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Rehearsing with Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread & Puppet Theater
Synopses & Reviews
Essyas and extraordinary black and white photographs celebrating the legendary, larger-than-life Bread And Puppet theater
"The Bread and Puppet Theater, which started in the early '60s on New York's Lower East Side, migrated some years later to its present location in Vermont, and the wide open spaces obviously serve its expansive, anarchic being well. Photographer Simon has conducted a 20-year study of Theater founder Peter Schumann, and Simon's 145 duotone photos show the influences of ancient theater and religions, particularly in the gravity of the massive faces of the puppets, made initially from straw, clay and, 'according to some alleged medieval German formula,' beer. The book is organized around the eight 'archetypical' themes of Death, Fiend, Beast, Human, World, Gift, Bread and Hope; however, like Bread and Puppet itself, which combines the creative with the mysterious, themes eddy into other themes. Estrin (Insect Dreams: The Half Life of Gregor Samsa) makes the strong social activist component of the theater clear, in tones that are by turns humorous and revealing, informational and awestruck (especially when it comes to Schumann). But the stars here are the enormous, fantastical creatures that enact possible freedoms each season. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
The long-lived Bread & Puppet Theater, the invention of Peter Schumann, featured epic plays carried out with large volunteer casts of puppeteers, many on stilts, who performed using mythic, often huge masks and puppets in the fields near Glover, Vermont. Simon, a photographer, and Estrin, a writer based in Burlington, Vermont, have compiled a personal look at the Theater by juxtaposing Simon's excellent b&w photos with text that meditates on the primal themes of death, fiend, beast, human, world, gift, bread, and hope, as these were found in Schumann's plays, characters, and performances.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
With more than thirty years of pageantry behind it, the legendary Bread & Puppet Theater is one of America's most politically potent theater companies. Its gigantic puppets and larger-than-life pageantry make Bread & Puppet an unforgettable act of pomp and circumstance — a folk legend that is reconstructed and celebrated through the photographs and essays of Rehearsing with Gods. Photographer Ronald Simon, together with novelist and former Bread & Puppet performer, Marc Estrin, have set out to capture the theater's magnificent drama. They do so through a partnership of stunning images and philosophical essays that describe Bread & Puppet from its inception to the present. Devoted to a theater whose fans outgrew its capacity, Rehearsing with Gods explores the social appeal of Bread and Puppet from cultural insurrection to simple circus fun. The images and text fall into nine chapters: Death, Fiend, Beast, Human, World, Gift, Bread and Hope. Each explores the eerie symbolism of Bread and Puppet's theatrical effigies, as well as the theater's own, more subdued meaning.
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Arts and Entertainment » Drama » American Anthology