I have a confession to make: I have lived in Vermont for 19 years and I have never seen a Bread and Puppet performance (which is positively shameful considering that they are top 5 in a long list of important visual inspirations for me). This summer I made it there.
The museum was my favorite place – an old Vermont hay barn filled to the rafters with hundreds of puppets, mixed media installations, sketches and paintings, covering the legacy of the troupe.
The puppets on the second floor are as tall as the haybarn. Do not forget to look UP when visiting the museum.
(Click the thumbnail for larger images)
After the museum we shuffled back to the ampi-theatre (a bowl shaped rolling green shown behind the stilted gentleman below) and wandered around from sideshow to sideshow. These shows happen at the top of the verdant “bowl”:
People kept telling us to go into the woods. The way they were phrasing it, I was certain that we were going to encounter an unexpected zombie attack. But that was not the case. What lives in the woods is a touching memorial to all of the people who have worked for Bread and Puppet Theatre and have died. Each artist has their own little structure, like a teeny house, which serves as an effigy.
The “Nothing Is Not Ready Circus” takes place in the grassy amphitheater, in front of a school bus, and comes with a strong Marxist political viewpoint that feels very old world at first but then ties in to current events. It is very Vermonty and liberal so if you have terribly conservative friends or family members, this may not be the event for you.
Afterwards there is a performance art piece called “Pageantry” that takes place in an adjacent field. It is far more abstract than the circus, very slow moving and beautiful. The way the artists use the landscape to enhance the scope of the performance is amazing. The performance I saw was about the recent tensions in the Gaza strip.
The show commences with its namesake: slices of hearty bread, smothered in a yummy garlic, olive oil and lemon juice dressing called “aioli”. Served for free and encouraged to share.
“The name Bread & Puppet is derived from the theater’s practice of sharing its own fresh bread, served for free with aioli, with the audience of each performance as a means of creating community, and from its central principle that art should be as basic to life as bread.” (wiki)