File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 140

Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2008 17:27:14 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Bread Puppet addition

Dear John and all,

> - There was clearly miscommunication among presenters, performers and
> audiences.  This issue is separate from the larger questions about the
> possibilities of political puppet theater.

Fair enough. I spoke strongly from  2nd hand info and made assumptions
and judgements.
Keep in mind though that any anti war statement in a family show in
this part of the world is not favorably looked at especially in
Eastern NC.  Frankly I can't really think of any family audience
accept perhaps in parts of New England (and I am from new England)
that would not be upset with an  anti war message in a performance for
family audience.   It just puzzles me why they would not have seen
this coming.  It is not rocket science.   I would think after being in
Burgaw they would have a feeling for the politics in that region.  It
is extremely high in military family population.  Knowing that their
family audience would be conservative, what reaction were they
expecting?  If I present strong political views in my work, I can
expect some very strong reactions from my family audience and my
sponsors.  John I present rather mild stuff and have gotten "in
trouble" for things way more incipid than the Iraq war.  We were
having the discussion in considering how we present our work when
touching on things like politics and the value in it and how to handle
it.  The purpose wasn't to trash B&P.  I feel very badly for what Gina
must be going through and think she has got a great attitude.  If she
loses her job I think it will be a very great loss to Thalian Hall.
It is the president of the theater who's job it is to know what he's
buying.  Bread and Puppets should not have had their performance
stopped.  I'm sure no one set out for this to happen.  The boss should
have done their homework, but there they were and they made the call
to do it the what they did.

> that Bread and Puppet's goal was to upset or outrage its audience.
> This is a school gig that didn't turn out well.   How many of us have
> experienced school gigs that didn't turn out well because of
> miscommunication?

I too have known many extraordinarily talented folks who  have worked
with Bread and Puppets.  I appreciate their passion and ability.

> - I know the performers of this Bread and Puppet company well.  Some of
> them were my students at Emerson College, and others I have known for
> many years.  They are an immensely talented group of young puppeteers,
> with amazing skills in all forms of puppetry, dance, music, acting,
> painting, construction, and administration.  They are inspired,
> knowledgeable, curious about the world, and eager to figure out ways
> that live theater might be able to play a part in the intellectual,
> social, and spiritual life in our United States.  They work very, very
> hard.  In these young puppeteers I find immense hope for the future, and
> I hope you all might one day get to see and enjoy their work firsthand.

> - Strictly in terms of dramatic form, a circus (like a vaudeville
> review, cabaret, or variety show) is not a tragedy.   A circus is a
> collection of disparate acts showing skill (ta-da!) in a variety of
> different performance techniques.  A circus like Bread and Puppet's,
> which includes the goofy, the beautiful, and the political in its
> succession of acts, is not at all similar to a tragedy ("Romeo and
> Juliet" is Malgosia's example) into which extraneous information might
> be inserted.  In a political circus, an act about an important political
> situation that affects us all belongs there; it is not extraneous.  In
> any case, even if I saw the "Romeo and Juliet" production Malgosia
> imagines, I would never demand that it be stopped in mid-performance.

> - I am saddened and disappointed at the degree to which some puptcrit
> readers, acting on second-hand information, gossip, and innuendo, are so
> quick to criticize fellow puppeteers who, like so many of us, work very
> hard trying to make a living doing puppet shows in the United States in
> 2008.   The words


 considering there was an anti war statement in the show it seems
disengenuous to offer the performance as a family show  in this part
of the world.  What about that is genuine?  Do they get consistant
approval for doing that? I would be very pleased if they do.  I have
had a court injunction thrust upon me to stop a school tour for far

> "crude", "lacking any sense of tact",

I am behind any puppeteer but does this mean we can't discuss
something like this on pupcrit.  Isn't this the place do it?

> "false pretenses", and "deceptively" seem to me unjustified, especially
> since they do not stem from first-hand knowledge of the situation.
> - The larger question here is whether we as Americans can accept the
> idea that art with a political context is possible.  Hobey Ford writes
> that Bread and Puppet's work is "important", "[b]ut it is political
> theater," as if the fact of its politics automatically discounts its
> ultimate value.

The  "but.." refers to the situation which was they were performing
for a southern family audience. I perform for family audiences.  I do
children's theater and sometimes there adults there as well and I play
to them.  Some might discount "Children's" theater as not on equal
footing with Theatre.  I know that they are just different not better
or worse as with political theater.  It is all subjective anyway.

> political art, just as there is "good" and "bad" commercial art,
> religious art, folk art, indigenous art, and so on.  From Semar to
> Petrushka, Punch, and Guignol; from John Heartfield's anti-Nazi puppetry
> to Hitler's Reichsinstitut fur Puppenspiel; from the Modicut Theater's
> communist satires to Republican Representative Rufus Rose's handpuppet
> jibes in the Connecticut legislature; from "Team America World Police"
> to the Puppets for Peace distribution of handpuppets to Iraqi children,
> puppet theater has always played a part in politics, just as it has
> always played a part in religion, commerce, and "pure" entertainment.  I
> hope that, as puppeteers conscious of history and contemporary events,
> we can appreciate puppetry in all its variations, continue to criticize
> it, but also recognize its life-changing artistry, so evident in groups
> such as Bread and Puppet Theater.

I probably should not have even opened my mouth.  I do know that.
Bread and Puppets are no strangers to throwing out  ideas they feel
strongly about, I think they can stand a little critism.   I admire
what they have done in their history.  Sorry to offend.

Hobey Ford

Best Wishes,
Hobey Ford
> Best wishes,
> john bell
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