GLOVER — At the Bread & Puppet farm, puppeteers, dancers, painters, carpenters, poets and breadbakers are working on this summer’s productions.
By the garden and the laundryline in the back yard, small groups work on sketches commenting on urgent topics from the news, assisted by representatives of the B&P Circus Band; outside the entrance to the B&P Museum, just behind the big bread oven, sun and wind harden paper maché that has been applied to clay sculptures. The resulting giant figures will populate this year’s pageant; and in the chokecherry shade behind the outdoor kitchen two fiddlers rehearse a manifesto declaring that “since our civilization’s ears have gone deaf, trees have to shout truth from their mouths till hearing is restored.”
Fifty-two years ago Bread & Puppet Theater performed “Our Domestic Resurrection Circus” for the first time at Goddard College in Plainfield. Since then, the Circus has served as the basis of annual spectacles that generations of audiences have come to rely on for satire and celebration. This year, B&P will take up the tradition again, albeit with a timely subtitle: “The Apocalypse Defiance Circus.” The show is in two parts: a raucous Circus in the gravel pit amphitheater, followed by a more contemplative Pageant in the surrounding forest and fields. The Circus and Pageant will play every Sunday at 3 p.m., preceded by sideshows and ding-dongs at 2 p.m., through August 28.
On Friday evenings in summers before COVID, Bread & Puppet typically performed a changing program of shows in development in its indoor performance space, The Paper Maché Cathedral. After a two year hiatus, Friday evening shows will resume this summer, but will take place outdoors behind the B&P Museum.
The first of these Friday evening shows is called “The Theory of Our Needs.” Of this show, B&P director, Peter Schumann says, “Singing the hymn of need and dancing pragmatic utilitarianism into the moment-at-hand is reserved for toddlers only. The mature Homo sapiens has lost that intelligence. We need dirt on our feet and whistles to drive our brain from its prison into the void. This show is about whistles and dirt.”
Changing performances will continue on Friday evenings through August 26.
On all performance days Bread and Puppet’s “Cheap Art,” books, posters, postcards, pamphlets and banners from the Bread and Puppet Press, will be for sale in the Bread & Puppet Museum Store, and on Sundays B&P Press items will also be available at The Van Store near the Circus Field.
Admission for all shows is by donation, no one turned away for lack of funds. Donations can also be made in advance at breadandpuppet.org.