File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 174

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2008 23:49:40 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Bread Puppet addition

 Just said what I thought. Probably shouldn't have.   I am glad Gina
got to keep her job.  Would have been a shame if she had lost it.
They told her they had a family show . I guess thats just a difference
of opinion.

On Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 12:27 PM, melissa clark <> wrote:
> I have volunteered with Bread and Puppet during their summer program and
> while on tour for the past three years and I have never experienced anything
> but a loving and open atmosphere from the theater. I wonder how many here
> who are spouting negativity about the theater's work have actually worked
> with the company.
> <but have always parted favor with their over the
>> head with a sledge hammer method of delivering a "message">
> how is it that mainstream culture and politics do not beat Americans over
> the head with their "message" whether it's patriotism or the sexuality of
> pop singers?  Bread and Puppet circus acts, although they do represent an
> alternative political view, are extremely tame compared to most television
> that I can recall.
> I know the touring company personally and I worked with them this summer.
>  Many families come to see the show and also to bring their children
> (usually aged 5-13) to perform in the shows.  Most of the touring circuses
> take their form based upon the circus that we create in the summer.  I also
> had my four year old son in the circus this summer.  In defense of their
> decision to perform a politically controversial act, I agree that the show
> is family friendly.
> Although I will say the circus they were interrupted in performing has
> clearly gotten much more press and discussion for having been a controversy,
> so in that way I almost have a lot of gratitude towards the man who stopped
> the show.
> mc
> On Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 11:55 AM, Christopher Hudert <
>> wrote:
>> On Nov 11, 2008, at 11:00 AM, Hobey Ford wrote:
>> > ...  B & P are not shy about putting their views in your face.  They
>> > are extremely political <clip>  B&P has very strong
>> > views and put them out there.  I find their theatricallity and and
>> > spectacle amazing, but have always parted favor with their over the
>> > head with a sledge hammer method of delivering a "message". <clip>  I
>> > consider B & P  important in puppetry.  Their work has spawned a
>> > distinct  branch on tree of American puppetry.  But it is political
>> > theater.
>>    The last line here is the most important, as is the order of the last
>> two words. It is POLITICAL theater. Often a show suffers when it puts
>> the cart (the message) before the horse (the means of moving the
>> message forward - the story), but in B&P's case, I don't think that
>> there is a conventional horse and cart. Perhaps a Trojan Horse is a
>> more appropriate as an analogy. To me, the pageant and performance is
>> merely a means to get their message out. Granted it is inventive and
>> entertaining, but first and foremost is the message. Not story, not
>> entertainment, message. Even when they go over to something more
>> entertainment driven they can't seem to keep the message in the other
>> box. They are what they are.
>>   Reminds me of the parable of the man and the snake. Too long to share
>> the whole parable, but basically a man rescues a poisonous snake,
>> nurses it back to health, and then it bites him. Hard to complain when
>> you get bitten, as you know what the snake is and what its nature is,
>> and you have taken your chances. But at the same time the snake needs
>> to know that sometimes it will also be driven out. Caveat here is that
>> it seems the "snake" (though I am not implying that B&P is a snake,
>> only playing the part of one in this anology) seems to have passed
>> itself off as non-poisonous for the occasion and all were justifiably
>> upset when the fangs came out.
>> > As for pulling any act off stage, it is censorship, and it is the
>> > right of any theater to pull an act off.  It's their money. If they
>> > pay you then whats the problem.  For Bread and Puppets to cry
>> > censorship sounds silly to me. It sounds like a gig well done if
>> > they've managed to offend their sponsor and half the audience.
>>    Censorship, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. We do it all of the
>> time, for many reasons. You censor yourself when you talk to others,
>> depending on their age or relationship to you, etc. You censor what is
>> on your TV when you choose to what to watch. (You don't censor what is
>> on air, only what is on your set.) You censor what you choose to expose
>> yourself and your family to, and when. As children grow older we lesson
>> our censorship and allow them to make those decisions.
>>   For a theater, its audience is its family. Most theaters,
>> particularly mainstream theaters, will censor what they present to that
>> family. Ideally they will try to present a balanced season with shows
>> that are light entertainment, something a bit heavier, and at least
>> every now and then something to really challenge you and/or make you
>> think and rethink. But they need to know when they are presenting each
>> thing.
>>   It is not when you say "you can not present/watch that HERE" that it
>> is bad; it is only when we are told we can not present/watch something
>> AT ALL that it begins to be negative censorship. Things have a time and
>> place, few things have all times and all places. If a theater strongly
>> felt that what was being presented on THEIR stage was not in keeping
>> with what they intended to present, it is their justifiable censorship
>> to stop the show. I'm not talking little quibblly differences of
>> opinion, I'm talking offensive to their audience. That being said, on
>> occasion I have had people object to a minor item on the grounds that
>> someone else (not them) MIGHT object, which IMO would be censorship if
>> the show was stopped.
>> > They seem disingenuos in calling their work approriate for "family
>> > audience" without a very striong recommendationand advice to their
>> > sponsor's patrons that "they will present views that will offend some"
>> > It should have been clear to them that many sponsors wouldn't
>> > appreciate an overtly  politcal show for families and it might be in
>> > their favor to clue them  in. Perhaps they did and it was over looked.
>> >  Presenting B & P without an understanding of their work and then not
>> > highlighting that as a feature is not the way to present B&P.
>> > Audiences need to see their work, but they should be invited and clued
>> > in.
>>   I think my main objection to "message shows," regardless of the
>> message or point of view, is that they are typically partisan in
>> nature, presenting one side only and often condemning any other view.
>> This isn't really politics, as that requires some degree of debate. It
>> more borders on fanaticism or extremism. I don't even want to hear the
>> views I share presented in such a manner; why would I want to hear or
>> see a different view presented that way? I find B&P dances pretty close
>> to that bonfire.
>> >  I would think B & P would get tired of being misinterpreted.  Again,
>> > totally their choice.
>>    I don't know for sure, but I get the feeling that B&P has no problem
>> with being misinterpreted by presenters or ticket buyers about the
>> content of the show, as long as they get another opportunity to present
>> their view. Seems at times they may even encourage it by sufficiently
>> (dare I say, misrepresentatively?) vague descriptions of their shows.
>> Whether this is deliberately deceptive on their part, or simply such a
>> firm belief in their own work that they can't see it from an outside
>> perspective, I can't say.
>> Christopher
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