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50-Year Cheer for Bread and Puppet Theater Sept. 14


By Rosanne Pellegrini | Chronicle Staff

Published: Sept. 5, 2013

The Theatre Department will host a daylong symposium and performance on Sept. 14 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the renowned Bread and Puppet Theater, the foremost populist, political theater in the US.

“Fifty Years Bread and Puppet: Cheap Art and Political Theater” features scholarly presentations on the aesthetics and politics of Bread and Puppet, panel discussions on the company’s legacy and influence, and screenings of archival film footage from its performances.

Bread and Puppet founder Peter Schumann will give the keynote address in the form of one of his famous “Fiddle Lectures”: a semi-improvised mix of performance and polemic. The celebration will culminate in an evening performance by Bread and Puppet of “The Fifty Years Cabaret,” followed by a public interview with Schumann. 

“Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater has been one of the most unusual American theater companies of the 20th century and now the 21st century,” said John Bell, eminent puppet theater scholar, who is co-organizing the symposium — a continuation and capstone of his residency as the 2012-13 J. Donald Monan, SJ, Professor of Theatre Arts — with Theatre Department Chair and Associate Professor Scott T. Cummings.

“It was the first contemporary theater in the United States to define puppetry as an art form particularly capable of addressing the most pressing issues of the day in deeply moving performances that could reach audiences of all ages,” noted Bell, director of the University of Connecticut’s Ballard Museum of Puppetry. “The occasion of the company’s 50th anniversary is a good time to consider the nature of its extensive and extraordinarily influential work in national and global contexts.”

Registration for the full day’s events is $25.  Online registration is at