Peter Schumann, Bread and Puppet Theater
About the Artists
The Bread and Puppet Theater is a politically active puppet theater, founded by Peter Schumann in New York City in 1963 and based in Glover, Vermont since 1974.
The name Bread and Puppet is derived from the theater’s practice of sharing its sourdough rye with the audience, and from its central principle that art is as basic as bread. The Bread and Puppet Theater participates in parades and is active at many statehouse marches in Montpelier.
Peter Schumann, Bread and Puppet’s director, was born in 1934 in Silesia. Schumann was a sculptor and dancer in Germany before moving to the United States in 1961. In 1963 he founded Bread and Puppet Theater and in 1970 moved to Vermont, eventually settling in the Northeast Kingdom in Glover where the company still performs outdoor circuses and pageants all summer long.
The Bread and Puppet Theater was founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City’s Lower East Side. Besides rod-puppet and hand puppet shows for children, the concerns of the first productions were rents, rats, police, and other problems of the neighborhood. More complex theater pieces followed, in which sculpture, music, dance, and language were equal partners. The puppets grew bigger and bigger. Annual presentations for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day often included children and adults from the community as participants. Many performances were done in the street. During the Vietnam War, Bread and puppet staged block-long processions and pageants involving hundreds of people.
In 1974 Bread and Puppet moved to a farm in Glover in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The 140-year old hay barn was transformed into a museum for veteran puppets. Our Domestic Resurrection Circus, a two day outdoor festival of puppetry shows, was presented annually through 1998.
The company makes its income from touring new and old productions both on the American continent and abroad, and from sales of Bread and Puppet Press’ posters and publications. The traveling puppet shows range from tightly composed theater pieces presented by members of the company to extensive outdoor pageants which require the participation of many volunteers.
Today, Bread and Puppet continues to be one of the oldest, nonprofit, self-supporting theatrical companies in the country.
This installation was aided by Bread and Puppet Curatrix, Alexis Smith.