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Bread & Puppet Theater to bury rotten idea at WFU

By Pam Barrett
336.758.5237
February 13, 2004

The internationally renowned Bread & Puppet Theater will present “The Insurrection Mass with Funeral March for A Rotten Idea,” Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel. The performance is designed for both adults and children. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.

Bread & Puppet founder Peter Schumann will also hold a free “fiddle lecture,” a lecture intermingled with fiddle playing, followed by a question-and-answer session Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ring Theatre of Scales Fine Arts Center.

The Bread & Puppet production, which incorporates several papier-mâché puppets representing gods, revolves around a rotten idea that is buried during a non-religious “Mass.” The rotten idea is usually derived from some recent political or economic event or idea. The “Mass” includes secular scripture readings, a “fiddle sermon” and hymns in which the public is invited to participate.

Bread & Puppet, one of the oldest non-profit, self-supporting theatrical companies in the United States, is known for its politically-oriented theatrical messages, larger-than-life rod puppets, street performances and the popular, but now retired, weekend production “Domestic Resurrection Circus and Pageant.”

According to Schumann, who founded Bread & Puppet in 1962 on New York City’s Lower East Side, “theater is like bread … like a necessity.” Hence, the name Bread & Puppet.

The theater’s early productions included both rod- and hand-puppet shows for children and focused on “rents, rats and police,” all problems facing that neighborhood.

During the Vietnam War, Bread & Puppet staged block-long processions involving hundreds of people that depicted what their brochure calls “the arrogance of war-mongers and the despair of the victims.”

In 1974, after four years as the theater-in-residence at Goddard College, Bread & Puppet settled on a farm in Glover, Vt., where they transformed a 140-year-old hay barn into a museum for hundreds of puppets and masks, ranging in size from miniature cut-outs to towering giants.

Bread & Puppet’s visit to Wake Forest, which is being funded in part by a Lilly Grant, is in conjunction with a first year seminar called “Theatre of Protest and Social Change.” It is sponsored by the Wake Forest Department of Theatre and Dance.

For more information, call 336-758-1997.


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