December 8, 2009 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Ah! The Hopeful Pageantry of Bread and Puppet documents the radical puppet theater's Domestic Resurrection Circus, held every summer on its Glover, Vermont grounds from 1975 to 1998, and which featured puppeteers from around the world. They no longer hold the yearly festival, as the crowds grew out of control, but they are still active [ 2009 documentary | part 2 | 3 ], and as always, serving free bread and art as panacea. There's plenty more Bread and Puppet Theater on Youtube.

Does anyone know the recipe for their awesome bread? ... It was a sourdough rye, smeared with garlic aioli ...
posted by not_on_display (19 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
If I remember right, the garlic aioli was just fresh crushed green garlic from the little garden behind the oven house, no oil that I recall. I'll ask a baker friend about the recipe, she always put her time in there and might know. Anyway, what a good place to spend a summer weekend. It did get pretty big though and I stopped going in 1995. Still have some art from the cheap art bus hanging around somewhere.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:12 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

You'll just have to imagine the woodcut type when I say: AH! GREAT POST

There are also some fantastic books on Bread & Puppet. Estrin and Simon's Rehearsing with Gods is full of amazing photos of their people and performances over the decades (and some okay essays, a bit impressionistic and superficial at times). George Dennison wrote a few thoughtful notes on them that were published posthumously (An Existing Better World). And Stefan Brecht (yes, Bertolt's son) wrote an obsessively detailed, brilliant, gargantuan two-volume doorstopper on Bread & Puppet, now hopelessly out of print, that I really think is one of the most astonishing if also the least read art/theater-critical works of the last few decades.
posted by RogerB at 8:20 PM on December 8, 2009

GREAT POST!!! I've seen these guys a couple times and they are just incredible. Thanks!
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:40 PM on December 8, 2009

Bread and puppet are woven all through my youth. My parents took me to the 4th of July parade that had the Bread and Puppet performers in it every year. In highschool, Bread and Puppet was mainly talked about as the best place to find harder to acquire drugs. My first bike ride on the road was to Bread and Puppet and back.
posted by idiopath at 8:40 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just went through a bad breakup tonight so I needed this to be reminded of my local political puppet outlet In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater and the MayDay Celebration. They got their inspiration from the Circus and I am glad they are around to cheer me up
posted by wheelieman at 9:01 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I went with my family to be apprentice puppeteers a few summers ago. Fantastic-- I highly recommend it. It is a community that lives what it preaches.

I suggest reading their brief cheap art manifesto.
posted by brewsterkahle at 9:04 PM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Their tour schedule currently doesn't show them venturing beyond New York or Boston, but keep checking because they do tour. They just did one in May so it might be a while.
posted by intermod at 10:07 PM on December 8, 2009

The museum is pretty badass and seriously, seriously effed me up (in a kind of productive/good way) as a kid.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:18 AM on December 9, 2009

I have such great and sad memories of Bread and Puppet. Their last major Domestic Resurrection Circus was my first. The death that ended the circus happened right next to our tents. We awoke the next morning to the body of a father on the ground draped in a white sheet waiting for the coroner to arrive.

When I can separate the tragedy of that moment from the intent of Bread and Puppet I'm reminded of just how fantastic they are. While living in Boston I managed to see them when they would bring the smaller circus into town. I would see them at various protests in NY and Boston and marveled at the puppetry and message.

One of my favorite posters hanging in my apartment is from Bread and Puppet. It says - Resistance of the heart against business as usual.
posted by Constant Reader at 7:30 AM on December 9, 2009

there (was?) A Bread And Puppet show down at Theater For The New City for the longest time. THey had the No-Animal Circus and everything.
posted by The Whelk at 8:14 AM on December 9, 2009

and I used to go a lot when I was in my No I'm not in college and I don't have a "permanent address" mood.
posted by The Whelk at 8:17 AM on December 9, 2009

Great post. We used to drive up to Glover every summer for the circus; I was so sad when it ended but yeah, it had gotten way out of hand. My cheap art is all over my house and a constant inspiration.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:02 AM on December 9, 2009

there (was?) A Bread And Puppet show down at Theater For The New City for the longest time. THey had the No-Animal Circus and everything.

Yeah they still do shows there from time to time. The last show I know they did at New City was in 2007 and it was a piece (obvs) about Bush.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:15 AM on December 9, 2009

I believe there were actually two deaths the last year of the Domestic Resurrection Circus. It was completely out of control. Many had come only for the drugs. They didn't leave the camps or even watch the circus. I was there in 98 and I remember hearing some asshole in one of the camps shout "SPREAD AND FUCKIT HAHAHA" and I thought "nevermind, that's it for me."
posted by stinker at 11:09 AM on December 9, 2009

I adore Bread and Puppet... They come to Hampshire College on a regular basis, and students are invited to take part in shows. =)
posted by ananda gale at 12:10 PM on December 9, 2009

I was there for the final Domestic Resurrection Circus, too, having attended for many years before, but having skipped a couple of years preceding the final one. Usually, I would arrive Friday night and leave Sunday night or Monday morning. It was one of the things I would look forward to every year: eat good bread, watch people performing funny radical propoganda that clicked with me, and enjoying the humanity around me. Smiling at people and seeing them smile back. We were all in a good, pretty safe place, enjoying the weather, the scenery, the shows.

The last year, though, I knew that something about the crowd had changed drastically during the intervening years; it was no longer a fun time, hopping from campfire to campfire and chatting with interesting, off-kilter people -- it was more like, "Yikes, what am I going to see next? Where did all these extra aggro, angry people come from?"

So, I left Sunday morning, going against my own wishes to see the circus and pageant again (and after eating yummy breakfast at the church down the road), because I just couldn't deal with the people--these weren't the hippies I'd remembered! ...only to read later that indeed, that was the end. I was glad, in a way, to experience it before the crowds went cuckoo, and I totally supported Peter Schumann's wishes.

I haven't been back there since, but it is definitely on my list of Things To Do, now that I know they're still doing summertime things up there.

Plus, damn, I miss that bread.
posted by not_on_display at 12:48 PM on December 9, 2009

Just got word from my baker friend. She says that Peter ground his own rye berries (I know, right?) mixed with some water, salt and his own homemade sourdough starter. She tells me that the sourdough starter was made by leaving some flour and water out to collect the natural yeasts in the air, and fed with a little flour and water now and again and a bit of this was used from year to year. But the hearth oven is just as important, she tells me. Baking stones are good, but that oven was a big hot woodfired one, and that helped the crust and crumb.

For me, I'll live with the memory. I'm going to make my own bread anyway, but maybe this year I'll mash some new garlic and see if I'm even close.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:37 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Interesting panel transcript from 1968, for the hard core, with peter shumann, the founder, with another theater many of us know: the mime troupe, with its founder rc davis.

I found their messages are remarkably clear and consistent with what they have developed into since then.

The mime troupe is celebrating their 40th/50th anniversary now in SF and there are many gatherings around it. Peter Schumann even came out for a re-take of that panel from 1968.
posted by brewsterkahle at 8:53 PM on December 9, 2009

I went to that last B&P.. It seems so long ago. The end pageant was so hauntingly beautiful but it only exists in my dreams.

I have often thought of going back and visiting them, but wonder if I will be disappointed.

Great memories. Green fields and perfect weather.
posted by quibx at 11:04 AM on December 10, 2009

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