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Bread & Puppet Theater: "The Shatterer of Worlds" in New York City -- Nov. 7-24, 2013
Bread & Puppet Theater: "The Shatterer of Worlds." Presented in conjunction with The Center at West Park, 165 West 86th St. (corner of Amsterdam), New York, NY 10024.
As part of a world-wide birthday celebration of "50 years of sublime arsekicking puppetry," the award-winning Bread & Puppet Theater from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom presents their The Shatterer of Worlds (chapel with naturalization services for applicants requesting citizenship in the shattered world), a political puppet performance enveloping audience and performers alike within the sanctuary of the West Park Presbyterian Church.
“The Shatterer of Worlds” intent, as described by Bread & Puppet's founder and artistic director Peter Schumann:
"At the moment when the first atomic bomb was dropped, Oppenheimer, the chief architect of that bomb, recalled words from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu prayer epic: 'Life, the splendor of 1000 suns blazing all at once, resembling the exulted soul, is become Death, the shatterer of worlds.' In view of the latest failed earth summit and faced with the likelihood of multiple planetary shatterings, this sentence is reproduced by the Paper Maché Authorities in the Cathedral of Impermanence for your enlightenment and as a reminder of our possible predicament."
Schumann then further elaborates:
"The overt extrajudicial capabilities of the society system allow the shatterer of worlds to function legally to cultivate destructions so minute and gigantic, the eye cannot perceive and the mind cannot behold them. No politician, no hazardous substance, but a well-established tradition and demon strengthened by endless practices of devastation, the shatterer continues to plot the assassination of existence-as-
".... as Bread and Puppet fans know, distilling political protest into art is a kind of magic." ("Bread and Puppet: Hidden soul of the 60's" editorial, The Boston Globe, Sept. 13, 2013)
In honor of Bread & Puppet's 50 years of producing in-earnest socio-political puppetry, several other events are also being scheduled throughout NYC in conjunction with “The Shatterer of Worlds” performances in West Park Presbyterian Church. These events can also be found specifically at http://breadandpuppet.org/
"From the beginning, even in New York, we have said 'Let's not have a theater that is dependent on private or government money.'" (Peter Schumann, founder of Bread & Puppet Theater, NPR interview with Jon Kalish, 8/24/13)
BRIEF BACKGROUND ON BREAD & PUPPET THEATER
Bread & Puppet Theater is one of the oldest and most unique theatrical companies in the United States. The theater champions a visually rich slapstick style of street-theater that is filled with huge puppets made of paper maché and cardboard, combined with masked characters, improvisational dance movement, political commentary, and a lively brass band for accompaniment. The company’s performances are described by The New York Times as "a spectacle for the heart and soul."
Bread & Puppet is based on a large farm in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. It was founded by Peter Schumann, German born artist-dancer, in 1963, and for the next decade his giant puppets figured prominently in anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in New York City, Washington DC and other cities in the US and abroad. Indoor performances were both simpler and more complex, ranging from quiet, intense masked shows ("Fire", "Man Says Good-Bye") with 4-6 players, to huge, lengthy spectacles ("Cry of the People for Meat").
In 1970, an invitation from Vermont's Goddard College to be theater-in-residence, facilitated a longed-for change to country life. "Our Domestic Resurrection Circus," an outdoor festival of music, art, puppetry and pageantry, began then, and ran almost every summer, growing to crowds of tens of thousands, until 1998. Since then, a smaller (but with giant puppets intact), more dispersed version continues on Sundays in July and August; the company continues touring and workshopping the rest of the year in New England and around the globe; and Schumann continues as director and artist — and bread baker — with a vengeance!
Bread & Puppet is one of the oldest, nonprofit, self-sustaining theatrical companies in this country. www.breadandpuppet.org
BRIEF BACKGROUND ON THE CENTER AT WEST PARK
The Center at West Park is an urban, shared-space facility housed in West Park Presbyterian Church. Though the church is the initiator and host of The Center, The Center itself is not affiliated with any religious tradition or denomination. The Center is currently incorporated, and is in the process of being designated a 501 (c)(3).
The community growing in The Center is one of invitation and synergy. It is a community in which people of different ages, ethnicities, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and religious and spiritual affiliations (or none at all) are called into relationship through a commitment to social justice, community building and service, creativity, skill building across the life-cycle and interacting with its neighbors, both local and global.
The Center at West Park is a place where people can come together to express, explore, create, experiment, generate, invent and connect. It is a safe place for constructive dialogue across differences. A place where one can ask the question, “How are we going to live together in the future?” www.thecenteratwestpark.org