Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Truly Vermont Summer New Thing: Bread and Puppet

As my time in Vermont winds down, I find myself more motivated than ever to both wring every ounce out of summer that I can AND to do as many things as possibly that are quintessentially Vermont.  Last Sunday Paul who is always thinking of cool Vermont (and Quebec) things to do, provided yet another.  Every year Paul goes up to Glover, Vermont in the area we call the Northeast Kingdom, for the annual Bread and Puppet show that runs on Sunday afternoons in August.  This year Chris and I, as well as our friend Sue, rode up with him (in his shiny new white Jeep).

It's a little hard to explain what Bread and Puppet actually is: it describes itself as "cheap art and political theater in Vermont", and it was founded by Peter Schuman -- who still directs it --  in the 1960s.  Our friend Sue told us that the name comes from the practice they used to do of serving homemade bread and garlic spread at  the free performances.  The centerpiece of Bread and Puppet is the paper mache puppets, many of them huge, that they use in their political skits and parades.  The whole thing has moved several times in its history but now its permanent home is a farm in Glover, and the large barn has been converted to a museum featuring many of the puppets and sets of previous performances.

Given how visual the whole experience is, pictures are probably the best way to describe it, so I'll let some of the ones I took speak for themselves.  Here they are.  Take a look and then head up to Glover sometime to see it for yourself!

A central premise of Bread and Puppet is that art is for everyone.  The Cheap Art Bus is one way of realizing the reality.  Here Paul and Chris browse through the options.

The Museum, located inside a converted barn is literally crammed floor to ceiling with puppets, paintings and paper mache sculpture. I don't know why these particular figures "spoke to me" but they definitely did.

Paul and Sue in front of one of the many exhibits.

Chris pointed out this Gandhian quote to me, which sounds a lot like the liberation theology's "option for the poor". It's incorporated into a larger exhibit from a previous performance.

The visual variety in the museum was endless but the irony was pretty consistent.  Here a devil prepares to destroy a village protected by banners proclaiming that "everything is fine".

The ceiling was fantastic as well. 

Some of the exhibit's themes were not immediately self-evident -- here Chris puzzles one out.

A shot from this year's outdoor performance, "Man = Carrot" featuring, among many others, dozens of Glover area children on stilts, giant carrots, two fifteen foot puppets doing a lesbian wedding, a paper mache puppet of God and his secret service agents (wielding lightning bolts) and Vermont Yankee.


No comments:

Post a Comment