Clayton’s Corner: The Radical Bread and Puppet Theater [PHOTOS]

Posted on: January 8th, 2016 at 5:19 am by
This image has been archived or removed.

City Lore, founded in 1986, an organization that specializing in the documenting, collecting information, presenting talks, and having art shows related to folk lore. Last month, City Lore, an organization specializing in documenting, presenting talks, and hosting art shows related to folk lore, presented an event featuring Peter Schumann, founder of the radical Bread and Puppet Theater.

Peter Schumann, a German/Polish immigrant born in 1934, started the Bread and Puppet Theater on the Lower East Side three decades later. Growing up in Germany during the Depression and World War II, food was scarce. A heavy dark sourdough rye bread was a main food staple. (Rye grows well in poor soil and is a hardy grain that survives most climes.) Peter became a sculptor with an interest in theater, and later moved to America in 1961.

He was somewhat disappointed in the static nature of the art form, which, eventually, lead to large puppets, or moveable sculpture. The sculptures were made of paper mache, found and donated materials. The human-controlled puppets are hollow inside and fit over a person and can be as tall as 20 feet.

This image has been archived or removed.

Peter Schumann, Photo: Clayton Patterson

A part of Peter’s philosophy is connecting puppet dancer, acting, words, sculpture, fulfilling the sensations of the outer body and eating bread, which was meant for the stomach; the sum connects the physical whole being into one. They’d give out the heavy rye bread at their shows. Ergo, the Bread and Puppet theater.

Most of the shows are meant to be performed outside, whether on the city streets or in the country air. Much like their friends the Living Theater, the idea was to incorporate the audience, especially the children, into the performance. There is often a political message in the performances, like a connection to the problems facing the poor, the working-class. Some of their largest performances happened when Americans were protesting the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

These days, the company survives by selling B&P Press posters, publications, touring, the well crafted and practiced company pieces, adding in open free street pieces. The B&P Theater company tours nationally and internationally, and is the oldest, self-supporting, nonprofit theater companies, in America.

This image has been archived or removed.

Molly Garfinkel and Peter Schumann

Recent Stories

6-Alarm Fire Decimates 128-Year-Old East Village Church

Early this morning, a 6-alarm fire tore through 78 East 7th Street, at the corner of 2nd Avenue. The flames engulfed the vacant tenement at around 5:00am, and quickly spread to the Middle Collegiate Church next door. Leaving the house of worship completely hollowed out. More than one hundred firefighters have been battling the blaze for […]

Electeds Behind ‘Save Our Storefronts Act’ Tour LES Small Businesses

Since last spring, the coronavirus pandemic has laid waste to countless small businesses around the city, with many more barely treading water. Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and State Senator Brad Holyman are looking to change that. The two elected officials visited Lower East Side stores Wednesday in an effort to promote the Save Our Storefronts Act. […]

The Meatball Shop Sues Jersey Shore’s Snooki and Deena over Merch

Jersey Shore alums Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Deena Cortese are in hot sauce this week for a line of “Meatball”-related merch. The Meatball Shop filed a lawsuit against the duo, alleging trademark infringement, according to TMZ. The legal papers also claim that Polizzi and Cortese lifted the restaurant’s merchandise for use on their “Team Meatball” […]

Dr Smood Shutters LES Outpost After 3 Years

Three years later, the Dr Smood organic cafe on the Lower East Side is flatlined. Readers relayed that the neon signs hanging inside 181 East Houston Street were deposed yesterday, along with the writing on the windows. The light housings now sit discarded. When reached for comment, a spokesperson stated only that, “sadly [the cafe] […]

Stanton Street 99-Cent Pizzeria Robbed Before Thanksgiving

Another commercial robbery in Hell Square. Last week, just before Thanksgiving, the 99-cent pizzeria at 105 Stanton Street fell victim. Police say that two men busted through the front door and stole money from the cash register ($1,400) as well as an electronic bicycle (valued at $2,400). Both individuals were seen fleeing eastbound on Stanton Street […]