Posts Tagged ‘Bread and Puppet’

requiem for Haiti

January 24, 2010

Brahms’ sublime Requiem rose into the rafters high above as late-afternoon light filtered into yesterday’s gathering of hundreds at St. Michael’s College Chapel. Members of the Green Mountain Mahler Festival Orchestra and Chorus came together with volunteer musicians from all over the community and artists from the Bread and Puppet troupe to share in the special experience.

Musicians, puppeteers, and audience members congregated to show support for the people of Haiti and take some solace in the incredible beauty and power of Brahms’ choral masterpiece. The work has been called the German Requiem, but Brahms (ever the populist) said he preferred to think of it instead as the “Human” Requiem. With that thought in mind, the trandscendently beautiful opening chorus Selig sind, die da Leid tragen (“Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted”) was the perfect message for the day.

The $10,000+ that was raised at the benefit will be donated to Partners in Health and Catholic Relief Services.

new year’s eve

December 31, 2009

Not too bad.

Yesterday morning the thermometer read -12°F when I got up. This morning the mercury (or actually, the impervious red liquid stuff – whatever that is) hovers right around 18°. Think of it – a difference of 30 degrees in just a day, all without cracking the 20°F-mark.

If it never warms up to more than 18° today, it will still be around 20° warmer than the last New Year’s eve. But, in the best New England tradition of just dealing with whatever comes along, I can report firsthand that the finger-numbing cold and nose-closing bitter winds didn’t hinder last year’s First Night celebrations for a minute.

Yeah, it meant lingering inside for a good while after dinner and only getting down to the street for the parade when the first marchers could be visually verified rounding the corner onto Main Street. Must…conserve…energy…must…

A half hour and a couple (a few) of Irish coffees later – different restaurant – the 9pm fireworks were rumoured to be starting. Then it was time to dash across the street over to the State House lawn and take a  place standing in the 2+-feet snowbanks to watch with wonder as each falling flake was illuminated against the nighttime sky in the shifting colors of the roman candles and showers of fire overhead. Fantastic.

First Night traditionally brings Vermont’s top musicians and entertainers out in a single-night, statewide display of everything from storytelling to circus acts, magic, imaginative  Bread and Puppet creations, and of course, music! What fun. Not sure what the evening holds yet, but with last year’s experience in Montpelier still fresh in my memory I’m thinking a First Night celebration somewhere is probably going to be part of the mix tonight.

Everyone has a different experience, leave a comment here to share your First Night memories.

First Night is tonight in…


St. Johnsbury

and Burlington

political leaf-peeping

October 5, 2009

Beautiful autumn Sunday, what to do? …Take lots of foliage pictures? …Find a fun way to spend the day? …Enjoy the sunshine?

Yes, all of that. Bread and Puppet Theatre‘s season finale show happened (somewhat) outside yesterday under a bright blue sky and a canopy of colored leaves at home camp in Glover. The rest took place in the Papier Maché Cathedral, under the direction and narration of founder Peter Schumann (fully in character dressed as a lumpy, loud Santa Claus with a red pinch-on clown nose).

Just another day at Bread and Puppet.

The outdoor Dirt Cheap Money Circus was a truncated version of the show that played each weekend this summer in the Cathedral. The show in the Cathedral yesterday was a preview of next season’s earthy production, Tear Open the Door of Heaven.

Indoors and out, the fresh sourdough rye bread was plentiful, slathered in garlic-chunk olive oil and herbs, served in bite-sized chunks and completely delicious.

I’ve had a taste of next year’s show now, but you can bet I’ll be back for the full treatment when summer solstice comes around again. Until then I’ll have to hope Bread and Puppet turns up for First Night celebrations in Montpelier, or at one of the other local parades beween now and next summer.

bread & puppet theatre

August 5, 2009
Bread & Puppet

Bread & Puppet

Two visits to Bread and Puppet Theatre in one summer, I must be living right.

The last time was in late June on the day of their season-starting open house.

That day the performances began outside in the meadow, and then a procession of musicians, actors and puppets led everyone into the barn – I mean, the Papier-mâché Cathedral – for the afternoon’s show. They performed a number of great skits including one of their traditional pieces, the longer drama of the Warrior and the Red King.

This past Sunday’s visit was completely different.

For one thing, there were MANY more visitors this time. And the pouring rain made the weekly parade and pageant prohibitive so the only activities that day were the indoor shows. On the positive side (not that the rain was a negative thing, it just meant missing out on the parade), so many people had come to see it that they decided to have two shows that day. Both were based on funny, often political ideas around  “money”, this season’s overriding theme.

It couldn’t have been better (or funnier), from the giant headless “Wallstreet Executives” on stilts who opened the show to the exuberant “Yes We Can-Can” Uncle Sam dancers, to the joyous, spirited Dixieland-style band who kept things moving along throughout and inbetween the skits.

Don’t miss it. The regular Bread and Puppet season runs through the end of this month with various performances on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Read the “Cheap Art” manifesto, take a look at the pictures (creativity has full expression here) and when you’ve seen the show take a moment to stop in upstairs and try the loaded garlic bread samples.

It’s a complete experience.

art is cheap

June 8, 2009
inside the art bus

inside the art (is cheap) bus

I’ve wanted to visit Bread and Puppet in Glover, VT since moving here a few years ago. It’s very likely you’ve seen their work without realizing it; the troupe’s oversized puppets are a regular spectacle in local parades (First Night Montpelier, Mardi Gras in Burlington) and they’ve been featured in many movies including Julie Taymor’s 2007 Across the Universe. Remember when the psychedelic party bus takes off on the cross country trip, and then they stop in a field to find “Mr. Kite’s traveling circus” set up there? The music in the scene is from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; the colorful giant King and Queen (and other) puppets are Bread and Puppet.

Today was the annual open house, and I spent the whole afternoon inside the unique, exciting imagination of  B&P. There are outdoor and indoor pageants, spontaneous music played on all combinations of instruments, and a lot of clever humor that manifests in everything from irreverent songs to wacky music interludes to the interplay between all of the characters. The pageant themes are topical and often political, on current events domestic and international. Today’s theme was the economy. Enough said, for a place whose manifesto is is called “Why Cheap Art?”

It’s very special, the whole experience: whimsical and poignant, thought-provoking and hilarious, and ultimately uplifting to spend a few hours in an environment built on little more than creative vision, hard work, and handmade everything.

The experience also inspired a lively discussion on the return trip: what will become of papier-mâché artists like Bread and Puppet, when there IS no more newsprint to make puppets? Don’t want to think about that right now. I’d rather hold on to the good feelings and smiles from this afternoon, and I hope you’ll share that with me by taking a little time to check out the B&P gallery below.

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