because I have the unique disple asure of translating Schumanns visuals.6 Schumanns hesitancy towards discourse a nd texts is anthropol ogically relevant, and I considered different possibilities for th e final form of my thesis. Victor Turner suggested a playful altern ative: Ive long thought th at teaching and learning anthropology should be more fun than they of ten are. Perhaps we should not merely read and comment on ethnographies, but actually pe rform them through the translation of ethnographies into dramatic scripts, to, hypot hetically, allow anthropologists to actively embody the experiences of the ethnographic subject (1982:89-90). Turner continued: The movement from ethnography to performan ce is a process of pragmatic reflexivity. 6 In a discussion about drama theory in general and Bread and Puppet in specific, puppet scholar/puppeteer John Bell told me that he has always been concerned about his work becoming boring descriptions or analyses of Schumanns work. Bell doesnt want to become caught in a trap of rooting around for the most obscure descriptor. He wants to avoid publishing a thick description of the event, a narrative of field notes lacking theory and conclusions. This is obviously a concern of mine, too. 7


Not the ref lexivity of a narcissistic isol ate moving among his or her memories and dreams, but the attempt of representatives of one general modality of humane existence, the Western historical experience, to understand on the pulses, in Keatsian metaphor, other modes hitherto locked away from it by cognitive chauvinism or cultural snobbery (1982:100). Although theoretically provocative, I find this ludic embodiment not only mystical but improbable, resting on a be lief in an objective, transcultural, precultural Jungian subjectivity that can be s ummoned through the liminal/liminoid mode of performance. If I am to use Agars ethnography-jazz analogy (Sanjek 1990:411), I hope to play Rahsaan Roland Kirk: imaginative, progressive integratory, but theoretically grounded. Bowman and Bowman provide a model for th is progressive, open theoretical process: Schechner and Conquergoodrely on the meta phor of the trickstera traditional anthropological subjectto imagine how perf ormance studies might function within the institutional space of the academy, and the perf ormance studies scholar is projected as a boundary-crossing inter-/antidisciplinarianism Thus, performance studies might borrow or poach its theory from a nywhere as it tries to make do within the confines of the academe (Bowman and Bowman 2006:218). The interdisciplinary interface prevents the occasional restrictiveness of disciplinary boundaries. Rather than attempting a cold, critical study, I aim to write a thesis in the spirit of the theater: lively, contradi ctory, and engaged. Bread and P uppets radical effect on its performers and spectators demands this sp irit. Writing an academic thesis on an antiacademic institution is a challenge, but not an impossibility. I have done my best to temper these feelings in my writing and, where they cannot be suppressed, I duly note 8


them There is no need to lament the problematics of my intrusive role as observer, because observers are necessitated in theater. I will, of course, be describing a deeply personal project, a project pre gnant with emotion and personal meaning, and this should be considered. My experience with Bread and Puppet has contained some of the greatest joys and sorrows of my life. There is enormous emotional work required. I was generally unfamiliar with the theater when I reached the farm in June 2007 and my immediate awareness of the disc repancy between my experiences and the lifestyle at Bread and Puppet was like a fi rst ice bath. Mirroring this shock, I will commence this project with my arrival. III. The arrival (close encounters with a stirred mind) There was a noticeable change as my fa ther and I crossed the Vermont border, largely due to the absence of billboard s and the omnipresence of unspoiled green mountains. I dropped my father off at the airport in Bu rlington and drove on the northernmost highway in the state until I got to Glover. I was expecting to find symbols of small-town community pride over the artists in Glovers midst, and yet there were no signs pointing out where to go, no banners on the main drag announcing, Welcome to Glover, Vermont! Home to the World-Fam ous Bread and Puppet Theater Company! I searched in vain for Old Heights Road, listed on the theaters website as its address. The man at the gas station had never heard of the road. When I asked where Bread and Puppet was, he said, Oh yeah, the puppe t people. Take a left on Route 122. 9


I was able to identify the farm by a blue painted school bus, park ed parallel to the road on the right side. The area was quie t; aside from the bus, nothing announced the home of the Bread and Puppet Theater, a living national treasure, according to The New York Times (Cotter 2007). I parked in a makeshift gravel parking lot. It was early in the afternoon, 2:30 pm. The heat was intense; it was in the mid90s, a rarity for northern Vermont, which caused a lot of semi-sin cere global warming speculation among puppeteers. I got out of the car and started walking to ward a run-down white house in front of my car when a young boy with long, matted ha ir and a funny stiff-legged run came up to me and yelled gregariously, Are you here for the museum? No, I replied, Im an intern. Great! He said, punctuated by a comica lly enthusiastic handshake. Im Max! Im the mayor of Las Palmas! Max pulled me inside the house, which was connected to a large barn that I perceived to house the Bread and Puppet Museum. He took me into the kitchen, where a middle-aged woman in an apr on was vigorously stirring the contents of a huge, rusted black pot on an ancient stove, generating clo uds of steam, while a younger woman stood near by, idly slicing carrots. Ma x introduced me to the older of the two women, his mother, Brooke Franzen, the Bread and Puppet summer cook. The younger woman was a last-minute repla cement for Brookes assistant. Ten minutes later I was lugging my pathetically luxurious tent,7 escorted by the Mayor himself, over to a campsite in Las Palmas, a section of woods off of 122. 7 This tent was an experience unto itself. I went out of my way in picking out the tent Id be living in for two months. It is a four-to-five person deal complete with durable and freestanding fiberglass frame, clips, and ring and pin assembly, a large, side opening, twin-track D-style door with #8 zippers and zipper covers for durability and water protection, 75D StormShield polyester full coverage fly features brims in front 10


Considering rain, I picked a high spot. Consider ing com fort, I picked a spot with lots of pine needles and an absence of exposed pine roots. This was to be my home for the next nine weeks. Another intern, a young woman from Amhers t, arrived and helped me set up my tent, which dwarfed hers by a few cubic feet. I went back to my car, got some supplies, and tried putting up a makeshift desk in my tent made from milk crates, bungee cords, and one long wooden board, but the bungees kept whipping the milk crates and their contents onto the floor of the tent. I set my pink Royal typewriter (c. 1953) on the floor of the tent next to a stack of blank white sheets, meant for thick description and off-the-cuff critical musings. More interns trickled in. A French Canadi an girl who spoke litt le English arrived, as well as a couple of women from New York. I helped them set up their tents and we made small talk: Sleeping in a tent for a month, huh? No showers? Can we make it? Ha ha. I decided to walk over to the museum. Although Holland Cotter from The New York Times called the Bread and Puppet Museum one of the great si ghts of modern art (Cotte r 2007:3), this Papier-Mch Cathedral is in reality a run-down barn whose threat of complete and immediate conflagration reveals either a firm belief in arts ephemerality or a terrifying risk. While the theater was Goddard College s Theater-in-Residence at Cate Farm in Plainfield (1970-1974), Schumann envisioned a PapierMch Cathedral which would feature and rear (for protection from the elements), two windows, two mesh roof vents, and two large mesh sidewall panels for ventilation. There is also a detachable light, a gear loft and two storage pockets to keep your essentials close at hand, yet conveniently tucked away. The tent features a 12-volt E! Power Pak (called The Generator by scoffing puppeteers), an E! Power Reading Light, and an E! Power Fan/Lamp. The Eureka! N!ergy 9: m /p-75-nergy-9.aspx# 11


every in ch of every wall and ceiling covered in nude human figural reliefs, and with each room filled with the theaters puppets and other creations (CBC and Cayley 2003). It would be simultaneously a situated artwork, art site, historical gui de to the Bread and Puppet Theater, and a solution to perennial storage issues. Sc humann eventually split this idea into two different spaces in Glover. Th e New Building is Lubberlands performance space, a frequent rehearsal space, and hosts the weekly Northeast Kingdom Shape Note sing, among other uses. It has figural relie f-covered walls and ceiling. The Bread and Puppet Museum was established to hous e the history of Schumanns puppets. At the front of the museum, I saw early marionettes from different European puppet theaters (the only non-Schumann figures in the museum) and puppets from some of Schumanns early shows, including those from his first significant puppet show, King Story. The barn was dusty; the windows cracked and filthy. The ceiling on the first floor is probably about seven feet high, and the puppets gradually filled the space as I went from room to room. I scanned the first fl oor quickly, confused by the figures I was seeing. My conception of a puppet differe d greatly from these figures. Schumanns puppets reminded me more of mannequins, viz. their features were immobile and their structures neither fluffy nor malleable. The material was either too firm (Celastic) or flimsy and falling apart (papier-mch) to match my image of puppets. I went up to the second floor. The sides of the roof triangularly tilt to an interface maybe 35-40 feet in the air. The second floor is a storehouse for the larger and betterknown puppets, including Mother Earth, a brown, 15-foot tall solemn face used pivotally in the Domestic Resurrection Circus pageants, and the giant rod puppetcum-effigy of the Archbishop Oscar Romero. These figures we re used in contexts highlighting their 12


sacredness, their separation from this profane world: they were the central figures in the theaters processions and pageants, which were influenced by (among other sources) varying Catholic religious processions from Europe and Latin America (Bell 2008:211). One of the most important concepts when considering the nature of puppetry, and Schumanns puppetry particularly, is Freud s extrapolation of the uncannythat aesthetic sense of something being intimately familiar and alienatingly strange at the same time, resulting in complex ambivalence and cognitive dissonance; that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar (Freud 1958:124). The visages on Schumanns puppets, fr om small Population figures to his more serious, large-scale deity figures, are familiar yet ineffable. They are uncanny Freud suggests that the uncanny is an animistic impulse seen in both primitive men and children, who are unable to tell whether their dolls are animate or inanimate. While his cultural evolutionist model is firmly rooted in outdated cultural chauvinism and so parallels animism and animation, such disquieting phenomena do exist (concurrently, rather than hierarchically) and do reflect on the uncanny.8 After my encounters with these 8 This extends into the implication that humans are unable to tell if other humans are animate, which itself implies the existential anxiety over being unable to connect meaningfully to other beings: the fear of being unable to get outside of ones own skull. To dwell on ones own solitude is to objectify the surrounding world, and Schumann has luckily avoided extensive meditation on the oppressiveness of his own consciousness, though he has existentially interrogated individual/group dichotomies. The concept of the uncanny remains important because Schumann is able to play off puppets uncanniness in order to subjectify them: to use them as intellectually unserious but emotionally powerful figures which resemble life enough to take on an eerie quality, a feeling that something raw and real that has been laying dormant is being exposed. Without an understanding of the fear that accompanies an experi ence with the uncanny, the terror of traversing the Bread and Pu ppet Museum at night seems almost silly John Bell suggested that the puppets uncanninessits drift toward mysticism, toward the primitivism of shamanist performance explain why the form had to be socially tamed in the 20th century (Bell 2008:6). The nature of object performance, which necessitates a lack of control on th e part of the performer and a willingness to let the object determine its movements (through structural de termination, not free will), is also offensive to a culture that considers civilization not only the pinnacle of evolution but the telos of history and considers itself righteously central in performance traditions. 13


figures, I began to understand the ap otheotic rh etoric I had encountered in writings about Schumanns puppets (see: Estrin Rehearsing With Gods [2004]).9 While I was in the museum it began to rain, which I appreciated in the sweltering heat. I was sweating and thought of two months with only seven showers, laying on the same sleeping bag every night. These concerns felt bourgeois and pett y, but I noted them. I left the museum and went into the summer house. I was inspecting a large, antique grain mill when I saw a short, shirtless man with a long, unkempt white mop of hair and beard walking towards the kitchen, ca rrying a long, oviform loaf of bread. It was Peter Schumann. I quickly intercepted him and introduced myself : Hi, Im Austin McCann. Im not sure if you heardIm writi ng an ethnography on you. He took my hand for a moment, nodded, looked away and sa id, What is an ethnography? before promptly walking away before I could an swer. It was not an auspicious beginning. A belllike a church bellrang out. I he ard people saying that we were eating dinner inside. We would eat in the lower ki tchen, a big, open indoor space connected to the museums entrance. I saw a line developing in the kitchen and joined. I was given a mug of black bean soup and a plate of fresh salad with lemon vinaigrette. I picked up a few slices of Peters sourdough bread with aio li. I sat down in the lower kitchen on a cold wooden picnic bench and took a bite of the br ead. The intensity of the aioli practically 9 The dual nature of puppetry as a humble marginaliza tion of the human body and the narcissistic tribute to the human creative power is tangible in his larger p uppets. Although the utter si ze and omniscient presence of these figure tower over their five-and-a-half-foot ta ll creator, these figures are inevitably tied into the critical reception of the wo rk, which lavishes praise upon Sc humanns artistic genius. Although deemphasizing the human body in puppetry is certainly an act of self-sacrifice in so far as it places the focus on an inanimate object, it also exposes an egoistic co mplex in its creator, who insists on crafting alternate worlds out of papier-mch and rubber to be activated and manipulated under his control. Puppetry may be an even more active form of artistic mastery than th e masters of non-performance works, because there is an active world-conception occurring in these pieces. Schumanns work s are intended to be disruptions of social reality, and so imply a creator with the knowledge to situate these new challenges. Puppets are threedimensional and capable of animation; their creator has imbued them with life. 14


knocked m e on the floor. I kept eating it, seeing everyone else consume slice after slice of chewy, heavy German sourdough with heaping piles of the powerful garlic tonic. As the room filled with diners, a woman stood up and started talking, interspersed with enthusiastic applause and heckles. Hello everyone, you probably know me, Im Clare. I want to welcome back everyone to the farm. Tonight we are having a small celebration for our beloved Jack Sumberg. Everyone began applauding and hooting and hollering. She continued, Jack did a marvelou s job of rebuilding the foundations of our museum, and tonight we honor his work! A pe tite woman standing next to Clare echoed, Hooray for Jack! with a high-pitched, Mexican accent. An older woman shuffled over to speak. I recognized her as Elka Schumann, Peters wife. Stefan Brecht was right in describing her voice as pleas ing and girlish (Brecht 1988:24 ). And, just for the interns who have arrived today, she said, we dont normally have wine and drinks. This is a special occasion. And please dont drink if you re under 21. Thats a ru le! She chuckled as she sternly pointed. Clare opened her mouth as if to speak again, but instead began singing a simple tune about Jack in a na sal, Maybelle Carter voce She did digging motions while she sang about Jacks restoration of Bread and P uppets literal and fi gurative foundations, temporarily canonizing him as a John Henry-esque folk hero. She enco uraged us to join in on the chorus, which we interns did, hesitantly. The song ended, everyone vigorously applauded and resumed eating. I was tense and hyperreading the signs around me. I identified with Barbas representation of his initial alienation after moving from his native Greece to Norway: I concentrated my attention on intercepti ng movements, frowns, smiles (benevolent? condescending? sympathetic? sad? scornful? co nniving? ironic? affectionate? hostile? wise? resigned? but above all, was the smile for me or against me?) I tried to orient myself in this 15


labyrinth of recognizable yet unknown physicality and sounds, in order to explain to myself the attitudes of others with respect to me, what their behavior towards me meant, what intentions lurked behind compliments, conventions, banal or serious discussions. (Barba 1995:4). I began talking to one of the women on summer staff, Lily Lamberta, who had tattooed on her left forearm one of Peters w oodcuts, a day-lily with the words SISTER DAY as a banner on top. Lily told me that sh e got started with the company when they came to perform at her small college in Iowa She volunteered with them, then wrote her undergraduate thesis on them, then joined the company. Only a few of the interns were here at th is point, those who drove their own cars. The rest were being picked up in Montpelier later that night. I lent a puppeteer, Jason Hicks (called Grandpa by some of the puppet eers), my fathers minivan to pick up a few more interns in Montpelier. I went to bed that night with nervous anticipation. The next morning I was woken up by Cara Trestize, an intern, playing William Tell on the kazoogle. I got dressed in my tent and walked over to the summer house, where a bunch of freshly arrived interns were eating breakfast on the porch. I noticed the omnipresent fly strips, which hung everywhere on the porch and in the kitchen, uniformly covered with large, struggling black flies. Unattached flies continued to swarm. In the kitchen there was self-serve oatm eal, homemade granola, raw cows milk,10 fresh berries and bananas, homemade yogurt an d honey. I sat out on a bench in front of the summerhouse. Lily was there, talking to some interns about the ethics of having kids versus adoption. I introduced myself to th e young woman sitting next to me. When she replied, I recognized her accent as Australia n. She introduced herself as Bugz. With a z. She pointed to a nametag she had made, stuck onto her black hoodie. 10 I later learned that the milk came from a cow-shar e program, through which puppeteers Jus tin Lander and Rose Friedman and a neighboring farm family own a cow and so are able to consume raw milk without fear of legal reprieve (raw milk consumption has some regional regulations). In Vermont, sales of raw milk are limited to on-farm purchases of small quantities (Katz 2006:173). 16


Bugz and I talked about our respective his tories with political theater. I explained the germination of my project and she talked about graffiti in Sydney and Brooklyn, street theater and drag shows. She wasnt imposing, but I felt that I would be sized up a lot in the next few days. Ho w would I look, as someone without any practical experience in political theater? How would I use my theoretical understanding to further my work here? How would I talk about the project? A bell rang, just as it had for dinner the night be fore. People started walking toward the backyard. I heard snippets of ar guments: Well, Peter says we should sit outside. Its soaking wet! Theres nowhere dry for us to si t. In the backyard, everyone sat down in a circle and I realized how ma ny of us there were : around 40 interns, supplemented by 12 or so puppeteers, Pete r and Elka, and business manager Linda Elbow. We sat there silently for a moment before Peter said, Well, we should do introductions. I am the baker. He stood there in his white apron with a devilish grin. There was a pause. I expected him to say more, but he gestured towards the nearest intern. We introduced ourselves, saying w ho we were and why we were there. Many interns mentioned recent graduations bitterly : I got this degree in literatureand who knows what Im going to do with it. Others noted passions while downplaying their skill levels: I like to play music, but Im pretty terrible. The majority of the introductions were self-deprecating in an uncomfortable way, which I saw as motivated by nervousness in the presence of Great Artist Peter Schumann and the Bread and Puppet Theater, our Gods of Radical Art. Schumann commented on our hesitancy, This is the most modest group of people Ive ever met. It came my tu rn to speak. I said, Im Austin McCann. Im a student at New College of Florid a. Im writing an ethnography on Bread and 17


Puppet this summer. Its m y undergraduate th esis. Im an actor and a musician, and an activist. Im really excited to be here. Blank stares. The circle continued. After a brief discussion of th ings to get done, we got ou r first assignment. We had to go to the Red Shed,11 find a puppet or costume and create a character. We had an hour. I went over, but was overwhelmed by the am ount of materials in there. I ended up picking a Washerwomans head and a sleevele ss dress. I grabbed an upright bass and there was my character. It wasnt great. We began premiering these characters in the New Building. The competitive nature of the exercise was palpable, and making this assignment on the first day of the internship was a very pointed test of finding out where people were in terms of creative thinking and performance skill. Some of the characters were brilliantone intern, Liz Schacterle, created what rese mbled a bandit crow. It was the kind of character Schumann loves: at l east partially referential to well-known stock characters, constituted through identifiabl e movements, ethically ambiguous, mixing humor and horror. I waited anxiously with my phoned-in character, a Washerwoman playing double bass. What am I doing here? I wondered. What am I doing here? In the distance, a rooster crowed. Soon I would know. 11 A large structure directly across the twenty feet of 122 intersecting the farm. 18


Chapter 2 Cheap Art in the U.S.A. Creating po litical art in the United States can be treacherous. During a discussion at the Bread and Puppet farm in 2008, theater scholar John Bell suggested the presence of a particular American antipathy to the blend of politics and art: I always feel in American culture thats one of the primary ideological principles, that art and politics are okay by themselves, but you dont mi x them. And if you mix them, its to the detriment of art and to the detriment of politics. I see that in popular writing. People will say, Of course I dont want to tell people what to think, or I dont want to do propaganda, or, I dont want to preach to the converted. Theyre all thes e clichd ways of talking about arts and politics. Of course the irony of all of that is that the most effective political theater of all is advertising. And no one says, I dont want to do that. That would be wrong to try to tell people what to do in terms of buying a Big Mac. Bread and Puppet is more comfortable with explicit calls for political and cultural renewal than the sublimated propaganda of American advertising. Another popular clich about political art is its tendency to preach to the choir, rather than responding to social necessity. These clichsfear of propaganda preaching to the choirhave shrewd rhetorical value. The latter downplays the value of solidarity and the tactical value of art in direct action (Graeber 2007), and manipulates social truth by i gnoring change as a social fact. Additionally, this perception of political art as somehow obsolete undermines the fact that engaged artists continue to f ace dismissal, censure, and historical revision. Mark Franko witnessed the erasure of radical modern dance from history for a variety of reasons, reasons that maintain significance in the new century: Discredited for intellectual vacuity and political na vet, radical art could be maligned as well for its ethnic origins. Characterized politically rather than aesthetically, radical art fell through the cracks between avant-gardism, aesthetic modern ism, and socialist realisms. Art criticisms derogatory view of popular emotion viewed radical art as lacking in intellectual merit, and the radical sensibility further lost favor as the politics that motivated it were forced underground. Ultimately it was incompatible with the post modern waning of affect (Franko 2002:40). 19


Undeterred by the multiplicity of aversions towards artistic engagement, the Bread and Puppet Theater stands up as an unwavering advocate for political art.12 Bell sees this as inseparably tied to Schumanns non-American upbringing: What influenced me when I started working with Bread and Puppet was Peters sense thatart or theater can be political. It doesnt mean that all political theater is good political theater, and its very hard to do interesting political artand that step itself was very important. And its amazing to me that the ideology against that still exists. And for Peter, the surety with which he believes that this is the case comes from his background. I think if he were an American artist, that wouldnt be the caseI think its a European point of view. I dont know why its that way in America. It has to do with Am erican history and ideas of Amer ican culture and capitalism and the lack of roots of art. Like, the idea of American theater as art only emerges in the 1920s or 1910s in the U.S. And thats an older idea in Europe. In Germany, people like Schiller or Goethethose playwrights in the 1700s and 1800swere saying that the important thing about theater and art is that it connects to society. And that idea only comes in a little bitwith the Little Theater [Movement].13 Schumanns upbringing in Germany,14 which culture produced Brecht, Piscator, Schiller, Dix, Grosz, Goethe, and Hauptmann (not to mention Riefenstahl and Wesser)15 provided him with a sense of the synergy of art and society. Brecht was a central influence for the majority of 20th century radical theater artists, such as the San Francisco Mi me Troupe, Dario Fo, the Living Theater,16 and 12 Schumann was pretty damning in his political assessment of serious, apolitical artists in our interview: I worked with dancers in [Merce] Cunning hams studio and other places and they had no sense that they lived in a Puerto Rican community or that the drug addicts were climbing through their windows, even though they lived in similar circumstances as my family and I di d. But their art was aloof and this aloofness disturbed me. I don't think art can be. So for me to take even if it was a non-understandable piece of art or sculpture into the street was its test. And showing it to pedestrians seemed to me makes the sense that it can make. Whereas in the gallery theres a sanc tified sense thats already in the gallery, that lives there, that is paid for. It is a totally di fferent situation from not being in the gallery. 13 The Little Theater movement occurred near the turn of the 20th century as a radical attempt to create noncommercial art theater for communities on very low budgetsor social reconstruction through cultural production, to use WPA rhetoric (Bell 2007:50-63). The Chicago Little Theater was the most significant of these groups, one of whose directors coined the term puppeteer, which was meant to linguistically reference muleteer to reflect the labor base of puppetry and its low cultural status (2007:6465). It was a direct attempt to establish the political character of puppetry. Though Schumann was likely unaware of the LT movement, their philosophies and methodologies are consanguine. 14 Although Schumanns geographic origins are complicated, due to Silesias many historical border revisions, he considers himself Silesian and German. 15 The rural revivalism of Schumanns work bears provocative similarity to vlkisch art of the Third Reich, such as the work of Wissel (Petropoulos 1999:28). 16 Judith Malina, co-founder of the Living Theater, worked with Erwin Piscator, Brechts co-conspirator in the promulgation of Epic Theater, at the New School for Social Research in the 1930s. 20


Theater of the Oppressed. Alternately, current political puppetrywhich com prises a good chunk of current political ar tcan be traced to Schumanns work. The fact that the philosophical foundations of Amer ican radical theater are German, that they can likely be traced to Brecht or Schumann,17 highlights the absence of a vernacular American radical art tradition. Schumann is the most significant excepti on to the widespread application of Brechtian theory, insofar as Schumanns work is not a response to Brecht per se, but an engagement with the forms and concepts th at informed Brechts aesthetic. Schumann has used Brecht in his showse.g. the theaters variation on The Threepenny Opera called The Dirt Cheap Opera/The Penny Opera ,18 but Schumanns work is not Brecht-derived. Instead, it exacts the foundations of Brechts theory through the us e of puppetry, which was one of Brechts main sources of inspiration. Bell explained the relationship of puppetry to Brecht to me: [Puppetry] is not s imply the realization of ideas that Brecht had. Puppet theateris one of the sources for Brechts aesthetic. [It] is always Brechtian. If you have a live puppeteer out front and these little char acters, thatsa situation you could describe as Verfremdungseffekt19because obviously there are these two different worlds. From the puppeteers perspectiv e, although Brecht invented an innovative technical system for actors, his theory wa s only a description of exoteric practices existing a priori in the cosmology of puppetry, transferred to the actors theater. To call Bread and Puppets dramaturgy Brechtian is to miss the point that puppeteers were 17 This is not a universally accepted assertion. The influence of the Bread and Puppet Theater is more prominent (i.e. grounded in the whole of Schumanns work and philosophy, rather than solely the spectacle of large protest puppetry) and better documented in Europe than it is in the United States. 18 The names were used interchangeably for the same show. During its first performances in 1998, the show was called The Penny Opera but a revival run in 2008/2009 was titled The Dirt Cheap Opera though this name was used in some of the literature on the show a decade prior. 19 Trans. Alienation Effect; Aor V-Effekt. 21


practicing alienation before Brecht was in his proverbial sh ort-pants. Because Brecht and Schumann draw on the same traditions and idea s, their relationship is mutualistic, like that of two artistic peers, rather than the prophet-and-prot g relationship of Brecht and most other radical theater artists. Bell remembered St efan Brechts response to Schumanns The Dirt Cheap Opera/The Penny Opera as, Oh yeah, thats what my dad was trying to do. Thats a ve ry good realization of it. Be rtolt Brecht wrote of the Gestus a theatrical logic valuing the clear and simp le (re)presentation of a Message, on macro levels (the message of a play or scene) and micro (the message of a specific musical chord, walk, or line) (Brech t 1944:200). This clarity was to be achieved through the radical simplification of stage action, where the delivery of lin es, the placement of tables, and the handshake of two friends are consid ered and essentialized. Combined with Brechts alienation-through-fragmentation, this shows his inspiration from the puppet theater, viz. the puppets limitation of move ment and expression, aversion to textual dependency, and distancing capacity, which have, in turn, formed the basis of Schumanns own Gestus While Brechts milieu was urban and intellectual, Schumanns work is more inspired by a notion of a dormant popular or folk art. Schumann is a modernist, like Brecht, but he utilizes the distinctively pre-modern form of puppetry, imbibing it with a folk(sy) radicalism.20 Another divergence is the expr essionistic/analytic divide in political theater between, respectively, Schum ann and Brecht. Schumanns aversion to 20 If Richard Hofstadters thesis rings true and there is an American aversion to anti-intellectualism (1963), Schumanns populist radicality should be a boon to the theater, and yet the blurring of categories in the mixture of intellectual radicalism and folk populism is a reason for distrust for audiences. This is seen in Bread and Puppets participation in local parades, the political content of which frequently arouses feelings of confusion, betrayal, and anger among parade audiences expecting these events to be reliably friendly and harmless (see Chapter 3). 22


didactic analysis lies in his influences, princ ipally the enigmatic Hlderlin and German Expressionism, as well as his roots in scul pture, painting, and dance. These account for the visual/anti-verbal and anti-rationalistic characteristics of his theater. Analytic didacticism is prevalent enough to become a clich for political theater, yet Schumann prefers to avoid cause-specific rhetorical appe als. When he focuses on specific historical eventse.g. the Iraq War, the 2008 Is raelGaza conflicthe represents these struggles as representative of some transcendent existentia l relation, which illustrates his wobbly political base. Didactic ism can be necessary when privileging politics over art, but Schumanns politics come more from a huma n responsibility to be ar witness than an expectation of political change, which provides little meat for activists, in the way that a show containing specific names and actions mi ghtcf. the poetic and universalized (thus anti-documentarian) treatment of Guantnamo prisoner abuse in Photographs of My Corpse: A Puppet Service for Guantnamo (2007). Bell couched his comments on Brecht and Schumann within a larger debate over the merits of acclaimed American experimental theater artists,21 the virtual totality of which have made a point to avoid politics. On the opposite side of this false dualism are activists who see theater as a waste of time. These activists see the work and time put into these superfic ial productions better spent organi zing. In an interview, puppeteer and organizer Maryann Colella admitted: Sometimes I get made fun of bymy friends who dont take theater as seriously as I do for like dropping out and going to play with puppets[Bu t] Im coming to the point where I know that I have my whole life to do that kind of activism and whatever venue I choose to do it in is equally valuable because we need a diversity of tactics. And I like dancing around with puppets, and thats what I can contribute and I think thats equally va luable to a person who will sit on the phone all day and beg for money. Thats the struggle Ive be en having lately, in deciding all of this, because my partner [and I] do independent underground publications together, and we do a lot of the grunt work, and now hes doing that without me, and Im trying to lay out stuff on my computer here, 21 E.g., Richard Foreman; Robert Wilson; the Mabou Mimes. 23


but it doesnt always work. Its hard because I also care about creating independent media. But in a way, this is a different sort of inde pendent media. Puppet papier-mch media. Concerned as it is with responding to the American milieu in the correct and appropriately radical manner, it is interested in cultural action During our interview, Schumann concurred with my depiction of hi s work as consanguine with that elusive beast, cultural revolution. He told me: You address yourself in the theater not so much to the existing politics as to all the people who suffer and live in those politics. To the raw par ticipants who dont know why they are made to participate. And whose participation amounts to this ridiculous off-and-on voting which doesnt have much meaning. All this th eater and artwork, all this addr esses itself to the people who are suffering from this system. And with that, trying to recognize the system as what it is. And that could then include a standing up against that system. So its the beginnings of the desire for cultural revolutionbecause the Revolution ha s to be preceded by cultural revolution. The minds of masses have to be changed and turned against the existing order in order to achieve anything. And the masses are now solidly in the hands of commercial powers that gain money from having this thing go as it goes. For clarification, I asked Schumann if he meant his work to be a sold ier in the cultural revolution. He nodded, and after a pause, a dded: A tin soldier! Laughter ensued. Bread and Puppet is an organization in str uggle: artistically, th e work is a tin soldier, but internally, existence is a constant battle, as the theater teeters on the edge of irrelevance and bankruptcy. Ye t for legitimate theater, relevance is irrelevant and finances are set. This theater fi ghts engagement and experimentation.22 Lenin described this art as serving the upper ten thousa nd suffering from boredom and obesity (CohenCruz 16 1998:16) and anyone who has seen Cats can verify that. Schumann and other radicals interrogate this legitimate theater: Which gr oups finance this work? Who attends? For what reasons? Whose stories ar e represented? Whose stories are silenced? Which bodies arent allowed on stage? What aesthetic philosophy is being reproduced? 22 Peter Schumann: The function of most arts is to fill out leisure time and to decorate dull spaces. Thats the reality. But in spirit the arts are gods: they heal revolutionize, fulfill, perfect. They can do all these things that we never dare to dream as possible, and they are dead serious about itCompared to the functions which are considered essential to society, they dont have a function. They are meant to do nothing, to affect nothing, even in the face of the most horrible violations of the sense, beauty and dignity of the world (Green 1985:14). 24


Bread and Puppet rejects the central com ponents of this theaterviz. the division of labor, scripts, the fourth wall, the conflation of art and business, as well as institutional financial support.23 The theaters finances may be perennially low,24 but they remain politically independent, unbetrot hed to external interests. I. The Cheap Art Philosophy The expensive or at any rate the manifestly expensive art work would be a signpost away from salvation. -Stefan Brecht (1988a:45) Art is not business! -Peter Schumann In 1984, the Bread and Puppet Press rel eased a flyer called The WHY CHEAP ART? Manifesto (Appendix 1). This print marked the commencement of the Cheap Art movement. Bread and Puppet is now synonymous with Cheap Art, th ough the extent of its application in the theaters practice is rarely explored. On the main interface of the theaters website, there is a section devoted to it: The Cheap Art movement was launched in 1982 by the Bread and Puppet Theater in direct response to the business of art and its growing appropriation by the corporate sector. With this fact taken into account art becomes: "political whether you like it or not" Cheap Art hopes to reestablish the appreciation of artistic creation by making it ava ilable to a wider audience and inspire anyone to revel in an art making proce ss that is not subject to academic approval or curatorial acceptance. Why? "Because art is food", reads the Why Cheap Art manifesto. Cheap Art ranges in price from 5 cents to 50 dollars. Anyone can participate!25 Cheap Art is framed as political art b ecause of the debasement many American artists feel about the interaction of art and politics and the democratization of art, but the 23 In the capitalist theater, like other capitalist econom ies, money grants power, prestige, and a larger public. This theater depends on ticket sales for lighting boards, large backstage areas, lavish costumes, make-up artists, and other costly ventures to put on a good show. Because of these financial demands, the theater cannot afford to offend the tastes of its donors, which further limits the artists freedom. 24 Business manager Linda Elbow: Were staying ahead of things, but its very touch-and-go. I mean, when we get down to $40,000 in the bank account, thats when I start getting very scared. And now were in the $50s. Because of all of this bad weather, we were $1000 behind previous years. Well, $1000 isnt a lot of money, but its a chunk of money. 25 Accessed February 5, 2009. 25


concept is more commonly used with regards to the litera lly cheap prices of the theaters shows and art products. Cheap Art goes deeper than price: it is exemplified in the theaters production and methodology. In production, Cheap Art can be seen in the use of inexpensive, easy-to-access ma terials in performance materials (e.g. donated or retrieved cardboard papier-mch for puppets, donated or retrieved bicycl e tubing for many significant applications) as we ll as its products (e.g. the inexpensively priced and simply produced items in the Bread and Puppet Pre ss catalogue). Methodologi cally, Cheap Art is evident in the theaters rapid creative styl e and resulting sloppine ss, as well as the preponderance of amateurism, reified by th e junk music, homegr own philosophies and accessibility of labor in the theater. The Cheap Art philosophy is anti-capitalist: it reflects the prioritization of community over profit. Although the theater charges for its merchandise, mimicking the traditional art economy, the prices reflect the cost of production rather than demand.26 As one Domestic Resurrection Circus participant expressed in the film Ah! The Hopeful Pageantry of Bread & Puppet (2004) as he was painting tr ees on small squares of wood to sell: We are producing commodities. Were not pr etending not to. Were just trying to do it ona sustainable, local level (Schumann and Halleck 2005). The theaters public performances, includi ng their large annual summer shows, are always free, rely ing entirely on donations.27 The theaters institutional performance 26 E.g. The large Not in Our Name and With Our Mone y poster, which is almost entirely blank but for a burning town at the bottom, costs $2, while the theaters equally-sized Resistance posters, which utilize more ink and hand painting, cost $10. The Bread and Puppet Press could charge the same amount for both posters without affecting sales, but the Cheap Art philosophy stresses honesty as a business tactic. 27 The standard post-show quip is We here at Bread and Puppet still believe theres one great nation left in the world, and thats the do-nation (rimshot) So, please take a few dollars out of your wallet and put your wallet in the hat (rimshot) The hat refers to the large patriotically themed top hats used to collect donations after performances. 26


fees are m iniscule and negotiable. The Cheap Art philosophy pushes the theater to perform without compensation as a form of charity. In July 2008, we performed a short circus for free at a local event in Derby Line Vermont. We performed in the rain to an audience of maybe a dozen semi-interested passersby. The donations we received from our few attendees didnt cover the cost of driving the theaters bus from Glover. Of course, this performance was financially vi able insofar as the theater depends on its neighborly relations to survive. I asked bus iness manager Linda Elbow about this gig: Well, we couldve performed for more [people] if wed been willing to go up there later in the day, but we had a rehearsal that afternoon. Thats what that story is. And they sent me a very nice thank you letter. And we do a lot of stuff for free. We dont usually make a long trip to do stuff for free, but if some poor little thing is having a fund raiser or a benefit or a demonstration that we could do when were on our way someplace else, we do it. And then of course with the big demonstrations in New York or DC, yeah, we go do them. And that costs us money. But were still here, so Considering the totality of capitalist economics, it is remarkable that Bread and Puppet has been able to survive while making cons tant financial sacrifices in the spirit of anti-capitalism.28 Despite Bread and Puppets sizabl e reputation, Cheap Art is populist, evident in the theaters practice of low-exposure, low-pa y public performances, as well as its participation in public demonstrations. A group on the scale of Bread and Puppet performing without compensation is unheard of, yet the theater was a crucial part of the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in the 1960s led a huge contingent in the 1982 nuclear freeze parade in NYC,29 and has continued to participate in political protest large (antiwar demonstrations in DC) and small (Hiroshima Day observances in Montpelier, 28 It is necessary to point out a rather obvious complication and contradiction here: that all artists in the US in the early 20th century, and especially left-leaning artis ts, of which there were so many, found themselves bound to a system which represented the antithesis of Marxian political beliefs. The US is a capitalist society, and one that all artists had to deal with, and live in, no matter what their political proclivities. The various adjustments, compromises, and contradictions wh ich radical artists faced in these timesthe necessity of coming to terms with the US as it really existedwould establish a model for the rest of the century. (Bell 2008:103) 29 For this event, they essentially emptied their museum of puppets. 27


VT). community of supp nd carrying each othe r along. Youre never in that loneliness or isolation of real These low finances don t simply mean in expensive shows: work ing for the theater means a below-poverty wage for everyone fr om touring puppeteers to the Schumanns. The organization is constantly looking for new ways to cut costs, and levies the strongest financial burden on summer interns, who were charged $900 (c. 2008) for their monthlong program. The theater has a ccepted this fee as an unfor tunate necessity of working independentlyi.e. not seeking governmental or corporate grants, refusing to charge for their performances, and keeping the Bread a nd Puppet Press items costs low. Yet Cheap Art does not imply a lack Puppeteers live high on the hog du e to the theaters orters and its rural, D.I.Y. ethic. Puppeteer Rose Friedman explained: Theressuch a totally rich lifewere really under the poverty line, but theres so much just handed to us, and its of such high-qualityIt does nt ever feel like youre poor here. Its all the poverty without any of the oppression of poverty: youre never forced to make any decision between food and heat, you never have to say no to yourself, like, Oh, I cant go to Montpelier tonight to see that show. I cant afford the gas. Because so much is given to you. And there are so many people arou poverty, if that makes sense. Thats Bread and Puppet. There are people around who are in real serious poverty. The m ost oft-cited example of the Cheap Art philosophy is the theaters famed use of papier-mch in its puppets, although this practice wasnt prominent until the 1980s. Before then, the material used for most puppets was Celastic a resin-impregnated cloth which becomes malleable and adhesive wh en immersed in a solvent or exposed to heat. Puppeteer Marc Estrin describes the fabric: Here is th e glory of Celastic: you tear strips of fabric from the bolt. You soak th em in acetone and lay them onto the clay. You go away and you come back. Voila, there is you r puppet in fine sculptur al detail, ready to be painted, light, strong, as forever as a puppet can be. Here is the hell: acetone fumes are toxic, the material costs an arm and a leg, and Third World peasants dont use it (Estrin 2004:194). This last point about Third World peasants denotes the theaters 28


deliberate alignm ent with a cheaper, more univers al, aesthetic. In Estrins impressionistic account of the theater, Rehearsing with Gods (2004), he describes scenes on overseas tours when the puppeteers were humbled by th e grace and compassion of their hosts, especially as these experiences contrasted with the sight of American college campuses throwin would stop and of dealing pra ctically with the sheer a g aw ay huge piles of 2 x 4s, an object of great lust for puppe teers. He writes: The accumulation of these kinds of experiences, sinking into Peters already-monkish heart, led to the great revolution: Bread & Puppet, already poor, was to stop acting rich. No more buying hinges at the hardware store. We would learn the knotting and folding techniques used by Third World people who didnt have hardware stores. We would unbend every nail, or wire things ogether. We would use rocks if there were not enough hammers. And most of all, we t using Celastic, the popular resin-impregnated cloth with which we were making our puppets, our weather-resistant, permanent puppets, the on es the theater was famous for (2004:194.) The theater eventually accep ted the fact that even ma ny layers of papier-mch could never be as strong as Celastic. The pu ppets began to fall apart. Stefan Brecht suggested that implicitly (and later on exp licitly) the artworks impermanence probably was valued by [Schumann]: less danger of its alienation from life (1988a:45). The giant bonfire at the end of every Domestic Resurrection Circus, in which a giant effigy was burned along with other puppets from the weekends performances, was a useful way of exemplifying the Cheap Art ethos of imperm anence mount of new manufactured things each year. The commencement of the Cheap Art move ment was not a philosophical shift, but a methodological and visual one. The shift was Bread and Puppet further actualizing its own principles. Schumanns art was never m eant to be flashy, and the consequent shift to cardboard and a diminished color palette (t here was a sharp spike in puppets in black and brown) further evidenced the beauty possible with a cheap aesthetic. As Estrin writes, The puppets started to look like the bread: brown, rough, earthy (2004:194). The contrast between the older puppetse.g. Uncl e Fatso, the Gray Ladies (which Estrin 29


pointedly calls The Old W orld Order)an d the newer puppets, such as the population puppetsis stark. Estrin cheekily describes the shift as back to the basics to the max (2004:194). Schumanns Cheap Art philosophy em powers individuals who might not see themse Rather than lves as artists. Early in his career, Schumann worked w ith papier-mch and clay. Stefan Brecht implies that his refusal to work with more dignified materials was partially a matter of stunted talent; nonetheless, it quickly took on more philosophical dimensions: He made a virtue of necessityor out of his disinclination to learn moreby an ethics or aesthetics of cheapness (though not, in Germany as yet, it seems, of the use of the junk a point of ethics for him la ter, though never of aesthetic s) (1988a:45). The Schumanns even had a small-scale press as early as the mid-1950s, through which Elka attempted to sell cheap fabric prints made by Peter (1988a:47). In contrast to this early failure, the Bread and Puppet Press (sometimes called The Cheap Art Press) has been an important institution for the theater since its establis hment. The Press prints different Schumann woodcuts (usually masonite-cuts) onto paper or cloth. These sales have brought in cash during the summer shows and on tour.30 Schumanns simple aesthetic translates well into art productse.g. Courage, a brown poster with a black cut of a boot with a stalk of wheat rising out of it, below the block-lette red title. The name Bread and Puppet is frequently invisible, printe d in tiny fonts on the bottom or the back. 30 After the end of every show on tour, one or two puppeteers immediately helms the store, comprising an arrangement of Schumanns books, posters, postcards, pamphlets, DVDs, CDs, scholarly books on the theater, and printed banners. There is also a series of small booklets containing the texts of cantastorias with prints of woodcuts or illustrations by Schuma nn, including one extensive series detailing Kaspars various shenanigans. Some of the more popular pieces develop lives outside of th e theater. The Cheap Art Manifesto is perennially popular. The simplicity of the manifesto is striking, and the unique look of a printing press product changes its aesthetic from that of a printed memo to an a ttractive word-art piece. The manifesto can be found across the country in Catholic Worker kitchens, Southern communes, progressive churches, suburban households, and art classrooms. 30


adverti untrained) perfor mers in four hours, but Bread and Puppet completes this task reg sing the theater, these pieces de velop their own contextual m eaning. The concomitant mechanisms of Cheap Art are more crucial to our understanding than price. Bread and Puppets slapdash rehearsal style is a good example: the sloppiness of the theater may be philosophically and po litically grounded, but it is also necessitated by the relentless speed at which the theater works. This past January, I participated in the theaters annual Boston weekl ong residency as a puppeteer. Our nearly 80 hour week was extreme: cf. in the course of one Satu rday, our company of eight puppeteers taught The Sourdough Philosophy Circus to more than twenty-five volunteers (adults and children) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., performed the sh ow at 3 p.m., then removed the puppets, costumes, and materials from the stage, set-up The Sourdough Philosophy Spectacle rehearsed with volunteers,31 and performed at 7 p.m. The cycle was repeated the following day. Most theater companies would be unable to produce a full show with a cast of (mostly ularly. Cheap Art aims to lift the veil on the m echanics of art and theater production. Very little effort is expended to reserve the magic of the show for the audience. During Bread and Puppets 2009 Boston Center for the Arts residency, we were doing lastminute rehearsals of our shows in the performance space while the audience was taking their seats, sometimes 15 minutes before show time. Some of us were in our requisite whites, others were in street clothes. Sometimes Schumann would decide that a section needed to be changed during these rehear sals, and we would experiment with the transition in front of the audience. This aids the alienation and transparency of the 31 This show had been already performed with volunteers. The schedule was hectic, but we didnt create two whole shows in one day. 31


perform ance, but it is also a matter of not having enough time. Schumann doesnt care if the illusion is spoiled. The shows are too hastily assembled and presentational to have much o d agit prop was thus an accumulation of analogous microc f an illusionary quality.32 The Cheap Art encouragement of amateur pe rformers is related to the foundations of agit-prop, though Bread and Puppets shows fit this labe l awkwardly. According to Albert Prentiss33 Basic Principles (1931), agit-pr op is characterized by economy of gesture and motion, this last to permit any wo rker to take any part with a minimum of rehearsal (Franko 2002:24). As it is in Bread and Puppet, there was no division of labor, and a simplicity bordering on stylization favored instantaneous adaptability of each performer to a variety of roles (2002:24). The radicalism, energy, and simplicity of agitprop made political change viscerally seem po ssible. Prentis continued, The politically effective concept of organization behin enters of readiness (2002:24). In the 1930s, agitprop, radi cal modern dance and ot her types of WPA-funded radical theater meant to undermine the theatr ical authority of th e chorus line, the embodiment of all that was wrong in the theate r world and the larger social world. Franko called chorus dance (e.g. the Ro ckettes, Busby Berkeley), in which beautiful girls with dazzling smiles danced under strict regulation, the capitalist sublimatio n of the threat of radical emotion, specifically as it afforded no opportunities for creative adjustment to others impulses (2002:32). In th is time of great social uphe aval and popular radicalism, cheerfulness became a figure of pacification (2002:32). Not only cheerfulness, but 32 Although I am able to understand this intellectually, it never feels right to rehearse in front of an audience. I understand why the theater is willing to do it; I can even explain why it is beneficial, but my traditional theater training has me disturbed by the practice. 33 Prentis was a member of the 1 930s Workers Theater movement. 32


expensive spectacle itself becam e representati ve of the oppression of specialization, reified from intra-company politics into an ideology of expert-ism responsible for great injustices. Another problem with chorus dan ce is the aforementioned regulation, enforced deindividuation. The groups most aggressively opposed to this process were, ironically, the communist radical dancers, who firmly t outed subjective emotional experience as key to encouraging and maintaining radical social commitment (2002:5). Schumann is also deeply distrustful of glitz, glamour, and the good as conceived by the ruling class in his own time. His most recent project, the Lubbe rland National Dance Company, uses as its core pedestrian motion, similar to the early post-modern choreographers organized as the Judson Dancers (e.g., Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton). His idea that a great artist might come from anywhere34 is present in dance: he seeks the participation of nondancers and finds unique talent s in the untrained. Pedestri an movement was common for the radi cal modern dance groups, such as the New Dance Group. Schumann is particularly fond of working with the disabled, though the nature of his interest differs from practitioners of both Outsider Art and disability theater. Less presumptuous than the former,35 less deliberate than the latter, his reasons go back to his early dance philosophy. In the mid-1950s, he be gan choreographing with the lofty goal of world regeneration and became obsessed with finding the right dancer to produce the right movement and he saw himself as the scientist best able to extract these elements from his performers (Brecht 1988a:37). Trai ning was usually an inhibitor to expression and rightness, from Schumanns perspective, but receptivity to his aesthetic goals was key. He believed that the actualization of human potentials were limited by convention, 34 This should not be interpreted to mean that everyone is a great artist. 35 Hal Foster succinctly analyzes th e problems embedded in the foundations of Outsider Art in his essay Blinded Insights, included in Prosthetic Gods (2004). 33


and so sought to create a new langu age. Additionally, believed that art needed an ethical motivation, a promotion of life to actualize its potentials. Schumann struggled, and never really found a group of dancers he could work with except for his friend Dieter (1988/I:37). Schumanns current work with the di sabled is not just an extension of his Cheap Art policy of inclusion, it is an extens ion of his search for the right movement, a desire u Schumann described her vers ion of the pose as really wonderful. (Appen nderlying the past four decades of his work. I performed in two summer Lubberland performances, World Cant Wait Dances in 2007 and Seven Election Campaign Celebration Dances in 2008. One of the dancers who appeared in both was a wheelchair-bound teenager, the adopted Ethiopian daughter of a Glover family. In the thea ters 2009 residency at the Bo ston Center for the Arts, two of the performers were in chairs. The show began with a short segment of the 2008 Lubberland show, and Schumann enjoyed reorganizing the da nces to incorporate the disabled participants. In the beginning movement, the dancers form a single line perpendicular to the audience. The chaired dancers moved symmetrically to either side of the central line. In the dance, the first pers on in the line lifts her arms on each side in varying combinations and at changing speeds. The dancers behind mimic the movements in front of them, creating a ripple effect. The le ngthiest pose is that of both arms held out straight. Mo, one of the disabled volunteers, who had a manual wheelchair, was unable to completely lift her arms; they remained bent with her fingers curled up. During dinner the following day dix 2) 34


Melis sa Ann Clark has participated in th e Bread and Puppet Th eater intermittently past three years. She told me that she sees a direct link from Cheap Art to for the Schum I think [the dance] is a political statement in itself. Its like Cheap Art. Cheap Dance. This quick into a movement sequence that ould have a really hard time with ophetic: the title of the 200 the poshe idea of what I like about puppetr y is th at you can take it to a bar. Is there a way to get dance hich man alienates himself, is a labor o anns dance philosophy:pr oduction type thing where you can throw a bunch of people arent dancers, and I think a lot of technique-trained dancers w his dance style. But I think that it is about being able to put people into that kind of scenario that would never be there. Really testing peoples limits, too, of what their idea is, of things. Melissas spontaneous coining of Cheap Dance may have been pr 9 Lubberland show is 27 Dirt Cheap Money Dances Puppeteer Maura Gahan, who has been to uring Lubberland since 2008, mused on sibilities of public radical da nce with me during an interview: T into a bar that isnt booty dance? I dont know, but Im sure as hell gonna try. Can I go on the street and do this kind of stuff? And I dont wa nt to do it just like its a sensational thing. Of course I could go out in the street and be doing my modern dance thing or whatever and have people be weirded out. Thats not the point. Thats equally self-indulgent with performing in a concert venueto be honest. I guess thats the thing. How do you be honest with dance? How do you be honest yet not elitist and not spoon-feeding? Cheap Arts amateurism stresses the value of each individual s contributions both as a crucial part of the collective goal a nd as a tool for pers onal empowerment. This raises the question of labor, and the idea of Cheap Art as a tool for combating alienation. About alienation, Marx wrote: External labor, labor in w f self-sacrifice, of mortification; he saw alienation as a mere means to satisfy needs outside itself, and an av atar of the death of spontane ity in the imag ination, brain, and heart, and a subsequent loss of self (Marx 1978:74). The meaning of labor in the Bread and P uppet Theater is complicated. Insofar as the company is totally in the hands of Peter Schumann, puppeteers are disempowered. For example, in The Sourdough Philosophy Spectacle one early scene involves half of the performers on stage right ly ing down, facing offstage, while the other half are inside a 35


large plastic puppet. Schum ann is the only one able to see the performance. It isnt important that puppeteers are able to see this scene, so they ar ent encouraged to step out and get an outside eye. This vision is completely controlled by Schumann; the participants main work is to trust in thei r director. This raises all sorts of Higher Author special level of training whethe the repulsive and monotonous haracter of his work, but one will have give n him the feeling of us eful collaboration his feeling of useful collaboration was common to me while creating II. The Kasper Act Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun, it shines everywhere. -William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (3.1.39-40) ity questions: What kind of freedom can develop within a dictatorship? Is authority necessarily subjectivel y constructed? Isnt the dict ator merely a pawn for the objective structure that engenders th ese hierarchical relationships? The accessibility of Bread and Puppets la bor makes its work available for anyone to participate. In the realm of art, whic h normally requires a r in dance, music, puppetry, theater, or visual artbeing able to work without a division of labor is itself a form of self-actualization, a revo lutionary rejoinder against the typical alienation from art. It is a form of artistic artisanship. In 1927, political scientist Andr Philip began research on labor culture and discovered: It is possible to divert the wo rkers creative instinct from the individual work to collective work; if one fully inform s the worker about fact ory production, and of his role in national economic life, if one explai ns in detail his func tion in the creation of the total work, one will probably not have removed c (Franko 2002:29). T Cheap Art with the Bread and Puppet Theater. 36


One of the most enduring and successful forms of the Bread and Puppet Theater is the Rotten Idea Theater Company, feat uring a character named Kasper.36 Lifted from a canon of childrens entertainment, Peter Sc humanns Kasper encapsulates the perceived stupidity of modern times through a radi cal revision of the German puppet theater character. It is more explicitly radical than any of its German forebears, drawing its heterogeneous influences from different European cultural interpretations of Pulcinella, a character from the Italian commedia dellarte tradition.37 Pulcinella was introduced to regional puppet traditions in the 18th and 19th centuries.38 Over time, other regional characters, such as Kasper or Punch, absorb ed the role of Pulcinella. McCormick and Pratasik write: Pulcinella has the characteristics of the folk puppet, and because of this he was instantly recognizable in other cultures, which probably explains why he merged so easily with local figures, either giving his name to them, or taking on theirs. The basic folk puppet is a carnival figure and as such enjoys a degree of license to do and say things which society does not normally permit. Such a character has a subversive quality, is constantly set up in opposition to representations of authority (officer, policeman, hangman, landlord, doctor) (1998:116) Viennese actor Johann Lorche created Kasper l Larifari his actors theater, but the character was soon banished for vulgari ty (1998:116). Kasper found a home in the puppet theater, particularly as a marionette until the shows were eclipsed by the popularity of the gloved hand puppet street performances (1998:114).39 Max Jacob, 36 As a point of clarification, Schumann insists that the Rotten Idea Theater Company is a form separate from the Kasper act, which is dependent upon the RITC framework. In other words, non-Kasper forms can be part of the Rotten Idea Theater Company, but not vi ce-versa. This is totally theoretical, as Ive had trouble locating a single non-Kaspar RITC act, but over the summer of 2008, Peter cut all Kasper acts and announced that we needed new non-Kasper RITC acts to populate the circus with. Not a single act was written, and he eventually reinstated the Kasper acts with much unhappy grumbling. 37 Kasper developed concurrently with these variations, such as Britains Punch and Frances Guignol. 38 There are two essential variations to Pulcinella: upper (class) Pulcinella, emphasizing his shrewdness and cunning, and lower (class) Pulcinella, where his untamed aggression and black humor reigned. In this latter version, he was given to insults such as you syphilitic strumpets brat sired by a thousand fathers, and farting on characters he disliked (Duchartre 1966:212). 39 In the show, which had plot variations and regional idiosyncrasies, Kasper frequently has run-ins with the Devil, and his irreverent treatment of this malevolent figure was seen as a jab at church authority and 37


creator of the Hohnsteiner interpretation of Kasper, ir onically first exposed Peter Schum ann to puppetry as a child. The Hohnstein er Kasper was a family-friendly revision replacing Kaspers moral ambivalence and violent individualism with a witty cunning. This Kasper became a childrens he ro and monopolized the tradition.40 Hearkening back to the German folk puppetry of his childhood, Schumann revised the Kasper character again in Bread and Puppet circuses. He used the original violent, stupid rebelliousness to expose the blatant but deeply ingrained injustices of our society, which Schumann felt required a Kasper to fully extrapolate and decimate. In the Rotten Idea Theater Company, current politic al ideas are ridiculed through punch lines and the mutual bashing and smashing of Ka sper puppets with foam cudgels. John Bell said that very few people do the traditional Punch and Judy or Kasper show: Most puppeteers dont really do P unch, because thats too weird. Punch is crazy And the popular puppeteers of the 19th and 20th centuries werent necessarily using this character as a tool of moral deconstruction, although the political implications of the form may be clear in retrospect. The major ity of popular puppetry was populist insofar as its hero was poor and oppressed and its villains rich and powerful, but in most cases the showmen accepted patriarchal values without question and believed in the status quo (McCormick and Pratasik 1998:11). Contrarily, Schumanns Kasper is explicitly radical, and has a pedagogical function to explain the problems of modern society and reduce them to their also carried the unnerving implication that Kasper might be worse than the Devil himself, which his violence supports. That said, Kasperl theater tradition is less disturbing than the standard British Punch and Judy show, which usually featured Punch killing at least his wife and child, whereas Kasper usually fought crocodiles and witches (Widenmeyer 2001). 40 The Hohnsteiner Kasper is an ironically good exampl e of the trifling bunny rabbits style of puppetry Bread and Puppet finds so anathematic. I first saw the use of bunny rabbits to describe the clichd commercial childrens entertainment version of puppetry in Stefan Brechts history of the Bread and Puppet Theater, but since then I have heard Peter and Elka Schumann, John Bell, and others use a variation on it to refer to commercial childrens puppetry. The puppeteers arent trying to make a meme or something, its simply a solid image of the kind of fluff puppetry Schumann is positioned against. 38


sim plest elements. This usually takes the form of idiots violently attacking innocents or one another. Schumann sees the corrupti on of politics through the discontents of civilization and/or existential absurdity. Kasper is the embodied explicator of cruelty, the distillation of modern depravity. There are two kinds of Kasper masks in the Bread and Puppet Theater. Both are approximately 3-4 feet long and 1-2 feet wide. The better of the two is papier-mch with a large cardboard strap on the back to ride on the puppeteers shoulders. This version is primarily used by the company on tour and on the farm. The newer masks are flatsos (flat cardboard puppets), whic h the puppeteer holds during pe rformance. These are only used in large group Kasper acts and in works hops. The restricted movement of the arms is the primary reason these are the back-up masks. I find a sort of demented goofiness (Fig. 1) missing in the newer flat version of the mask (see Fig. 2). All RITC acts begin with Mourets Rondeau, the theme to Masterpiece Theatre In performance, this fanfare is gleefully sarcastic. The band plays variations including rapid and off-key versions, duets between the bass drummer and the trumpets and one missing random assortments of notes. The standa rd version is triumphant but amateurish coming from the junky brass band. After the initial thumps of the bass drum, the band kicks into the tune, and the Kaspers make their entrance. The Kaspers movements are large and exaggerated. The mask covers the top half of the puppeteers body, so puppeteers must use their legs and arms to kick, swing, and madly gesticulate. The Kasper voice is the loudest, most obnoxious voice possible. The character is athletic; it requires a performers complete dedication. 39


Fig. 1 on L. The papier-mch Kasper mask on top of a pile of other Kasper masks. This one is my favorite, which I always reserved for performances. Fig. 2 on R. A workshop in Minneapolis featuring the flatso Kasper masks. On the second day of the 2007 internship, the interns were shown a Kasper act. Peter announced that we would all be writing Rotten Idea Theater Company41 sketches that day, after we watched puppeteers perfor m an RITC example called Five Popular Brands of Warfare (or K-WAR, on the circus list backstage). The backyard was the stage; we sat around the picnic table and on the grass. Ive scripted the act below (keep in mind that the act moves very quickly): (Masterpiece Theatre plays. The Kaspers come onstage, yelling greetings to the crowd. The Announcer holds up the Rotten Idea Theater Co. sign.) ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the Ro tten Idea Theater Compan y proudly presents KASPERS/BAND (fanfare) : Ta-daaaaa! ANNOUNCER: Five Popular Brands of Warfare. Part One: Civil War. KASPAR #1 (huge movement, begging for the cudgel in Kaspar #2s hand, with an exaggerated British accent) : Oh, pleeeeaaaase? KASPAR #2 (very civilly, upper-class British accent) : Why yes, my good man. (Hands Kaspar #1 the cudgel) 41 Peters accent led many of us to hear What an Id ea Theater Company, which we believed was the title until we saw the sign that read Rotten Idea Theater Co. 40


KASPAR #1: Why thank you. KAPAR #2: Youre quite welco (Kaspar #1 hits him with the cudgel, he falls over.) KASPAR #1/BAND: Ta-daaaa! (Kasper #2 jumps back up.) ANNOUNCER: Part Two: Cold War. (The Kaspers begin loudly shivering.) KASPAR #2: Throw another log on the fire! (Kaspar #1 bashes him with the cudgel, he falls over.) KASPAR #1/BAND: Ta-daaaa! (Kasper #2 jumps back up.) ANNOUNCER: Part Three: Guerrilla War. (Both Kaspers begin jumping around and grunting like gorillas.) KASPAR #2: Give me a banana! (Kaspar #1 bashes him with the cudgel, he falls over.) KASPAR #1/BAND: Ta-daaaa! (Kasper #2 jumps back up.) ANNOUNCER: Part Four : Asymmetrical War. (Both Kaspers begin leaning to different sides, saying, whoa whoa whoa whoa Finally they st rike a poise and say, Hey! Kaspar #1 bashes Kaspar #2 with the cudgel.) ANNOUNCER: And finally Part Five, Pre-Emptive (Kaspar #1 bashes the Announcer, then Kaspar #2, with the cudgel. They fall over.) BAND/KASPERS : Ta-daaaaa! (Band starts playing the Masterpiece Theater theme.) ANNOUNCER (leaps to his feet) : Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, this was a presentation of the Rotten Idea Theater Company. This is the basic form. The act make s mocks war by having obnoxious, violent idiots yelling at and hitting one another. Af ter this performance, we split up into groups of three to four interns. The puppeteers threw a big pile of ca rdboard with pol itical topics on the grass, such as global warming, capitalism, energy crisis, and pollution. We were told to either pick an idea out of the pile or come up with our own. My group decided to focus on the lack of debate in el ectoral politics, specifically the exclusion of third parties. Our initial rendition of the act acerbically titled The Voting Solution, was not quite funny, resting on a chee ry ending with 10-y ear-old Max running onstage to yell, The power is yours! Schumann was enthus iastic, though, and sent puppeteer Justin Lander to work on it with us. We emphasized th e role of the third-party candidate more, and escalated the tempo of the act. There are four performers onstage in the act: the Announcer (whom I played), one stone-faced act or, and two Kaspers on either side of the actor. The two Kaspers each have under the masks a large white sign with ISSUE painted on it in black. The final version of the act, re-titled Democracy In Action, or Democracy Inaction went as follows: 41


(Masterpiece Theater theme. Th e Kaspers walk onstage with huge, exaggerated movements, yelling greetings to the crowd in raspy, distorte d, idiotic voices. The Announcer holds up the Rotten Idea Theater Co. sign.) ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the Rotten Idea Theater Company is proud to present KASPERS/BAND (fanfare) : Ta-daaaaa! ANNOUNCER: Democracy In Action, or Democr acy Inaction! Starring the Republic Party! REPUBLICAN (holds ISSUE sign like a rifle, cocks it) : Lock and load, America! ANNOUNCER: The Democratic Party! DEMOCRAT (does Bills Clinton thumb-pointing gesture) : Yo yo yo! ANNOUNCER: And the Third Party! THIRD PARTY (stone-faced, monotone) : Hey. (Pause) ANNOUNCER: Issue #87. Global warming. The Republican Party: REPUBLICAN (whips out ISSUE sign) : Problem? (Hides sign) What problem? ANNOUNCER: The Democratic Party: DEMOCRAT: This is a very important issue! (Puts sign in pocket, looks around) ANNOUNCER: And the Third Party: THIRD PARTY: Well, when discussing this topic we really need to consider KASPERS (jump in front of the Third Party) : Ta-daaaaa! ANNOUNCER: Issue #92: P ublic transportation! REPUBLICAN: Problem? (Hides sign) What problem? ANNOUNCER: The Democratic Party. DEMOCRAT: This is a very important issue! (Puts sign in pocket, looks around) ANNOUNCER: And the Third Party! THIRD PARTY: Using the public transportation system can be a KASPERS (jump in front of the Third Party) : Ta-daaaa! The act continues like this, picking up a fr antic speed on issues such as the future of Medicare, industrial agriculture, and is Pluto still a planet? Each time the Republicrat Kaspers jump in front of the Th ird Party to prevent him from speaking; this quickly grows in aggression, and by the thir d issue, they are hitting the Third Party candidate with their ISSUE signs. He gets knocked down more and more, and by the last issue is struggling to get off the ground: ANNOUNCER: Issue #1: The globalization of the genocidal, ecocidal cancer of neoliberal capitalism! KASPERS (look at each other, shrugging) : Problem? What problem? (They knock down the Announcer and the Third Party, and walk o ff linking arms as the band plays Masterpiece Theater.) This version of the act was much funnier, and was immediately added to the circus. It remained until the final spring t our of 2008; one of the only acts to do so. The political distillation required by the Kasper form is antithetical to both the emphasis on nuance and complexity within th e academy and in avant-garde performance. 42


Schum ann answers a number of aesthetic questions in the Kasper act. He is interested in the subtleties and complexities of performance objects rather than human bodies, although he has invented large spectacles us ing hundreds of human bodies, he finds them best sublimated in puppets or obscuring costumes. In the Kasp er acts, he shuns the face the most expressive part of the human bodyand replaces it with a 3x1.5 mask. The work for the scene is thus split evenly betw een the performer and th e puppet, a structure Peter has consistently worked toward. Even blank faces have tiny inconsistencies which can be focused on, little variations that expand into great differentiation, and the appreciation of puppetry depends on noticing the subtle characterizati ons of these objects. Furthermore, regarding the question of simplicit y vs. complexity in political theater), the Kasper act is reductive and simplistic. But the creative process of paring down something as broad as a lack of debate in electoral politics to a vaudeville routine requiring a quick succession of pratfalls and an overarching comic structure ending in a climactic punch line is infinitely more complex than I might have imagined. The Kasper act has certain devote es at Bread and Puppetpuppeteers who believe in the Kasper act as a universally e ffective form of political art. These devotees can be stringent about what a Kasper act can entail. I watched the active maintenance of tradition while creating new Kasper acts. The first critique I noticed in the rehearsal and performance process was the disregard of positive endings, which logically accompanies the concept of the rotten idea. There is a comedic difference between acts that end positively and those that do not. After the performance of an optimistic Kasper act in 2008 concerning the importance of growi ng ones own food, Pe ter was thoroughly nonplussed. He rejected the act, calling it t otally politically-correct, but not funny. 43


Kasper acts can afford to be nih ilistic because of their pratfalls and punch lines. The act of producing the act undermines its nihilism. When considered in opposition to the demoralization of nihilism, the acts of artistic creation and poli tical engagement are powerful acts of love. (See Appendix 3 for more on Kasper) III. Photographs of My Corpse: A Puppet Service for Guantnamo If the Kasper act exemplifies the easine ss and success of Chea p Art, exploring the process of creating Photographs Of My Corpse: A Puppet Service for Guantnamo our second touring show42 in 2007, shows how the lack of money and a division of labor requires a commitment to hard work. The title of the show is taken from a poem written by a detainee at Guantnamo Bay Detention Camp, included in the recent collection Poems from Guantnamo: The Detainees Speak (2007). It was October in Glover with appropriate weather for the task at hand: it was around 40 degrees, though it went down to the upper 20s at night and peaked at 50 in a rare sunny moment, with gray skies and freque nt rain. We were to re-invent the show, as four puppeteers had already composed and pe rformed a large amount of it at the end of the summer in 2007. Their performance space, and our rehearsal sp ace, was the Under the Barn Stage. Jack Sumberg, the Bread and Puppet carpente r/handyman who has worked with the theater for decades, built the stage as he contiguously renovated the foundational structure of the Museum. The stage is approximately 40 feet lengthwise and 10 feet deep. It is ra ised about six inches off the gr ound, and the ceiling ends at about 42 Our first show was The Divine Reality Comedy Circus 44


6, which is quite claustrophobic if one is m o re than 6 tall (four of the puppeteers are). Very little natural light penetrates the space, and large clumps of dust are omnipresent. While the company composed the show in th e summer, one of the puppeteers developed a cold and passed it on to the others, and they all suffered through cold sweats in the least healthy space on the farm for an entire week. We worked under the barn every day after our morning meeting, where we planned out the work for the day. The meeting began at 9:00 am and usually lasted until 9:30, and we worked until lunch at noon. After a two-hour siesta (frequently spent working, somewhat voluntarily), we would pick up again at 2:00 for a short afternoon meeting and then work until dinner, around 6:00. This is the summer schedule, as well. The previously invented section of the show was a collection of consecutive scenes of anguish using puppeteers in the bunraku-inspired black bag costumes43 and many large puppets. Because the stage is so short, these puppets filled the space horizontally, and filled it totally. Our goal was to invent an introductory section for the show (Part I) and create segues between the sc enes in the established segment (Part II). Schumann gave the nine touring members small figures, 5-7 tall, brown, sitting, lump-like papier-mch figures with features roughly painted on them in black, with a chunk of wood inside each fi gure weighing it down. These were Schumanns Population puppets, which hes been creating variations of for decades. The Population bears witness 43 The black bag is basically what it sounds like: a large black costume in two parts1) baggy pants or a large skirt with an elastic waist, and 2) a large sh irt which usually falls to the knees. The black bags frequently have hoods that cover the face entirely. These hoods are transparent for the performer, and yet they seem solidly opaque to the sp ectator. In Bread and Puppet shows, the black bag is frequently worn underneath other costumes or masks, as a way of abse nting non-objective f eatures (the characteristics of the human body) and reducing the human body to a malleab le object similar to a puppet. The black bag can also be used to activate the mask the puppeteer is wearing, along th e same lines as bunraku puppeteers whose shadowy forms activat e the puppets they hold. 45


to horror. T hey were utilized in Part II. Tiny in comparison to the larger puppets on center stage, the Population is situated at the foot of the st age during the show. Schumann wanted these puppets to come into being and be more strictly defined, so he directed us to construct a series of simple, di screte sections of movements for these puppets to be execute d on a table. We split up in to three groups. Working on one of Schumanns shows is very different than the circus, where he has very little creative input, only directorial excision powers. John Bell explained the process of object experimentation in American Puppet Modernism : The puppeteer is pl aying with a certain lack of control, and experimenting with the different possibilities of the puppet while constantly being aware of how the puppets structure determines movement (2008:7). Our movement experimentation, which is dependent on accidental movements a nd unforeseen possibilities, is similar to the processes of dance reh earsal Ive seen both in Lubbe rland National Dance Company rehearsals and during conventiona l dance classes. Ra ther than beginning with a concept, as many Bread and Puppet circus acts do, we utilized what are e ssentially aleatoric methods in rehearsal.44 Instead of wondering what type of torture to depictand the recently released memos and detainee logs from Guantnamo gave us many optionswe began with simple movements. Here are a few of my groups experiments: 1. All puppeteers hold two puppets in their hand s and slowly sway th em back and forth. 2. One puppeteer bangs a hammer for five s econds on the table, whereupon a different puppeteer slowly pushes the puppets from one s ection of the table to another. This cycle repeats, with the next consecu tive puppeteer moving the puppets. 3. The puppeteers stand in silence for approximately ten seconds, then quickly knock all of the puppets off of the table. They pause for an equal length of time, then rapidly put the puppets back in place on the table. 44 Aleatory is a crucial component of Peters dance philosophy, less so in his puppetry: if chance occurs in his non-dance shows, it is due to the lack of rehearsal, creating Bread and Puppets trademark sloppy aesthetic, which is really just a vulgarization of chance composition. 46


After each group created a series of m ove ments, we showed them in the New Building. As each group performed, Schumann would come over to the table and assist by showing us the right way to hold the puppets and by making cuts and alterations. He emphasized the importance of utilizi ng the entire spaceincluding the space around the tableas well as considering th e theatrical roles of the puppet eers, who were not, in fact, hidden by the puppets, but assumed a deliberate ro le in activating the objects on the table. This acknowledgement of the physical presence of the puppeteer is a clear example of Verfremdungseffekt in puppet performance. Puppeteer Paul Zaloom, who specializes in object theater performance,45 told me he felt uncomfortab le when his audience watched him, rather than his puppets : Its kind of intimate, dont you think? Its kind of like someone watching you fucking. The inti mate bond between the puppeteer and the inanimate object may not be immediately considered when beginning puppetry, but Schumann told us to utilize the tension in th is fundamental question of who exactly is doing the puppeteering. Schumann cut and pasted a sequence of ev ents out of our examples, and as a group we composed additional segments em phasizing the presence of the puppeteer, including a recurrent section where the puppete ers scattered across the stage. Schumann also added text and music. Daniel was to play violin, standing on stage right. The company had selected portions of the US military interrogation log for Detainee 06346 from Guantnamo (accessed after publication in Time magazine on June 12, 2005), including scenes of both extreme violence and mundane detail. Schumann worked on 45 In Zalooms Object Theater, he utilizes found objects, such as dish detergent bottles, pencils, and aluminum foil. He became one of the most well known Bread and Puppet vete rans after creating the popular childrens TV science character Beakman, of Beakmans World 46 Detainee 063 is Mohammed al-Qahtani, alleged to be the th hijacker from the September 11 attacks. 47


establishing an order to Part I, which included text read by Noah, puppet m ovement on the table, and Daniels violin. Later, we a dded a section where I played snare drum. Due to Schumanns insistence that we not represent the torture Noah read in detail, there was no hint of which section would come next Is it the scattering of the puppets? The slow tilting? It took us a week before we fe lt comfortable with the order. While crafting this show, we were always aware of our thematic rubric: we were creating the Bread and Puppet show about torture at Guantnamo, but there was no script to block our expe rimentation. Although Schuman n excised and edited our proposals, we had freedom to experiment with spatial movement and sound. While creating our proposals for Part I, the fu ll company members did not dictate our experiments. New touring puppeteers, such as myself, had as much lic ense to create as senior puppeteers, and it only took confidence of proposal to have ones ideas tried out. Seemingly random ideas, such as including a vi olin, or having a large section of Part I ignoring the Population puppets entirely, were included after a quick experiment with them. I see this free experimentation as a Cheap Art process. While working within the Guantnamo theme, any idea was considered on its own merit, rather than based on the status of the propositioner. Every day we worked in the dark, cold, dusty and wet space under the barn with occasional breaks to do pre-winter work for the three members of the company, who would be living on the farm in -20 or -30F temperatures for months after tour ended. We spent one day moving a huge pile of fi rewood from the spot where the lumber company had dumped it to its storage place un der a tin roof 25 feet away. We made a relay line, and any time someone dropped a pi ece of wood or disrupted the rhythm, the 48


rest of the com pany would yell complaints at the offending person. We also cleaned the kitchen in the summer house. I volunteered to empty and scrub the refrigerator, which had collected a hardened puddle of dark, visc ous goo at the bottom. There was food left from ex-company members Justin and Roses wedding a month before, as well as some mystery liquids that had been sitting around since Augus t. I poured everything into a huge bucket and offered anyone who walked pa st a cup of Bread and Puppets famous autumn soup. This drudgery is essential to the theater, which relies on a hard work ethic on and off the stage. This is a necessary compone nt of Cheap Art, which requires individuals to bear the burden of respons ibility themselves, rather than sending work off to someone else. As we continued rehearsing these show s, the difference between rehearsals and work on the farm disappeared. The slowness and silence of the Guantnamo show led to sometimes maddeningly dull rehearsals, where we would be slowly moving puppets from one side of a table to the othe r for hours. The Circus, in co ntrast, was extremely fast, and far more physically and mentally demanding th an any performance Ive ever been a part of. One moment I would be standing still, holding a puppet, and the next I was slowly sorting through garbanzo beans. The next da y I would be furiously rushing back and forth, playing drums and baritone horn, da ncing, changing in and out of costumes, singing without time to catch my breath, and the next moment I was running back and forth across the farm to bring restoration equi pment to the memorial in the pine forest, where we were repairing memorial houses that had fallen into disrepair. I disagree with Barbas exclusive asserti on that in an organized performance the performers physical and vocal presence is modeled according to principles which are 49


different from those of daily life. This extra-daily use of the body-mind is called technique (Barba 1995:9). Where does ludi c utility fit in? This reminded me of Turners argument about pre-industrial culture s being aware of the meaning-infused ludic and symbolic qualities of work, and their re jection of the work-play/leisure divide (1982:34). While Bread and Puppet demarcates leisure time, the distinction remains valuable because the distinction between artist ic and sub-artistic labor is ignored, where artistic creation is normally seen as holding a monopoly on the ludic. Working as a puppeteer couldnt be further from being a professional actor, not only because of aesthetic differences, but becau se of the lack of division of labor: the puppeteers job is every job This reflects the hard work ethi c and the lack of a division of labor. In addition to performing, puppeteers are expected to handle puppets, props, and costumes, and go into emergency puppet surg ery when things break. Puppeteers are expected to set up and break down their show s, sell Bread and Puppet merchandise after the event, do press releases, organize upc oming shows on tour and find shows for open dates on the calendar while on tour. For the Guantnamo show, a few of the touring members elected to build a transportable st age-frame, made from PVC pipes, rubber ties and Schumanns painted curtain. Each pipe was cut to specific dimensions, and had to be spaced a precise distance from the next pipe for the curtain to fit. The stage-frame required an extensive pulley system, particular ly with the front curtain, which had to be opened and closed by a single r ope after every scene in Part II. Touring member Laura Wallace was in charge of the specs for Gu antnamo, and whenever we got to a gig where we performed the show, she had to see the space, measure it, and figure out how 50


the stag e-frame would fit in the space. She would be at the new space with pockets of duct tape, masking tape, pencils, markers, and measuring tape. By the end of that seco nd week, we had finished Photographs of My Corpse: A Puppet Service for Guantnamo (for a breakdown of the show, see Appendix 4). At the end of our final rehearsal, Schumann nodded slowly and sa id, This is a good show. I think people need a boring show.47 The show refuses to entert ain its audience, to meet their expectations. Considering the clichs of political theater, this show skirted a number of them. There is a frequently quoted Schum ann line about finger-pointing theater and how it tends to either bore or offend its a udience. An audience going to see a show about torture is likely to expect a violent, gory e xpos of American detent ion tactics. Instead, they bore witness to a theater poem in black and brown that was tortuously slow and quiet. It managed to locate torture on a psychohistorical level, where shadowy black figures and unsettlingly tender sovereigns direct existentially disturbing activities while a grotesque population bears passive witness and is forcibly removed after each violation. The majority of the show is silent and lit by a single hanging light bulb. The only colors in the show are varian ts of black and brown, except for the white shirts of the suited puppeteers, and dark blue in the curtain, which is mo stly obscured by the general lack of light. There are a few short moments of fast movement in Part I, but they are brief and confusing. There is no dramatic arc. It manages to be quite denunciatory, through the means of nonfigurative, expressionist puppetry. It is neith er good propaganda nor interesting spectacle. Its meaning lays bur ied under a grim, dull exterior. Yet it works systematically. As opposed to the conservatism of satire, whose mirro red inversion of its 47 A year later, he explained during our interview that he was probably being facetious, but I find it fitting. 51


object nevertheless reflects its object (Turner 1982: 41), this show deconstructs its object. Bread and Puppets to urs usually feature one show of each type: there is the popular, celebratory circus, and the da rk, poetic alternative: e.g. The Stations of the Cross (1977), The Wall (1985), Storm Office (2008). We only performed Photographs of My Corpse a few times on tour. The audiences were never enthusias tic afterward, but I s houldnt assume an absence of affect. The show, however successful, complexly exemplifies the Ch eap Art philosophy. Expensive shows create expensive expectations. It isnt just that free shows can be more experimental because no one demands a refu nd. The challenge of expectations in the Guantnamo show is part a nd parcel of Cheap Art. The exposure of the mechanics of theater production, the malleable composition of the shows (which were constant subject to change), and the laborious task of ex ecuting the show are connected to Bread and Puppets willful refusal to si t idly by through an aesthetic that pr ioritizes honesty and responsibility over participation in the unequa l power systems of the mainstream art and political establishments. 52


Chapter 3. Schumanns Search for Meaning In the previous chapter, I explored the m ethod and meaning of Cheap Art, a complex aesthetic and moral philosophy, which I see as Schumanns mo st definitive gift. Yet Cheap Art does not encompass all of the relevant philosophical issues of the Bread and Puppet Theater. It leaves out one of the most fascinat ing designs underlying Schumanns aesthetic, viz. th e dialectic between political horror and innocent rural domesticity. How does this duality undergird the nature of rehearsal and performance? How does Schumann unify them w ithin an artistic rubric? As a tin solider, Schumann propagates a framework for the consideration of political relations and cultural substance. This chapter concerns Peter Schumanns modernism, and to this analytical end I consid er its social and artistic implications, dually represented by his fixation on innocent rurality and domesticity and his obdurate confrontation with pol itical horrorists48best represented by hi s work about Israel. These two themes reflect Schumanns sense of the collapse of historical authority. He partially satiates his demand for meaning th rough the promulgation of a family-centered agrarianism, hearkening to pre-war childhood memories of rural S ilesia. I posit that Schumann unifies these concerns in his promo tion of a new rituality, or an expansion of the spheres of art and theater through whic h humanity can reclaim some of its earlier connections to the land and one another. 48 This term comes from the show The Battle of the Terrorists and the Horrorists (2006). 53


I. The cris is of modernity In many ways the work of Peter Schumann can be seen as an engagement with the crisis of modernity49 a few decades late. His nihilistic historical perspective, lack of moral certainty, distrust of discourse and contempt for civilizationas well as his Peircean sense of this crisis as an opportunity for a great rebirt h (Diggins 1995)firmly place his work and thought within this fram ework. That he continues to explore this modernist crisis well after post -modernism became the reigning logic marks his work as anachronistic, particularly in the post1960s world of cutting-edge post-modern, identity-politic(al) art. Although he likes to feign the nave eye, 50 Schumann has certain ascertainable influences, such as German Expressionism,51 seen in his use of large canvases, soft edges, anti-perspectivalism, and representation of devastated landscapes. He populates these landscapes with dark, shadowy figures : the war dead; governmentally objectified statistics. He also creates bucolically placid fa ntasies similar to Expressionist fantasies of pastoral innocence under attack by civilization, as in the work of Franz Marc (Partsch 49 Increased awareness of human rights crimes by the Allies in WWII by mid-century had so fundamentally violated the grand narrative of Western liberalism and progress that many felt history would never recover. Schumann works in the aftermath. 50 Schumann has refused to discuss his influences in all of the literature Ive read and in our interview. He is certainly more of an outsider artist than most: a lthough he is internationally recognized, his exhibitions are few and far between, and when they occur, they occur at small venues in cities such as Burlington rather than larger metropolises w ith art connections. He rarely attends art shows and never collaborates with visual artists. Although its impossible that Schuma nn hasnt seen any art in the last 40 years since he started the Bread and Puppet Theater it seems that all of his profound influences come from his time working as a dancer and sculptor in Munich in the 195 0s, as well as his childhood in rural Silesia in the 1930s and 40s, where he was obviously exposed to German Expressionism. 51 German expressionism was deeply politi cal, unlike its American counterpart. 54


2001). Yet Schum anns focus on performance and his political literality distinguish his work from the movement. He is not conten t within the boundaries of the canvas. His meaning lies more in the social contex t or use of the art objectthe canvascum -mise-enscneas part of a design of cultura l regeneration based in rituality. This highlights Schumanns alienation from the art establishment. Unlike many modernists, he doesnt enga ge with the question of unrepresentability after Adornos well-worn, frequently reinterpreted line poetry after Auschwitz is ba rbaricas he takes these events to signal an increased human responsibility to speak up, rather than an aesthetic injunction. Yet Schumann engages a c ontradiction in his production of art that he questionseven within that work itself. Peter was a child in idyllic rural Silesi a when the Allies began bombing Europe, and the Schumanns were forced to flee. These traumatic memories of a landscape on fire, explosions, smoke and fleeing are more foundational to Schumanns art than any political or philosophical notion. This raw, formativ e human experience informs the whole of his corpus. Describing Bread and Puppet perf ormances in the 1960s and 1970s, puppeteer Bob Ernstthal suggested: A really recurrent theme was fire in the village. Earthquake in the villagefireburning and running away and a peaceful village and wolves descend on itbeas ts coming in out of the hills that kind of feelingapocalyptic, horrific feeling erupting onto a p eaceful scene. A terrifying fire out of the sky. Undoubtedly from his feeling in Silesia when they left. It must be from that. I mean, its like you cant shake itI believe he was young enoughit was just at that time, I think, when it wasnt like his whole life was fleeing. I think he saw his world broken when he was old enough to really understand it. (Brecht 1988a:7) Schumann saw bodies, too. The bodies of the dead, strewn along the ground, which his town buried in mass graves. He saw the skeletal bodies of concentration camp victims on trains and the terrified faces of fe llow Silesians packed onto trains so crowded passengers hung onto the exterior like grapes, fleeing be fore the bombs (CBC and 55


Cayley 2003). Discussing the relationship of psychological and physical displacem ent, Stefan Brecht asks: Might some of the power of art reside in its providing us with such safe substitutes, substitutes we can recall with out fear that the pain that attended what they substitute for will come back also? (Brecht 1988a:8-9). This question considers Schumanns art as a mediation of his early ex perience, coupled with an intense drive to find an alternative to the madness of the su rrounding world. The dialectic of horror and idealism is the seed of Schumanns power. While refugees, the Schumanns survived on sourdough rye bread, made from a traditional Silesian recipe taught to Peters mother by their maid prior to the war. Peter became his mothers assistant on baking day every week. He had to wait in very long lines to glean grains from the field for the bread; the grasss stubble bloodied his ankles, exposed because he had no shoes (CBC and Ca yley 2003). Before baking, Peters mother imprinted a distinctive sun crest on each loaf to distinguish it from other refugees loaves. This sourdough rye breadwhich remains a stap le of his dietwas a significant enough symbol for Schumann to name his theater company after it. In a popular Bread and Puppet poster, Schumanns text reads: We give you a piece of bread with the puppet show because our br ead and theater belong together. For a long time the theater arts have been sepa rated from the stomach. Theater was entertainment. Entertainment was meant for the skin. Bread was meant for the stomach. The old rites of baking, eating and offering bread were forgotten. The bread decayed and became mush. We would like you to take your shoes off when you come to our puppet show or we would like to bless you with the fiddle bow. The bread shall remi nd you of the sacrament of eating. He still serves it after all of his shows,52 imprinted with the same sun crest, made from the exact same recipe. 52 On tour, one puppeteers is in charge of maintaining Schumanns starter (kept in two large white buckets [in case of emergency, the second is back-up], stored in cool places with a repeatedly dampened towel atop) and baking bread according to his specifications Daniel McNamara has filled this role for the past few years. 56


The interplay between S chumanns cohabitant historical nihilism and yearning for the good lifea simple inte raction of dark and light highlights certain unique complexities of the power of his work, as he (through his theater) forever struggles whether to fully convince himself of his advertised possibilitarianism53 or to voice a no-confidence vote. His use of political art ties into his distrust of history and authority by consistently, interrogating actions and justifications.54 I want to support my correlation by explor ing both sides of this duality, beginning with Schumanns politics. His work on Pales tine is a good example of his headstrong engagement with an issue of perceived horror. II. Palestine and the continuing question of political art One of Bread and Puppets secrets of longevity is political independence, by which Schumann expresses himself generally without regard for public readiness. His inspiration and American popular political taste occasionally correspond (as in his theaters Vietnam and Iraq work), but his pos ition is fairly removed from mainstream public sentiment. The agenda engendered by this outside status leads him to some idiosyncratic emphases and contentious positions Palestine is a third rail, even among the American left, even among long-time Bread and Puppet audiences and participants, but it has been a staple of Schumanns agenda since 2004. 53 This term was prominently featured in Oratorio of the Possibilitarians (2003), but it is occasionally used in discussions of the work and used as a creative principle. 54 The upsurge in positivity and civic engagement among those disaffected during the Bush administration (i.e. Bread and Puppets audiences) following Barack Obamas election as the USs 44th President may have engineered a shift in Schumanns motivations, concerning the future of the theater. I explore this further in Chapter 5. 57


Since Schu mann decided to address Rach el Corries death, the following shows have come under fire: Daughter Courage (2004-2006), The Battle of the Terrorists and the Horrorists (2006-7), and the 2006 Lubberland Nati onal Dance Company show about Israels attack on Lebanon. In addition, exhi bitions of Schumanns art have been condemned, including The University of Majd (2007)55 and Independence Paintings (2007). Internally, company members have cri tiqued Schumanns tactics, volunteers have refused to participate in disputed shows, and one repeat volunteer severed his ties with the theater completely, which he recorded in a series of well-circulated blog entries.56 External criticism of Schumann has been severe. At 2007s annual Burlington Art Hop, he exhibited Independence Paintings. The event was sponsored by the group Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Is rael (VTJP), which includes several expuppeteers. Schumann described the exhibit as an illustration of Palestinian stories about the pains and indignities theyve suffered at the hands of Israeli soldierscheckpoint searches, home incursions, property destruct ion and the deaths of loved ones, mixed with bits of text from John Herseys The Wall (1950)57 (Picard 2007). Some members of the Burlington Jewish community were offende d by what they saw as an equation of the wall in occupied Palestine to that of the Warsaw Ghetto and vilified Schumann as an anti-Semite; one professor of Jewish Studies re ferred to the series as a soft-core denial of the Holocaust. This anger was fueled by Schumanns refusal to admit that his work compared the two historical events. Having ev en remote familiarity with the work lays 55 The University of Majd is a painting series and a fiddle sermon telling the story of Majd Ziada, the son of a family Schumann visited in Ramallah. Schumann tells the story of Majds wrongful imprisonment. His sister, Hurriyah, visited the Bread and Puppet farm for a few weeks in August 2007. 56 Breaking with Bread & Puppet From the Journals of Ian Thal http://ianthal.blogspot.c om /2007/04/breaking-with-b read-and-puppet.html 57 The Wall is a fictional found journal from the Warsaw Ghetto. 58


bare Schum anns disingenuity: that Schumann is comparing the two events is unquestionable; that he is equating them is a more tenuous assertion. On September 8, 2007, Schumann planned to discuss his paintings at a public discussion including a lecture by polymath in tellectual Joel K ovel, who had just published Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single De mocratic State in Israel/Palestine (2007). What happened at the event is disputed. A journalist working at Burlingtons Seven Days documented the confusion: Accounts of the Saturday event differ widely, depending on the observer. Supporters of Schumann and Kovel describe a group of attackers, numbering a dozen or two, who tried to disrupt the event by waving Israeli flags, badgering the speakers, muttering loudly and circulating inflammatory leaflets. One flyer, drawn by Burlington artist David Sokol, reads, Puppets lynch the Jews, and features an illustration of a Jew being hanged by a parade of puppeteers, presumably from Bread and Puppet. Several VTJP members and others in attendance later said they felt uncomfortable and even physically threatened by Kovels opponents. But critics of the Saturday event, including members of the Israel Ce nter for Vermont, counter that while they were offended by Kovels presence at Art Hop, they behaved respectfully toward him and Schumann. Some prefaced their remarks that day by saying that Schumann had every right to present his work, but that the Art Hop was no place for Kovels political di atribe against Israel. (Picard 2007) What most intrigues me about this response is the way th e event was framed as an issue of politics invading the perceived saf ety zone of art (Pi card 2007; Potter 2007). Rabbi Joshua Chasan echoed this sentiment in an e-mail to the politically neutral South End Art and Business Association (SEABA): I have to say that the statement [of neutrality] that SEABA issued leaves me bewildered. In our previous conversation, I had assumed that the leadership of SEABA understood the dimensions of the mistake made in allowing Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel to use your organization for blatant political purposes. I had thought that you would be grappling with this problem. Instead, I heard you now using what happened to SEABA to define a policy of moral neutrality about expressions of hatred. If it were African-Amer icans or homosexuals who were victims of such abuse, I do not think you would be issuing statements of neutrality. (Thal 2007) To Rabbi Chasan, the debate over the exhi bit in question concerned tolerance of hatred rather than political disagreement, a claim he legitim ated by stating that he has admired [Schumanns work] for decades (T hal 2007). Personally, I see little difference between SEABA sanctioning Schumann for critic izing Israel and Br ead and Puppet being 59


pulled off the stage m id-performance in No rth Carolina in late 2008 for critiquing President Bush (Staton 2008). Does the latte r event count as censorship because the offensive content is popularly reviled, while the former does not because criticism of Israel requires a new censorial framework? Schumanns lack of mo ral distinction, his consistency is easily misinterpreted because he wont recognize the moral distinction that most individuals engaged in this political conversation make. Members of the Israel Center for Vermont wrote a letter to SEABA with a list of demands, including that the board adopt a form al policy that only art presentations be included in future Art Hops (Picard 2007). This is a blatant attack on artistic engagement. Puppeteer/VTJP member Marc Estrin wrote an open letter, Art Does Not End At The Picture Frame, in response to this attack on Schumanns political expression. He also submitted the letter to the SEABA: This is politics, a loud contingent of the audience complained about Joels talk. It doesnt belong here. Which, of course, didnt stop that contingent from leafleting the audience, posting flyers on its door, and generally trying to di srupt Kovels talk with aggressive muttering, badgering, shouting and flag-waving throughout, and starting a political campaign to get individuals and businesses to withdraw sponsors hip from the Art HopI hope the Art Hop will not be cowed in the future by the low-grade violence, economic and other threats of this particular group into disallowing the multi-dimensional existence of political art. (Estrin 2007) Schumanns first work about Palestine was personally motivated: his eldest daughter, Tamar, worked for the Internationa l Solidarity Movement in Palestine, and Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer a year later while working for the same group: When Rachel Corrie got killed, we all of a sudden realized this incredible danger our daughter had been exposed to (Schumann 2007). He expl ained the conflict in terms of a personal family threat, a political encro achment on his carefully constructed world of loving domesticity. Yet just as in WWII, this world was interrupted by horror. Schumann visited Palestine twice, staying in Ramalla h and Beit Sahour and visiting refugee camps. 60


Before he visited, he had no idea to what ex tent Palestinia ns suffer at the hands of the Israeli government (2007). While the specific content of the work is less controversial within the company, the drive to aggressively exposerepresente d through specific political tactics in his Palestine workhas been subject to friendly fire. Puppeteer Rose Friedman told me about her discomfort during the creation of Daughter Courage : It felt to me, you know, really carelessthe way it was bro ached. It was like, heres this horrible thing that happened to this innocent person and so were just gonna hurl ourselves into it wholehog, and it had all of this really bounded politicsbut it was this much more serious show. I found it totally te rrifying to be part of that. And I said so.58 Unfortunately, Schumann exercised his unilateral aut hority to silence this critique,59 and argued that Rose and Justin Landerthe only two Jews in the companywere supporting Israel for familial reasons. Rose told me that they we re just asking for a show with less bounded politics. She explained the distinction: It s thatAmerican liberal mentality of saying, Oh yeah, those are the bad guys look at them! Theyre weari ng suits! They must be the bad guys. Can we talk about this ? Can we be more critically thinking in this situation? She felt that Schumanns bullheaded refusal of a more complex representation of the conflict reflected his sense of history as circuitouswhich causes Schumann to reject tactical considerationalso info rms what Rose lauds as the political complexity of his 58 Rose was not alone in her critique. Justin Lander (Roses partner) and other puppeteers spoke up. Rose explained that puppeteer Federica Collina, who is Italian, protested because of linguistic or cultural confusion over the work. Even within the company, the consensus seemed to be that the Palestine work involved a question of political aesthetics rather than politics proper. 59 Rose: That was a really hard moment, but I think really good, too, to do that and I felt like I had to express discomfort and I didnt feel likeyou know its that weird thing of, youre just a puppeteer and in a way youre just a body and it doesnt matter who you are. But then, on the other hand, Im putting my entire life force behind this job, and I have to have some understanding of what Im doing. And so I said that to Peter, and he was reallyI dont know if defe nsive is the right word, but I felt like there was a real block up to that kind of discussion. 61


work, which is inherently opposed to the bounded-ness of standard political debate in the United S tates. Fortunately, a more mutually defined political atmosphere at Bread and Puppet arose out of the conflict.60 Schumanns next show of concern was the 2006 Lubberland show, created immediately after Israel began bombing Lebanon. In contrast, Rose considered this show really wonderful. Although Schumann has upset many particip ants and audience members with his treatment of Israels behavior, he said he d efinitely plans on continuing to make work about the subject. The reason he gave me fo r focusing on it was, It seems to me so shamelessly wrong that the Western world has decided to unquestionably support this military state of Israel, which is barely a democracy, but there is evidence for more personal reasons, demonstrated by his paternal identification with Rach el Corrie, as well as his repeated concern over a paradox he perc eives: that of the symbolic transformation of the Jew from Ultimate Victim Victimizer in a century containing Nazi Judeocide and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (Pappe 2007).61 Schumanns need to understand the horrors inflicted during his German chil dhood may be complicated by international Jewish identification with the military state of Israel: I dont unders tand how a people so terribly violated can now violate a nother people so badly (Picard 2007).62 This explicates the disingenuity of his denial of his unambiguous comparison of Israeli and Nazi military behavior, better than simplistic accusations of anti-Semitism ever could. 60 Rose: It was a really interesting moment politically and really good to get through. And it was never resolved in any particular way, but there was more mutual understanding that came out of that and just what peoples needs were. 61 As Slavoj iek has written: Palestinians are [in the] paradoxical position of being the victims of the Ultimate Victims themselves (Jews), which, of course, puts them in an extremely difficult spot: when they resist, their resistance can immediately be denounced as a prolongation of anti-Semitism, as a secret solidarity with the Nazi Final Solution. (iek 2006:225) 62 That said, I have noted Schumanns care in blaming the Israeli government as he does with the U.S. governmentrather than Israelis or Jews. 62


I believe that Schum ann focuses on Palestin e for three reasons: (1) his daughters vicarious death threat as a mani festation of this recurrent trope of domestic threat, (2) the problematization of his discomfo rt regarding his complicity in World War II arising from Jewish identification with Israels military actions, and (3) his lack of faith in politics, which causes him to gravitate towards a conflic t whose discourse he finds emblematic of political hypocrisy. I asked Schum ann about these controversies: There are forcesthat are trying very hard to ma ke me look like an anti-Semite. They write it, they say it, and they organize against me when I go to Burlington. But thats their privilege. They have been doing that all along. Thats one of the tactics of how you silence people. It cant really impress me too much because it has a very bad hi story of being what it is And its fairly stupid without asking somebody to call somebody a Holoca ust denier. Wouldnt it be decent to at least ask that person: Do you deny the Holocaust? From what do you deduce such a thing? How is that possible? From the expression on my face? From my words? Certainly its not possible. How? Thats all right. We are going to lose a big branch of this so-called liberal audience through this, thats for sure. But thats okay. We have to do that along the way again and again and again. I asked whether he had previously lost au diences over the conten t of his work. He replied, Oh, sure. Whether it was the Palestin ian issue, or I cant remember which ones. There were again and again these moments of people sayi ng, Oh, no, thats going too far; you cant do that. While this position is consistent, it is problematic. Art is interactional, and exists in a specific milieu dictating likely reception from audiences. Schumanns lack of distinction reflects his disengagement from the political process and conversation. His goal for this work is to expose the inhuman terror of powerful forces, rather than raising consciousness.63 Alternately, I perceive the aversion to his work more as discursive orthodoxy than humanist concern. I dont think that Schumanns nihilism necessarily determines the value of the work. I believe that, regarding di scourse, this discursively challenging work 63 This butts up against Barbas notio n of the spectator as the raw ma terial of the theater: there are principles which the performer must put to work in order to make this dance of the senses and mind of the spectator possible. It is the performers duty to kno w these principles and to explore their practical possibilities incessantly. In this consists her/his craft. It will then be up to her/him to decide how and to what ends to use this dance. This is her/his ethic (1995:39). 63


is creating what poet-critic Charles Be rnstein calls counter -conventions: new discourses that consider m aterial and social facts unacceptable to conventional discourse (Bernstein 1992:219). This aversion is rooted in confusion over the relationship of artistic discourse to mainstream public discourse. W hy dont artists have to obey the same rules of communication as politicians? Or, contrari ly: why dont we just leave politics to the politicians? In opposition to th is rhetoric of disengagement Charles Bernstein writes: The poll remains the most conspicuous exam ple of this disenfranchising process, for polls elicit binary reactions to always-alrea dy articulated policiesa stark contrast to proactive political part icipation that entails involvement in formulating these policies including formulating the way they are represented (1992:219). Following this logic, the question becomes one concerning the independent exercise of authority in a political context that fosters pa ssivity. Furthermore, this lack of discussion about the relationship of art to dom inant discourse stops us from learning how politics might benefit from an engagement with poetics, as Bernstei n has written: The poetic [or artistic ] authority to challenge dominan t societal values, including conventional manners of communication, is a model for the individual political participation of each citizen (1992:219). His exhortation to part icipate in the formulation of the representation of politics and political experience is a cr ucial concept here. Although the theaters practical success is debatable, this work can be read through the lens of artists as testers of boundari es, as those who might raise politically or psychically repressed content to the surface wh ile avoiding certain antisocial implications of this action. Art is a space unto itself, whic h engages in public language by testing the boundaries of linguistic conventions ( 1992:219) Conventions, as such, are pre64


legitim ized. Counter-conventionality proposes its own independent le gitimacy outside of what Bourdieu calls the doxa of discourse. Doxa refers to the realm of unquestioned truths; that which goes without saying b ecause it comes without saying (Bourdieu 1972:168). Doxa is only ever negatively constituted by the cons titution of a field of opinion, where competing discourses clash (1 972:168). As soon as a subject becomes visible, it enters the field of possible di scourse. Bourdieu writes: The adherence expressed in the doxic relation to the social world is the absolute form of recognition of legitimacy through misrecognition of arbitrarin ess, since it is un aware of the very question of legitimacy, which arises from competition for legitimacy, and hence from conflict between groups claiming to possess it (1972:168). Within th e field of possible discourse, there is the phenomenon of ort hodoxy, which is the unsuccessful attempt at doxically situating certain truths as natural and self-evident when they are socially observed to be constructed and arbitrar ya matter of opinionby a social group. With the exposure of truths and discourses as constructed through orthodoxy, it immediately inscribes the possibility of heterodoxy, or the refusal to recognize orthodoxy. This is the field of opinion, where ort hodoxy and heterodoxy battle. Bernsteins poetic goal, wh ich I think reflects Schu manns methodology as well, is to construct an aesthetic able to resist absorption into standard conventionality; this cannot be done without radical discursive i nnovation and a willingne ss to consistently confound expectations. Independent conclusions regarding events such as the recent Gaza conflict are difficult, because responses whic h fall outside of the universe of discourse risk being misinterpreted; the universe of the undiscussed is by its very nature 65


unfor mulated and segregated, without a cohere nt system of communication such as that of the universe of discourse. Regarding Schumanns Palestine/Israel wor k, I would argue that he is aiming to create counter-conventions for di scussing this great political ho rror, in which the standard appeal to Israeli security was notably absentnot because Peter Schumann wishes Israels destruction, but because the ways in which Israeli security is privileged in our discourse distorts certain social and material facts relevant to, in this instance, Palestinian existence. The ease with which the term antiSemitic is thrown at the work highlights the reaction to violently defend doxa as a social foundation of meaning. Furthermore, these responses show the discomfort many st ill feel towards political art, particularly art that is explicit about its subject of interrogation (pejoratively but somewhat correctly called propaganda) and especially when that subject is interpreted to be taboo. Although American abst ract expressionism represents the crisis of modernity in its anti-figural, chaotic attack on form, Schumanns work is direct, and thus more likely to offend. Ian Thal even called Schumann a Leni Riefenstahl figure (Cook 2008), which I see as double d-edged; while acknowledging his artistic talent, Thal frames Schumanns art as the bad kind of political art, because (according to Thals logic) it is propagandistic and it advances te rror. I think this comparison is dishonest, inflammatory, and hypocritical: Thal is triv ializing Riefenstahls crime and the Nazi Holocaust by equating independent critic ism of Israel to government-sponsored, genocidal Third Reich propaganda. I was aware of the tension surrounding Schumanns work as I worked on The Sourdough Philosophy Spectacle in January of 2009. I had followed Israels recent attack 66


on Gaza clo sely and expected Schumann to re spond. In fact, he had created a two-part fiddle sermon64/cantastoria about the attack, dedi cated to the children killed in Gaza by American guns and bombs in the hands of Israel. After a scene in the Spectacle where the performers are on hands and knees, howling at a dead body in the middle of the floor, Schumann introduces the cantastoria, and drops a pile of white papers onto the body. The papers have the names of Palestinian children reported killed typed on them in large, bold font. The cast assembles in two clumps on eith er side of Schumann, with the cantastoria on the ground behind him. Schumann begins hi s sermon concurrently with a simple, repetitive sequence of movement by the performers while we hold out the sheets of paper to the audience. His sermon focuses on the motif while we sit Like Photographs of My Corpse, Schumann is condemning a culture that sits idly by while monsters destroy lives; i.e. While we sit on our educated butts... The cantastoria is a series of many li ght grey, minimally defined portraits of individual Gents. After his text ends, it is lifted into the air. In the next section, four actions occur simultaneously: (1) the perfor mers continuously sing a random assortment of single notes, creating a discordant harmony; (2) Schumann is playing long legato phrases on the violin while mournfully wailingi.e. Yah, yah, yah, yah Yah, yah yah!; (3) the cantastoria has its pages turned; (4) Daniel Mc Namara stands on the side of the stage, viciously attacking a bass drum st rapped to his chest in mimicry of the sounds of bombs striking Gaza. The piece is terrifying: the utter inhumanity of the grey accused figures is reified into an omniscient existential power. 64 The fiddle sermon is a Bread and Puppet form that began in the early 1990s, in which Schumann delivers a sermon while accompanying himself on the violin. 67


As a perform er, the physical affect of the piece was crus hing. This arises partially from the athleticism of the performance, specifically the transition from stomping and shaking during the text to the singing during the cantastoria. The affect was also politically rooted, a common feeling for partic ipants in the theaters more contentious shows: it is a feeling of solid arity in the face of danger. One of the shows volunteers, an anti-Zionist Jewish klezmer singe r named Ruby, told me it was a terrible feeling that attended her body in performance. Likewise, puppe teer Daniel McNamara stated that he hated playing the drums during the cantastoria. These comments were meant as testaments to the strength of the work, rath er than criticisms. Although there werent any clashes as in previous year s, the statement of unwelcome perspectives or suppressed experiences is always inscribed with a palpable risk. This performed affect is different from the feelings produced by identificatory performance modes such as Method or th e psychosocial techniques of Grotowski and Schechner (Martin 1991:70;129) they are more akin to the triumph and pain produced in an act of resistance: pain for its necessity, tr iumph for its enactment against all odds. This reminds me of Mark Frankos use of e/motionality in reference to radical modern dancers in the 1930s: Emotion was a key to se lf-projection in the world. Feelings could become aesthetic and social material because they materialized in moving bodies. They were e/motional (Franko 2002:6). The connection between Schumanns work and Frankos 1930s radical modern dancers is cl ear: Modern dance of the 1930s frequently showed existence reduced to its material base as an emotional body (2002:41) For Franko, modernist dance groups comprised of workers engaged in agit-prop is a testament to the importance of feelings to politics, and the importance of movements to 68


feelings: i.e. m ovement emotional affect political engagement. In a sense, I was gathering kinesthetic research for my performance ethnography, gaining emic knowledge of Bread and Puppet physiology. It would be diffi cult to ascertain this effect without my participation in the event. Because I was on stage, and did experience this physical and emotional exhaustion, I gained embodied knowledge. I wasnt able to speak to any audience members about the piece, but I did speak with a journalist early in th e week after we eight puppet eers initially performed the cantastoria. This performance was different: it was isolated as a performance, the actual cantastoria hadnt shipped from Glover yet, th ere were no sheets with the names of killed Palestinian children, and there was no break in the stomping and shaking of the first section (as there was with volunteers). We perf ormed in our street clothes at the opening of two Schumann exhibits, The Wall and Auction Notice Afterwards, a journalist came over to speak with us. Puppeteer Maura Gahan asked the journalist whether his paper was print or online. He scoffed at the ques tion: You must be joking. This is the 21st century. His obliviousness to the blatant Luddite tende ncies of Bread and Puppet was telling. He then told us, You know, that guy [Schumann] could really get into troubl e with this Palestine stuff. Its not as simple as he makes it out to be, you know? This response fascinated me, because Schumanns representation of the stuff related little to the world of direct, factual rhetorici .e. names, numbers, argumentsparticularly in this earlier incarnation. He replaced this propaganda with a more expressionistic evocation of sin. Schumann was hardly representing the co nflict at all, much less representing it simplistically. The journalist wasnt respondin g to the piece, he was responding to the idea of the piece. By seeing the sermon/canta storia as reductive, he was implicitly 69


arguing that any reference to Palestinian suffering must be accom panied by a reference to Israeli suffering. Schumann has argued against the rational interpretation of his works, preferring instead that audiences experience them physically and socially. He told me: The normal person is so overloaded with the desire of over interpreting, and having to connect from one meaning to another. Which in an artists work is not the case. Thats not how it is. Art is overwhelmed by unconsciousness, by grand old inside events that dont fit into that rationalistic thinking at all. The rational modern client sits a little stupefied. If he rids himself of some of the inhibitions that our cultures have, if he sees the fun in it, if he sees the ch ildishness, if he sees a few things that help him to enjoy it hes lucky. He is referring to the ludic qualities of hi s work. He has stated similar premises in the past, demanding new methods of dramatic experience which relate little to the traditional intellectual methods of interpretation. This works better with comic material,; the Palestine/Israel question is a contentious enough to warrant tip-toes. Schumann is partly responsible for this journalists confus ion, as his lack of cl arification of intent confused those responsible for interpreting his signs, as Richard Ba uman explained about Quakers whose nude exhibition on 17th-century English streets was indecipherable to surrounding individuals: [One of the problems is] the potential difficulty of identifying the primary subject and ground of the metaphor ical act (Bauman 1983:90). Furthermore, if the additional components of theperfor mances [are] insufficient to clarify the primary subject, then the situational context becomes vital as inte rpreter (1983:91). But Schumanns art is based on the subversion of context, the infiltra tion of spaces (e.g. politics art), and so the context is useless as a signifier of intent. Because the act bore little relation to the su rrounding discourse, it was easily misconstrued. Yet even in the Palestine work, Schuma nns politics are hardly bounded or univocal. He frequently complicates his re presentations of evil, from his moral reconsideration of stalwart cap italist villain Uncle Fatso in The Difficult Life of Uncle Fatso (1970) to the tenderne ss of the Paper Man in Photographs of My Corpse (2007) or 70


his am bivalent representation of imperialism as cluelessness and foolery rather than deliberation in Storm Office: A Storm Poem with Implementation Machine (2008). Regarding his representation of mora l dualities in his work, he stated: If it would only be this logic, it would mean that something beautiful I shown, then something ugly destroys that which is beautiful, and then this destroyed matter gets taken away. It would be three scenes. But it is not brief like this, it is always complicated. What is this beautiful thing? What are the elements of it? How does it arrive? What does it consist of? How is it composed? Its not so logical, and not so easy. It is quite compli cated if you explain it to yourselfhow are these things composed, how are they fighting with each other, how are they interfering with each other? If it would be as simple as: theres the GOOD, theres the EVIL, theres the FIGHT and then theres the RESURRECTION, this could be done much simpler, if we wanted to do that. We wouldnt need these complications. But if you look into life there are th ese complications (Fong and Kaplin 1993:10). Likewise, throughout his career, he has b een continuously critiquing despondency and apathy while crafting art out of those very ills. In his fiddle lecture on Gaza, the motif is while we sit, rather than while you sit or while they sit. I believe that Schumann uses we not out of convenience, but as a condemnation of himself and his work, the efficacy of which he continually questions. He has expressed sentimen t similar to Barbas explication of Antigones scatte ring of dust over her brothers corpse: a symbolic ritual, empty and ineffective against horror. But sh e carries it out through personal necessity. And pays with her life. This is the theatre: an empty and ineffective ritual that we fill with our why, with our personal necessity. Whic h in some countries on our planet is celebrated with general indifference. And in ot hers can cost the lives of those who do it (Barba 1995:85). Schumann forges on, seeing the divide between light and dark as irresolvable but fertile grounds for action. He is not content to simply speak his peace on injustice and then rest. From his early dance motivations to regenerate the world to his desire to appeal to the inno cence of Americans with the popular form of puppetry, he has sought an alternative to the worl d as it is (Brecht 1988a:28-30; 22). 71


III. Rurality and domesticity Against this political horror, Schumann ha s sought simple evocations of placid rurality. In 2008, Greg Cook and John Bell got into a heated de bate over the nature of Bread and Puppets agrarian advocacy (Appendix 5). Cook argued that, while Bread and Puppets shows were not exclusively concerned w ith rural issues, all of the its images of the Good were rural. I agree, although I w ould hasten to add domesticity as an equally significant category of the Good. Van Erven su mmarizes Schumanns use of domesticity: To counteract the destructive tendencies of the modern worl d and its power-hungry leaders, Schumann proposed the resurrection of our domestic valuesOf course, Bread and Puppets animated images could be interpreted as yet another version of the eternal battle between good and evil, but there are clear implicati ons that its shows refer to something more specific than simply a symbolic conflict: if we want to save our domestic values for future generations, then we had better get serious about stopping the madmen who are ordering the construction of ever larger and more destructive arsenals of nuclear weapons (Van Erven 1988:56). Schumanns use of the domestic and the rural as counterpoi nts in his work became especially pronounced in the early 1970s, as his alienation from 1960s politics hit its apex. During those early Vermont years, much of Schumanns work was obscure, which seemed anti-political for an artist who had worked with an agit-prop directness during the 1960s. During this period he focused on mysterious domestic dramas. Stefan Brecht describes Emilia one of these shows: Emilia by technical means distances us from the larger world, reflecting Schumanns detachment from politics and society at the time, his self-removal from the crowd and juxtaposes home-family to it as essential, valuable reality (Brecht 1988b:119). However, since this period of serious political ambivalence,65 Schumanns work seems to have integrated the domestic/rural good life 65 During his Cate Farm years, when he had given up his ministership [in political art] he failed by his circuses to extend his mission to the nation, and had to give up his outpost in the big city, his voice sorely inappropriate, defeated by distractions. His open air evangelizing was wasted, a lollipop on campuses, a 72


into his other work, allowing a fecund interpla y between com peting fo rces. This is best embodied in Schumanns Domestic Resurrecti on Circus pageants; his smaller, recent pageants have been unable to match the sheer power of their earlier incarnations due to the smaller number of participants. In The Country and the City (1973), Raymond Williams examines constructions of country and city in English literature since the advent of capitalism in the 16th century, with profound psychogeographical implications He aims to disrupt the rural/urban duality, with its concomitant glorification of t he country, which he argues to be an antihistorical revisionism bearing no relation to actual rural ex perience, and the construction of the capitalist-originated city as a modernist site of lost romance, loneliness, exploitation, filth, and toil. According to Williams, this myth functioning as a memory of a rural Golden Age is a yearning for the safe ty and reciprocity of an aristocratic or feudal authority and their subsequent charte r of explicit social reaction (1973:35-43). Williams recognizes that the cont rast of the country and city is one of the major forms in which we become conscious of a central part of our experience and of the crises of our society (1973:289). His historic al perspective leads him to re ject romanticization of rural life, arguing instead for the essential conne ctedness of both zones. However, while his analysis and clarification may help to place some of Schumann and other rural revivalists motivations behind their emphasis on rurality as redemptive, this analysis is irrelevant insofar as the ideal is already problematized for Schumann: Schumann already nuisance in the small towns of his neighborhood, and anyhow was turning into a banal whine about the degradation of the environment. What he did achieve, however, was to wish his linen in publicThis involved a certain amount of deception, with respect to which he figured as a con man, for his assembled people were working on the assumption that they were sweating in a cause not only his, and there was no such cause. There was the justification, though, that his private anguish corresponded to large, although perennial and irresolvable issuesthe intractability of which he was in fact stating, though he dressed this up in mystery and funny business (Brecht 1988b:257). 73


recognizes the evocatio n as historically fa lse and idealistic. Where Williamss work becomes relevant is in regards to his concept structure of feeling: A working country, that is to say, was becoming, yet again but in a new way, a place of physical and spiritual regeneration. It was now the teeming life of an isolated nature, or the seasonal rhythm of the fundamental life processes. Neither of these feelings was new it itself. What was new was their fusion into a structure of feeling in which the earth and its creaturesanimals and peasants almost alikewere an affirmation of vitality and of the possibility of rest in conscious contrast with the mechanical order, the artific ial routines, of the cities (Williams 1973:252). These traces of lived experience are the definitive experience of rural life, fecund fetishes for Schumanns art. Place serves as an objective factor in the subjective experiences of participants and observers. Schumanns pageants from the annual Domestic Resurrection Circus (1970-1998),66 arguably his most lauded work, are a good example of this rural affectation, in th eir synthesis of landscape and movement.67 Schumann explained: When we moved from New York City to Vermont in 1970, it became necessary to see and learn and listen in a new way, to invent animals and to understand how to move in a la ndscape in orde r to become part of it. We thought that we could produce a cyclic event that would be re presentative of life in general and of our distinct political environment in particular (Van Erven 1988:55). These concerns were integrated in the pageant. The pageant, as a form, had a prescribed beginning and end, with a varied midsection. These were momentous pieces involving up to 300 performers, the scale of which was still subjugated by the immense presence of land, much as tiny homes are dw arfed by mountains in Chinese paintings. After the pre-circus sideshows and the performance of the circus, the pageant began among the sloping hills and green fields of the farm: the Godface puppet entered, 66 John Bell gives the pageant a marvelous treatment in his Landscape and Desire: Bread and Puppet Pageants in the 1990s (1997). 67 Other artists, such as Christo and Robert Wilson (e.g. KA MOUNTain and GUARDenia Terrace) share(d) this interest, but Schumanns focus on creatin g a popular, low-budget event is a crucial distinction. 74


alongside m any performers holding flags and voicing trills. After this section ended, the group sang the Shape Note song Captain Kidd while encircling the puppet. The midsection was performed. The final part of the pageant cycle is always a resurrectionpiece, according to Schumann, presenting eith er a logical resurrect ion growing out of the context of the defeat and death of the preceding part of the show, or an unreasonable resurrection, a reminder of th e possibility of resurrection (Green 1985:14). The pageant was somber, and ended at night among flames lanterns and the sounds of metal pots, pans and chimes, as a great Mother Earth puppet moved slowly across the field toward the audience, slowly capturing her children (the performers) in her 120-foot long arms, and subsequently torched a mammon puppet. While the puppet burned, many beautiful white bird puppets flew in from the fields and circled the bonfire. Schumanns post-DRC pageants have a sim ilar aim, but work on a smaller scale. In 2007, Schumann invented a piece we called the horse dance. After the performance of Our Divine Reality Comedy Circus in the circus field, there were two intermediary sections, one in front of the incline toward the gravel pit-amphitheater, proceeded by the Bread and Puppet band leading a parade of audience members down onto the stage deep inside the pine forest to the tune of Second Line.68 On the pine forest stage, there was a substantial show about terror, consumer ism, and authority (among other themes), led by a pantomiming Schumann in a disturbing Santa outfit, with a Mexican straw mask and red clown nose. After this section, which lay somewhere between the accessible color of the circus and the avant-garde envir onmental art of the pageant, the band led the audience back out of the pine forest (up a substantial incline) and out into a separate field 68 Second Line is a New Orleans jazz song named after second line practice in brass band parades. The song is probably the second most played song by Bread and Puppet after Circus Tune, the introduction to the first and final actsflag actsin the circuses. 75


with accompanying dis cordant music. The poli tical content of the circus and the pine forest show were explicit; the latter was par ticularly interesting b ecause of its placement of avant-garde theater in a na tural setting. Neither of these shows, however, prepared the audience for the horse dance. The audience sat on an incline, with a la rge expanse of sloping green hills in front of them and a setting sun to their left. On the hill in front of them was a 100-foot long line of flats painted like the landscape they were stationed ina juxtaposition of the representative with th e object of representation. In front of the flats stood two puppeteers in beautifully painted white and blue ponchos and white cardboard horse heads. They stood in front of a table. A short scene o ccurred in which a waiter poured the horses glasses of wine, which they toasted w ith and drank. Schuma nn was standing on an opposite hill, playing a junk violin. After 10 minutes of this basically action-less, meditative piece, the horses slowly exited and the flats followed in a line. Immediately after the last flat exited, a piccolo trilled and a snare drummer began a leisurely, steady rhythm from the edge of the pine forest. In the distance, a flat, white cardboard horse carried by two puppeteers in white top hats began a slow trot across the field. It was joined by another, smaller horse. Slowly, the field filled with horses. The drum and horses stopped. The piccolo trille d. The puppeteers all removed their hats and bowed to the audience, then pe rformed a short series of pr esentational movements to the audience (e.g. taking turns wrapping themselves in the horses, turning the horse 180 bowing again) coordinated with the trills. The drum began again, and the horses quickly exited. They re-entered again to the dr ums, then formed a single line, and the 76


puppeteersnow on the outside of their horsesdid a slow chorus-kick-and-hat-lift gesture with large grins as the line exited. The piece took around 15-20 m inutes to pe rform. The majority of the interns hated it: there were long rehearsa ls in the sun, sluggishly tro tting (which is a misnomer, considering the endurance requi red to lift ones knees over and over to a steady rhythm across a field with drastic shifts in the incline of the ground) for weeks.69 Given this, I jumped at the opportunity to play the snare drum in the piece when Da niel said he wanted to try a horse. When I spoke to members of the audience, I was surprised to hear effusive admiration. My father, who flew up with my mother to see the group their son was dropping out of school for, expl ained his reaction to the horse dance: When the horses came out, I thought, Okay, thats nice. And then I waited fo r something to happen. And I kept waiting. Finally, I realized that the point of the piece was right in front of me. And it was really beautiful.70 Of all the performances my parents saw that weekend, they found the horse dance the most affecting and illustrative of Bread and Puppets power. It seemed that I had taken the context of the piece for granted, the power of space to engender a structure of feeling. The horse dances simple imagery blended effortlessly 69 At the bye-bye meeting with the interns, ma ny were complaining about the piece, and Schumann dismissed these criticisms. I stood up and pointed at Schumann and said, I didnt see you out on the field, Peter! to uproarious applause and laughter, and Schumann grinned, nodding at my not-so-subtle accusation of labor division. 70 This relates to a story puppeteer Marc Estrin recollects in Puppet Uprising (CBC 2003). Estrin was watching Grey Lady Cantata #2 for the first time and had a fit during a scene in which the Grey Lady crawls from one side of the stage to the other in arduous slow motion: Im sitting in the audience because I was a musicianI wasnt on the setand Im saying, Okay, okay, okay, I get it! Shes crawling across the stage! Its hard! I get it! And Peter said to me, You dont get it. Just watch it. And I realized that was a crucial flaw in my psychic operationI would get things and then I wouldnt be present at them anymore. I wouldnt be available to them because I had gotten them. And Peter said, Thats not what were doing. Getting things Getting is reductive. And experiencing it is as deep as the phenomenon itself, depending on your capacity to be open and present. When you have an artist like Peter designing it, what hes doing is opening it out for you. Its like an opening that leads down into the ce nter of the earth,Peter is designing doorways. 77


with the b eauty of the landscape towards a powerful rejoinder to the seemingly unstoppable existential destruction represen ted in the earlier s hows that day, and I discounted the repetition as dull, rather than a complex phenomenon in its own right. The structure of feeling engendered at Bread and Puppet isnt restricted to performances. The first instance of situatedne ss I felt as an intern occurred at Ye Olde Dance Party held in South Central, a compound near the circus field with two abandoned-bus residences for puppeteers. Duri ng the 2006 tour, the puppeteers started a splinter jazz band to make extra cash with on tour, which they called the Brand New Orleans County Brass Band.71 They played all night at the party. The puppeteers and interns had raided the theaters costume room (on the public-restricted third floor of the museum) for old-timey clothing. That night this nostalgic dance band ran through popular classics such as All of Me, Tiger Rag, and Red River Valley while the interns tried our best to imitate the jitterbug. As we danced, lit only by a large bonfire next to a huge wooden shed, the moon crested ov er the pine forest an d the bright stars lit up the entire field. This experience was part propaganda tool and part initiation rite, but one absolutely essential element was the c onnection among rurality, past cultural norms (e.g. New Orleans jazz, the jitt erbug, flapper dresses), and th e deliberate construction of aesthetic eventsi.e. the historically awkwar d pairing of jazz and rurality, which makes sense only as a hearkening to the mythical past. While this event was voluntary, it was clearly liminal Although contingent on puppeteer incentive and occurred during leisure time, apart from the theaters central economic and political processes, fulfilling Turners definition of liminoid phenomena 71 Glover is in Orleans County. 78


(1982:54), it clearly served as a collective rite of passage for the interns. As opposed to the plural, fragm entary, experimental charac ter of the liminoid, liminal phenomena are centrally integrated into the total social pr ocess, forming with al l its other aspects a complete whole, and representing its necessa ry negativity and subjunctivity (1982:54). Liminality is also a strictly governed space and time of requirement, where the breaking of rules is involuntary (1982:42) Is this reflected in th e puppeteers charivari-esque mocking of interns who failed to fulfill the dress code? 72 The temporal separation of liminal events is part of this enforcement of a consciously dated (Ye Olde) aesthetic. These liminal events point towards a ritu al basis of the theaters habitus. IV. Puppetry and the new American rituality I have provoked the duality of Palestine and the horse dance without explaining Schumanns method of integr ation. The interface is ritual Schumanns sense of political horror and his focus on a meaningful good life as an alternative to/an escape from the former are synthesized in his belief in th e need for a new, old rituality to guide globalizing culture away from its progressinto-oblivion and back towards a primary regard of the organic. Ritual inscribes meaning, and Schumann uses it to create an expressive space where a new culture is able to contend with forces which are, in reality, indomitable, and where a revival of rural, domestic values could contiguously arise to replace the crumbling world order. Through ritual, his modernist/Expressionist practice of exposing and exorcising the demons and sins of history can be integrated into an 72 As a joke, I wore a black leather jacket, a white t-sh irt and blue jeans, which I described as old-timey 1950s greaser-style. A few of the puppeteers repeatedly lampooned my attempt at a joke. 79


evocation of the good life. Schumann has invented and reinvented rituals to this end, including the fiddle sermon, the Insurrection Mass with a Funeral March for a Rotten Idea, and the reconsideration of the Nativity play throughout his career. It cannot be emphasized enough that Schumanns chosen modepuppetryis pre-modern (where modernity represents Schuma nns crisis of authority and is used as a symbol of iniquity in the work). For the pa st few decades, cutting-edge theater has been dominated by mixed media and technologi cally savvy work, against which puppetry looks downright premodern and outdated, despit e its technological i nnovations. John Bell considers this related to puppetrys drift toward the uncanny, or mysticism (Bell 2009:6-9). He continues: Performing object th eatre necessitates not only a focal but also an ontological shift from humans (as in th e Meyerhold and dance models) the world of inanimate materials (2009:5). The worl d of puppetry is a neces sarily pre-modern world in which humans are not of central importance (2009:5). In addition to Schumanns incorporation of the historical, cross-cultural use of puppets in ritual, he utilizes their history of political controversy. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany censored respectively Petrushka and Kasper for anarchist tendencies. From here, puppets were declawed, separated from their traditional roles in ritual, state performance, and antiauthoritarian resistance, in order to be recast as safe entertainment for children, socially productive education methods, and as propaganda techniques for public relations and advertising (2009:6) Bell connects this commercialization and control of puppetry to performing objects used by capitalist mass culture as marketing tools. For Schumann, rurality (simply: living clos er to nature than a city affords) 80


like puppetryreflects back to hum anitys pre-civilized or igins, which he uses to emphasize a ritualistic character in performance. He argues: Puppetry is a form of ecstasy, just as music is. It is caused by an overflow of muscle-power and brain-activity and by an urgent happiness that cant be held back, that has to manifest itself. The most evident fact of our life is: we are surrounded by sky, wrapped in weather. Stones speak, hills laugh, worms sing. The great beauty of the universe makes us dizzy. Puppetry is a simplificationdevice to make these incomprehensible riches acce ssible. Or, puppetry is a form-giving technique that makes it possible to respond to creation (Green 1985:10). Through this, he synthesizes theater hist ory into a singular form; from hunting rituals through pre-modern folk puppetry into our modern avant-garde. But he is not simply searching for an art that fits certain theoretical standards; he wants to create art that is needed, which re quires art that is needable one that engages with the politics of experience and the experience of politics. To this end, he has engaged with certain tropes of popular art in America, such as the circus and the Independence Day parade. In the late 1960s, in the heat of the mo ment of the countercultural avant-garde, Schumann intoned, We don't necessarily have to revolutionize theatre. It may be that the best theatreif it comeswill develop from the most traditional forms (Brown and Seitz 1968:64). He was seeking a theater that made sense to people, and the atmosphere of the 1960s New York avant-garde art scen e was too insular and stifling for him to develop clear ideas about how to respond correctly to immediate events. Vermont was a boon to Schumann, who was able to glean from the state not only a sense of American tradition absent in metropolitan NYC, but a re-engagement with the environment as a determining philosophical factor for his politics. In Vermont, he discovered American history, and was deeply influenced by his e xposure to such phenomena as the history of the American pageant movement (particularly strong in Vermonte.g. The Missionary Pageant [1911, Montpelier]; Historical Pageant of Bennington [1912, Bennington]; The 81


Barton Historical Pageant [1921, Barton]),73 Sacred Harp music, and the political resistance of small-scale agriculture, among others. This democratic art form was connected to a larger movement, which Eugene Van Erven calls radical popular theater (where popular m eans belonging to the people). In Radical People's Theater (1988), he documents an international movement beginning around 1968, led by the Bread and Puppet Theat er, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Dario Fo, and el Teatro Campesino, among ot her groups. One important factor of this movement (comprised of similarly-minded but socially disconnected groups) was the desire to find new audiences, specifically am ong members of the working-class in either industrialized urban or agricu ltural areas. In contrast to the avant-garde theater experiments of the late 1950s and early 1960s which Van Erven posits as having less than five percent of its audiences comprised of members of the working-class, these anticapitalist popular theaters sought to make an audience out of those affected most deeply by capitalism (Van Erven 1988: 173). Although the book is written with a fatalistic teleology, Van Erven admits in his final analys is of the defeat of the movement that Bread and Puppet remains one of the purest an d most independent tr oupes in the radical popular theatre landscape (1988:186). For most of the theaters Van Erven doc uments, the shift to industrialized or rural/agricultural sites of str uggle was strategic, because of the revolutionary capability of the urban and rural proletariat. Yet Bread and Puppets move to Vermont was hardly political. In 1968, while still in New York, Schumann did a typically evasive interview for The Drama Review. When asked about the likelihood of a move to a rural area, he 73 Barton is not so coincidentally the next town over from Glover. 82


glibly replie d, Were not leaving the city so that we can do social action theatre in new environments. We simply want to get out of New York because it's too stinky and dirty. Well live out in the country and return to the cities when we need to (Brown and Seitz 1968:66). He was being somewhat facetious here but the rest of his comments highlight his annoyance at being associated with the 1960s counterculture: This business of being a 'professional protest theatre' doesn't seem good enough. I don't think our business is to protest but to say what needs to be said or what feels good to say...[And protests] usually [don't work]. A person protests because he feels bad about something and he gets up and shouts. It has to be as genuinely spontaneous as that. When it becomes a profession it feels wrong. A good protest show makes people laugh. And that's a lousy result. For example, when the Teatro Campesino played Newport they put on a big show about farm workers' troublesand people stood there and clapped and went crazy with fun. That's the best professional protest can hope for. (1968:66). Schumann sought a way out of this trap of pol itical art, where politics is posited against art.74 Whether Schumann truly moved Bread and Puppet to Vermont because of the stink of the city or not, he was neve r doe-eyed about prot est. When asked by TDR who his audience might be in thes e rural areas, he replied: Trees. Farmers (Brown and Seitz 1968:66). This answer is both deflection a nd truth: Bread and Puppet incorporated Vermonts northern landscape, local history and citizens into its new theatrical language. Bread and Puppet is now an established institution in Vermont, and though it hasnt spawned any significant organization in its bucolic location, it helped de fine the zeitgeist of Vermont radicalism.75 Van Erven muses that no Vermont community celebration or 74 He smartly points to the ETC Newport show as a tac tical failure. When Luis Valdezs theater performed at labor camps for farm workers, they were successful at strategic organization in their culturally appropriate energetic promotion of so lidarity. By the end of their professi onal career they were performing metaphysical pseudo-religious ceremonies suited more to the urban bourgeois theaters than migrant farm camps, and had alienated most of the popular support they had as an agitprop organization (Van Erven 1988:48-49). 75 Bread and Puppet was not alone in its radicalization of Vermont. There were other individuals and organizations involved, including the Institute for Social Ecology, and two entities responsible for Bread and Puppets move: Goddard College and the Nearings. 83


public parade is com plete without Bread and Puppet's participation (1988:55). He continues: In the DRC project, Bread and Puppet reveals itself to be a truly regional popular theater enterprise. Puppe try and circuses are arguably two of the most resilient forms of traditional folk culture, and both form essential components of Bread and Puppet's art. It uses these forms to convey its political commitment in accessible theatrical forms to nontheat re audiences (1988:55). Despite the pockets of radicalism in the state, Bread and Puppet had to fight a negative reputation. A lot of Vermonters saw the group as Commies. Schumann explained some of the challenges of the move to Van Erven: In New York we were reallymore politically i nvolved than we were up here. When we moved to Vermont, and we came into village parades with our anti-war ideas, and were telling them what we think about Cambodia or Laos or what have you, we made a lot of enemies there, very fast. And it changed our ideas about how to get to people a little bitit didnt make too much sense to push a political point too much. (1988:55) Over time, Schumann went beyond an instru mental notion of the village parade as Bread and Puppet pub licity. In the 1993 film Brother Bread, Sister Puppet he calls parades the most radical statement on the si mplicity and the publicness of the arts. The parade is the basic form of theater. It is theadding and c ontrasting [of] images for a populace that didnt come to be instructed or for entertainment, but finds itself there for [some random reason]Its a kind of opportunity to make a giant show, to make a giant avenue in front of you available for performa nce, to make the hulky crowds an audience (Farber 1993). These are strong claims from a world-renowned theater artist, especially one not frequently recognized for parade participation. John Bell gives a succinct treatment of the Bread and Puppet parade in American Puppet Modernism in which he delineates four kinds of Bread and Puppet parades: (1) parades in protests (e.g. the 1982 nuclear free ze protest); (2) local parades in Vermont; 84


(3) advertising devices before a show on t our; (4) p arades to lead performers and audiences from one place to another during a show (Bell 2009:213). Parades, which Bell describes as blatantly carnivalesque, are effective because their audiences are random and because they use public space more effici ently than stationary shows. For Bell, the parades potential to reach a heterogeneous au dience is a way out of the principal vice of political theatre, preaching to the choir (2009:217). A question should be raised: why is Schumann willing to work with typical American tropes, such as the circus and th e parade, but refuses the standard political discourse in his Palestine work? Bell has writte n of Schumanns ambivalent identity as a politically engaged theatre arti stcritical of, but inevitably part of, the American society that has nurtured his work since he emigrate d to the United States in the early 1960s (Bell 2008:192). I have not resolved this question. A nd, despite his theoretical exhortation of popular forms, even his para des do not always meet these accidental audiences halfway (Appendix 6). Volunt eer Melissa Ann Clark explained the discrepancy: Last year, we had the skeletons, and the buy-new-genes thing, and Santa. I would say that generally people are totally perplexed by the whole th ing, and if they get it all, and theyre pissed, then whatever, because who cares? But if they get it and they love it, then great. I think some of it is too abstract for people; theyre not used to thinking that wayGenerally, a parade, for most Americans, is some assholes sitting on a float playing a boogie and a girl with a crown on her head. And here we come with our cardboard skeletons (laughs) and our giant skeleton on a wagon wheel. I mean, really? And were making peop le push this thing? Are we assholes? (Laughs) I think its too eccentric for some pe ople, to fully co nnect with it. I asked Melissa why Bread and Puppet creates su ch an anachronistic spectacle, if it is in fact interested in integrating itself into the Vermont community. She laughed and replied: Because Peters weird! Hes German! I dont k now why. In other words, it is at least partly a question of Schumann being a cultural outsider. Me lissa had one semi-serious idea: I almost want to say, too, because of the way Peter can be about paradesthis 85


they invite us, so we com e thingI think w ith the way he prances about, I think its to show off. Its to be like, Were still here Were still doing this thing. Fuck you guys. In a way it could be interpreted that way, too. Then again, John Bell notes that parades are not only an indelible part of American culture (subaltern and dominant) but a factor in modernist art: Schumann could trace his lineag e in public political parades to American anti-fascists and communists in the 1930s, wh o were directly influenced by Bolshevik parades, a Russian abstract constructivist phenomenon compri sed of a modernist machine aesthetic and Marxist rhetor ic (Bell 2009:101). In a histor ical sense, Schumann is bringing constructivism to Cabot. Schumann was best able to integrate hi s sense of moral outrage, yearning for a domestic (in the double sense: national and fa mily-oriented) and rural revival, and his interest in making a necessary art in th e annual Domestic Resurrection Circus (19701998). The form of the circus was co-opted into Schumanns aesthetic agenda, much as he manipulated Kasper, glove puppetry, the Na tivity story, the passion play, European Catholic street processions, 4th of July parades, and puppetry itself into new, twisted forms. Brecht explains one of Schumanns ear ly inspirations for this kind of broad, popular form: The idea of a circus apparently came to Sc humann as a reaction against the performance of Cry [ The Cry of the People for Meat (1969)] on the European tour in regular established theatres with their habitual audiences: fancy or bourgeois, at any rate not popular and expecting and paying for art, not merely, like circus audiences, entertainment (and excitement, skill and beauty). He wanted to be independent of these mausoleums and these culture cravers. A popular audience was the aim. (1988b:124) The accompanying pageant became Schumanns pet project, through which he explored the full reach of its artistic potential. In the film of the 1994 pageant Men with Teeth (1994) I noted what Schechner calls selec tive inattention, a th eatrical process by 86


which audiences are able to voluntarily c hoose aspects of the perform ance to focus on, and in which the social experience of wa tching the performance is not suppressed through silence is golden attentiveness. This is the opposite of the single-focus hightension attention engendered in indoor theaters (Schec hner 2003:223). The sheer volume of people and the geographic freedom of the performance space in the DRC remove intimacies of indoor theater. There are certain religious ritual precedents for this practice, such as Sri Lankan Thovil healing ceremonies and Orthodox Jewish Shabbat services, which Schumann is conscious of in his crea tion of a ritualistic spectacle. Schechner writes, The use of selective inattention led not to a feeli ng of laxness or I dont care, but to a selective discipline on the part of the audience (2003:223-224). Schechner witnessed only one circus, in 1970, but he c oncurs on this assessment: at the end of the show, the audience is i nvited into a giant clot h boat, which Schechne r describes: I felt involved and separate, celebratory and crit ical simultaneously (2003:225). This was Schumanns original intent: to create an even t that served as entertainment for popular consumption while avoiding pacifying escapism. Selective inattention refers to the incorporation of spectator-to-spectator intera ction into the dynamics of performance and, while Schechner considers it a tool of deep relaxation (e .g. in Noh drama), I find it more useful as a distancing tool, both to increase critical depth in audience and to incorporate performance into social existence. The DRC was a way for Schumann to utili ze the beauty of the natural Vermont landscape while producing work that was both connected to a popular American base and capable of addressing political situations w ithout necessarily viol ating the commitment established by the popular form. Here is Schumann in 1974 explaining the show: 87


Our Domestic Resurrection Circus will be an effort to find a new way of doing circus that is more human, that is not merely a collection of superl atives, of extraordinary feats arbitrarily mixed together, but something that becomes a story of the world circusIt has to do with just creating a big outside attraction for the people in the area. It's a piece that shouldn't be traveled, something we want to perform where we can integrate the landscape, that we can do with real time and real rivers and mountains and animals. It's something th at is seen in the woods, up there in the hills, back here in the river. I guess it would be called an environment! (Kourilsky 1974:107-08) By its final year, the DRC had become a sort of countercultural Mecca, with attendance estimated at more than 30,000 peopl e. Puppeteer Paul Zaloom addressed the popular conception of the show in the film Brother Bread, Sister Puppet (1993): I think theres some people on the outside who might think this is some kind of big fantasy spectacle, a sorta hippie Disneyland or something, which isnt it at all, what the work is about here is real things that are happening, so its not a fantasy; its reality, and I dont think were throwing it or spitting it in peoples faces, but its there and we want to deal with it and we want people to deal with it because ultimately were responsible for it (Farber 1993). By the 1990s, the event had become a countercultural institution, mirroring a changed Vermont: In fact, by the '90s, the strict separation implied by culture/counterculture was no longer in effect (if in fact it had ever really been). In Vermont distinctions between young flatlanders living in communes and native Vermonters working family farms had lessened and in many cases completely disappeared. The newcomers had become absorbed into the cultural, political, and economic life of Vermont, and in fact their energies and enthusiasm were central to the life of the state. Many of the people who annually created the Circus had become selectmen, librarians, state officials, judges, and prominent members of Vermont's other profession (Bell 1999:66-68). Yet there were complicating factors. Despite Schumanns best efforts to impart the DIY Cheap Art ethic, a large portion of the DRC audience were interested in the passive, intoxicated absorption of visual spectacle.76 John Bell argues that the theaters request that attendants refrain from consum ing of drugs and alcohol on farm premises was basically successful, but the camps ites were another matter. Bread and Puppet volunteer Kari Percival atte nded one DRC in the 1990s and described the scene to me: There was a Dominoes pizza standthere woul d be people in tents, lying arounda lot 76 The circus is not anti-spectacular like many of Schumanns shows (e.g. Photographs of My Corpse ), but it does propose an alternative whose intent runs counte r to the pacifying, anti-hi storical, mystifying social totality called the Spectacle by Debord and the Situationists (Debord 2006). 88


of people on acid, m ostly. It had a creepy feeling. There was a woman selling raffle tickets for a quilt, and my Mom bought a tic ket, and then the woman was gone. There was people selling hippie crap like homemade jumpers made out of corduroy. The drugs especially were really creepy. John Bell interviewed audience member Zachary Krol, who describing the campgrounds as this whol e other scene [or] side culture with significant differences from th e theatres ethos (1998:71). Krol felt that Vermonts beauty depended on space for quiet and contemplation, which was impossible with crowds, specifically crowds interested sole ly in partying and leaving the landscape strewed with litter (1998:72). While Bread and Puppets goal was always counter-culturalist in the strictest, least vernacular sense, it became associated with the monolithic, capital-c Counterculture, which in the 1990s had become less of a specific ideological referent than a product to be consumed, an historic aesthetic to be experienced rather than a living movement. Bell writes: We began to hear, amid the occasional reports of rambunctious goings-on in the campgrounds, rumors that some Circus -goersor manynever came to the Bread and Puppet shows, simply staying all th e time at the campground (1999:72-73). The misconception of Bread and Puppets colorful event as drug spectacle would be easy, considering certain similarities to Burning Man, an apolitical visual spectacle in which the consumption of drugs plays a central role for its participants. This narrow focus on visual spectacle was one of the most unpopular parts of Julie Taymors treatment of the Bread and Puppet Theater in her film Across the Universe (2007) on the farm;77 viz. the 77 Taymors film has an infamous story behind it circulated around the farm. According to the story, Taymor asked Bread and Puppetwith whom she had worked briefly in the 1970s at Goddardto use some of their puppets in her film. The theater sent her back a letter telling her to make her own puppets. So, in the film she crafted her own version of the theaters puppets, then sent the theater a check for a huge 89


scene in wh ich hippies on LSD run through th e forest and discover a field filled with glossier versions78 of Schumanns cows, Garbageme n, Washerwomen, and the Mother Earth puppet, they are tripping on LSD. To add to the solipsistic nature of their drug and spectacle consumption, the field is depopulated: does the show exis t at all? Is it all in the characters minds; a hallucination? Taymor misconstrued the DRCs political content, as well as its attempted revival of a mythic folk rituality, as she skimmed the surface level of Schumanns aesthetic. The DRC met its demise in 1998 after a man was killed at one of the campgrounds in a brawl. According to puppet eer Teresa Camou, the entire weekend had been too crazy. Schumann called a meeting, at which he announced that years DRC as the theaters last: I remember all of the Geezers faces go (makes a shocked expression) He said, Thats my decision. This is not what I want to do. Now, my version was, Okay, he changed this. Hes very bold to be able to say that. The theater made so much money compared to now. They made the money for a year in one weekendI once asked Lind a; in one of those y ears they made $90,000. So it waseasy. The theater didnt have to worry that much about money. And it was very famous and successful. But Peter said, We cant handle this amount of people. And now were gonna have to hire security people. Like police. And were not gonna do that. And its a burden to the community!...I really want to change the theater into where I can work with the audience. I want to make the audience go to different placesI want an audience who really wants to come and see the shows, rather than an au dience that comes for a big spectacle. Schumann had to sacrifice his ambition because his message was lost among the chaotic lack of community and communication due to the enormous crowds. He sought a dangerous radicalism, not a dangerous envir onment. Yet the disappoi ntment he felt didnt amount of money ($30,000, reportedly), which Elka sent back to her, with a note reading, We didnt give you permission, and we wont take your money. This story both amuses and angers people; while stubbornly idealistic to a comic degree, many would like the theater to swallow its pride and take the money and use it to, for example, reduce internship costs. 78 John Bell told me: Thats the diff erence, because it wasntgoofy colo rs. You really see the difference in sculpture in Taymors film, because you realize, Oh, thats a Garbageman, but its not good. Whats missing? And then you have to think aboutthe aesth etic of sculpture. And then you realize, Oh, Schumanns a really good sculptor. Greg Cook and I asked Schumann about the film: I dont even know it. I shouldnt talk a bout it. I know it so superficially. I saw little bits and pieces that I didnt care for I dont know what it was. It looked to me strained, laborious and not beautiful. Its something cold that I dont feel connected to. 90


m ean the end of his quest for a worldwide Cheap Art. In a truly Vermont fashion, he went smaller. Puppeteer Noah Harrell: From what I gathered, it seems like in the theaters early days, it was set up to bring people together, to form something that hadnt been fo rmed before, over a very specific cause that was big on peoples minds: the Vietnam War. And it built from there. It was set up to start something much bigger, and it got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and it moved up here after the war ended and took on new causes and that unifying germ of Bread and Puppet that brought all of these people together for the huge circus got to beI guess the hugeness of the circus is a testament to where it went. It became less about the political mind of the theater, less abou t the goal of radical change through theater, and more about the spect acle, the social atmosphere, and the party. Literally, the hugeness of the party. And the political message got lost, I think. So, I think it had to get big and almost self-destruct and then break back down to something much smaller.79 79 Noah is ambivalent about the value of the smaller circuses: Now, [what it does is] kind of fuzzy to meIs it just continuing, or plodding along with the same idea that its always had, only smaller? 91


Chapter 4. There w ere times when I fe lt like the whole thing wa s really out of control: The way things work As an externally antiauthoritarian, intern ally authoritarian or ganization, the Bread and Puppet Theater seems a grand contradiction in terms. The internal politics of the theater were initially shocking to me, just as th ey continue to surprise and alienate certain participants. In contrast to my initial ideological protestation, I have come to regard the theaters internal processes more ambiva lently, especially after learning Webers concepts of charismatic authority and its routinization and a pplying this insight to the theater. However, I do believe that the way th e theater straddles addressing its structure shunts meaningful conversation that could l ead to healthier, more productive relations between puppeteers, as well as ameliorating some of the concerns raised by the apprenticeship program. While extrapolating these questions of pow er and authority, I use Webers work to ground the (anti-)structu ral functionality of the theater. I also consider the deliberate aesthetic constructi on of the Bread and Puppet experience for participants and observers, using Bourdieu to consider the process of structural naturalization. Bread and Puppet is often popularly construe d as a collec tivist enterpri se, and not only for its counter-hegemonic philosophy. Because the theater plays granddad to the current generation of radical puppeteers, it is associated with the antihierarchical processes of contemporary radical activism. The influences gleaned from Schumann by todays puppeteers are more aes thetic than philos ophical, as the majority of current 92


radical puppeteers use puppetr y as a direct action tool rather th an as an end in itself. Another point of connection made between Bread and Puppet and collectivism is the theaters instrumentality in the 20th century radical theater movement (b. 1968), whose revival of radical 1930s rh etoric about the power of the collective (at least off -stage) encouraged participatory collectivist modes of action (Van Erven 1988). The theater is also associated with the back-to-the-land movement inspired by Elka Schumanns grandfather, Scott Nearing, and his wife Helen, whose 1930s New York-to-Vermont transition and subsequent publications on ru ral subsistence were foundational to the Sixties rural communitarians. The signifiers of American countercu ltural collective are certainly present: the Schumanns moved fr om New York City, where they were well established as part of radical politics, to a farm in rural Vermont in the rurally ripe 1970, where a team of mostly well-educated, middleclass white leftists operated the theater. This is the outline of Steve Diamonds What the Trees Said (1971), Tom Felss Farm Friends (2008), and many other countercultural communal narratives. Yet these historical associations are problematized by the indepe ndence of Peter Schumann and his theater, as well as by the problems intrinsic to all antistructural projects. For many current radicals, it is esse ntial that process reflects product.80 This isnt a point of philosophical purity, but a pragmatic awareness that internal oppression begets 80 Puppeteer Noah Harrell gave me a good example of the expectation of collectivist organization and the unfortunate character of an ideologi cal rejection of power relations that may be more nuanced: There were three apprentices who left early in the first week of the last session [in 2008] that completely were not prepared and not understanding what they were getting into. They were lookingfor communal theater, like theater of the people. They saw us on tour, and saw all of these young people making this theater happen, and thought, Oh, this is a collective. Theyre doing everything together. And then they got here and, no its a theater company with a director Thats all they saw in the first week. I think if they had stuck around, they would have seen more building of the shows; how theyre put together from our own ideas. They were really turned-off that it wasnt th at wonderful collective setting, in terms of theater making. 93


external oppression. This is certainly influe nced by awareness of the internal bullying common to m any 1960s radical groups such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Black Panther Party (Berger 2006). Many radical art organizations place more emphasis on the process of creation than the cr eated thing; these groups hold themselves responsible for creating the desired kind of association. Puppeteer Maryann Colella, a queer, anarchist, and immigrants rights activ ist from Boston and a member of the Bread and Puppet company (as of 2008), discussed diffe rent theatrical orga nizational strategies with me during the summer of 2008. She told me: I think I would love to have my own theater company some day that works a lit tle bit differently, because it would bemore about the process I would want to work with inner-city youth or women in homeless shelters or battered womens homes, or people with terminal illness, to create theater, and it may not be the best theater, butas a healing means. She then explicated, I come from the work ethic that would rather s ee no production than a production full of people who just got their feelings hurt[but] it doe snt really work up here [at Bread and Puppet]. If you stick a trowel into the dirt, youre liable to get some bugs. With this understanding, I will begin to explore the nitty -gritty of authority a nd organization in the Bread and Puppet Theater. I. Charismatic authority and the anti-structure Turner writes that the anti-structure doesnt necessitate a fantasy-rejection of structural necessities, but the liberation of human capacities of cognition, affect, 94

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volition, creativity, etc., from the norma tive constraints incumbent upon occupying a sequence of social statuses, enacting a multip licity of social roles (Turner 1982:44). However, lack of structure can imply the conc urrent lack of affirmative measures. With an anti-structure, a group is left relying on that untenable organizing principle: the spontaneous feeling of oneness Victor Turner calls communitas Turner delineated three types of communitas: (1) Spontaneous communitas : a direct, immediate and total confrontatio n of human identities, or intersubjective illumination; (2) Ideological communitas: largely utopian, for those who have already experienced communitas; (3) Normative communitas: social order, maintained by a group seeking to establish communitas as the nor m (1982:48-49). He co ntinues to explain communitas as a socially liberati ng alternative to social structure, rather than its opposing force, which disallows the evaluation of structural effectiveness because of its detachment from structural consideration (1982:50-51). The problem, according to Turner, is that spontaneous communitas is by its very nature impossible to systematize, so normative/ideological communitas systems are wholesale paradoxes. The experience of communitas becomes memory of communitas and in trying to replicate original communitas another social order is created (1982:40). Spontaneous unifying affect may serve as initial inspiration, but it cannot be the foundation of a day-to-day opera tional strategy, as it is t oo temporally, spatially and psychologically contingent.81 These forms of authority acquire new characters over time; while initially revolutionary, they become traditionalized or rationalized, and very often 81 This is connected to what Weber identified as the organizational question of routinizing charisma, which I address further in this chapter. 95

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new hierarchies develop, hierarchies which oppos e the a priori fluidity of anti-structural charism a. As a result of the problem of routiniz ation, the Bread a nd Puppet Theater is unable to seriously address its operational stra tegy, because the contradictions inherent in systematized communitas prevent it from ta king its need for structural consideration seriously. The lack of comm unication about structure and process often creates ugly struggle, as Maryann explained to me: For the most part the process is up here very collective, [and yet] there is this unspoken hierarchy and often this ugly power struggle that happens here that really bothers me, and I step out of rehearsals routinelybecause I cant deal with th e way we create collectively but I think it has the potential to be a very nice collective processOne time, Peter said, PoliticsIm an anarchist; theaterIm totalitarianwhich is true, and it has to be to work in some way, which is weird, but I did see that this was the [only] theater company Iever saw myself fitting into and being happy with. For the most part it does align with a lot of my personal choices and beliefs. Our interview was conducted at the very beginning of Maryanns time as a puppeteer, but her perspective is shared by many fellow participants. In our interview, she continued to explain her personal frustrat ions: I assume were all coming from this place that opposes coercive aut hority, but thats not always tr ue. People come for a lot of different reasonsNot everybody is opposed to authority. I think thats where we run into trouble in rehearsals. The inevitable power grab in rehearsals without Schumann can be especially frustrating. But as much as power relations are a cause of conflict, she feels conflicted about her own need to adjust a functioning system: Im not saying we should sit down and have a co nversation about politics before we rehearse, and Im not even saying we should try and use Roberts Rules, because I dont think we would get anywhere in rehearsal like thatbut I do wish people would step back a little bit sometimes my frustration at rehearsals is that when Peter is ab sent, theres this immediate power struggle to fill that void instead of saying, Okay, were on our own to work in a grouplets value everybodys voice. I think because of the pressure of the fast nature theres no time for that, and we dont take time for peoples feelings and stuff, which in a way Ive come to appreciate and deal with, but in the beginning it really bothered me Im not sure the theater itself would benefit from less hierarchy. I think the morale of the workers would be better because theyd want to stick around longer if they were valued as people A stronger and more cohesive group might be better. I think the actual productions might suffer, because we might spend more time meeting and talking about our feelings and interpersonal politics. Ther e needs to be a balance. Right now, theres 96

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pretty much none of the other. The movers and shakers of the Bread and Puppet Theater are certainly aware of internal conflicts, as they have been embro iled in them for four decades, but the common excuse is time. One puppeteer summarized the working methodology for rehearsal: Schlep through it, get it done fast, dont fu ck around, dont waste our time, dont say stupid suggestions, there ar e five of us who know exactly what is going on and the rest of you can just follow. The accidental hierarch ies that develop in this time crunch are functional organizational patterns helping to conserve time. And the time crunch is real. Here are some recurrent examples of time crunches: On tour, the company frequently has an hour before to set up and half an hour after to break down an entire show (due to previous reservations of the performance space), with maybe an hour for rehearsal the day of the show. The touring volunteer circus sometimes includes only a three-hour block of time to teach the circus,. Since the demise of the Domestic Resurrection Circus in 1998, Bread and Puppet has been producing its circus starting in early July, which gives interns and staff a week and a half to produce the first circus. After the commencing performance, many of the lesssuccessful acts are cut and the creative process starts up again. A working circus is established by the third or fourth week, but be fore this time, there are also numerous local parades (sometimes twice daily) to contend with. The Lubberland show is usually taught in an afternoon; Schumann saves rehearsals for a short block of time on Friday immediately before that nights performance. Time for on-farm rehearsals is delimited by the requirement of the transportation of (frequently voluminous) puppets, stilts, costumes, props, heavy wooden boxes for transportation, and tarps in case of rain. Rain is its own demanding contingency, which can set rehearsals back entire days due to the environmento-interactional character of particularly the pageant. In 2007 and 2008, August was used as a period where Geezers and (ex-intern) volunteers flit in and out of the theater, and each week the theater assesses who is present and is forced to re-teach the circus, pageant, and Lubberland show. More domestically, there are al ways chores to be done on the farm, including cooking, cleaning, aioli production, outhouse maintenance, gardening (including the early-morning lettuce crew and constant weeding), painting an d printing for the Bread and Puppet Press, organizing the weekly Northeast Kingdom Shape Not Sing and museum maintenance, among other responsibilities. This unceasing rapidity is part of the Bread and Puppet lifestyle, and it is used as the excuse for hurt feelings and any inequita ble schematization. Even the most radical 97

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antiauthoritarian cannot deny the moral com plex ity of the adaptation to this continual time crunch.82 Yet time is not an objective phenomenon. B ecause of the demarcation of social time, these activities act as binding agents and social markers, as Bourdieu writes: Social time as form in the musical sense, as succession organized by the application to passing time of the principle which organizes a ll dimensions of practice, tends to fulfill, even more effectively than the division of space, a function of inte gration in and through division, i.e. through hierarchi zation (1994:159). This is conn ected to his elaboration of the habitus ,83 a socialized subj ectivity comprised of series of practical taxonomies and dispositions, which, although it exists sole ly in the heads of actors, is both physiologically, mentally, and so cially reified. Bourdieu writes about spatio-temporal representational structur ing, through which a group orders itself (the move from action to faith in the structure) (Bourdieu 1994:158). Bread and Puppets physical activitye.g. slowly moving puppets across a table in Photographs of My Corpse sorting through beans, singing Shape Note songsis a repres entational structuring which engenders the theaters desired relations. Through Bread and Puppets adaptation to its own demands, it creates an arbitrary order: One of the effects of ritualization of pra tices is precisely that of assigning them a timei.e. a moment, a tempo, and a durationwhich is relatively independent of external necessitiesthereby conferring on them the sort of arbitrary 82 By this, I do not mean to say that this situation is unavoidable, merely that it navigation of which requires intense consideration. Maryann understands th e situation, but qualifies it: I see the necessity to work quickly, and I value that, and Im learning to find my voice and my place in that. And to not take things personally, and to say, What can you do? Some people are just like that. They have that sort of attitude. But I find that attitude rubbing off on me, and thats when I get afraid, when I start acting like that towards people, too, like, No no, thats stupid. And whoa I dont normally shut peoples ideas down like that. 83 Bourdieu explicates this theory through ethnographic research he performed in Kabylia, Algeria. 98

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necessity which specifically defines cultura l arbitrariness (1995:158). This is a submission tocollective rhythms. Through Br ead and Puppets ritualized time, faith in the realism of its structure is engendered. The observance of hierarchization in re hearsals pushed me to read about the character of authority and find a model for Bread and Puppets processes, and Webers explication of charismatic authority and its heterarchical fluidity provided a frame for my interpretation. In The Types of Authority and Imperative Co-ordination (1947), Weber describes a cross-cultural phenomenon he calls charismatic authority, where charisma refers to a character of exceptional characte ristics serving to sepa rate and elevate an individual from ordinary men and wome n. I would suggest Peter Schumann as a textbook example of this phenomenon, in additi on to Webers examples of shamans and Joseph Smith. Webers point-by-point description of the character matches. He describes the character of charismatic authority as flui d, then identifies the problematics of its routinization, as the move towards traditiona lization or rationaliza tion stand in opposition to the communitas-based fluidity of charisma. While authority in general derives its power from collective belief, the intense concentration, variability, and intangibility of charismatic authority makes this beliefdependency acute. Furthermore, charismatic logic is always subversive. In toto, this is a recipe for dangerous devotion. Weber descri bes Schumanns authority in exact detail when he writes, This basis lies rather in the conception that it is the duty of those who have been called to a charismatic mission to recognize its quality and to act accordingly. Psychologically this recognition is a matte r of complete personal devotion to the 99

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possessor of the quality, aris ing out of enthusiasm or of despair and hope (1947:359). 84 Bread and Puppets radicalism requires sacr ifice: puppeteers have given up careers, financial security, marriages, and homes fo r this unceasing, low-paying labor. Audiences are required to sacrifice their traditional exp ectations concerning art. Despair and hope certainly describes the aliena ted position of attraction for Bread and Puppet participants, soon to be properly politicized and accultur ated, as the revolutionary change of a charismatic leader may result in a radical alteration of the central system of attitudes and directions of action with a completely new orientation of all attitudes toward the different problems and structures of the world (1947:363). Desi reto work with Peter or puppets; to participate in a legendary theaters history; to be challenged by emotionally and socially important workhe lps participants navigate th e slippery structure of the theater, and it is desire which is the most important motivational and organizational component of the theater.85 The group around the charismatic leader is communal and heterarchical, and the individuals in the closest corporate group or administrative staff are similarly defined by their charisma rather than appointment. If there was a clearly defined skill-set for higher ranked positions, technical training might influence rank, but in its absence, duty of recognition becomes the most important fa ctor in rank determ ination. Weber writes, There is no hierarchy; the leader merely intervenes in general or in individual cases 84 This is enacted in Bread and Puppets apprenticeship program where many disaffected interns noted that very few skills are taught. Those coming with the image of an 18th century cobbler teaching the tricks of the trade to a willing young lad in short-pants are surp rised at how the program is more of a test of ones ability to radicalize in accordance with Peters aesthetic mission. Skills are second ary, commitment primary. 85 Weber describes the period of entering a charismatic situation as requiring a fundamental break from mainstream social reality, fitting with the subversive ness of the authority. This is the point of connection between Peter Schumann, who pursues a mostly innocuous countercultural art project, and charismatic leader Jim Jones, whose radical social schism highlights the potential for detriment implicit in the design. 100

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when he co nsiders the members of his staff in adequate to a task with which they have been entrusted (1947:360). This is a descri ption of a theoretically pure charismatic authority rather than a pract ical manifestation, always polluted by some form of routinization. Webers extrapolation of the tr ials and compromises of the routinization of charisma explain how a hierarchya mall eable but undeniable hierarchymight develop. II. Seniority and other accidental hierarchies Schumanns authority is not the central problem in internal conflicts, though Brecht documents conflicts between Schumann and puppeteers earlie r in the theaters history. The current age discrepancy betw een Schumann and the puppeteerswith nearly five decades between thempartially explains the acceptance of unbridled authority, as it normalizes the role of the old wizened mast er for puppeteering students. While working with Schumann, any company can be functional because the puppeteers are willingly manipulated by the sensei as Maryann expressed to me: As much as I come from an anarchist tradition[a nd] in my Buddhist tradition, we dont have leadersI was having a conversation with Greg [Corbino] about studying under a master and giving yourself to that and thats a very Eastern concept, to have this guru or to dedicate part of your life to study under a master, to apprentice, and what that rea lly means, and sometimes I have to remind myself about that, about Peter, that he is so good at what he does. And sometimes I have to just deal with him yelling and being cranky and say, Okay, okay, master (Laughs) Schumanns rise in international stature aids this process of charismatic routinization through the traditi onalization of his authority. Th is is a temporal process; Schumanns authority becomes more establis hed in time. For whatever reason, his totalitarianism is respected. 101

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W ith regards to the problematics of rou tinization, the charismatic situation at Bread and Puppet has drifted towards trad itionalization during its aging process. Puppeteer Noah Harrell described this process as an increase in rigidity: I think, as time goes ontraditions get more and more set in stone, and people like Linda [Elbow, business manager] arent gonna change much. They change less and less. And I think the people that come into it get frustrated by that ; that there isnt room for change or new ideasTheater can only exist so long without fundamental change, and its not set up right now to change in big ways. This illust rates the theaters sole reliable hierarchy: seniority, although this still fluctu ates depending on the individual. This hierarchy is mostly re sponsible for demarcating whos e voice is valued in the creative process. According to intern sentiment, this is en forced more by puppeteers than Schumann.86 Puppeteers and interns have different zones, different schedules, which structure their difference, as Bourdieu ex plained in terms of his own fieldwork: Temporal forms or the spatial structures stru cture not only the groups representation of the world but the group itself, which orders itself in accordance with this representation: this may be clearly seen, in the fact that th e organization of the existence of the men and women in accordance with different times and different places constitutes two interchangeable ways of securing separation and hierarchization of the male and female worlds (1994:158-159). If we replace these gend ers with the intern/ puppeteer dualism, it is an accurate assessment of the code of th e farm, where puppeteers have daily meetings 86 2008 intern Ross McKay noted that Schumann supportively reminded interns to rework characters theyd created early in the internship and re-propose them for circus acts. In our interview, he testified: I think maybe two weeks in, Peter reminded us of these original puppets and he said, Hunt them out again and use these masks again and keep wo rking with them and try and bring some of this work back into the circus masks, so although [these puppets] could be left off, Peter then encouraged it to be brought back up, and that point wed already performed the circus, so I think people were a little more comfortable in their role of sharing and presenting ideas. 102

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in which serious business is attended to but rarely publicly discu ssed, and the puppeteer house is generally taboo to interns. Because of Schum anns power of stru ctural redefinition and charismatic authority, he is free to break these largely unspoken structural rules based on whims. In 2008, puppeteer Teresa Camou recalled that Schumann noticeably broke seniority, demanding increased presence of interns. This butts up against the labor many puppeteers go through to establish their domains or nich es within the theater. Puppeteer Teresa Camou, who only partially sees seniority as curre ntly functional, told me that this is a huge shift from the established hierarchies of the DRC era. Yet she recognizes that puppeteers work to acquire domains: Like, Lily will not let anyone be Pinky.87 Why? Anyone can do Pinky, but its her Pinky. She gave a better life to an animal that comes over each circus. And I think thats stupid at the same time. Its the same thingJustin is a great narratorHes very good with wordsAnd somebody else coming in and doing something like that can throw him off. Then Peter will say, Oh, I like you a lot, too. And a lot of times people will try to please Peter, or say, Peter, Im still here. And thats where it becomes compet itive here. Trying to show that youre here. Sometimes you might be the narrator or the star, and the next week, somebody else is gonna do it and youre gonna be behind, holding the flat for that person to do that. The same with jobs. One day youre gonna be the bus driver, the next day youre gonna be the one bringing the foot into the bus. So, it is hard to de-attach. This can certainly be viewed as a matter of trust, as volunteer Melissa Ann Clark explained: Its more about knowing how th eir system works and feeling safe that someone will work within their sy stem and maybe not question it. Sub-Schumann hierarchies are more contes ted. This contest is evidenced by the theaters dysfunctional annual Geezer Week,88 during which the majority of Geezers 87 Pinky is a large pink elephant puppet manned by 2-4 puppeteers from the inside. Pinky has been a surprise participant in the Glover Day marathon for th e past few years, and her absence in 2008 prompted an angry letter from the President of the Pinky Fan Club, which the puppeteers got a kick out of, especially because they have no clue to the writers identity. 88 At the end of 2007 Geezer Week, one of our afternoon meetings took th e form of a discussion about the current structure of the summer, with the first month being an internship, and the second month being a period where Geezers, post-interns, remaining inte rns and volunteers participate, always with one 103

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work for a week during the summer, and have free reign over the theater. Cook Brooke Franzen advised the 2007 interns rem aining fo r the additional mont h of August to let go of any notions of control over the theaters operations we had, and to try and learn from the Geezers, which was nearly impossible becau se of the limited interaction between the two groups. Right before Geezer Week 2008, Li nda Elbow told us, When the Geezers come, let them do whatever they want. Ev en senior company members lay low during Geezer Week. In 2007, the Geezers spent the firs t day coming up with new circus acts as Schumann went through the circus order and sl ash-and-burn style took out acts that had been successful the entire summer. The rest of the week the Geezers did some rehearsing for their acts but mostly hung out. Many of them missed multiple rehearsals or entire days of work to visit local friends and events. As I have stated, authority varies dependi ng on the individual, and the Geezers are a remarkably disparate group. The seniority hi erarchy remains fluid; there is fluidity among interns, ex-interns/post-interns and puppe teers, local volunteers and interns, and among company members. There is unceasing conflict between interns and locals, many of whom have participated in Bread and Puppet for decades, and have seen their role diminish in the past decade with the co mmencement of the internship. The Lubberland National Dance Company was initially created for local volunteers, but time restraints and communication problems89 problematized the design. It is now comprised almost delineated Geezer Week. Complaints were expressed from all sides, and no one seemed to think they had any artistic input over the circus creation. Although the group threw ideas around for hours, nothing was agreed upon. It seemed that the system would remain in place until someone came up with a better plan agreed upon by the group. By 2008, nothing had materialized, and Geezer Week went over the same way it had in 2007, with grumbling from all sides. 89 There are conflicts with schedulesfor instance, something might happen on a summer morning and the theater is left with a large chunk of free time. Sc humann might suggest that the perpetually unrehearsed Lubberland show use that time. The theat er is unable to alert its local volunteers in the middle of the day to 104

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entirely of interns, and the num ber of local volunteers has dwindled to four or five consistent individuals. The theater balances its need (and desire) to have a group of reliable local volunteers while considering th e interns, who pay a significant fee to do whatever the theater asks of them. If there is a free two-hour block, it makes sense to use the interns to work through the show. Among the interns, there is a very deci sive unofficial hier archy of talent, established early in the inte rnship. I noticed th e 2007 internship quick ly break down into a Balkans of puppeteers, musicians, build ers, writers, labor ers, narrators and supporting players.90 Brenda Plumey noted: We are al l leaders, and if you dont have the talent to be a good leader forget about it, you can alwa ys do the dishes or do the outhouse work. This system exists in the company as well, as Noah expressed: Its hard to establish yourselfas soon as Peter sees one thing, thats what you are. Ive done a little bit of building latelya nd Noahs a builder, now! Its hard to get your foot in somethingthat he doesnt see you as good at. In general, once an intern writes and performs something good, (s)he can expect opportunities extended by puppeteers to perform in other acts. If an intern hasnt created an interesting role or act within roughly the first week of the program, (s)he could expect to be left out of large roles altogether. I benefited from this hierarchy during my internship in 2007. The second day of the pr ogram, I helped create two successful acts. The first was a dance piece about technological brainwashing.91 The second was a rehearsal time change, so many of the locals end up either missing rehearsals or being perpetually behind the interns in their involvement with Lubberland. 90 These terms are informal; Im trying to give a sense of the ways in which interns are categorized based on evident skills. 91 I proposed the title The Black Angel of the Technocracy, which was summarily rejected. Schumann suggested Reality Check. On the backstage list, it was simply called Computer Birds. 105

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De mocracy In Action, Or Democracy Inaction, the Rotten Idea Theater Company/Kaspar act about the corruption of th e two-party political system described in Chapter 2. My participation in the Libby act was based on my instrumentality in the creation and performance of these acts, ca using Rose and Justin to invite my participation. I was part of a conflict with Justin Lander, due to the similarity of our strengths (writing and narrating) and, less seriously, our fraternal resemblance. In a rehearsal for an act about Pr esident Bushs pardon of Lewi s Scooter Libby in which I portrayed Bush, I subverted Justins (and ot her senior puppeteers) authority by directly appealing to Schumann: we all felt that the climatic pardon was lack ing, and I suggested that he say abracadabra! with a wand flourish to usher in the sarcastic transformation. The puppeteers scoffed and prepared to con tinue, but Schumann stroked his beard and said, I think this is a very good idea. This was my charis matic introduction. Afterwards, my contributions were highly valued c onsidering my position, and I had many opportunities not only to perform central task s, but also to connect with puppeteers.92 After the first performa nce of the Libby act in The Divine Reality Comedy Circus Schumann came over to me, put his arm around my shoulders and said, You are a funny Mr. President. This was significant, as Schum ann hadnt even learned all of the interns names by the end of the program. This system isnt totalizinga lot of the interns with less crea tive input than I had were close to the puppeteers, and a few remain ing interns played large parts at the tail end of the internship. After the 2007 Southern Tour began, I tried resting on my laurels, but the category of talent mattered very li ttle because the circus had already been 92 In August, I was asked by the Geezers to play Bush in a new act based on my work in the Libby act, despite my insistence that someone else be chosen, b ecause I was discouraged from doing an impersonation per se. 106

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created. W illingness to work hard and continuo usly with the least required amount of personal time and space became the f unctioning code for the company. III. Internship demographics One reason there was such a definite hier archy during the 2007 internship was the homogeneity of the interns. The diversity of the 2008 internship precluded this hierarchy but raised some crucial issues for the theater, as language difficulties, age discrepancies, and variant cultural histories created a gr oup heterogeneous enough to significantly slow down the (hierarchically stimul ated) creative process. To clarify: in the 2007 internship, virtually everyone had a similar background and spoke the same language, with the exception of French Canadian Catherine, who left after a week. Rehearsals were able to move quickly and efficiently, and because of our similarities, we forged the kind of close relationships one might expect. A few of th e 2008 international interns told me that language difficulties were a serious problem: none of the puppeteers we re willing to take the time to translate directions into Sp anish, which was a problem for Brenda and Susanna, respectively Puerto Rican and Mexi can. Interns whose first language wasnt spoken by others were worse off. As a result, those with a different language background werent able to participate as actively as they desired. They were left out of group rehearsals and missed individual opportunities to have their creative and strategic voices heard. Susana told me: I think that may hurt me. To adaptate [sic] It wasnt easy. I have to work with myself a lot to not feel outside sometimes, because when people work, sometimes it gets very fastthe language and I have to be like hearing but its hard to say something. That sometimes also happens me with Spanish, but (laughs) Its harder with English, because it goes too fast and sometimes I understand it generally, but notit was hard to me to get into the point and to say something. It 107

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was harder. When I work with teams. Although the internship is dominated by a single demographic, there are others who are sponsored to work with Bread and Puppet dur ing the summer. In 2007, Ed Masta playwright, Palestinian rights ac tivist, and friend of Bread and Puppet sponsored two young Palestinian women to work with Bread and Puppet for five weeks. In 2008, a Haitian woman and a Turkish woman st ayed on the farm for four weeks. The language barrier was particularly difficu lt for Elcie, the Haitian, who could never participate as actively as she wanted. It is unclear why Bread and Puppet encourages international participants if they arent ab le to accommodate their communication needs. However much the theater desires cross-cultu ral collaborati on, it hasnt es tablished an incorporative strategy, and despite the fact that its shows are powerful across cultural and linguistic boundaries, the theaters working st rategy relies on a specific demographic. The creative process is based on individual incentive, but th e rules of the game arent explicated, as Puerto Rican intern Brenda Plumey lamented: The first circus act I didnt know it was been on, because no one explain me, so after that, the second circus, I was like, Oh, can I make my own Ding-Dong? Because no one told me! So I learned that if you want to be here, you have to learn how to position yourself. How to stand in front and say, No! This is my idea and Im going to keep it. And I learned that here, if you have an idea, you have to get the group work, get other interns and tell, I have this idea, do you want to work with me? And then show it to Peter. And always you have to be a leaderSo you always have to say, Here I am! Here I am! This is my act! And I already have the people and I already have everything! Even if you dont have the props. I think that the company is partly responsible for the interns lack of connection: there was a wasted opportunity to utilize th e variant cultural perspectives to create something new. One of the rare moments of both the sharp use of an interns cultural perspective and a great joke was the circus act by Mimi, a woman in her late 30s from Taiwan, which was simultaneously a send-up of kung-fu and an explication of the Sourdough Philosophy. Utilizing the new skills and perspectives of interns should be a 108

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priority every summ er, yet new acts, and new kinds of acts, are few and far between in Bread and Puppet. Considering the traditiona l structure of the Br ead and Puppet Tiger Act, puppeteer Federica Collina recalled a chal lenge to this tradition from that summer: Some interns last month [created an act] that was with tigers, but was so strange to see the way the tigers was used was a totally different way and I thought it was great, but basically it just didnt keep going because nobody was feeling like it was good enough as the other tiger act. So right now Im kind ofbut if we dont try it, new stuffbut then its this duality thing, because on one level I think its great that we keep having the blue horses and the tiger acts over and over again, but then on the other level Im likewhat about trying you know? Bread and Puppet needs new experiences a nd ideas to grow creatively and yet there is an equally strong desire to conser ve what has worked. Teresa discussed her experience from years before, performing the role of the Tiger Trainer in a tiger act: Tiger Trainer was always Howie [Cantor] and nobody ever could propose to be Tiger Trainer. If it was a Tiger Act, it was all because of Howie. So you have to be Howies friend to be able to go into this Tiger Act. And when the little circuses happened [after the Domestic Resurrection Circus ended], I became a Tiger Trainer. And I was so worried, because he was not around. And he came to see the tiger act. I was sweating! But he came and said, Youre a great Tiger Trainer. And I was like, phew If the post-DRC period means a lessening of emphasis on tradition, it hasnt been communicated. Brenda Plumey had difficulties because English was her second language and because the interns freedom wasnt explicated: One thing I learned that was very important, you have to know where are the masks and where are the puppets and it was funny because, for example, I had ideas of how to handle them or make them walk differently, but they would turn as like, No. That puppet doesnt walk like that. That puppet walks like this Because theyre not open to changes. Theyre always like, This is tradition. For example, one of my partners, one day she rebuild or fix a mask because she didnt know, right? She said, Oh, this is broken, so I should fix it for the act. So she got yelled, like, No, you were not supposed to do that! But we didnt know that it was a tradition to always have the same mask and the same costumes without fi xing them, in case of an extremely emergency. This desire to maintain a structure is manifested beyond Circus characters. The very characters of puppeteers are interrogate d in relation to m odels established by Geezers, as Rose explained to me: There are these archetypes that were set by some of the Geezers, and sometimes it has felt to me like you are filling in one of those roles. Or, Who are you? Its like, Whos gonna be the John Bell? Its easy to see that with people. In a way, there are certain types that com here and they do have certain roles. Somebody comes and hes like the Stilt Guy or hes the Guy Who Is Good 109

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With Words or he plays this instrument, so hes like this Geezer. Its tempting to do that, but its hard for those new people, because they dont feel like they have that chance to make something out of who they are and what theyre bringing to it. In 2008, the broader base of work expe riences, cultural backgrounds, and skills disrupted the competitive schematizing I benefited from. Yet the end result of generalized dissatisfaction, weak material, and lack of incentive problem atized the horizontal ideal. Then again, many of the interns in the hier archical 2007 internship were equally upset about a felt lack of participat ion: e.g. one of the interns was a trained puppeteer who had been creating puppets and performing solo sh ows for a decade, though I didn't find this out until after the program had ended, as her presence was scant in the shows, excepting a character she created for the Lubberland show. Although a critique of the problematics of the internship is necessary for the program to improve, it is a functional m achine for gleaning new puppeteers from the segment of society most likely willing to live in an old, cold house in rural Vermont and work for very little money. Puppeteer Rose Friedman lamented that people fresh out of college didnt have enough of the skills in communal living and handiwork that made her husband, Justin, such a valuable company me mber, but the theater isnt going to be strapped for devoted, hard-worki ng laborers. As long as Schu mann is healthy and active, all the theater needs is young actors and musi cians, who usually do not stay longer than five years, [to] provide the necessary fresh blood (Van Erven 1988:186). And the young company members inject Schumanns aesthetic with a consciousness of current politics. The dialectic between Schumanns politic s and these young puppeteers is fruitful. IV. I cant get no satisfaction: consensus and check-ins 110

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Bread and Puppet has m anaged its lack of structure differently throughout its history. John Bell told me that the group co mprising the company during his decade with the theater beginning in the mid 1970s took internal poli tics seriously: Yeah, consensus process or uni-mind, which we would say as a joke. So it didnt have to be that one of us is standing in for Peter and was the subaltern director and everyone else dealt with him or her however they dealt with Peter. We worked on it together. That was the way we dealt with that issue, and actually in the dynamics of Bread and Puppet, thats how we operated as a group of puppeteers. We were very conscious about talking with each other and organizing ourselves and figuring out what we wanted to do so we werent simply waiting for Peter to tell us what to do. I dont know how it is now, but we would organize the househe didnt want to do everything, all the bullshitthe way it worked was that artistic direction was no question, but in terms of logistics but there was interesting room for initiative and organization. John agreed that there had been a pre-ex isting hierarchy when he began working with the theater upon their move to Glover. And the model wasnt perfect: We formed the nucleus of a company, and were r eally tight for a decade, so that worked. But it was probably oppressive for people to come into that. Especially Trudi [Cohen] was really smart and places a premium on taking care of people. We all figured out our own ways of making it work. We also experienced times when thered be power stuff and one person would be close to Peter and would be interpreting Peters wishes to us in a not-nice way and wed resent that. It wasnt all milk and honey and everybody always happy. In terms of touring without Peter, we figured out this system that worked. Co. member Co. me mber Co. me mber Peter Schumann Fig. 1. The Bread and Puppet companys power structure, c. 1975-1985. Even if the model wasnt f oolproof, it helped the compa ny stay together for more than a decade. Provocatively, increased inter-puppeteer communication helped democratize the theaters operations by gi ving the puppeteers a way to collectively challenge Schumanns authority. Bell emphasized that the consensus process was hip at 111

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the tim e, especially in Vermont, where the theater was influenced by Larry Gordon, who organized the consensus-based Sacred Harp-bas ed Word of Mouth Chor us at a Plainfield commune called the New Hamburger. The informal meetings where individuals sing Shape Note music called Sings are a reliable space of communitas which Im sure made the consensus process that much more appealing. I experienced communitas during the summer in our daily post-meeting sings and at the weekly Northeast Kingdom Shape Note Sings Elka organizes in the New Buildin g. The anti-hierarchical processes of most Shape Note groupswhere anyone is able to select music and leadare glamorized by the soaring integrationary harmonies. Back to Bells explication of th eir early influence: We really consciously worked on this consensus stuff. That worked for us. And Peter always made fun of it because wed have so many meetings. He thought that was goofy. And it was, because he could come in and say, Well, lets do this But then, at a certain point, because we were pretty organized, we could say, We dont want to do it that way. And so sometimes youd be in opposition. The dynamics are in flux. Its always like that. We tried to organize things ourselves. Im sure it also had to do with the fact that wed been around for a while, too, and wed been working together, so that just made a difference. And there were people who left at some point, who didnt like it. The people who remained managed to find a way to get along. It wasnt necessarily that we were wonderful people. This consensus process began with that specific company. Yet it has again fallen by the wayside. In contrast to consensus, which utilizes a clear understanding of power distribution, recent company politics have been marked by a chaotic lack of attention to inter-puppeteer relations and subs equent decreased solidarity.93 The current situation ironically resembles inter-puppeteer conflicts of the late 1960s and early 1970s, before the consensus model had been implemente d, as documented by Stefan Brecht (Brecht 1988b:131-132) Maryann described the difference betw een a community-positive consensus 93 The 2007-2008 company was fraught with tension since its inception. I believe the main reason why puppeteers might not socially congeal has to do with the lack of structural consider ation, leading to different frameworks of viewing their individual and communal roles. 112

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approach typical to her orga nizations and Schum anns exhor tation that devotion to the project serve as a salve. As we spoke, she worked out some of her concerns: At the bye-bye meeting with the interns, someone suggested that we have just like twice-weekly breakout sessions to have check-in meetings to talk about peoples feelings, to see how people are doing, and to just go around in a circle and sa y how are you doing? An d check-ins are common in a lot of theater companies; in acting classes you sit there and talk about your feelings for 20 minutes. And Peter said, I really just encourage people to just go back to the work, and focus on the work, and all that stuff will work itself out, if youre all focusing on the work together. And I really want you to believe that. The little petty personal things will work themselves out by going back to the work and focusing to gether on the work, because we ha ve to keep moving, we have to keep working, because thats what is important about this place. And I thought, huh, thats so true; it does eventually get worked outnot necessarily in a forum, but one way or another. I had some issues with [one puppeteer ] last summer. She really pissed me off. She essentially accused me of stealing and lying in front of several people. And I was like, I dont want anything to do with you. And then this summer I just decided I wanted to start working with her on thingsand sometimes it was frustratingbut everything that [she] jumped into, I said I would do that act with you. And I love [her] now. We got along so well this summer. And it was so neat to just do that and feel that. Im learning, too, that not everything needs to be this big, sacred, ceremonial process where we sit down and pat each other on the back and check in with our feelings. That works for me, but that doesnt work for everybody. Maura Gahan told me of her experience at tempting to establish an informal but regular check-in meeting: Its just a moment to be present with one anothe r. It takes five minutes, and then were all on the same page as one another. It can even be like, Eh, I didnt sleep well last night, but its okay. Or, I feel great! And of course ther es a side of me thats a little suspicious, but then theres another side of me that really enjoyed that. The school that I went to, there was definitely more nurturing in that sense, because I think it was a resp ect and acknowledgement of your body having a response to your mental process. To be okay with itnot to indulge itbut at least address it and share that. So that people dont things personally and get offended. It helps get to the root of things better than if you dont talk about things and then it snowballs and things get out of your hands. I remember last year having some of the sparkles still on my eyeballs and maybe I forced it a little(Laughs) Maura told me that she is no longer interested in pursuing the check-i ns, partly because a part of her is hardened and a little bitter, which she said with a laugh. Maybe I would have a stronger interest in a touring company if that was different. I think theres a level of respect that gets lost when you dont do something like that. Or a level of friendship that could be maintained. I followed up, asking if the difficulty of the work would be lessened by intra-puppeteer soli darity. She confirmed: Thats why I look at this stuff and you sometimes think, This should be the perfect thing! Were riding around and living cheaply and doing great art and having fun. If you were to write down on 113

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a journal page, what were your daily activities, I would look at that and say, Hell yeah But when you go through that day and you experience it, its like why do I feel so angry? (Laughs) Why do I have the lowest self-esteem and Im so angry andthat persons eating my apple! (Laughs) Thats something Im trying to understand. What explains the presence of these hurt feelings? Daniel told me that the enormity of the project precludes any serious co nsideration of interpersonal affect or hurt feelings as worthy of consideration. He res ponded to another dualistic question of mine, this time between socialand personal-freedom: I would even say that the same thing with the art/politics dichotomyit seems a false dichotomy, because individual freedom in this sens e, especially in a society that is so individualistic and so absurdly focused on the idea of individual free dom, freedom to drive your car as much as you want, freedom to be as ignorant as you want. In th e sense that we invite 35 people that maybe the last thing they want to do or believe in is hold a cardboard horse and dance in a field, you do it anyway, because its whats best for the show. B ecause its what we want. And I think realizing that its not so much aboutwhen you have 50 individuals with different artistic interests and many different creative powers and abilities and desi res, its not about what you want. Its about the show. And there are ways to incorporate or feed off of what you want or individual desires. There are ways for that individual desire to manifest itself in the greater communal situation, but thats not the focus. And its not about giving that individual an experience or being focused on the individuals being, or wants, or desires, or emotional state. No. Its about the communal situation and specifically about a show thats being made with so many people. And theres definitely some reaction on our part to a univers ity situation, which is so individualistic and so catered to an individualist ideology. This is about something bigger. There are a number of factors making Bread and Puppets work especially difficult. The long hours and low pay, but also the amount of sublimation of ones creative instincts required by the totalitari an creative structure. Maura explained how satisfaction with work at Bread and Puppe t relies on ones frame: someone who sought personal satisfaction or a venue for self-expres sion would be badly disappointed. What is required is devotion to the project: I dont think you can be here and have a differen t agenda than that. If you do, youre gonna suffer really bad. Because thats part of what youre saying youre gonna accept when you join the company. And so I think when people find that they need more than that, thats when they have to leave. Its so intense. There are moments when you step out and you say, Wow, a year of my life has gone by. Its not flattering work. Its a thing where I have gotten to know more of what my privilege is, what Ive been born intoas an America, being born in a middle-class family, and being white. Theres moments where I realize how because of what I was born into, I do have the option of finding a different job or doing something else or whatever, and then experiencing some immediate physical luxury of whatever. The fact that I have that option. But choosing not to go there is awakening. I feel like, how much are other people sacrificing? 114

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As she notes, the devotion requ ires large sacrifices for political and practical reasons. Furthermore, regarding personal satisfaction: It requires a lot of energy and a lot of delega ting. A lot of organizational skills. A lot of sheep work. To put on the pageant. Youre not personally doing a whole lot. You may be holding a scythe and doing this movement. For me, for my background, thats not a lot. But you know youre doing this because the bigger picture is much more powerful. So theres a degree of satisfaction youre never going to achieve. I just used movement terms, but you can apply it in other ways. I used to paint a lot. I dont do that any more. Schumann looks around at participants fo r talents and skillf ully utilizes them; these talent-materials alter the expression of Schumanns vision but re main solidly within the jurisdiction of his directorial authority. Th ere is little room for unmediated personal expression, 94 save for pre-circus Ding Dongs. Th e circuses, which were originally intended to give puppeteers a space for expression outside of Schumanns rubric, are problematic because Schumann still edits these acts to his liking and because the circus is a conservative form that only allows specific formulaic expression. Furthermore, the theaters constant negativ e appraisal of the po litical situation, the unforgiving confrontation with horrifying truths, has a way of wearing on ones soul, as Maura hesitantly explained: I think being at this placeI feel like I was really nave in a lot of ways and in some ways I dont even know how I was nave, but I f eel like thats been aired out. I f eel like this place is very raw. It hasfor myself personallybrought me some great highs and some really terrific lows. And its exposed a lot of sides of myself I didnt even know I had. And its interesting because its not like Ive been to war (laughs) but I feel like Ive been completely humbled in this way, and then Ive had the sparkles brushed off of my eyes about life. I think I used to have a very optimistic natureand I still have some of that optimismbutI feel that its good. Its just real I think it could be really dangerous in th at you have to keep yourself monitored ar ound this place. When 94 I was under the initial impression that the majority of the puppeteers who leave to start their own companies do so in bitter resentment of Schumanns monopoly, but this was a false hypothesis. For the most part, those who leave to start their own companies do so out of desire to equalize personal artistic visions with Schumanns overwhelming aesthetic, whic h has a way of monopolizing ones artistry. These puppeteers want to use the Bread an d Puppet framework to find their own voice both as a private mitzvah and as a loving tribute to Schumanns influence on them as artists and individuals. Of course, many people begin working with Peter and immediately forgo any notions of being artists. As Linda Elbow said, In terms of my own work, as soon as I started working with Peter, I said, Why am I wasting my time? [Doing Peters art] pretty much satisfied me. 115

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you are just dealing with mindset and trying to really understand things, and with that understanding, theres a lot that doesnt make sense, and its horrible You are surrounding yourself with lots of horrible information a lot. It s hard to not let that affect your spirit. For me, anyways. It is unlikely that the theat er will ever choose to engage with new possibilities for power structure or contest their accidental/f unctional hierarchies. Bread and Puppet is an organization that does exceptionally hard work a nd assumes that stress is a natural part of that process, but the collective devotion to Schumanns work (and charismatic mission) has great potential as a mediator. While political in nature, the process of consensus decision-making is also an emotional method of maintaining community through consciously valuing each participants input. Although it may not be the most functional of systems, it is designed as a way to take care of every member of a group and preclude the establishment of hierarchy. It is a reflection of the psyc hological oppression implicit in unjust power systemsto a politics that re nders ones input either re placeable or irrelevant, the consensus process says, yes, your experience matters Contrarily, puppeteer Daniel McNamarawho is generally opposed to both consensus processes and check-in meetingssees Bread and Puppets continuing wo rk within an antistr uctural situ ation as a testament to human possibility: We prove something really radical. We show: Look at we can do! Look at what you can do! Look at all of these people living in an unr easonably small space with an unreasonably small kitchen and an unreasonably un-institutionalized s ituation, a totally unorganized structure, and mostly anarchical organization as far as how thin gs that are going to be done and accomplished; rules that are always changing; a core staff that is always changing, and yet still so much is still getting done. I mean, that in itself is an amazing message of possibility to a society that seems so intent on only allowing super-hyper-organized and hyper-sterilized institutions to get anything done. So, BP, in that essence, shows society in a ve ry major way, if it had the courage to look at us and actually take it seriously and really appreciate what there is here, but it doesnt. It doesnt have that courage, or that ability, that interest. If it did, it would be clearlook at whats possible! Look at how much more is possible than what you think, instead of the idea that, Oh, if things arent perfectly controlled and organized, its going to descend into totally maddening chaos and everything will disintegrate into total an archy and destruction. No. Its false. 116

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To Daniel, problems arise because people arent properly educated to handle situations in which control is not the consta nt. I asked him whether the high turnover rate and emotional intensity could be ameliorated by an increased attenti on to structure. He responded in charismatic terms: Its both the power of Bread and Puppet and the power of society (chuckles) Because most people that end up coming here have already been through so many years of education and it takes seriously unlearning of so much to be able to rea lly be happy here and to really appreciate and live deliberately, to really be productive hereyou have to unlearn so much So many false assumptionsfor me, Ive had to unlearn things, and the more Im able to unlearn those things that school taught me, or university tried to teach methat there are ways that things have to function or work and you just let that go, and you see that its still okay. But I just think thats hard, and it weighs on people. And the way things work around here, even the cultural values that are in so many ways different than the broader cultures values that its very difficult to maintain an alternate view, especially as y ou become faced with the reality of entering back into that world, because then its just hard. Similarly, Volunteer Melissa Ann Clark explained some of the problems interns experience as cultural. She argued that the distance between the Bread and Puppet lifestyle and that of its participants in the outside world generates conflicts: I see a lot of people who come here as interns who eat a lot of really bad junk food. I know thats silly, but I think some peoples reality is very differe nt from what is here and that is hard. Forget the art, just coming from Philadelphia or somewhere and youre a college student and you live in a dorm and eat dorm food and you go out to bars and drink beer. And then you come here for the summer and you have to live and work with 60 other people? I think thats really hard for people. They dont know how to make that fit Everythi ng that systematically wo rks in the other world that were a part of thats not th is place, just trash and dumpsters and having to go to the store and buy food (laughs) and having a job and having to make money and sustain yourself. I know that that sounds silly, because its not that I cant do those things, but it becomes harder to swallow when you know that its not necessary to live that way. And having to interact with people who arent on that wavelength at all and are so consumer-minded and totally overwhelmed by TV and that kind of reality. They dont seem to understand where youre coming from all, so I feel there can be a lot of social disconnect, too. III. THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT SET YOU FREE, CHORES WILL SET YOU FREE!: UTOPIA AND COMMUNITAS Despite evidence Ive presented to the contrary, Bread and Puppet has in many ways pursued the spatio-temporalization of communitas, from its Shape Note sings to the 117

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Pine Forest Mem orial. The concept of utopia inevitably arises when discussing the theater with non-participants, ranging from thos e who have merely hear d of the theater to long-term audience members. Though many of the external signifiers of the company appear utopian, there are differences. Not only is Bread and Puppet occasionally frustratingly chaotic, but also its focus is external, meaning that Bread and Puppet primarily serves its art, instead of establis hing a deliberate lifestyle and producing art as a positive outgrowth of that lifestyle. There is a corresponding lifestyle, but the so-called utopian elements are a means to production, or being able to better respond to the present moment. Puppeteer Daniel McNa mara argued against the concept of utopia : Its not utopian at all. Its pragmaticUtopian is idealism, and idealism is something Nietzsche was definitely against (laughs) .95 We are definitely against idealism, because its bullshitPeter presents reality in his art. Ideal is perfection. Ut opia implies perfection, a better place, a paradise, a heaven that isnt here, thats not attainable. Art presents what was right here in front of us, a reality in all of its glory and its incredible eu phoria and ecstasy and brutality and ugliness and its reality. I asked Daniel about the phrase another world is possible, printed on a number of Bread and Puppet flyers: A nother world is possible is here. That world is here. Its right in front of us. Were all looking for another world. Thats why this world is insufferable. We should make this world so th at it lasts. Rather than disqualifying the association, he seems to have strengthened it! Due to charismas subversiveness and emphasis on duty and belief, the Bread and Puppet Theater is primed for deliberate, idea listic social engineer ing. The aforementioned distinction between internal and external focus notwithstanding, Schumanns project is cultural in orientation and has ipso facto imp lications for lifestyle, as the company lives in coordination with aesthetic principles in conjunction with theater production. 95 Daniel and I had been discussing Nietzsches influence on Schumann. 118

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An exa mple is the theaters disapproval of recorded music, which disapproval functions as a method of control denaturalizing relations to cultural information and products outside of the Bread and Puppet aesthetic program. The stance against recorded music was never fully articulated, but one puppe teer called it commercial and false. On a deeper level, I see musical experience as an integral part of Bread and Puppets spatio-temporalization of the habitus. Rath er than escaping to our respective worlds outside of Bread and Puppet, music becomes integrated into our collective experience. Musical director and chief an ti-recorded music proponent Daniel McNamara insisted that if interns wanted to hear music, they go to the Music Room, pick up a junk cello and play. Thus, the disapproval becomes part of the theaters cultural propaganda program. This encouragement of collec tive creation connects to the democratic Cheap Art ideal, but more importantly, it subsumes any artistic expression within the theaters paradigmatic determination of aesthetic e xperience. This opposition, part of a general disdain for modern cultural matter (e.g. fa shion, showers, candy) as opposed to its deliberate pre-modern aesthetic, remains a recognized orthodox construction. It never becomes what Bourdieu calls doxa or that quasi-perfect correspondence between the objective order and the subjective principles of organization[where] the natural and social world appears as self-evident (B ourdieu 1977:164). The disapproval of recorded music is challenged, for orthodoxy is the imperfect attempt to recreate the commonsense universe of the doxa (1977:169). While the expectation of a lifestyle shift was fascinating for many interns, it becam e a field of resistance for others, where Bread and Puppets charismatic demands and th e rights of the interns to bring their personalities into the project collided. On e 2007 intern who became disillusioned and 119

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socially withdrew began lis tening to he r mp3 player in communal space, in full knowledge of the acts transg ression. For some puppeteers and interns, she was an apostate; her protest a nasty refusal to partic ipate in the internship s social engineering, during which many young people willingly forw ent familiar objects and practices of life outside of the farm. This intern had disengaged with the orthodoxy, which meant a disengagement from the group. Another youn g 2007 intern, unfamili ar with eating vegetarian, secretly consumed roast beef sandwiches in his pick up truck during lunch and dinner bought at nearby Curriers Market. This intern apologetically left after his first week. This situation, however defined by the dominance of the recorded music disapproval, exists within a universe of discourse defi ned by the dialectic of the orthodox and the heterodox, or the reality of choice on the part of interns (1977:168). Another example of symbolic communal rituals is the daily morning and afternoon meetings for the enti re group. There are separate st aff meetings in addition to these group meetings. One staff member calle d the group meetings a joke due to the extent of planning and discussion in the st aff meetings, whereas the group meetings are largely symbolic gestures of inclusive comm unity affirmation for interns and non-staff. Yet some collective planning does occur.96 Another example is the Sing that follows the morning meeting, which is not a warm-up for the day (singing is not a common element of daily labor), but a framework for musical communitas, the seeking of transcendence through revelatory Shape Note hymns, somb er Georgian drinking songs, and rounds. These songs are intended to ritualize communitas, th rough collective spiritual thanksgiving, bittersweet tribute, or playfu l fun. These three styles are also meant for 96 This distinction gets harder to maintain, however, as the numbers of non-staff shrink. At one point in August 2008, the staff ( paid) outnumbered the volunteers ( paying ), making the staff meetings seem exclusionary and the group meetings subject to private resentment. 120

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am ateurs, which has tacit communitarian valu e. The Sing is additionally an important affirmation of Sing director and organizer Elka Schumanns value to the theater. Mutualism is firmly practiced with regard to choresthere are chore charts for work such as maintaining the costume room the band room, and outhouses. There is a special chart for the cooking of lunch and dinner (under the cooks direction, except for Sunday and Monday, when puppeteers organize meals) and the cleaning after meals, which has its own set of rituals. These include the use of a large tub filled with water for pre-rinsing dishes to be used before the person gives his/her dishes to the lunch or dinner crew, and always in a timely manner. One 2008 volunteer, who was an intern the same year as a few members of su mmer staff and the company, was a particularly slow eater taking hours to eat his foodand he understood the tacit implication that he would be cleaning his own dishes rather than having the clean-up crew either wait for him or go back and finish cleaning after they had stopped. The Chores cantastoria by the Modern Times Theater (Rose Friedman and Justin Lander) is helpful when considering the meani ng of hard work for the theater (Appendix 7).97 The cantastoria begins with a reclama tion of the word chore by the Rural Persons Verbal R eclamation Front,98 meaning to situate hard work (i.e. D.I.Y. physical labor) as a principle of freedom Bread and Puppet reverses the hierarchy of intellectual work and manual labor, seeing the latter as a prerequisite for the former. The unceasing poverty and collectivized nature of labor on the farm necessitate a different economic 97 Modern Times sells a print with the line, The government will not set you free, chores will set you free, taken from the Chores text. I bought one and placed it above one of my work desks at home. One of my housemates was disturbed upon seeing it; she told me that it sounded like Auschwitz ( Arbeit macht frei ). Like the rest of my historico-cultural digging during my research, this complicated (negatively) the simplicity of the presented message. In this instance, it changed my understanding of hard work as a historical and political signifier. 98 In the great tradition of presidential definition reinvention 121

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philosophy.99 In my experience, the touring comp any was never closer than while we were moving firewood, or felling unsteady tree s near the Memorial Village in the pine forest, or as we prepared for the theaters memorial service for Grace Paley by cooking meals, filling the New Building with old wooden benches and tables, and making bouquets from the farms flowers to be pl aced around the service area in the Memorial Village. Meals are firmly orderedlunch is served reliably at noon and dinner at 6:00 every day, except on the cooks days off, wh en times might vary. The bell that hangs above the museum barn is rung to alert all pa rticipants. Meals are taken outside if weather permits. Usually the two large picnic tables fill with people first, though some puppeteers chose to sit in the shade underneath a small tree in front of the screen door leading to the puppeteers house. A small number choose to eat away from the group, either outside or inside, such as the lower kitchen. In the event of rain, which was an almost daily burden in the summer of 2008, the lower kitchen becomes the lunch spot, tables and chairs filling up, the room overflowing with eaters. Spots ar e never saved: if someone gets up for seconds, the spot is immediately taken. And seconds have their rules as well: everyone has firsts before the seconds vultures are allo wed to pick away at the last bits of food. One of the most powerful and important cu ltural symbols within the theater is bread. The consumption of Peters sourdough br ead and aioli (a spicy mixture of raw garlic, olive oil, and parsley) is enormously important for the theater in symbolic terms, and has been discussed by probably every pers on who has ever written on the theater and asked, Why the phrase bread a nd puppet? But the bread and ai oli play an internal role 99 This is firmed up by the popularity of writers su ch as Scott Nearing, Grace Paley and Wendell Berry, whose writings extol labor, especially rural labor, as part and parcel of the good life on the farm. 122

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that is jus t as important for the theaters pa rticipants as they do for the shows audiences. The consumption of bread and aioli at l unch and dinner is a process by which the theaters participan ts imbibe of the theaters mythology. It is an act of commitment to the values of the esta blished order, a commitment mechanism And Peters bread is not like store-bought bread. Although he makes different kinds, the two most commonly served are the savory, chewy standard sourdough rye bread (served at shows), and pumpernickel. The pumpernickel is made from a German recipe and the resulting flavor and texture are very unfamiliar. The mixt ure of rye flour (using a sourdough base, as usual) and whole rye berries pr oduces a remarkably dense, mo ist, semi-sweet bread more like cake than the standard American bread, which Peter always mocks as made from typical rotten American flour. The sourdoug h rye (which is very different from its standard American counterpart) is far more popular than the pumpe rnickel, which is reserved for more hardcore puppeteers. Vo luntary consumption of the pumpernickel establishes immediate credibility. The aioli is made from innumerable cloves of garlic smashed with a baseball bat in a hollowed-out tree stump, copious amounts of olive oil, and a veritable forest of parsley. It is an equally powerful gastronomic experience; eating it is like being punched in the mouth by raw garlic. The first time I consumed aioli in 2007, I issued a cry of surprise, echoed by the othe r interns. The heat of the aioli can be a matter of pride for its producers and consumers. The heat varies depending on who oversees the process, as well as the ratio of garlic/olive oil/parsley, which is never exact. On certain days when the heat becomes extreme, the cook puts up a note on cardboard above it, reading, Warning! St rong aioli! Eat with caution! Some proudly continue to slop the aioli across their bread, others do so with caution, using only little drips of it or 123

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m ixing it with the cultured butter favored for the pumpernickel. On tour in 2007, the puppeteer in charge of aioli production announced her stated mission to test the audiences tolerance for the heat of raw garlic. After a gig at Appalachian State University, even the puppeteers werent ab le to eat it. She changed the ratio. Like some utopian communities, the Bread and Puppet farm has holy sites. The Pine Forest Memorial is the best example of a sacred spac e as well as being a powerful site-specific environmental artwork (Fig. 2). Set on a slope of one section of the farms pine forest, on top of ground two inches deep with pine needles, the theater has erected a small village to puppeteers and friends of the theater who have died. The houses that comprise the village are made from derelict boards, old logs and old rusted tin sheets Fig. 2. The Pine Forest Memorial, with benches set up for Grace Paleys memorial in 2007. 124

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Fig. 3 and 4. Houses in the memorial village. comprise the village are made from derelict boards, old logs and ol d rusted tin sheets whatever was lying around at the moment of the houses creation. Each one is decorated differently. One house is surrounded by and filled with uncanny cement heads made by Schumann (Fig. 3). Another has many small, tin squares, painted in blue and green, with yellow bugles; a veritable bugle regiment at the front door (Fig. 4). Many of the houses have framed photographs inside, one has a sing le chair, another a framed letter to the deceased person from a friend. These structures are essentially Cheap Art spirit houses, where the theaters ancestors are enshrined to protect and maintain Bread and Puppets participants. The Memorial also includes a bicycle strung between two trees more than 20 feet in the air, a large wooden pol e with intersecting boards pain ted with the names of Peter and Elkas deceased family members and early puppeteer friends. It is a powerful 125

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rem inder of the holiness of Bread and Puppets cr aft. It has only been used for memorial services, such as the one I pa rticipated in for writer Gra ce Paley in 2007, which use the beauty of the landscape in the method of the pageant, painting bucolic images with flying white bird puppets and marching brass bands, but the event transforms the Village into a private, internally recuperative mythico-ritual space. Now consider the history of utopian values, identified by Rosabeth Moss Kantor (1972) as perfectibility, order, brother hood, unity of body and mind, experimentation, coherence as a group, and relati on to reality. With the exceptio n of perfectibility, which is too polluted by Schumanns moral ambiguity and realistic sense of the human refusal to change, these qualities apply to the so cial engineering I have illustrated: Order refers to the full prediction of the ut opian society, as oppos ed to the chaotic uncertainness of the surrounding world. Meani ng is obtained in the utopian community from the knowledge that all events within th e community have a purpose in terms of the beliefs and values of the gr oup (Kantor 1972:39). By implication, a persons occupation refusal to work or other perceived irres ponsibilities or immoralities are functionally disruptive. Order necessitates external control. If it is valued, there must be a control center with enough power to dictate what is to be controlled and to enforce this prescription. Kantor explains the existence of control in relation to planning: Control for the utopian community is defined by the centralized coordination of activities that bring, from the utopians point of view, all soci al forces into harmonyPlanning extends to other aspects of community affairsso that activities are complementary and mutually reinforcing (1972:40). This hearkens to B ourdieus sense of productive relations as structuring representations that rein force underlying structural logic. 126

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Brotherhood (or m utualism) is the practice of egalitarian spirit. Property, food, and money are shared. The orchestration (or synchronization) of rituals meaning to reaffirm the communitys sense of collective self and commitment is a part of this category. Kantor calls these rituals often th e most significant and important aspect of community life to members, for it is here th at the higher, transce ndent meaning of living in utopia is affirmed (1972:47). There are obvious ritual even ts in the theater, such as the memorials, but daily work tasks are e qually significant. John Bell writes that the deliberate delegation of work began with th e massive organizational task that was the Domestic Resurrection Circus: The organiza tional structure within the Bread and Puppet Theater developed in response to the requirements of the Circus organically (as it were) in an anarchistic fashion, which is to say, in response to situations as they developed, with individual members of various committ ees taking on responsibilities as they saw fitThis organizational democracy was quite di fferent from the artistic leadership of Bread and Puppet, which remained clearl y the purview of Peter Schumann (Bell 2001:59). This delegation of tasks (e.g. outhou se maintenance, costume room cleaning, aioli production) remains important; i ndividuals sign-up for specific tasks. Unity of body and mind refers to the embodiment of a communitarian spirit, in which hard work becomes necessary for mental health and self-actualization. The Shaker dance is an example of the manifestation of the spirit thr ough physical movement (1972:50). This embodied, e/motional practice is reified in the Lubberland project, as well as the Sings. Regarding experimentation Kantor writes that the radical social departure of the utopian project allows commu nities to deviate from matters trivial and serious (1972:51). She does not relate the po int that experimentation in any utopian 127

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community is in a constant dialectic with or der. Therefore, devian ce would be rare and, while neces sarily instigated on an individual basis, its practice is part of a controlled structural program imbued with social mean ing. At Bread and Puppet, the propagation of Humanure100 through the theaters Poop-A-Ma-Tron outhouses101 was accepted collectively after two puppeteer s familiar with the process made a case for converting the puppeteer outhouses. The maintenance of a nd education on the Humanure outhouses is now an integral part of the internship. Coherence as a group refers to the tacit inten tionality of the organization, including who does and doesnt belong, where the geographical and social boundaries lie for a community, and what collective valu es are (1972:53). Utopians expect total coherence between their values and their way of life, seeking an idealized narrowing of distance between social stru cture and personal psychologica l organization. What utopians yearn for is what Bourdieu calls the natural ization of the structur e, or the transition from a universe of discourse in which or thodoxy/heterodoxy are contrasted to the doxa where structures become naturalized a nd commonsense (Bourdieu 1977:164-169). This is quite difficult considering the reactivity of the genesis of the utopi an project. Consider Daniels previous assertion c onnection of high turnover to the lack of social preparation for the theaters radical lifestyle, causing psychic difficulty. This is based on the participants sense of difference between Br ead and Puppets world and its alternatives. The theater encourages structural and cu ltural naturalization through emphasis on coherence. Similarly, relation to reality refers to the belief systems surrounding the 100 This neologism was coined by Joseph Jenkins; see The Humanure Handbook (1994). 101 The Poop-A-Ma-Tron outhouses are solely used by company members and interns. The theater has standard hole-in-the-ground outhouses for audiences at its shows, who may not have the time or stomach for unloading an (ideally) full bucket of decomposin g human feces in urine onto a gigantic pile, then covering the entire thing in hay taken from the muddy ground. 128

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legitim ation of the idealized social structur e. In the utopian project, these ideals as historically opposed to, for example, Hobbesian and Darwinian thought via the naturalization of cooperation through what Bourdieu calls symbolically structuring structures, the active representation of ideal interactions which in turn engender those desired interactions (1972). All of these values require total faith in the realism of the structure, or the naturalization of [the esta blished orders] own arbitrar iness (Bourdieu 1977:164). The desired result of utopia implies the sacrific e of differentiation, as personal choice and belief are suppressed in favor of collective unity in shared purpose. Rose described the revolutionary character of this emphasis on community: Its incredibly interesting anthropologically and socially and emotionally, to be in it and see how people are with each other and what happens and what comes out of it, good and bad and ugly and everything. And Ive never lived in a high-functioning collective, but ones that Ive read about and visited, its a little more mandated, and so seems a little more narrowwhat the outcome can be. Here, its frightening, I find, but also really exciting. There were times when I felt like the whole thing was really out of control, and it made me rea lly anxious, and I felt like I wanted to reign it in and put more rules down and I wanted to make sure that these things couldnt just spiral off into oblivion. But at the same time, theres a certain thin g that you have to learn, which is to let go. I think its good for you, and its good for what can come out of that, in a positive way. You see just incredible things happening between people, and then people inventing these projects and making things up. I like the freedom of that, even though it makes the thing really messy, and people do have these total freak-outsand people are fighting a ll the time. It can be totally ugly, but the fact that the theater is first is wh at dictates the whole thing. This clearly invokes Turners sense of th e anti-structure as the source of new cultural forms or seedbeds of cultural creativity, a binarism of order supported by disorder (Turner 1982:28). Ultimately, according to Turner, the anti-structure is neutral, equally capable of generating new relations and enforcing oppressive orders: Antistructure, in fact, can generate and store a plurality of alternative models of living, from utopias to programs, which are capable of influencing the behavior of those in mainstream social and political roles (whether authoritative or dependent, in control or rebelling against it) in the direction of radical change, just as much as they can serve as 129

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instrum ents of political control (1982:33). Rose looks at her own experience with the Bread and Puppet Theater and see possibilities for genuine transformation in other participants: I think it puts everything into relation. Everything is relative in terms of what your real needs are, your desires, and who you are as a person, wh at privacy is, and what sharing is. Everybody thinks theyre generous (laughs) everybody thinks they have relatively simple needs, but you dont have any real concept of that. And it amazes it, when I think about it, that peopl e dont really get that until theyre parents. You get it when youre a kid, sort of, because thats kind of a collective household, but because youre a kid, its so different. I feel like th is kind of situation can equip people in a different way than what life is. We of ten say its [the theater] removed from reality, but actually, a lot of systemized American education and your upbringing and what youre supposed to do, the path youre supposed to follow, is much more outside of reality than living with 20 other people in a big house. Bread and Puppets community tries to re present what is possible, a deliberate social goal that some might call utopian. Rose again: One of things that I think is great about this place, is that it teaches you what could be possible in a real community. Just in how people carry each othe r along. And the fact that it happens in such a rural and remote place is so exciting, because I feel like people pass through here and theyre enlightened to whats possible in the rural setti ng, because you dont imag ine that such social interaction and exposure is possible, and also th at so much supporteven artisticallythat there are so many artists around is incredible. Thats by virtue of the fact that Bread and Puppet is here, but its amazing anyway. I was just in class, becaus e I started graduate school. I was in this class and we were talking about the individual versus the social group. We were talking about John Dewey and stuff, and he was really about the social group. There was this really intense conversation that I got into. It was in the class, but it was really just me and this other guy. He was saying, I really think Dewey is missing this individualistic thing. We are individuals. He sounded really fascist to me. There was an overtone that was really scary. And I said, I really think youre missing the point. The whole problem with American education, in a way, is that competitive, individualistic sport aspect. And theres almost nothing left in our culture thats about community. The only way people know community is church, and if you didnt grow up with a church or some really fantastic small town of which there are very few left, then what do you have to go on? And if you dont have any practical experience of that, you have nothing. And I often feel really lucky for having this experien ce, but I felt extremely lu cky at that moment, and felt like every single person should have to live in a commune or a collective household for some period of time in their life. VI. SOME CONCLUSIONS Ultimately, I find the theater to be a fa scinating example of a countercultural institution, an inherently contradictory en terprise leaving room for irony. The changing nature of internal authority c ould be creating new challenges. 130

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In the CBC docum entary Puppet Uprising (2003), Marc Estrin tells a story of a tour in the early 1970s which neatly elucidates the philo sophy behind into the issues I have been exploring. At th e end of this tour, which wa s typically exhausting, everyone was tired, sick, in physical pa in, feeling emotionally drained. The puppeteers complained to Peter: But were unhappy! Peter sat puffing on his pipe for a moment of silence, then said plainly, Happiness is not important. Marc expounds: [What a] show stopper. And its given me a lot to think about. And I tend to agree. And I think that people who work for long times with Bread and Puppet ha ve toin some wayembrace that value. Happiness is not important. The work is so intense and so hard and so unending and the conditions are so fierce usually and its anonymous work by and large so people dont get the payoff of being famous or personalities or having reviews they can send to their moms in the paper. The traditional dimensions of happiness often are not honored. Theres another kind of happiness. This theater couldnt have existed for 40 years now if people were not in some way made very, very happy by working there, but its still true that this is not important in Bread and Puppet. (CBC and Cayley 2003) Because happiness is deprioritized, Maur a Gahan searches for a coping method, whether through group check-ins or pe rsonal psychological readjustment: Its a fine balance, because theres a certain poi nt when there are so many people coming in and out of hereincluding puppeteersand peoples emotions are so all over the board. If you were to accommodate everyones emotions, you woul dnt get anything done because youd be wallowing in emotion. And because I think Peter thinks in a big scope. Because this is his company, I think that philosophy trickles down. Maybe it trickles down into how the company is structured, how it functions. I definitely understand how theres a fine line between checking-in in a positive way and then overindulging. We also are humans and sometimes you have a bad day, and you have to learn how to deal with ithow to cry for a second and then deal with it. 131

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Chapter 5. The future. One of the central questions asked about the Bread and Puppet Theater concerns its consistency and longevity: How has the theater stayed true to its principles for so long? Moreover, how has the theater stayed at all? The theater shocks in its continuation in the face of overwhelming challenges, incl uding very serious social, historical, and artistic isolation. The theaters secret of longev ity is simple: its long and fruitful history is due to Peter Schumann, specifically the strengt h of his vision and the dynamic interplay of his stubborn confidence and humility. Although Bread and Puppets charismatic heterarchy may not be able to ameliorate a ll internal conflict, th e power of Schumanns work helps participants gloss over inte rpersonal dissonances and other political contradictions. This amelioratory power relies on Schumanns inspiration, both for himself and as something passed on to the puppet eers. It would be hard to predict what the theater could have be en with a less oligarch ic creative orientation. Schumanns authoritarianism is ironic, considering the humility he expresses concerning his contribution to art and to society. Although he sees the work as necessary on some small levelnecessary for him, necessary to this or that situationhe doesnt see it as the world-defining force of many participants worlds. He sees art and engagement as human responsibilities without expectation of immediate transformation. It is a difficult hope that defines Schumanns attitude and, by extension, the attitude of his compatriots. Difficult hope refers to the will to act in an existential situation riddled with moral impossibilities and abject horro rs. Despite the problems implicit in post132

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Auschwitz represen tational art, Schumann forg es new channels to revive a human culture that dares to actualize what it dreams of. Wendell Berry accurately describes the Bread and Puppet Theaters complex position in hi s essay A Poem of Difficult Hope: Much protest is naive; it expects quick, visible improvement and despairs and gives up when such improvement does not come. Protesters who hold out for longer have perhaps understood that success is not the proper goal. If protest depended on success, there would be little protest of any durability or significance. History simply affords too little evidence that anyone's individual protest is of any use. Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualitie s in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence (Berry 1990:62). I. O Captain! My Captain! The causality I locate between Schum anns vision and Bread and Puppets longevity raises a very serious question: if Schumann comprises the creative and philosophical locus of the theater, what happens when he is gone? At the 2006 Bread and Puppet Theater annual meeting, a question was broached which never had been raised before: what happens when Peter dies? This despite Schumanns remarkable health.102 Elkas age is also a factor, and her health is not quite that of her husbands. Her death could be an irreconcilable emotional blow to the entire Bread a nd Puppet community, as well as a structural tragedy, as the theat er completely depends on Elkas ceaseless behind-the-scenes work. But the focus of th e meeting was the death of Peter Schumann, prophet and director of Bread and Puppet. Schumann explained some of his concerns 102 Here is example of Schumanns physical strength: in 2006, we were creating an act featuring a dance by the 15-foot tall Washerwoman puppet. Jason Hicks was manipulating the rod puppet, which he wore locked into a holster on the chest of a harness, bu t it was tremendously heavy puppet and he was struggling with it. Schumann then put Noah Harrell into the contraption. Noah and Jason are both strapping young puppeteers. Schumann was still unhappy, yelling at Noah to move faster and use his legs more creatively. After continued exasperation and yelling, Schumann stormed over to Noah, manually lifted the puppet out of its holster and began stomping and jumping around, swinging it to the left and right in a beautiful dance. 133

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about the process of posthum ous reorderi ng during an interview I co-conducted with Greg Cook in the summer of 2008: My role in the future has to be discussed, becau se Im getting older. This discussion is taking place; it started with the last annual meeting a nd its going on this summer and its going to continue until we find some formulas of agreement of what will happen. There are possibilities of reorganizing the theater into something that survives beyond me. Is that desirable or not? Its the theater, but its also the museum. Its not only the museum, its also the print shop. Its not only the print shop, its also the archives. Its not only the archives, its also the storage. Its also the Hiroshima garden. Its also the memorial in the pine forest. Its also the big people who left this place and have worked here a lot. Its a lot of th ings...Im trying to find [ideas]. Im trying to be fair. I have to find something that is not only to my liking but that is a balanced liking of these different participants in this line of thought. There is my family, who is thinking about this, there is the old timers, the Geezers, the younger folks. There are different levels of peoples interest. The end of the Bread and Puppet Theater w ouldnt simply mean the demise of the theaters productive output, it would require a systematic treatment of related materials. While Schumann lives, there is an organiza tional rubric tying together corporeal ( stuff ) and incorporeal ( inspiration ) elements, but the cessation of one field would have drastic implications for the other. During our interview, Greg Cook expresse d an impression that Schumann saw his work as ephemeral, implying a link between hi s lifetime and the theaters lifetime and the belief that posthumous work woul d be not only inappropriate but irrelevant. Schumann clarified Gregs idea: I think you didnt misunderstand, but that isnt good enough. Its too easy. There must be something invented before I step out or down or under, whichever way, and it depends on lots of discussions with lots of people. This is a standard problem of the routin ization of charisma, an element which is naturally ephemeral and, when systematized, produces a structure in constant irregular inclinations towards dissolution, traditional au thority, or rational/leg al authority (Weber 1947:364). Likewise, the event of Schumanns demise would mirror any scenario involving the death of a charismatic leader, with the likeliest results being (a) the collapse 134

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of the kingdom or (b) a move towards a ne w kind of authority, either (1) collectively defined or (2) using remnants of the ol d structure through the election of certain charismatic protgs. With (2), the lead ership would likely be comprised of a combination of current puppeteers and Bread and Puppet old guard. This group might create new works under the same name, alter the name (The Bread and Puppet Museum Troupe), but no matter which name, the creatio n of new works intentionally associated with Bread and Puppet would requi re a level of authorial aud acity many participants find inappropriate, considering how Schumanns specif ic directorial vision is present in each little moment of the entirety of Bread and Puppets body of work. A repertory company is more likely, although this idea is not wit hout its problems: t hough Schumann avoids expressing his opinion, he expressed some practical concerns: Thats another one of these prolongation ideas, to create repertory. We havent done that and with us repertory is very uneasy, very difficult because we dont have good documentation and then the pieces are not documentable very easily because they change so much, and they are not scripted. Or if so, the scripts get lost. The scripting is not the basis of them, sculpture is more the basis of them. Often the puppets are destroyed and theref ore not possible. Or the whole setting in which they took place is destroyed. Its difficult to thi nk of. Or the memory of people who have been in them who would be able to recreate the pieces. The performance of repertory works seems increasing likely, as the younger companies inheriting the theaters legacies are interested in the revival of these historic shows alongside the creation of new works. In 2009, Bread and Puppet began touring The Sourdough Philosophy Cabaret, a blend of new material w ith older shows, including King Story, Schumanns first significant puppet show This repertory question reveals much about Schumanns art. Although certa in Bread and Puppet shows have been redone,103 there are complications because the surviving records are generally mental, as he stated. For many theater or dance compan ies based around a singular personality, the 103 E.g. Joan of Arc Grey Lady Cantata #2, Mississippi The Dirt Cheap Opera. 135

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death of this leader usually leads to the cr eation of new wor k creat ed in accordance with the leaders aesthetic theories along with the continued revi val of older shows from the repertory. This is evident in the dance co mpanies of Graham and Cunningham. John Bell extrapolated on the difference between Schumann and these other artists: Its likethere didnt need to be another Kandinsky after Kandinsky died. There were other things that happened that were influenced by Kandinsky. Peters avoided that with the way he teaches Bread and Puppet stuff. Bread an d Puppet has always done worksh ops and stuff like that and at a certain point I remember Anne Bogart started th e CT Company and starte d doing these workshops in Skidmore and really started promulgating View points theory, which these choreographers in New York had invented. Or Augusto Boal, who is also about Peters age; Boal started whats now called TO. Its a system. Viewpoints is a system You can teach it. Its like one of those acting techniquesyou can become a trai ned, registered, licensed person. Peters always avoided that. Hes never said, These are the six principles of puppet theater and heres the book and this is what it is and this is how it works and these are the rules. Bell recognizes that Schumanns work ha s certain propositions embedded in it: If you think about it, there are very interesting choi ces. Its the way he appr oaches it, or theres a Bread and Puppet aesthetic that follows certain ideas of how you use masks and puppets or ways of approaching these questions of political theater weve been talking about. But he hasnt been interested in establishing a school the way that, say, Bogart or Boal have in terms of a body of knowledgeThis is how we do it. Some of that happens, but its not his goal to have that system. Barba has described Grotowskis willful re fusal to rapidly create numerous works for large audiences against the 1960s Po lish governments emphasis on omnipresent theater as a form of cultural politics, dem ocratic culture, or popular theatre (Barba 1995:82). Barbas next sentences rings true: Grotowskis poor theatre was not a theory, not a technique, not a how to make theatre. It was why he was doing theatre. (1982:83). Cheap Art is Schumanns why Although it is the distin ctive production of his mind, it is not theoretical or technical in the manner of Theater of the Oppressed or Viewpoints. Bread and Puppets embrace of pol itical art, along with garbage art, cheap art, crappy art, dilettante art, [and] unprofe ssional art, is its id eology. Cheap Art is a radical viewpoint, a consciousness that underlies each step of the artistic process. It is the presentation of tools with which to reconsider existence. Cheap Art is an alternative to 136

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post-m odern, post-industrial capitalism, which requires hard work at each corresponding level of production. Most importantly, it requires the sacrifice of the purs uit of happiness, the definitive American project, in favor of doing the right thing. Schumann never wanted to establish a school; he wanted a philosophy that was open to incorporation. As Barba has argued, Theories become macabre when they tie ones thought down to concepts and word s which were no more than provisional vehiclescanoes (Barba 1995:138). Furthermor e, considering longevity, The invention of traditions can lead to sect arianism and ideological intolerance. The theatre has also had its fundamentalist movements (Stanisl avskian, Brechtian, Grotowskian). When fundamentalist movements cannot sustain themselves by force, when they are restricted to the use of cultural weapons, they become substantially innocuous and are weakened by their own rigidity; it is enough for fashion to change and they disappear to smoke (1995:143). I have previously written about Cheap Ar t as not just abstra cted philosophy but a working methodology, and this will be Schumanns long-lasting gift to the world. And because there is no coherent writing on the subjecteither philosophical or methodologicalit will have to be gleaned from work interactions by puppeteers. Cheap Art is a radical position, a presentation of philosophical-cum-artistic tools with which existence can be reordered. It is a consciousness that espouses simple living and cooperative labor as necessary components. Schumann fits Barbas categor y of the rebels, heretic s, or reformers of the theater: [They are] the creators of a theatre of transition. Their productions have shattered the ways of seeing and doing theatre and have obliged us to re flect on the past and present with an entirely different awareness. The simple fact that they existed removes all legitimacy from the usual 137

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justification, often made in our profession, which maintains that nothing can be changed. For this reason, their successors can only emulate them if they themselves live in transitionThese values have their roots in transition, they are the rejections of a spirit of the time and cannot be possessed by future generations. Th e reformers can only teach us to be men and women of transition who invent the personal value of our own theatre (1995:5). II. The Lubberland National Dance Company Although the Bread and Puppet Theater has steadily produced work of reliable quality, the circumstances under which that work has been produced have changed. Furthermore, the reception of that work has been altered by the increa sed expectation of a Bread and Puppet thing. By this, Bread a nd Puppet meeting expectations would have been impossible two decades ago, before there was consensus on what the Bread and Puppets thing was. As puppe teer Maura Gahan told me: Now, it just seems like you have this certain responsibil ity thats almost like a [repertory] company in a way. For example, The circus is a format that wet ry to keep refining, but its figured out. The routinization of audien ce expectation coordinates wi th the increasingly rigid attitudes of Bread and Puppet staff forced to meet these expectations : the routinization of authority. According to Weber, this process naturally occurs as participants have an increasing ideal and material commitment to the charismatic project. Weber writes, This means, above all, making it possible to partic ipate in normal family relationships or at least to enjoy a secure social position in place of the kind of discipleship which is cut off from ordinary world connexions, notably in the family and in economic relationships (1947:364). The beginning of the theaters career was an exploration by artistic friends, a figuring out. Since the companys instituti onalization, peoples attitudes have changed, as Noah Harrell expressed: 138

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I think a lot of it is in the internships. This is a different structure than how it started off. The founding members stuck around for a long timefive, ten years. They got things going and had a hand in creating it from the ground up. I think, as time goes on, those traditions get more and more set in stone, and people like Linda [Elbow] arent gonna change much. They change less and less. And I think the people that come into it get frustrated by that. That there isnt room for change or new ideas. And maybe its the lifetim e of the theater bein g the lifetime of Peter. Theater can only exist so long without fundamental change, and its not set up right now to change in big ways. Maura independently expressed similar sentiment: I say [that the work is] hard not to be all self-pitying with a little fiddle. Its hard but also great and easy in other ways. I think the challenges that co me up are because its so consuming of your life. I dont know. I think maybe when you hear about people being in it for 10 years when it was first developing and figuring itself out, I think theres something about that. Youre a part of something thats figuring itself out that is stimulating and fulfilling in this other way. Now its different. Now theres a lot of responsib ility just because this place is what it isThere are so many systems that have evolved and developed and some are spoken, some are unspoken. That brings a completely different side of yourselfthe organizational side. There are so many responsibilities to different groups of people. The circus is the epitome of the Br ead and Puppet institution. Dependable in performance and marketable, the circus suffe rs its traditions. Noah debated reasons behind the circuss conservatism: I think theres always going to be room for a little change. Whats hard is that we want the involvement of all the old puppet eers, and they all come back w ith their own idea of where Bread and Puppet was or is, so there are changes, but the more and more people you get, the slower the changes can be, and the smaller they seem to be. It doesnt just take off in radically new directions that keep it fresh. New acts, sure, but like the circus is a formula. New titles, new text, some new puppetsits exciting, but people come, knowing what to expect, in a lot of ways. Noah finds value in the touring circus, ra ther than summer circuses, which he sees as static events. Regarding the touring circus, he told me: It turns some people off, for sure. It is not theater that they are conditioned to expect, like they are here. And the political messages, I think, have a sharper edge, even if youre saying the same stuff, but people dont expect that in a circus, when its out of its context, out of Vermont, out of Glover. Being in Richmond last year, doing that sh ow in the park, and having people that lived in the park come up and talk to me after the show What was this act about? and I totally agree with that. It was creating this dialogue that they never had. I dont know. Its opening channels of discussion that theater doesnt usually do. And you see that a lot more clearly out of its context here. Then, again, its a weird thing to perform in a theaterPerforming for a theater audience, that were charging door price. The circus also seems more conservative because of the mere pseudo-liminality of satire. Satire critiques societ y through normative means, as Turner explained: A mirror inverts but also reflects an objec t. It does not break it down in to constituents in order to 139

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rem old it, far less does it annihilate and re place that object (1982:41). Yet Bread and Puppet still has the capacity to challenge ev en the most familiar audiences, as Noah mused about Schumanns newest project: I guess Lubberland is the forefront of where Bread and Puppet used to be. Like I said, gathering people around this new movement. The cause is a little less cleartheres a lot of stuff going on in the Lubberland dances, lots of little pieces that Pe ter throws in there, some for fun and some for real. Thought provocationIt will be interesting to see how Lubberland works out. Its a new direction for the theater. I think its what Peter needed to do. You could see Bread and Puppet going in a certain directionit was almost impossible for him to change, maybe. There are so many people part of the Bread and Puppet comm unity either actively participating and creating shows or just the audience that comes expecting something. And to change that is really, really difficult. So, Lubberland creates a new outlet for his imagination. In Elkas museum tour for the interns in the first week of the 2007 internship, she thanked us for coming to work for this past -its-prime theater, which I found perplexing. Despite the presence of internal the-end-is-n ear feelings, Schumann shows little sign of slowing down: on his 70th birthday, he presented himsel f with the Lubberland National Dance Company.104 This idea of a dance company we nt back to the beginning of his artistic career, in Munich in the 1950s, but Schumann failed to find dancers who satisfied his vision and audiences receptive to his guilt -stricken Expressionist cultural damnation. No doubt his increase in stature as an artist ha s helped to influence his will to retry this early project. Schumann feels vindicated in re viving his early goals of dance through his now guaranteed audience and increased aw areness of his aesthetic purpose. He told me that there was a more prac tical reason for the dance company: he wanted to create a project specifically for local community members, whose value to the theatercrucial during the DRC daysha d declined since the advent of the apprenticeship. Community-based projects are not exactly rare in Bread and Puppet 104 Schumann has also referred to the project as the National Dance Company of Lubberland and the Lubberland National Dance Theater. 140

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history, but they are all uni que, and Schum anns choice to depoliticize the project from its inception is exceptional. Schum ann explained the process to me: [We wanted] to separate the dance element more from all the other show-makings. To say: lets take dance more seriously as dance And the important thing in the Lubberland dancing wasnt politics, but was really to start from that freest of all elements that is experimental dancing. We started truly with just moving in a room, and then slowly organized that movement into most simplistic possible choreographies. So that superceded everything else, that it really came from the dance seemed to be the important part of it and not from first another idea.It doesnt have a vision that you have first and then you go about recreating. It starts with nothing, and then whats available to you is the untrained body of a dilettante who wants to partake in this general dilettantism. And it is meant to be dilettantic and wants to be and should be. This is similar to Barbas description of theater creation: It is the necessity to dig so deep as to discover underground caverns covered by rocks and hundreds of metres of compacted earthYou have to plan your own performance, know how to construct it and steer it towards the whirlpool wh ere it will either break up or assume a new nature: meanings at first not thought of and which its authors will look upon as enigmasIt is not possible to use this technique without working on the living tissue which is the pre-expressive level. In order to do so, one needs to be able to neutralize one of the brains antennae, in order not to perceive all the messages, th e meanings, the contents, the conn ections, the associations which emanate from the performance material on which one is working. One part of the brain, of the guidance system, must discover silence. The other works on microscopic sequences, as if it was confronted with a symphony of details of life, impulses, physical and nervous dynamisms, but in a process which, as yet, does not attempt to represent or narrate anything. Then, from that vibrating silence, emerges an unexpected meaning, so prof oundly personal that it is anonymous. (1995:3738) Although the dances have unsurprisingly become politicized, non-representative, non-conceptual movement remains the first pr iority. Even though the dances relate to a political reality, the content of these dances is reflected in the titles and introductions, rather than the movement. In the 2006 and 2007 Lubberland show s, the titles were explicite.g. The Your-Government-Is-Ope nly-Torturing-People-And-Justifying-It Dance from World Cant Wait Dances (2007). Schumann added the title after the dances had been created for a radical juxtapositi on between the movement and the political exhortation. This echoes the disjunction of media in Merce Cunninghams work; for instance, Cunningham argued that dancers shouldnt be forced to slavishly attend to music, which was normally a signifier of the dramatic arc of the dance (Banes 1978:6). He felt that the interest to the audience lay in the juxtaposition of these discrete aesthetic 141

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phenom ena (music and movement). These elem ents, which are rarely recognized as the complex semiotic systems they are, are strippe d of their indexical role for performance. Music in Lubberland shows fills a similarl y discretized function. I asked Schumann why he enjoyed these radical juxtapositions (text/music; movement/structure), to which he responded: To cheat the audience out of aesthe tic enjoyment! They have to think! Greg Cook countered, arguing that audiences would read the dances meta phorically through the titles, but Schumann was prepared for this question: [The audience is] welcome to bullshit around. Thats the creativity of an audience who has to then be productive in figuring out how much meaning is there. The normal person is so overloaded with the desire of over interpreting, and having to connect from one meaning to anotherwhich, in an artists work, is not the caseArt is overwhelmed by unconsciousness, by grand old inside events that dont fit into that rationalistic thinking at all. The rational modern client sits a little stupefied. If he rids himself of some of the inhibitions that our cultures have, if he sees the fun in it, if he sees the childishness, if he sees a few things that help him to enjoy it hes lucky. This juxtaposition leads to questions of dramatic evocation. Radical dance can be difficult to navigate, because dance is either stuck to a dramatic narrative requiring an expressive language anathematic to anti-representational dance, or it risks irrelevance if its choreographic reification fails to indicate its artistic or political necessity. As dance writer Ellen Graff pointed out with re gards to radical modern dance: The Workers Dance League mandated political content, but that content was not easily framed within the emerging modernist aesthetic. How to dance the oppression of the working class, the exploitation by a capitalist society, the threat of fascism, and the horrors of racism, yet not depend upon mimetic action? On one hand was the Marxist concept of art as a litera l reflection of reality, on the other, the modernist project that demanded the viewers participation in the creation of meaning. (Franko 2002:55) Schumanns work in dance and puppetry is anti-realist and avoi ds Aristotelian dramatic techniques. This can be difficult fo r performers and audien ces who are used to realist and/or propagandistic forms of political performance. Maryann Colella described her initial struggle with not evoki ng the titles: The seriousness of it is not in feigning this agony that turns people off to see someone on stage going Aggh! Im dying! but to see 142

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som ebody there with a blank face and their mouth open is that same se riousness that is a masks face, that is a puppets face. The se riousness of its unchanging-ness. It is what you can achieve. And that moment where [Peter ] said, Dont act! wa s what changed my whole perspective on theater in that very small second. This relates to a story Barba tells of Grotowskis produc tion of Wyspianskis Akropolis in which he froze an excessively expressive dancers face into a single expression: It was a good solution! He applied to all the other actors. In the production, all the act ors faces were frozen into impassivity, in spite of the horror of the situ ation. The blankness of their f aces was in contrast to the vitality of their bodies, which were composed in a detailed sign of movements between dance and acrobatics. The unstable base of th eir acting was the clumsy wooden prisoners clogs they wore (1995:151). Although the Lubberland shows are structurally complex, they use the agit-propinfluenced Cheap Art accessibility discussed in Chapter 2. This is useful as a time-saving device during the summer, because Lubberland re hearsals take up little time, but the form seems specially designed for t ours, so that anyone is able to quickly learn the show. Schumann explained: We go somewhere and then when we find people who can only hit pots and pans then we do it with people who can only hit pots and pans. Or if we find grand piano players, so it will be grand pianos Whatever we can find w ill be put into that Lubberland production. So, it will be a fresh start wherever you go, because it is a construction of movement and sound. Here are the best elements of Cheap Art: the openness of the form; the incorporative possib ilities; the possibility of radicalization. Mark Frankos concept of radical e/motiona lity, discussed in Chapter 3, is even more appropriately applied to Lubberland, as th e foundational amateurism of the 1930s radical 143

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dance proje cts were similar in intent to Schumanns goals. It leads to an e/motional connection described by modern dancer Ruth Allerhand: The individual no longer feels that he is the whole, he now sees that he represents the substance. He is not so much a link in a chain, a cog in a machine, as a very alive, very productiv e cell within a body (2002:25). Radical modern dance, like Lubberland, was not specifically agit-prop, as it avoided propagandistic appeals to reason. In stead, it was profoundly emotional, and this emotionality was intertwined with political experience. As Franko writes, Emotion was a key to self-projection in the world. Feelings could become aesthetic and social material because they materialized in moving bodies They were e/motional (2002:6). Later, Emotion, as distinguished from impers onality, was neither self-expression nor amateurism, but the idiom of left sensibility, to be contrasted with [Martha] Graham [who] was preoccupied with abstraction and essence, and these were not, on the whole, politically radical qualities (2002:54). The bugaboo radicals had with Graham was her emphasis on the modernist tropes of abst raction and distorti on, which not only complicate the social message, they also conve y a social message of their own (Franko 2002:57). This was clearly a self-critique as well, as radicals (and Schumann) question the tactical value of unambiguous partisan rhetoric. From a spectators perspective, Lubberl and is exciting because the shows are good: they are a unique mlange of typical Bread and Puppet tropes (e.g. puppetry large and small, cantastorias, anarchic jazz-influ enced music) with radical modern and postmodern dance influence. On a more theoretic al level, Lubberland is interesting because the character of dance highlights the char acter of puppetry. Rec onsider the following description of object experimentation, in which I replaced object with body to consider 144

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dance: It m eans playing with a certain lack of control, and experimenting with the different possibilities of the [body] while constantly being aware of how the [bodys] structure determines movement (Bell 2008:7). The movementor dancebasis of Schumanns puppetry is unmistakable after participating in Lubberland. Perhaps Schumann is doing late Matisse, exploring the foundations of hi s work. More likely he is just bored with the cycle of summers devoted to the circus and then tours devoted to small, undeveloped shows and shrunken ci rcuses. The Lubberland project is an interesting development, one which will re ceive increased attention as Maura Gahans tours of Lubberland since 2008 raise awareness of this new project. Schumann remains committed to performi ng, as well. Greg Cook asked him in our interview if part of the aging pro cess might involve him stepping down from performing (particularly in Lubberland, wher e his presence is centr al) and re taining a solely directorial role. Schum ann replied, I don t see that. It might happen, but I dont see that. I see myself dancing with two canes or crutches. And having just as much fun as without the crutches. Greg pushed Schumann to unpack this statement: GREG COOK: Can you talk about that? PETER SCHUMANN (laughing) : No, no. Its because I like dancing. GC: But I think theres something crucial here. It goes to your idea of dance. PS (laughing) : Okay. Well, it comes out of the same conviction that says dance isnt a school of movement or an aesthetic that gets trained, but dance is any existing movement whatsoever. So its the movement of an acrobat as easily as the m ovement of a cripple. There is no value in the acrobat that the cripple doesnt also have. Theres just a great, great difference of vocabulary and both are very valuable to the dance and the whol e. So this idea of the cripple dancing is a necessary ingredient. If you think of a real social dance, of a dance that has meaning in society, then the cripple must be included. Schumann is not only challenging creative expectations with hi s sudden revival of a 40-year-old dance project rooted in a very di fferent context, he also recently engaged in a collaboration with the shadow puppet artist Kuang-Yu Fong. Although Fong and Schumann have been collaborating on Bread and Puppet shows for two decades, this is 145

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Schum anns first ever shadow show. He travel ed to Taiwan with Daniel and occasional puppeteer Laura Wallace to work with Fongs Chinese Theater Works on a show called Songs of the Yellow Earth Chinese Theater Workss website had this description of the show: It incorporates literary and operati c ruminations on war from classic Chinese opera and poetic works from the Book of Song s. These sources refer to the time of the legendary Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China. His fall and the rise of the Han Dynasty has strong parallels to contemporary political events and upheavals.105 After 40 years perfecting his own idiosync ratic style of puppetry, Schumann broadened his vision to work with a shadow puppeteer. According to Daniel, the work was nearly the opposite of standard Bread and Puppet procedure, which plays loose and approximately, while shadow theater requires serious specificity and careful examination and precision. Schumanns recent projects, such as Lubberland, Songs of the Yellow Earth, and his Palestine work, show that he remains v itally committed to his mission of challenging his audiences and the theaters participants. Despite his nihilistic modernist historical sense, he remains committed to looking forward. Turner has written that meaning in culture tends to be generated at the interfaces between established cultural subsystems, though meanings are then institutionalized an d consolidated at the centers of such systems (1982:41). Schumanns newly pursued interfaces hold much promise. III. Bread and Puppet in the Obama Era 105 Chinese Theater Works website. o jects/songsfromtheyellowearth.html Accessed February 24, 2009. 146

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W hile I was writing this thesis, Barack Obama was elected 44th President of the United States. The election marked a palpab le global mood shift. George W. Bushs presidency took on increasing apocalyptic dimens ions in the imagination of the left, who saw the era as the dark last days of a fa ted empire. The ascendancy of Barack Obama changed the character of this premonition of th e end of an era, as the general consensus seems to state thus far that President Obam as administration marks a definite shift not only for policy, but also for American histor y. Historian Eric Foner suggested that the end of three decades of ipso facto Reaganism is in sight (Foner 2008). While the left has remained critical of certain decisions of the early Obama administration, faith has returned to the civic process, into the hi storical experiment of American democracy. One of the challenges for American radical s has been incorpor ating this newfound civic energy into a framework that interroga tes the fundamentals of the American system. This may be the central question for the Bread and Puppet Theater: how can we best address this moment? Using the cynicism of the Reagan era was easy, but maintaining that same pessimistic rhetoric would be ill-advised. In January 2009, the company got into a spir ited debate about the character of this political moment. Puppeteer Cavan Meese was critiquing a circus ac t called The Zombie Super Bowl, specifically a scene in which zombie cheerleaders chant, Yes, we can! Yes, we can! to a zombie athlete running for the Hail Ma ry for Economic Recovery, which he misses (because hes a zombie; wakka wakka ). Cavan asked what kind of message we were sending to the audience. Ev eryone started talking at once; while there was general consensus that Obama is full of shit, Cavans main critique was that the political engagement and hopeful determination of that particular slogan was consanguine 147

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with the m ission of the Bread and Puppet Thea ter. Not only would the act as scripted look out of touch with its audience, it w ould look hypocritical and disengaged. Although Schumann wasnt present for th is discussion, he expressed se ntiment in a similar spirit the following day, after he decided to cut th e donkey act, which had been the final (preflag) act in the circus for the past few years. Here, a series of puppeteers in simple, twodimensional burlap donkeys march across the st age one-by-one with words on their sides, eventually adding up to a para phrase of the line attributed to Jefferson: Whenever a government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it! As each donkey leaves the stage, that puppeteer joins the band, which builds and builds until the final words on the donkeys pass by.106 Schumann said that the act was now inappropriate: That is not the message we wa nt to be sending to an administration we have at least a little hope forquite a statement from an artist who has survived on the dregs of history for more than four decades. Ultimately, the company agreed on deleting the passage in question from The Zombie Super Bowl, and replaced it with ch eerleaders chanting ( la Queen) We will / we will / eat you! In an online interview, Daniel McNamara said that The Sourdough Philosophy Circus reflected its creation in the preelection summer of 2008: With the coming election, we decided to make it about possibilitarianism: Yes, its possible. As 106 There was a mix-up in West Asheville, North Carolina in 2007 involving this act during a circus in an alternative art space. The circus had been fantastic, and the audience was really receptive. The donkey act began; the donkeys were musically moving across the stage carrying the Jefferson quote and the song was building and building. But something happened with donkey placement backstage, and Laura Wallace, the only puppeteer who was a repeat donk ey, picked up the wrong one somehow. As the circus reached its climax, the sentence ended bizarrely: Whenever a govern ment becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish becomes. All of us in the band were unsure of what to do. Jason Hicks later said he was about to go onstage and put the donkey down by shooting it, but Laura ran offstage too quickly, sensing that something was wrong. Her dance across the stage was usually triumphant and met with huge cheers. Later that night, audience memb ers told puppeteers that they thought it was a joke they didnt get, or maybe political commentary that was over their heads. This is a funny illustration of Schumanns point about audiences who over-interpret material. 148

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opposed to a this-is-the-way-things-are-and-theres-nothing -you-can-really-do-about-itism (Sullivan 2009). The response arising from Cavans co mplaint provoked a rare discussion of politics. If Obamas administration does in fa ct spell a definitive change for American policy, it will be important for the company to stay connected to this moment, whether through Schumann favorite Democracy Now! or any other source. New administration or not, some puppeteers feel that discussions of politics are too rare within the company. Maryann Colella told me: I think we dont sit down and talk about genera l politics enough, like a lot of people dont even know what happens with a lot of ICE (US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) activity and were working on an immigration raid [act]. A lot of people dont know shit about the Second Vermont RepublicAnd I remember [during] my internship there was a girl, Christine, who had a friend in Lebanon, who was sending her e-mail accounts of what was happening every day. That summer all of the bombing was happening. Ever y morning she would read an email from her friend in LebanonThats whats missing around here. Today I got really frustrated during the rehearsal of the immigrant act an d decided I was going to read the story to everyone on my laptop and it was a long-ass story, but I thought that I had to read this to people. I decided to say, Fuck this system where were constantly creating with out learning, without educating ourselves. Fuck the mentality of move, move, move instead of stop and learn and then move. However, Maryann also recognizes that the lack of general political discussion helps invoke a broad coalition of individuals: Its kind of cool that people [of different politi cal persuasions] are all working together to create these things and we dont get too caught up in the semantics of things, which is nice, because Im so used to being with people who are arguing ov er little tiny details about historylike John Bell was saying about the birth of imperialism argum ent became this splitting i ssue between Lenin and Scott Nearing.107 Im used to shit like that, so its refreshing to be around people who dont know that shit or dont care about that shit or dont want to spend the time talking about it, but then sometimes I think, Maybe we should educate ourselves forhalf an hour and then make an act. This education is non-dogmatic and arises out of Schumanns complex politics, sublimated in the verbiage of cultural revi valism, as expressed in the Bread and Puppet press release for the Boston shows e xplaining the sourdough philosophy: 107 John Bell: Scott Nearing was a Communist until (laughs) he disagreed with Lenin over the origins of imperialism. That was typical, I think. Lenin said imperialism was an aspect of capitalism, and Scott thought imperialism happened before capitalism. Something like that. 149

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It takes a lesson from how apple cider is made. Our republic teases us with the possibility of democracy, but citizens are raised like military apple orchards, pr uned down to their predictable minimums, yielding controlled fruits that lack the ecstasy of nature. However, human fermentation occurs in parts of the human body that are not governed by the government, like the guts and the gutsy parts of the brain. Fermented c itizens are corrupted by th e ecstasy of nature and from that corruption, derive strength to corrupt military-orchard citizens.108 Even the shift from 2007s The Divine Reality Comedy Circus which used were-all-screwed as an (anti-) punch line in multiple acts and depended on a fatalistic comedy that questioned whether we ar e already living in Hell, to 2008s The Sourdough Philosophy Circus, with its engagement with mora lly ambiguous executive chefs (like Barack Obama) and its willing partnership with a rotting civilization towards a positive fermentation, evidence a profound po litical shift in the theater. This may also be simply a contingency of Schumanns mood the day he cr eated the theme of th e 2008 shows, but it is worth considering the deeper meaning. IV. Conclusions The process of thesis construction has been an exercise in self-r estraint. It felt like regular construction work, only it was feasible here to build the fourth floor before the first, and after completion I altered the placement of furnishings and ended up adding a storage facility for excess building materials a nd pieces of walls I was forced to chip off due to financial and spatial constraints. My ex tensive field research forced me to pick and choose my subjects. This is my explanation for its size, although I like Stefan Brechts excuse at the beginning of his book: Schumann is one of the gr eat artists of this century. This is substantially my excuse for the length of this book (1988a:n/p). Taking 108 From the Bread and Puppet Theaters website: ss_release_ boston_09(WP).pdf Accessed March 19, 2009. 150

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som ething as infinitely complex and persp ectivally variant as social experience and finding appropriate theories that give shape to that multiplicity has been challenging. It has been a process of creative pattern recognition: I explored abstracted connections in my field notes and head notes and wren ched out of them the meaning of my ethnographic experience (Sanjek 1990:391). R oger Sanjek cites J ohn Honigmann, who writes, the technique of constructing such patternscalls for c onsiderable intuition, speculative ability, and speculative freed om as well as abundant, detailed data (1990:391).109 Conquergoods extrapolation of Turners at traction to performance hit close to home: Turner was drawn to the conceptual lens of performance because it focused on humankind alive, the creative, pl ayful, provisional, imaginative, articulate expressions of ordinary people grounded in the challenge of making a life in this village, that valley, and inspired by the struggle of meaning (Conque rgood 2006: 358). Turner asserted, There must be a dialectic between learning and performing. One learns through performing, then performs the understanding so ga ined (Turner 1982:94). He continued: The religious ideas and processes I havementioned belong to the domain of performance, their power derived from the participation of the living people who use them. My counsel, therefore, to investigators of ritual processes would be to learn them in the first place on their pulses, in coactivity with their enactors, having beforeha nd shared for a considerable time much of the peoples daily life and gotten to know them not only as players of social roles, but as unique individuals, each with a style and a soul of his or her own. Only by these means will the investigator become aware. (1982:359) I think this neatly summarizes the exig encies of ethnographic fieldwork. Turner sees the anthropology of performance as l ogically connected to the anthropology of experience, and so conceives performance to be the finale of experience (1982:13). It is through performance a creative, liminal practice by wh ich we transcend mundane daily 109 Honigmann reminds us that field notes much more reliable than head notes, and to that end, I benefited from my regular thick description of events, a process I pursued even while academically unenrolled. 151

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routin ization, that we are able to squeeze out previously inaccessible meaning. Furthermore, the liminality of ethnographywhe re emic meets eticc learly relates to the liminality of performance. Dwight Conquergoods description of dialogic performance mirrors the ethnographic proces s: Dialogic perfor mance is a way of having intimate conversation with other peopl e and cultures. Instead of speaking about them, one speaks to and with them. The sensuous immediacy and empathic leap demanded by performance is an occasion for orchestrating two voices, for bringing together two sensibilities. At the same time, the conspicuous artifice of performance is a vivid reminder that each voice has its ow n integrity (Olomo 2006:340). Culture, Conquergood tells us, is a verb, rather th an noun, a process rather than product (2006:341). During my research, I entered a sp ace of experimentation and openness. The composition process has been the denouement of this rite of passage, as I have reconstructed my identity in light of this experience between worlds. In Chapter 4, I explored the question of individual adaptive strategies to Bread and Puppets anti-structural paradigm. Rose Friedman calls the theaters melting pot of varying frameworks [anthropologically] fa scinating, referring to the question of cultural adaptation: how do these heterogeneous individuals respond to Schumanns charismatic challenge? How do they integrat e this doctrine of cultural revolution, comprised of garbage art and simple living, w ith their previous experiences in the world now under attack? How does one stay sane in the face of chaos and competition? Bread and Puppet proves a fascinating anthropological study because it has a deliberate cultural engineering program, as determined by the vision of Peter Schumann. His conscious construction of his theaters lif e is culturally fascin ating, as he has atte mpted to socially 152

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system atize his subversive vision. There are certain moments, especially during what I have called ambulance shows, when a Bread and Puppet performance revives its audience, when it perfectly fulfills some dormant need in its audienceor its participants. These moments may appear as spontaneous communitas to the audience, but they are consciously constructed as liminoid events in a ritual tradition whose design points toward communitas. These moments can be very powerful. On the 2007 Southern tour, energy was waning, but the effusive out pouring of thanksgivi ng and solidarity after a performance at the Penland School of Craf ts in North Carolina energized the touring company. At the 2007 bye-bye meeting for the interns, I asked the company how they saw the theaters position with regards to the choir: does Bread and Puppet serve its constituents (the choir), or does it rely on those rifting interfaces where new meaning is created? Some of the puppeteers seemed stuc k on my use of the phrase preaching to the choir, and they defended these congregational moments as profound. However interested I am in the communitas capabilities of Schumanns radical design, I am equally drawn to moments where Bread and Puppets reception is complicated by aversion or confusion. Sc humann and I were discussing college audiences, whom Schumann described as the hardest [audiences]the cynically educated. We were discussing the isolation and lack of publi c interaction endemic to my generation, which he sees his radica l public art as positioned against: That is so much the case anyway in this culture. The life of the performance, which is exactly the value of the performance already, th at it is alive, that it isnt like TV, and that it isnt even like professional theater, with all the gimmickry that makes that theater possible, but precisely without all that gimmickry. That confrontation, and that meeting vis--vis a nonsuspecting public, that itself is the value, and whether they like that or not, and whether they are cynical about it, one doesnt know what happens when they walk away. Im not so sure that all the blas kids walk away and just forget about it. Im not so sure. I think its more complicated than that, probably. But, sure, there is that wall. Totally. An educated wall. He sees his mission as public political, and artistic: 153

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We need to bring things out of this little enclave here. We need to go out and confront people with what we do. They dont necessarily want to see it, but that doesnt matter. Its like carrying these big banners about the war, with these questions. Everybody has asked these questions, but when you hold them up, walking in the normal st reet with the normal traffic noises around, you see thatit hits you in a different way than the question being asked on the radio, or the question coming to you from the newspaper. So, I think, yeah, our mission almost is just thatto go to the nonsuspecting people, to go out and perform wherever those invitations come from: college campuses, the youngsters. They need us. When signs are misinterpreted due to the disconnect between Schumann and his situational context, hilarious and fascinati ng confusion highlights the radicalism of his constructed world. My experience in that world, and adjusting to this world after that world, challenged me endlessly, but above all, to not define myself as part of this or that world, but perched between the two, cardboard in one hand and pencil in the other. 154

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Bibliography CHAP TER 1. Barba, Eugenio 1995 The Paper Canoe: A Guide to Theater Anthropology. London: Routledge. Bowman, Ruth Laurion and Michael S. Bowman 2006 On the Bias: From Performance of Literature to Performance Composition. In The SAGE Handbook of Performance Studies. D. Soyini Madison, Judith Hamera, eds. Pp. 205-226. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Brecht, Stefan 1988a The Bread and Puppet Theater, Volume One. London: Methuen/Routledge. CBC and David Cayley, prod. 2003 Puppet Uprising: Peter Schumanns Br ead and Puppet Theater. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Audio. Conquergood, Dwight 2006 Rethinking Ethnography: Towards a Critical Cultu ral Politics. In The SAGE Handbook of Performance Studies. D. Soyini Madison, Judith Hamera, eds. Pp. 205-226. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Cotter, Holland 2007 Spectacle for the Heart and Soul. New York Times. August 5. accessed March 28, 2009. Estrin, Marc 2004 Rehearsing with Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread & Puppet Theater. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Co. Katz, Sandor 2005 The Revolution Will Not Be Microwav e: Inside Americas Underground Food Movements. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishers. Turner, Victor 1982 From Ritual to Theater: The Human Seriousness of Pl ay. New York, NY: Performing Arts Journal Publications. CHAPTER 2. Barba, Eugenio 1995 The Paper Canoe: A Guide to Theater Anthropology. London: Routledge. Bell, John 2008 American Puppet Modernism. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Brecht, Stefan 1988a The Bread and Puppet Theatre, Volume One. London: Methuen/Routledge. Cohen Cruz, Jan, Ed. 155

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1998 Radical Street Perform ance: An In ternational Anthology. New York, NY: Routledge. Duchartre, Pierre Louis 1966 The Italian Comedy. New York, NY : Courier Dover Publications. Eddershaw, Margaret 1996 Brecht and the Performer From Performing Brecht. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. Estrin, Marc 2004 Rehearsing with Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread & Puppet Theater. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing. Franko, Mark 2002 The Work of Dance: Labor, Movement, and Identity in the 1930s. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. Graeber, David 2007 On the phenomenology of giant puppets: broken windows, imaginary jars of urine, and the cosmological role of the police in American culture. From Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire. Oakland, CA: AK Press. Green, Susan and Greg Guma, Eds. 1985 Bread and Puppet: Stories of Str uggle & Faith from Central America. Burlington, Vermont: Green Valley Film and Art, Inc. McCormick, John and Bennie Pratasik 1998 Popular Puppet Theatre in Europe, 1800-1914. London: Cambridge University Press. Petropoulos, Jonathan 1999 Art as Politics in the Third Reich. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press. Schumann, Tamar and DeeDee Halleck 2005 Ah! The Hopeful Pageantry of Brea d & Puppet. Bread and Puppet Film Project. 84 mins. Tucker, Robert C., Ed. 1978 The Marx-Engels Reader. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Widenmeyer, Peter 2001 Kasper the German wa y of glove puppet play (Accessed 30 October 2008) CHAPTER 3. Bauman, Richard 1983 Let your words be few: Symbolism of speaking and silence among seventeenth-century Quakers. Londo n: Cambridge University Press. Bernstein, Charles 1992 A Poetics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bell, John 2009 American Puppet Modernism. Palgrave Macmillan. 1999 The End of Our Domestic Resurrection Circus: Bread and Puppet Theater and Counterculture Performan ce in the 1990s. TDR 43.3 (1999) 62-80 156

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1997 Landscape and Desire: Bread and Puppet Pageants in the 1990s. Glover, VT: Bread and Puppet Press. Brecht, Stefan 1988a The Bread and Puppet Theater, Volume One. London: Methuen/Routledge. 1988b The Bread and Puppet Theater, Volume Two. London: Methuen/Routledge. Brown, Helen and Jane Seitz. 1970 With the Bread & Puppet Th eatre. TDR. 14:3 (Fall 1970): 62-73. CBC and David Cayley, prod. 2006 Puppet Uprising: Peter Schumanns Br ead and Puppet Theater. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Audio. Cook, Greg 2008 Ian Thal on Peter Schumann. The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. al-on-peterschumann.html Accessed February 21, 2009. Debord, Guy 2006 The Society of the Spectacle. Ke n Knabb, trans. Wellington, NZ: Rebel Press. Diggins, John Patrick 1995 The Promise of Pragmatism: Modernism and the Crisis of Knowledge and Authority. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Estrin, Marc 2007 Art Does Not End At The Picture Frame. in/Occasionalia/En tries/2007/9/13_ART_D OES_NOT_END_AT_THE_PICTURE_FRAME.html Accessed February 10, 2009. Farber, Jeff 1993 Brother Bread, Sister Puppet. 59 mins NY: New York, Cinema Guild Inc. Fong, Kuang Yu and Stephen Kaplin, Inter view with Peter Schumann. 18 August 1993. Glover, Vermont. Unpublished manuscript. Green, Susan and Greg Guma, Eds. 1985 Bread and Puppet: Stories of Str uggle & Faith from Central America. Burlington, Vermont: Green Valley Film and Art, Inc. Kourilsky, Franoise 1974 Dada and Circus. TDR 18, 1 (T61):104-09. Kovel, Joel 2007 Overcoming Zionism. London: Pluto Press. Lloyd, Robin, prod. 1994 Bread and Puppet Pageant : Men with Teeth. 24 mins. Vermont: Green Valley Media. Martin, Jacqueline 1991 Voice in Modern Theater. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis. Pappe, Ilan 2007 The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. Partsch, Susanna 157

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2001 Franz Marc, 1880-1916. Los Angeles, CA: Taschen Press. Picard, Ken 2007 Over the Wall. Seven Days. September 18, 2007. Accessed February 20, 2009. Potter, Andy 2007 Art Exhibit Draws Fire. WCAX News. September 8, 2007. Accessed February 20, 2009. Schechner, Richard 2003 Performance Theory. New York, NY: Routledge. Schumann, Peter 2007 Interview with Sherif Fam. This Week in Palestine. Podcast, December 30. Staton, John 2008 Radical puppetry troupe pulled off stage at Thalian. October 31, 2008. http://www.starnewsonline.c om /article/20081031/ARTICLES/810310247 Accessed February 10, 2009. Thal, Ian 2007 Rabbi Joshua Chasan on Schumanns Paintings. From the Journals of Ian Thal. September 10, 2007. rabbi-joshua-chasan-on-peterschumanns.html Accessed February 20, 2009. Van Erven 1998 Radical Peoples Theater. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. iek, Slavoj 2006 The Universal Exception. New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group. CHAPTER 4. Bell, John 2001 Puppets, Masks and Performing Objects. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Berger, Dan 2006 Outlaws in America: The Weathe r Underground and the Politics of Solidarity. Oakland, CA: AK Press. Brecht, Stefan 1988a The Bread and Puppet Theater, Volume One. London: Methuen/Routledge. 1988b The Bread and Puppet Theater, Volume Two. London: Methuen/Routledge. Bourdieu, Pierre 1977 Outline of a Theory of Practice. London: Cambridge University Press. Bourdieu, Pierre 1994 Structures, Habitus, Power. In Culture/Power/History. Nicholas B. Dirs, Geoff Eley, Sherry B. Ortner, eds. Prin ceton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Pp. 155-199. 158

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Kantor, Rosabeth Moss 1972 Commitment and Community: Communes and Utopias in Sociological Perspective. Cambridge, Massachuset ts: Harvard University Press. Weber, Max 1947 Theory of Social and Economic Or ganization. New York, NY: The Free Press. Van Erven, Eugene 1988 Radical Peoples Theatre. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. CHAPTER 5. Barba, Eugenio 1995 The Paper Canoe: A Guide to Theater Anthropology. London: Routledge. Brecht, Stefan 1988a The Bread and Puppet Theater, Volume One. London: Methuen/Routledge. Foner, Eric 2009 America, Reconfigured from What It Meant. The Boston Globe. November 9. /articles/2008/11/09/what_it_m eant/ Ac cessed March 7, 2009. Franko, Mark 2003 The Work of Dance: Labor, Movement, and Identity in the 1930s. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. Green, Susan and Greg Guma, Eds. 1985 Bread and Puppet: Stories of Struggl e & Faith from Central America. Burlington, Vermont: Green Valley Film and Art, Inc. Olomo, Olorisa Omi Osun (Joni L. Jones) 2006 Performance and Ethnography, Perf orming Ethnography, Performance Ethnography. In The SAGE Handbook of Perfor mance Studies. D. Soyini Madison, Judith Hamera, eds. Pp. 339-346. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Sullivan, Jim 2010 Bread and Puppet Theatre: Takin It To the Streets. February 1, 2009. Accessed March 15, 2009. Turner, Victor 1982 From Ritual to Theater: The Human Seriousness of Pl ay. New York, NY: Performing Arts Journal Publications. 159

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Appendix 1 160

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Appendix 2 An Atlanta workshop with high school dr ama students focusing on the Kasper act. On tour in 2007, five touring puppeteers led a workshop for high school theater students in Atlanta, Georgia. We split up the tasks: Hannah, Taryn, and Megan would teach a cantastoria; Laura and I would teach Kasper acts. Because of Lauras background in dance, she would work on the movements of the character with the students, I would work on structural issues. We performed a couple Kaspers for them: K-War; K-Voting. We tried out a new addition to K-War, which I had written that morning. Instead of Asymmetrical War, which was a generally unfamiliar term to some, I replaced it with Drug War: K (takes a hit from the cudgel, as if it were a joint): Hey, man, wanna hit? K: Yeah! (Gets smashed with the cudgel) The group of more than 50 students we nt wild. I gave a quick pep talk encouraging the students to express their fr ustrations at their pa rents, the government, whomever was pissing them off: I want you to grab one of these stupid, ugly masks, and I want you to grab this cudgel and I want you to make fun of these people and beat the crap out of them with the cudgel. We will not censor you. I then went into a little more depth about the form of the Kasper act, e xplaining the comedic need for simplicity and the succinct structure. It was a formal challenge, with almost limitless freedom of expression: I had essentially opened up space for the most antisocial impulses of these students. The students might not have been us ed to receiving the trust they received from the puppeteers. They were shocked at my encouragement of uncivil disobedience in a theater workshop 161

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The students had 15 m inutes to break up in to groups of three or four and write their acts. I went around working with groups One group was working on an antiwar act, which had protestors triumphantly storming the White House. Megan applauded at the end. Disagreeing, I told them to try a more pessimistic ending: Its the Rotten Idea Theater Company, not the What An Idea Theater Company. We began arguing. The kids kept working, and we stepped off the stage where we were working and debated for over whether the Kasper act necessitated a negativ e ending. I vehemently asserted that the only way the form worked was to be unceasi ngly stupid and violent until the end, without some sort of political deus ex machina righting the illogic of our times. I insisted on an absolute Kasper orthodoxy: each act must use a specific structure and end with a specific kind of punch line. There was little room for variation. Although I had only been working with the company for four m onths at that point, I was ab solutely certain that I was defending one of the most important forms of modern political theater, a Holy Grail of decentralized radical pedagogy. We never reso lved the issue, and the students tried a negative ending but decided that they preferred the positive one. At the end of the 15 minutes, we called for a performance of the acts. At the beginning of each, I thumped the bass drum and the puppeteers and students sang Masterpiece Theater in our most obnoxious Kasper voices. The acts were astonishing. Charged with insulting anyone they felt like, these teenagers picked remarkable targets: our historically hypocritical immigration pol icy, federal warmongers, the manipulative media, and Army recruiters. There were also a few acts about how parents wont allow cell phones or how a rival school s football team would be s mashed (literally, with the cudgel), but the vast majority of the acts showed a surprising political understanding and 162

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com ic sense. Maybe the astuteness of the acts came from a desire to impress us radical puppeteers. The puppeteers actually debated pu tting the immigration act in the Circus later on tour. The five puppeteers agreed at the end of the workshop that it was one of the most inspiring days of our lives: we witnessed a group of traditional theater students blossom artistically when they were taken out of their element and placed in the new context of radical Cheap Art artistically blossom. The supervising theater teacher thanked us effusively. She was initially nonplussed by our disreputability, but was moved after seeing the excitement of these students over th e realization that art could be made by anyone without a complex script, the Meis ner technique, or a lighting board. It was the triumph of Cheap Art. It was the triumph of the Kasper act, a form of resistance. It was the perfect extension of the folk puppetry of rural Germany; it was deregulated, decentralized and dangerous. If a group of repressed, awkward and anxious teenagers could make a coherent argument against the American ruling class, anyone could, which gave us hope. 163

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Appendix 3 A description of Photographs of My Corpse: A Puppet Service for Guantnamo Because Bread and Puppet does not have any written script or record of any of those shows, I have tried to outline the show below. I would like to note that the entire show (except where noted) is silent and all motion is extremely slow: Introduction, Part I: At the beginning of the show, a table sat in front of the stage. On top of the table sat a black cardboard sign with the title of the show painted on it in white. The curtain, which was blue and black with interlocking leafless brown trees, was closed on the stage. The puppeteers, in dark suits, surrounded th e table and sang a somber variation of Mravaljamier,110 a drinking song from the Republic of Georgia. Introduction, Part II: Three puppeteers moved towards a large brown paper cloak and God mask, which rested on a chair on stage L (see fig. 4). Below the chair was the collection of small brown puppets used in after the Introdu ction in Part I. On e puppeteer climbed inside the cloak from behind and covered he r body, the other stood on a chair above the puppeteer in order to manipulate the mask from behind. The cloak masked the puppets at its base entirely. The third puppeteer began cr anking a loud, percussive ratchet and the puppet slowly moved its arms and head around in slow, pensive vectors. After a few 110 Many popular Georgian lyrics have been applied to different melodies. Tamar Schumann, Peter and Elkas eldest, runs a Georgian sing on the farm during the summer. She told me that there are probably dozens of variations on Mravaljamier, like many other Georgian songs. At the end of tour, our company was working on a major-key version of Mravaljamier, which was never performed. 164

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m inutes, the puppet froze, and the remaining puppeteers opened the cloak to reveal the small puppets inside. These puppeteers lined up to kneel and pick up a single Population puppet, which they held deferentially to the God puppet, then carried it gently over to the table, where they sat it down. This process continued until all of the figures had been birthed from inside the cloak. The last pupp eteers stepped out of and away from the cloak and moved to their positions for Part I. (Fig. 4. The puppet from the beginning of Photographs of My Corpse. The ratchet is on the left, and the curtain for the stage-frame on th e right. The puppet is resting on a chair as it does in Introduction, Part I. This photograph was taken at St. Stephens Church in Mount Pleasant, Washington, DC.) Part I: The Population This section was comprised of the activat ion and elaboration of the tiny figures on the table, aided by the interrogation log and music. I have described the structure and feel of this section in my extrapolation of the cr eation process. There is a selection from the 165

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Interrogation Log, after which the puppeteers manipulated the Population, Daniel played a jagged phrase on the violin, and the cycle repeated. To m y understanding, this section shows an abuse of responsibility. I see the relationship of the puppeteer to the puppet as one of forsak en responsibility by viewing Introduction II as a birth scene. Because of its abstraction, it can obviously be interpreted differently. Through varying movements of gentleness and random violence, these caregivers show their schizophr enic hostility plainly. I wont delve into allegory, but the violent caregiver has many applications on both the macroand micro-level. Part II: The Torture Part II was split up into discrete scenes. The company members (Daniel, Maura, and Noah, as well as veteran touring puppeteer Jason) performed this section, while the rest of the touring members flanked the stage in their suits, staring solemnly ahead. At the end of each scene, the Population puppets we re violently pushed offstage by a puppeteer with a broom. After this coda, one suited puppe teer closed the curtai n, while another held a fallen puppet up to a mobile lamp held by a third puppeteer. A f ourth puppeteer stood nearby, playing a junk cello made out of old metal plates and rusted strings. The puppeteers onstage were wearing either the black bags with the welder masks or dressed as the Paper Man in a brown paper cloak, mask, and cardboard top hat. This last character, which Peter referr ed to as a puppet, was the person directing the torture. The four puppeteer s onstage were within 2 of the same height, and would change roles in between scenes, so it was impossible to discern which puppeteer was the Paper Man. 166

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Here is a representative scene: it began w ith s mall, flat deer puppets on long wires being slowly pulled across the stage, as the five suited puppeteers fla nking the stage blew and whistled, making wind sounds. After the deer exited, a 9-feet wide, 5-feet tall mother puppet rose from the floor. The puppet as br own papier-mch, an expressionist figure whose body was distorted into sensuous lumps that blended into the relief background. The puppet began to shake, and eventually gave birth to a child in the foreground, approximately 5-feet long and 3-feet tall. The child puppet resembled the mother; brown papier-mch. The mother exited, the wind sounds stopped and three characters in black welder masks and the Paper Man entered. Fo r the next 10-15 minutes, the Paper Man slowly, silently directed one of the welders, now a prisoner, to lift the child puppet, which was tied to a rope on a pulley system. The prisoner painfully struggled to lift the child puppet, but failed. The prisoner struggled ha rder and harder, began flailing, and eventually collapsed on the floor. The Paper Man shuffled over, placed his hand on the prisoners head, and effortlessl y lifted the child puppet for him.111 This scene typifies the abstraction of the abuse, as well as the moral ambiguity, the shockingly tender paternalism of the Paper Man. Each scene ended with the same sequence: the Paper Man lifting the hood on the 19th century studio-styled camera, rotating the camera, taking photographs of th e scene as one of the puppeteers flashed a bright light from the top of the stage.112 The tortured prisoner then used a large broom to push the Population closer and closer to the stage, and th en, cued by a painfully loud 111 This process of attempting to lift a puppet connected to a pulley system is an action used in previous Bread and Puppet shows. 112 After one performance, an audience member wrote us a note that said, You really need to get a dimmer light bulb for the flashing. I almost had a seizure watching this. It was the only complaint we got about thatit probably wasnt the wattage of the light, which was low, but the shock of a bright light in a perpetually dark performance. This was, of course, intentionally painful. 167

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crashing of an instrum ent made of old hub caps and other metal debris clashing to the floor (performed by a suited puppeteer downstage), violently pushed them onto the ground. After each scene of torture, the welder s and Paper Man exited. Two puppeteers in black bags returned with rema rkable puppets, these large mask s connected at their bottom to diagonal rods held between the puppeteer s legs. The puppeteers awkwardly shuffled forward, holding the rod with this heavy puppet on the end of it, resulting in the masks bouncing a great deal, fittingly: they were faces of old men, bald heads, heavy-lidded eyes, and beards twice as long as their faces, carved in long tendril shapes. One of the old men gently hit a triangle, and the other man followed with a brief phrase on wooden chimes. Part II continued with these cyclical scenes of torture until there was an uprising during the final scene, in which one prisoner, forced to strike a larger puppet operated by two puppeteers with a black plastic tube, slowly turned on the Paper Man and struck him down. The Paper Man fell, taking do wn the camera with him. The rest of the puppeteers and puppets collapsed on stage. The curtain fell. 168

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Appendix 4 On Schumanns Outsider Artist status. It is necessary to point out that, while Schumann distrusts conve ntionality, he is able to differentiate between primitive and primal in art, and his work avoids the psychological and cultural projection of the so-called primitivist artists of the 20th century. Hal Foster identifies the three common interpretations of Outsider Art/primitivist art from the early 20th century as the view that the work is expressive of (1) the essence of art (2) a purity of vision, and/or (3) a defiance of conventions (Foster 2004:193). These categories (especially the first two) str ongly apply to Schumanns aesthetic pursuit; however, he steers away from pr ojecting a geneticization of these qualities onto a specific group of people, such as the mentally or phys ically disabled, or primitive peoples. Additionally, the quick and sloppy execu tion and radically simplified subject matter of much of his art connote an Outsider Artist character (see Figure 1). Schumann has worked outside of the main stream of art production and reception in his career. The label usually denotes someone excluded for suprapolitical reasonse.g., mental illness. Schumanns decision to work outside stemmed from a rational dislike of the art establishment rather than an illusi on about primitive impulse or sensibility.113 He believes in the ordinariness of art and the artistry of ordinariness. In January, 2009, he had a residency at a Vermont arts program; af ter a workshop, he complained, All of the art here is terrible! It is all so individualistic! 113 Another significant problem is the refusal of the art establishment to engage with theater, creating an artificial divide between performance and non-performa tive visual art. There is, in reality, little difference in quality between Peter Schumann and more legitima te artists, but Schumanns challenge of authority removes him from the running. To repeat Greg Cook: arts ruling class may ap preciate rascals, but not those who systematically challenge authority. 169

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Appendix 5 An argument between John Bell and Greg Cook concerning Bread and Puppets agrarianism. JOHN BELL: I felt like, as artists, thats not our re sponsibility to tell people to change their lives or to say, Yeah, you should change your life. I dont think we would tell people to think a certain way. The way I think of it is what Peter does in his work is to make the best possible argument for his point of view and then articulat e these ideas with the wa y that he does. I think theres room for not agreeing with it, or not getting it, or hating itIm not denyinglike, this little booklet, Seven Questions About the Iraq War. There they are, theyre out there in the street with these images, but thats the imageAt whose pleasure? At what cost? Thats very different from a poster that says, Stop the war! GREG COOK: But Bread and Puppet promotes this back-to-the-land get-out-of-society utopian thingIt jokes about it, because of how impossible that seems. JB: I disagree. When the theater comes to Boston, theyre not saying to people, You should leave Boston and sell your car and grow your own kohlrabi. GC: But they are! JB: No. I would totally disagree. I dont think thats true at all. Not at all. GC: What about the Second Vermont Republic? Its not about urban living. JB: Thats not so much about some utopian ideal of rural living as much as it is about the nature of government and whether st ates have the right to secedeI th ink it appeals to Peter because he likes the idea that there is fr ee will involved in politics and that it could be possible. And of course. Why not? That would be a great thing. The great thing about that is that people have their ability to determine their own future and determine their politics. Thats what Bread and Puppet is about. More than saying back to th e landI just dont see it that way. GC: But what about Schumanns imagery of what is good? A cow, a Washerwoman, a farmer, birds, and goats. Its a natural utopia. JB: Its not about something as practical or as simple as getting a farm or having a cow. I dont think Bread and Puppet is saying everybody sh ould get a car. Hlderlin, the samehes not saying get a cow. Hes talking about ways of perception or ways of conceiving of oneself in the world and what you do in the world. Like the Founding Fathers, the puppets, which are actually heroic. Like that Jefferson quote we use [Whenever a government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it]. Thats actually a very conservative thing to say in a way, because its a root of American politics we forgot a bout it. Back in the day, this is what people were saying. And I think the Second Vermont Republic ideaI see it in the relationship with the grander and more romantic, if you will, idea of Jeff erson. Thats also this idea of you can do it. Its more about the possibility of changewhich is utopianthan a specific recipe for rural life. That would be really nave on Peters part, and hes not nave. He likes New York City. He doesnt go around New York City telling people to go get cows. I think its not reducible to that. AUSTIN MCANN: It speaks from the culture of that the theater exists in, which is rural. JB: Like the Palestine stuff. Hes not saying the solution to Palestine is rural living. Or Rachel Corrie. Thats nonviolent resi stance to some state action. GC: My point is that divisions of what the good life is for the theater is Peters life, and his life is owning a farm. Theres something about the divisi on that hes projecting, or of what success is. What would make the world a happy place. Independent living, and fo r him its tied up to the rural ideal, at least in images. JB: That was also Scott [Nearing] and Helens idea. One of the reasons they thought it was important for working-class peoplenot middle-class hippies, but the working-classto move to the country and to have some sort of subsistence living was because it was an alternative to capitalism. In an urban situation, you dont have a choice. I would say the politics of urbanization, Peters on the side of urban situations are not n ecessarily good for people because youre forced to work in a factory, or whatever. It is true that he likes this life. He doesnt have a cow, but somebody else doesIts romantic and its practical, because people here try to live that way. Its very hard to do For [the Schumanns], it was di fferent, because they were going to Vermont, where Scott and Helen had been. 170

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G: But think of the imagerywhat is the good life? What is happiness? JB: As opposed to what? GC: Many of them people involved with the theater are city folk. Maybe so me of them are urban people, and the theater could speak to living in urban society. How do we live anticapitalist in an urban setting? JB: It doesnt relate to people in the cities? GC: Thats not the vision it presents. A vision of the good life. JB: But when I think of the shows that have been done in Boston in the past few years, theyre not about how you should live the good lifeWhen I see a Bread and Puppet show, Im not like, Man, I live in the city, so I cant get into this. I should live in the country. My mother-in-law is into clothesline because she lives in a community where she cant put her clothes on a clothesline. And so her house is full of pictures of clotheslines, which Trudi [Cohen] had made an exhibition of. And thats this image here. Ridiculous as it seems, thats a very political image. Right now, at this particular moment. But you dont have to be in Vermont to have a clothesline. Its true, thats where the theater is. They wanted to get away. But when he wrote about it at the time, it wasnt just that his house was getting broken into, he was talking about the nature of urban society, which is an aspect of the 20th centuryurbanization. Even in Southeast Asia, the situation in Cambodia. Those Khmer Rouge were anti-urban. They were mu rdering people because they wanted to get rid of the cities. Im not drawing a connection betw een Bread and Puppet and the Khmer Rouge, but certainly urbanization is an interesting challenge. What is ones position on the city? How should a city be run? 171

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Appendix 6 Bread and Puppets July 2007 parade. The first week of my internship, we began a parade. Bread and Puppet does parades throughout the summer, but the vast majority occur around July 4th, during the internship. We split up into groups and learned s ections of this parade. The final event (a semioticians nightmareor fantasy, I suppos e) was an incomprehensible amalgamation of hot political terminology and Sc humanns typically skewed subversion misinterpretation of American idioms: The parade began with Schumann in his Santa outfit, limp pillow belly, Mexican straw mask, and clown nose. He led the parade waving a giant flag with a Kasper on it, laughing maniacally. Schumann was dancing, by which I mean spastically throwing his body into bizarre gesticulations and poses that were only further complicated by his costume. All of this occurred in, I repeat July. Behind Schumann came business manager Linda Elbow, in a black mourners outfit an d a small, ugly mask, holding a large placard that read: OLD GENES: BO RN TO DIE. Across from Li nda was a puppeteer holding a sign that read: NEW GENES: BORN TO BUY! Puppeteer Jason Hicks walked among these figures on stilts, dressed up as a mad scie ntist, in a mask whose features were hard to discern. Behind this front contingent was a group of puppeteers and interns holding flatso skeletons, waltzing in synchronic ity to Daniel McNamaras accordion accompaniment. Behind this section was a group of Kasper businessmen holding briefcases. They were wearing two-dimensiona l masks meant to be seen from the side. With a snare drum accompaniment, the Kaspers marched steadily forward. At certain points during the parade, Jas on (as the mad scientist) woul d come through the skeletons 172

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and Kaspers bashing a pair of cymbals. At this point, the skeletons would run to individual businessm en and perform a series of motions: (1) the skeletons were dropped, the briefcases were opene d, brown shopping bags with the words BORN TO BUY stenciled on them are raised in the air, and (2) with a giant H ooray! Daniel began playing Santa Claus Is Coming To Town114 while the ex-skeletons/now-shoppers danced ecstatically among the businessmen, who had turned their briefcases toward the parade attendees, showing graphs going up, up, up. After a signal, the skeletons retreated and began their waltz again. Behind all of this was a 15-foot tall skeleton horse on a heavy steel-and-pine dolly and the Bread and Puppet band playing popular American songs. This series of events would eventually become part of The Divine Reality Comedy Circus pageant, but the context of performanc es on the farm are controlled, insofar as audiences are attendees at a Br ead and Puppet show. Th is control is prev ented in the local parades, leading Bread and Puppets contribut ions to be received by frowns and arched eyebrows even in artsy, left y strongholds like Montpelier. Some of the interns interrogated Schuma nns logic during our bye-bye meeting, and he explained the parade as if it were as clear as day. I gathered that he interpreted Santa Claus as a morally ambiguous figure bringing joy through consumerism to the American populace.115 This year, Santas gift was a cure for the existential angst of modern existence (born-to-die; represente d by the mourners and the skeletons, and possibly the skeleton horse [it was tacked on at the last minute]) by the pill of 114 In the parade and the pageant, the lyrics are bizarre ly simplified into the threatening refrain: You better watch out / you better watch out / you better watch out / and you better watch out: Santa Claus is coming to town! Its possible that Daniel didnt know the rest of the lyrics andwhat with the slapdash character of rehearsalseveryone just went along with the simplification. 115 Mickey Mouse or Ronald McDonald might be better illu strations of this concept, but Schumann likes to deal with trans-cultural charac ters and symbols. He also rarely incorporates pop culture. 173

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consum erism (born-to-buy; represented by the businessmen). Jason (on stilts) was the geneticist responsible for these new genes. Even if the combination of genes, skeletons, shopping bags, bizarre businessmen, mourners a huge skeleton horse, and a ragtag colorful jazz band had made sense, the fact that a ll of this occurred around July 4th put the nail in its coffin of comprehension.116 116 By the end of the internship, we had created a new parade based on random characters without an overarching structure. 174

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Appendix 7 The text of the Chores cantastoria by the Modern Times Theater. This cantastoria serves as the philosophi cal manifesto for Justin and Roses new theater company, the Modern Times Theater,117 which is focused on rural issues, like the glorification of agricultural labor su ch as gardening and animal raising: JUSTIN: Basic assumption: chore equals drudgery. ROSE: Linguistic correction: chore equals drudgery only when the task is imposed by a Third Party. Without that imposition, drudgery remains drudgery, but Chore becomes a blow for freedom. JUSTIN: Not the standard full tank of gas freedom. ROSE: But the new, old empty tank of gas freedom. JUSTIN: This is a mental adjustme nt necessary to transform our bigger is better society into an enough is enough society. JUSTIN: The adjusted chore-doer finds that he is stronger and healthier, which is good news, because he does not have health insurance. ROSE: When a tree falls in the forest, Chore he ars it and knows she will be warm next winter. JUSTIN: Chore knows the location of the best du mpster in town and leads friends there. ROSE: Chore has nothing clever to say and is always looking at the sky for tomorrows weather. JUSTIN: Chore rarely finds its own garbage can full. ROSE: Chore has its own economy. JUSTIN: Chore finds it has time to think. ROSE: Chore lives high on the hog, low on the hog, and makes soup from the rest. JUSTIN: We, the Rural Persons Verbal Reclamation Front, would like to remind you: the government will not set you free. ROSE: Chores will set you free. JUSTIN: The governments freedom exists only as far as Choice allows it. ROSE: But the freedom to do Chores exists everywhere all the time So when Choice says, Paper or plastic? Chore brings its own bag and says, Theres a blow for freedom! JUSTIN: And when Choice says Conventional or organic? Chore grows what it can and says, Theres a blow for freedom! ROSE: And when Choice says Fox News or NPR? JUSTIN: Chore drinks a tall glass of water, urinates on the daisies and says, Theres a blow for freedom! 117 Puppeteer Rose Friedman: Modern Times Theater is something that my parents started before I was born. They were doing shows with that name in New York during my childhood. So, that was always a thing that they said could be my name or entity to take on. Again, I always imagined I would be in New York, and its still a non-profit functioning in NY. I could still pull out that tax thing and be a non-profit, but not in Vermont. So that was my inheritance from them, and it was kind of a little family joke, but also kind of serious. Roses mother, Denny Partridge, was artistic director of the San Francisco Mime Troupe in the 1970s. Her father, Steve Friedman, was an actor in the same company beginning in the 1960s. They currently work under the similarly named Mudtime Theater, doing VT-themed shows. 175

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Although Bread and Puppets focus is less de term inistically rura l in orientation than Modern Times, the valuing of ha rd work is equally fundamental. The Modern Times Theater (Justin Lander, L; Rose Friedman, R) performing their Chores cantastoria. 176