File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 155


Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2008 19:50:51 -0800
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Bread Puppet addition


Just some miscellaneous thoughts, not directly related to the B&P incident.

What people describe as "political theatre" is generally work that 
has content unmistakably related to something currently in the news 
as a "political issue."  Audiences get very confused when references 
to current affairs get included in a piece as part of a "textural" 
element, in much the same way that the news media gets castigated for 
reporting, say, on a war atrocity: putting the fact out there is 
inevitably seen as offering implicit anti-war evidence, and so the 
fact becomes a "statement of opinion."  But leave it out and you have 
the sanitized, embalmed images that we see in the history textbooks 
and in a great deal of theatre today.

Certainly Bread & Puppet, over the years, has had strong political 
content, and stuff that "makes a statement."  But as often, maybe 
more often, the overt politics are simply part of the contemporary 
life it's reflecting, and are intensely intertwined with a deep 
spiritual force, whether in grief or in nutty celebration.  I don't 
know what Schumann's religious beliefs are, but even if he's an 
atheist he's a deeply religious one, at least as reflected in the 
work, and I suspect that's a source of the extraordinary fertility 
and longevity of this enterprise.

Overt politics in the theatre is pretty much a loose cannon. 
Brecht's THE MEASURES TAKEN - an incredibly powerful piece of music 
theatre with Hanns Eisler's score - was an ultra-communist piece yet 
banned in East Germany.  Olivier's HENRY V was hailed as a patriotic 
British call to arms during WWII because the brave king overcame 
terrible odds at Agincourt.  Yet one could argue that Henry's 
invasion of France was as aggressive as Hitler's takeover of the 
Sudetenland (both made good speeches, true) and probably, in the long 
run, resulted proportionally in as much damage - took four more very 
bloody Shakespeare plays to close the can of worms he opened.  One 
could go on.  And of course the stuff one sees in the movies or on tv 
is so vastly more open than live theatre - in terms of sex, violence, 
politics -that it's as if they're sprung from different continents.

As I said, just reflecting, no specific point to make.  Back to my 
papier mache for the evening.

Peace & joy-
Conrad B.

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