File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 103


Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2008 17:03:51 -0800
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Puppet controversy


Quoted from the news link:
>>Quattlebaum's statement continued. "However, 
>>NHCS staff in attendance stated the humor was 
>>political in nature and did not reflect any 
>>relevant curriculum for elementary school."

	Well, that's the problem right there. 
The idea that kids learning about the way the 
world works and asking questions about it somehow 
needs to be delayed until the time when their 
mind is totally on their hormones - this does not 
compute.

	There's a terrible fear that - quite 
rightly - grips people involved in the 
educational system.  They're probably going to 
get it in the neck from somebody any time they go 
out on a limb.  We can shame them for cowardice, 
but we'd also better empathize with them: any 
time there's the remotest controversy, they'll be 
painted by one side as Nazis, by the other as 
child molesters.  Add to this the likelihood that 
any extracurricular activity they're promoting 
probably is an add-on to all the other shit they 
have to do, paperwork, etc., and it's hard to 
imagine why they even bother.

	That's not to excuse the guy who stopped 
the show, which I agree is outrageous.  But it's 
also incumbent on us to be hyper-aware of the 
circumstance we go into when we're doing these 
gigs.  On one hand, we can be "set up":  I 
remember around 1969 or so, whenever the first 
Earth Day was, our company was hired by a student 
committee at a Milwaukee high school to do an 
Earth Day assembly program.  They'd seen our 
show, which had a lot of political stuff, and 
when we said, well, there's not much in there 
about ecology, they said that didn't matter. 
Clearly they wanted to make a stir at their 
school.  So we did the show, we got a standing 
ovation from a thousand kids, and then the shit 
hit the fan.  Long story short: huge controversy, 
and we lost touring gigs for years because of our 
having "caused trouble" at Marshall High School. 
A useful reference in understanding what that 
neurotic Dane did to the poor damned players' 
troupe in ordering up THE MURDER OF GONZAGO:  you 
think they ever got a booking again after the 
word spread about their "controversial" 
performance?

	On the other hand=8A  Companies can be 
remarkably insensitive and self-righteous, 
especially ensembles devoted to saving the world 
and letting the chips fall where they may. 
That's not a comment on Bread & Puppet, but 
simply an occupational hazard of every "fringe" 
group with huge ideals and a sense of 
marginalization.  Did they really go the extra 
twenty miles to grok their sponsor's situation 
and communicate accurately?  I doubt it.  Might 
the crap have happened even if they had?  Very 
possibly.  Should they continue to offer this 
work to these circumstances?  Yes.  Will it help 
the cause of bringing more progressive art to 
young people?  No.  Is B & P a gift to the world? 
Of course.

	It's all part of the paradox of art's 
strained relation to society since the Romantics. 
After Krishna delivers himself of one of the 
great spiritual texts of all time, Arjuna accepts 
his dharma and leads forth his troops to be 
slaughtered by the thousands:  so we've got the 
inspirational verses, while he's got the blood on 
his hands.  Guess we need that kinder, gentler 
nation that was promised some time ago.

Peace & joy-
Conrad B

Visit our website at <http://www.independenteye.org> for
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our radio series "Hitchhiking off the Map"
and
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