File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 104


Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2008 23:06:59 -0500
To: <puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org>
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Bread & Puppet controversy


Among other things, I am struck by the comment of Thalian Hall Executive Director Tony Rivenbark: =93We bought a product, we weren=92t satisfied with it and we returned it. [...] I don=92t consider that censorship. We paid them off, and we were very gracious as far as I=92m concerned.=94

This is an interesting part of the problem, because Rivenbark reflects a very common United States attitude: that culture is nothing more than a consumer product. 

"WE PAID THEM OFF AND WE WERE VERY GRACIOUS." BUT OH WHAT GRACE THEY MISSED AT THALIAN HALL: THE GRACE OF THE GESTURE OF THE PUPPET; THE SIMPLE AND YET BEAUTIFUL POSSIBILITIES OF PETER SCHUMANN'S WORK, THE AMAZING CAPABILITIES OF THE BREAD AND PUPPET COMPANY, WHICH AT THIS MOMENT IN THE FALL OF 2008 IS COMPRISED OF SOME OF THE MOST TALENTED YOUNG PERFORMING ARTISTS OPERATING IN THE UNITED STATES TODAY.  "WE PAID THEM OFF AND WE WERE VERY GRACIOUS."  AND YET, THOSE CHILDREN IN THALIAN HALL MISSED A ONCE IN A LIFETIME CHANCE TO SEE, LIVE, IN FRONT OF THEIR OWN EYES, A REALIZATION OF THE UNCANNY MYSTERIES OF PUPPETS. "WE PAID THEM OFF AND WE WERE VERY GRACIOUS." 

Of course, what is eternally fascinating about puppetry and all art for that matter is that, at its essence, it is not a product to be consumed, but instead an experience to be shared in the continual creation of community culture.  The United States over the past two hundred years has perfected its ideology of culture-as-product, and tried to sell that idea to the world, but the world has not been convinced.  Art (and puppet theater) have more important things to do than to simply satisfy customers in the ways that Rivenbark imagines.  

The attempt to limit puppetry to the role of "product" is a futile effort to stifle its always resistant impulses.  Our roles as puppeteers have always included the job of political commentary, community celebration, and deep intellectual and spiritual thought, and Bread and Puppet has simply accepted, learned from, and enjoyed those scintillating tasks.

It's good at this moment in United States history, when there is considerable euphoria about the election of Barack Obama, to remember the challenges that face us as American artists.

jbell


-----Original Message-----
From: puptcrit-bounces-AT-puptcrit.org on behalf of Randy Ross
Sent: Sun 11/9/2008 8:01 PM
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Bread & Puppet controversy
 
i love you matieu, i love almost all puppeteers....
what you raise about the cheap art manifesto, is precisely part of
its brilliance,
it is the conversation that begins,
because we do live in capitalism,

hey this lady really blew my mind let me share . her...document seh
prensente dher in vanc. to a bunch of artist...(for social change)

res[ect/
r.

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On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 12:30 PM, Mathieu René
<<mailto:creaturiste-AT-primus.ca>creaturiste-AT-primus.ca> wrote:

>>i work and live by the cheap art manifesto .written by bread & Puppets.
>
>   peace.
>   r.


I have the cheap art manifesto printed and displayed in my studio.
It contains a lot of inspirational concepts. Some are idealistic.
I don't see how someone can take it all litterally and apply it as-is,
without compromise.
If you really do, can you tell us how you manage?

For instance, the manifesto seems to say that Art should be cheap and
accessible, which I have nothing against. But should all art be made cheap
or free? What does that tell to the artists who want to make a living at
what they do best, and work hard at it? What does that say to the world, who
obviously already thinks that Art is less valuable than other careers?
It's wrong to think that way, as anyone with eyes can see that artists make
the world interesting, they create variety, wonderful pleasing forms where
function alone would not do.
While artists may not save lives as immediately and as obviously as doctors
or firefighters, they really do save lives everyday, with the inspiration
and motivation and education Art can bring.

My application of what I get from the manifesto is that there are many
levels, types and applications of Art.
Some of it can be given for free, some of it should be paid fairly. All of
its teachings should be made available to those who need and want it.

In an ideal world where people would be fair-minded and un-jealous, all
careers would earn the same keep, and all would benefit from everyone's full
involvement. Full blooming of everyone's potential and interests.

We don't live in an ideal world.
So we can work toward it, while still needing to adjust to the current
reality.

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