Bread and Puppet Theater

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West German immigrant Peter Schumann (1934-) founded the Bread and Puppet Theater in New York in 1961. Influenced by the peace movement in New York, Schumann wrote radical anti-war plays for his puppet theater. He incorporated religion and morality into the central anti-war theme of the plays. The Bread and Puppet Theater offered bread, baked by the group, to the audience at the beginning of every performance. Schumann declared that theater was as basic to life as bread, hence the name. A street parade with masked puppeteers on stilts, oversized puppets up to twenty feet high, banners, and at times, over a hundred singing and dancing volunteers, preceded the plays. The plays contained little dialogue, usually spoken by a narrator. Schumann believed the plays' imagery communicated best in an outdoor setting, therefore most of the plays were performed outdoors. With only a small core of paid staff, the Bread and Puppet Theater relied on a fluctuating volunteer staff whose numbers changed according to each performance. Charging the audience a nominal fee, the group received most of its funds through grants and donations. The group performed in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Australia.

The Bread and Puppet Theater expanded in 1970 when the group moved to Cate Farm in Plainfield, Vermont as theater-in-residence at Goddard College. They offered workshops in sculpture, mime, dance, story-making, puppet building and operation, music, and instrument making. The group also held workshops to produce Bread and Puppet publications. One of Schumann's plays, the Domestic Resurrection Circus, was first performed in 1971 at Plainfield as part of a two day festival. The festival became an annual event. Beginning in 1971, Universal Movement Theatre Repertory director Mark Amitin arranged performances for the Bread and Puppet Theater. After a cancelled series of performances for the North Jersey Cultural Council in 1973, Schumann severed his relationship with the booking agency. In 1974, Schumann moved the group to Glover, Vermont where the group opened a museum for their collection of Bread and Puppet Theater masks and puppets. The Bread and Puppet Theater continued to perform for national and international audiences.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Bread and Puppet Theater : PAD/D pamphlet file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn University of Virginia. Arts Board. University of Virginia Arts Board papers [manuscript], 1975-2009. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf 99 Cent Floating Theatre. Records, 1973-1982. University of Pittsburgh
referencedIn Schiel, Skip, photographer. Skip Schiel photographs of Bread and Puppet Theater, 1984 August Houghton Library
referencedIn Amitin, Mark Hall. Mark Hall Amitin/World of Culture for the Performing Arts, Inc. archive, 1946-2001. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Brecht, Stefan, 1924-2009. Stefan Brecht records typescript, 198-. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Svendsen, Juris. Juris Martin Svendsen papers, circa 1960-1994. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Universal Movement Theatre Repertory Archives, 1942-1978 University of California, Davis. General Library. . Dept. of Special Collections
referencedIn Snyder, Scotty. Collection relating to Scotty Snyder's theatre performances, 1968-1999 (inclusive). Harvard University, Harvard Theater Collection, Harvard College Library
referencedIn Records, 1976-1992. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Mark Hall Amitin/ World of Culture for the Performing Arts, Inc. Archive, 1946-2001 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn New York Shakespeare Festival. Clippings collection, [microform] 1954- New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Bread and Puppet Theater. Bread and Puppet Theater collection, 1967-1988. University of Connecticut, Homer Babbidge Library
creatorOf Bread and Puppet Theater Collection., undated, 1967-1988. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Bread and Puppet Theater. Archives, 1962-1981 (bulk 1964-1975). University of California, Davis, Shields Library
creatorOf Bread and Puppet Theater Archives, 1962-1981, (bulk 1964-1975) University of California, Davis. General Library. . Dept. of Special Collections
referencedIn Judson Memorial Church Archive, 1838-1995 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn Universal Movement Theatre Repertory. Archives, 1942-1978. University of California, Davis, Shields Library
creatorOf Bread and Puppet Theater. Records of the Bread and Puppet Theater, 1962-1976 (inclusive). Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith 99 Cent Floating Theatre. corporateBody
associatedWith Amitin, Mark Hall. person
associatedWith Ashley, George. person
associatedWith Bread and Puppet Museum Publications corporateBody
associatedWith Brecht, Stefan, 1924-2009. person
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith First Night Boston corporateBody
associatedWith Giorni di Masaniello person
associatedWith Judson Memorial Church (New York, N.Y.). corporateBody
associatedWith La Ballata Dei XIV person
associatedWith New York Shakespeare Festival. corporateBody
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Schiel, Skip person
associatedWith Schumann, Elka. person
associatedWith Schumann, Peter, 1934- person
associatedWith Sherman, Margo. person
associatedWith Snyder, Scotty. person
associatedWith Svendsen, Juris. person
associatedWith Universal Movement Theatre Repertory. corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, Davis. Library. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Virginia. Arts Board. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York NY US
Vermont VT US
Subject
Puppets--New York (N.Y.)
Experimental theater
Puppets
Experimental theater--United States
Puppet plays
Puppet theater
Street theater
Theater--Production and direction
Theater--Moral and ethical aspects
Masks
American drama--20th century
Theater--Political aspects
Theater--Religious aspects
Occupation
Activity
Puppeteers

Corporate Body

Establishment 1970

English

Information

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Ark ID: w64f74d7

SNAC ID: 46534878