File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 136

Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2008 12:49:44 -0600
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Living, breathing art is MESSY

A Personal tale:

When I went from working in theatre to cofounding a theatre company,  
almost 40 years ago, I had several goals in mind.
Create original work and theatre adapted from non-theatre sources.
Combine live actors, masks, puppets and music in each production.
Be cheap (inexpensive) or free to include people who often did not  
attend theatre for economic reasons.
Travel to where people already gathered to present the productions.

I was very influenced by Milwaukee's Theatre X, The SFMT Mime Troupe,  
The Pickle Family Circus and the Bread and Puppet Theatre. After our  
very first production, Theatre X invited us to use the third floor in  
their venue (for free).
I had seen many Theatre X shows.
I had only read about Bread and Puppet, the Pickles and the Mime Troupe.
It was a number of years before I actually saw the work of each company.
I 1st saw Bread and Puppet in CA. and then again when we cosponsored  
them to perform in Milwaukee.
I think I first saw SFMT on tour in Wisconsin. Then in CA, and quite a  
few times when they came back to WI.
I had to travel to Pittsburgh to see the Pickles.

Most of our productions were "family friendly"
Many were controversial and political.
The only time we were stopped mid-performance it was the fire  
department because the venue did not have the right license to present  
live shows (it was a movie theatre, converted from an old vaudeville/ 
road show house). After a short negotiation the firemen allowed us to  
finish the show, and since they had no alarms, they stayed and enjoyed  
the show. It did cancel the rest of the run, however.

Con-Ed of Illinois and Wisconsin Energy Corporation did, on separate  
occasions, did attempt to get show sponsors to cancel our performances  
of DR. PLUTONIUM'S ENERGY CIRCUS, but were not successful.

At one indoor event  a fist fight broke out between two middle aged  
corporate executives who differed ideologically on nuclear power. They  
had been enjoying alcoholic beverages before the show (during a meal  
our entire company took part were treated to). Their embarrassed wives  
had to bring the boy under control. It was funny and exciting and FUN!

Over the years I got to be friends with some of the members of left  
leaning touring theatre groups. Talks over meals were fun, informative  
and encouraging. SFMT, The Provisional Theatre, United Mime Workers,  

The late, great Carlo Mazzone-Clementi (Dell=92Arte) was a very  
influential teacher to me.
Joan Holden (SFMT) was the only playwriting teacher I ever studied with.

Theatre X  is gone (but The Independent Eye continues), SFMT does not  
seem to get to Milwaukee any more. Nor does Bread and Puppet.

All three were fundamental to the what inspired the work I did.

And the BREAD part of Bread and Puppet, coarse grain, healthy, fresh  
baked with garlic butter, was a practice and tradition that I loved  
and see as a unique, wonderful as well as literal example of what  
theatre/puppetry should do. Feed the audience.

peace, puppets, paper crafts & cheap art
-Michael John Moynihan

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