“We believe in puppet theater as a wholesome and powerful language that can touch men, women and children alike,” says Bread and Puppet Founder, Peter Schumann. “We hope that our plays are true and are saying what has to be said.” In 1963, Schumann started performing on New York’s Lower East Side with simple rod and hand puppet shows for children. The concerns of the first productions were rents, rats, police and the other pressing problems of the neighborhood. A dancer, sculptor and baker, Schumann starting baking and serving bread to his audiences. As he notes in his Cheap Art Manifesto, “Art is food. You can’t eat it, but it feeds you.” Peter and his wife Elka called their work Bread and Puppet Theater. The name stuck.
Since 1974, Bread and Puppet has spun its magic from a farm in Vermont, with hundreds of apprentices guided by a philosophy of living and working within available means, making “cheap art” that is easily accessible to the people. This frugal ethos permeates Bread and Puppet’s aesthetic, inextricable from the paper-mache, burlap, twine and cardboard that literally hold the puppets and shows together.
Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle, and his wife Mary K. Austin experienced Bread and Puppet parades in the ’80s and 90s, and ten years ago they brought their family to Glover, VT to experience the artmaking in person. The Austin-Kahles milked cows and created paper mache puppets. They paraded as chickens in Bread and Puppet pageants. “I’ve never seen anything like it: tremendous art created in a communal way. Bread and Puppet forged a practice grounded in New England thrift that permeates everything they do,” explained Kahle. “ I’ve been a supporter ever since. When I heard they were coming West, I saw it as a chance to plant the seeds for a new era of radical theater and creativity in San Francisco.”
— The Internet Archive: Peter Schumann and his critically acclaimed Bread and Puppet Theater to Tour the West Coast https://blog.archive.org/2015/09/02/peter-schumann-and-his-critically-acclaimed-bread-and-puppet-theater-tour-the-west-coast/
Blog Post: August 25, 2015 – A Visit to The Bread and Puppet Farm & Museum in Glover, Vermont
Blog Post: October 7, 2015 – Opening Reception for “Jingles & Giants—Bread and Puppet Books” at the San Francisco Center for the Book
Blog Post: October 10, 2015 – “The Comet’s Passage Over Reality” Epic Pageant & “We Are All in the Same Boat” Parade at Dolores Park
Blog Post: October 11, 2015 – “Play with Bread and Puppet” in the Tenderloin at the Luggage Store Annex/Tenderloin National Forest