File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 114

Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2008 15:31:25 -0500
To: <>
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Bread Puppet addition

It's terrible that Gina Gambony's job is on the line because of her
desire to bring the Bread and Puppet Theater to her town.  I hope that
your board of directors will appreciate your expansive vision of culture
and art, and support your efforts to bring what the New York Times once
called a "national living treasure" to your town. 

It is interesting to me that a sign simply listing the numbers of dead
from the Iraq War can be considered information unfit for children (or
adults) to see.  The act presenting that information does not dwell in
violence, or condemn one side or another (at least in the versions I saw
this past summer).  Instead, in the middle of an otherwise lyrical music
and movement piece, a cardboard sign appears listing the numbers of the
dead, not only Americans, whom we sometimes hear about, although with
increasing infrequency, but also Iraqis.   Why exactly should children
in the United States not see this information?  What functions are
served by keeping this information secret, from both children and

john bell

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Gina Gambony
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 12:53 PM
Subject: [Puptcrit] Bread Puppet addition

I wish I could say that I'm surprised puppeteers can analyse this issue
more intelligence than the Suits, but alas, I cannot.  I'm not surprised
all :)

To clarify a couple of issues:  I was totally familiar with the troupe
had planned the "family show" (advertised as being for all ages) for
and the "grown-up show" (called Storm Office) as an evening performance
ages 16+.  I have seen B&P at a nearby town (Burgaw) perform their
circuses WITHIN the school system, and the shows were incredibly
smart, but not in-your-face political.  I had not seen this specific
but assumed it would as family-friendly as the others that have been
in Burgaw, a more rural, more conservative locale.

A couple days after the fiasco I learned from the teacher in Burgaw that
had tight control over the acts presented when she had them in the though I do not claim ignorance, the experience I had

held some hidden factors of which I was unaware.

I was disappointed that the troupe said the show was "family-friendly,
not for elementary school students" for several reasons, including my 
difficulty wrapping my brain around what exactly that means.  Our
was apparent (house lights up the whole time), and if they truly
believed it 
was not appropriate for these kids, I wish they would have omitted the

While I did facilitate and participate in the pre-show workshops, I did
see the skits that caused the controversy.  I found a space for them
(and me 
and the workshoppers-ages 9-50ish) to perform the whole circus after
left the theatre and after seeing the whole thing I realized why the
had been stopped when it was (a sign that had the number of troops and 
civilians killed in Iraq).

After saying all this, I still support the work they do, and they were
and wonderful people.  I do not agree that the show was inappropriate
elementary school kids.  Some of the description put forth by the
individucal was over-blown or down-right untrue.  I am a strong
proponent of 
critical thinking, which is why I recently left my teaching position in
public school system.  Of course "appropriate" is entirely debatable,
but in 
this neck of the woods I would have asked them to remove a couple of
just to save our own teeth-but not because of legitimate

The worst part of it in the end is that my boss had skepticism about 
inviting the troupe in the first place; I convinced him otherwise,
basing my 
advocacy on what I saw in Burgaw.  This was clearly a mistake on my
although I'm still contemplating just how this got so crazy.  My board
directors meets tomorrow and I will learn my fate!  Either way, I'm
committed to the puppetization of my town, which will have amazing 
by-products, including critical thinking and happiness.

BTW I have the cheap art manifesto framed (which is kind of funny) in my

home office, and a picture of Peter Schumann in my work office! 

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