Bread and Puppet Theater, Teatro Campesino and the San Francisco Mime Troupe for a week. Among the events were a parade, workshops, lectures, many performances and a panel discussion between the founders of those three groups: Peter Schumann, Luis Valdez and R.G. (Ronnie) Davis.
Now on November 1, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, those same panelists -- Schumann, Valdez and Davis -- will reconvene to discuss the state of radical theater now, 41 years later. That's way cool. The proceedings from the original event in 1968 were written up in a 48-page booklet, Radical Theatre Festival, published by the San Francisco Mime Troupe, which can occasionally be found via used book dealers. I hope this anniversary event will be similarly documented.
Additionally there will be several SFMT exhibits in the SFSU library over the span of several months, and screenings of 2 films: Troupers (1985) and Have You Heard Of The San Francisco Mime Troupe? (1968). See the very impressive full schedule of events. Those of us who can't travel to the west coast for the public screenings may have to content ourselves with viewing the DVD of the former (available via the Mime Troupe Boutique) and reading this review of the latter (NY Times, 6/28/68).
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
The Insurrection Landscapers were a small traveling radical puppet group spurred to action (if I'm piecing together their history correctly) by the landmark 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. They appear to have toured in the winter months roughly spanning January - April from 2000 until at least 2003. [Tour schedules: 2001 / 2002 ]
The core duo appear to have been Jason Norris, a Bread & Puppet veteran, and Adam Cook, whose earlier history is unknown to me but who is still currently active as half of the Dolly Wagglers. Adam's tour journal from Feb-Mar 2000 was posted to the web, but subsequent electronic documentation is pretty sketchy. Jason and Adam -- with their rooster Jimmy -- were sometimes joined by longtime B&Pers Clare Dolan and Ben T. Matchstick, as well as David Bailey and Jason Hicks ("RPM Puppet Conspiracy"), who all added shows to the mix. By February 2003 Lindsay McCaw, nowadays a Dolly Waggler, had joined the tour. Additional info on other performers would be welcome!
A live picture show with
Speeches, Puppets and Noise
THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION BUREAUCRATS, A
CHEESY CHICKEN MARIONETTE REVUE & FRENCH FARMER
ACTIVIST AND CHEESE MAKER JOSE BOVE
TO THE STORY OF THE TERRIFYING EFFECTS THAT THE WTO
HAS ON LIFE IN GENERAL!!
AS THE LANDSCAPE OF SIMPLISTIC BEAUTY
IS BOUGHT, SOLD AND EATEN BY THE WTO!!
BEFORE YOUR EYES THE RENOWNED
FRENCH FARMER JOSE BOVE.
WILL HE BE ABLE TO STOP THE DESTRUCTION???
also described as:
our spectacle, "Cheese Culture versus Monoculture," a painted picture show with noise-music, puppets, manifestos, painted cardboard, painted cloth liberated from an out-of-business mortuary, old paint cans filled with cement to hold maple banner poles, drums, tootie-toot horns, slide whistles and much more used to explain and demonstrate the terrifying effects of the WTO while simultaneously paying homage to Jose Bove, French farmer and activist who brings his chickens and geese in to the lobbies of McDonalds to protest globalization American style. We're traveling with the reverend Jimmy the Spit, our rooster who delivers wake-up services every morning and during performances too.
An excerpt from the Cheese Culture Manifesto, delivered during the show:
Roquefort as Revolution
The pungent blue-green veins of mold
incite a subversive mind
Its sincerely deliberate bite on the tongue
awakens the underserved mouth senses
from their Velveeta sleep
ROQUFORT IS THE AROMA OF RESISTANCE!!!
will never conform to:
or fast food
its best friend wine
has been allowed to breathe
RAISE A STINK!!!
IGNITE A CHEESE BOMB!!!
Some engagements also featured the next two shows...
Jack the Giant-Killer (retitled by 2003 as: Jack the Giant-Queller)
COUNTRY LAD LOSES OVERALLSTO THWART OGRES OF IMMENSE
PROPORTION WHILE DISMANTLING
THE ESTABLISHMENTS OF GREED,
APATHY, DECENCY AND CELEBRITY WORSHIP.
(AND HAS A JOLLY GOOD TIME DOING SO)
I believe this was Ben T. Matchstick's solo show. I saw it under the "Queller" title when the Landscapers visited Madison in February 2003. A show about pre-emptive serial "quelling" of peaceful ogres and giants who pose no threat to Jack or his people, it was brilliantly suited to the time of George Bush's pre-emptive warmaking, but was apparently conceived and performed well before Bush had revved up his war machine -- a testament to the sad fact of this well-established pattern on the world stage. Aside from the theme, I recall few details other than it being a virtuoso performance, and that the show was performed without a traditional stage. My memory is of it being done mostly in the open, with some staging on an (upturned?) bicycle which was sometimes bare, sometimes with a piece of draped fabric on it to suggest a landscape. I remember the puppeteer lying on the ground at times and perhaps(?) the Jack puppet climbing his vertically extended leg as a beanstalk. At any rate, the puppeteer's body was part of the show. It was stunning.
The Milking 2000
THE BIOTECH CORPORATION MONSANTO
THREATENS TO “COWMODIFY” THE DAIRY INDUSTRY
AND GENETICALLY ALTER OUR APPETITES!!!!
No other known details. Help?
Apparently a cantastoria with visual performance of junk-improvised instruments alongside. Promoted as:
a New PICTURE SHOW for Winter 2001
Featuring the Tribulations of a PeeGreen Living Room & Bloodsucking Mosquito Butchers,
+ an Illustrated Story Exposing the Secret Potential of Agents of Decay
It's Trash Cans a Go-Go,
backed by the Infernal Cacophony of the
Accompanied by Political Banner Exhibits - including one based around the supression of free speech + basic democratic rights component of the police + governmental response to actions post- Seattle.
+Cheap Art displays
+stacks of Subversive Literature.
Some nights will feature Hand Puppet Shows
and appearances by R.P.M. Puppet Collective.
While puppet shows were sometimes performed along with it, the last part seems to suggest that the Trash Dragons show itself was spectacle sans puppets. [Aside: This is the first mention I've seen of RPM Puppet Collective, soon renamed as RPM Puppet Conspiracy. Hmm, RPM's history indicates they date back to 1999 in Chicago -- material for separate research...]
A Madison, WI listing in April 2001 promotes the evening with a more dynamic title of "Cirkus Insurrectus":
WEDNESDAY April 4th: 7:00 pm - Monona Community Center (1011 Nichols Dr.) "Cirkus Insurrectus" - radical puppet show and street theater by the Insurrection Landscapers Puppet Troupe! Part of the nationwide grassroots educational mobilization against the FTAA.
Now promoting a multi-performance variety-style bill under the umbrella title of "Degenerate Cardboard Cabaret," the promo text describes it:
featuring a variety of acts including
the Insurrection Landscapers
coming down off the mountains of northern vermont with a new show:
CRAWL! underneath the Big Top to see
G.W.B.'s (Grinning White Bozo's) Circus Revue
Ageless agents of chaos Kaspar + Harlequino meet famous political
puppets, including General Helmet, Blah-Blah Clowns, Ferocoius Tigers,
+ the Evil One Himself, featuring the lovely Cybil Liberty on the high wire
(is she doomed to be destroyed, or will she save the day?)
EVEN BETTER! from the lowest depths of the underground
R.P.M. Puppet Conspiracy presents
The Great Robbing Frenzy with buzzing binary,
watch as unhinged winged wasps trade in reality options!
the Insurgent Noise Drum + Horn Corps
the exciting noise of an insurrectionary rhythm ensemble-
be ready to leave your seats and take to the streets
Trash Worship + Resurrection
Cheap Art + Banner Shows
Miscellaneous financial detail: At UW-Madison, the UW Greens apparently obtained a $300 honorarium for the Landscapers to perform on 9 April 2002. Unfortunately the Landscapers' bus broke down in Texas and they missed the gig.
2003: The Battle of This and That
(placeholder -- this part still in progress)
This is the show I saw in Madison. Great show! Writeup coming. Also need to scan my event poster.
Review of the Feb 9 performance in [city]
Also in 2003:
Historical Enactment of World War III (with Clare Dolan)
This show was performed as part of the 6th International Toy Theater Festival organized by Great Small Works on three weekends in January 2003.
From the Village Voice:
No ritual disemboweling enlivened Insurrection Landscapers' Historical Enactment of World War III, but the piece's narrator—a mammalian skull—did begin to decompose halfway through. "Oh, I'm losing my face," the skull remarked, and then continued a tale derived from The Matrix and Terminator II, starring robots collaged from home appliance advertisements. Historical Reenactment wore its politics on its sleeve—or, rather, the robot equivalent of a sleeve—as did many of the other productions.
Faring slightly better were the Insurrection Landscapers. The Vermont-based troupe, however, was severely handicapped by the fact that one of its members was out sick. The remaining two, Adam Cook and Jason Norris, did their best to continue on despite having to read lines from a script (they sometimes lost their place) while propping up multiple puppets (which they occasionally failed to accomplish). The show itself, titled "A Historic Reenactment of World War III," is entertaining and whimsical. It imagines a future in which robots take over the world and release weapons of mass destruction upon humankind. The work may have had the potential to be an incisive satire on the dangers of over-reliance upon technology but, unfortunately, its sophomoric humor outweighs any kind of political message.
Delightfully off-hand and almost improvised was the Historic Re-enactment of World War III, satirically devised by Vermont's Insurrection Landscapers. In this most amusing show, Mankind has been virtually vanquished by those household robots which were supposed to anticipate your every whim—before you could express it, or even press a button. The hilariously terrifying robots proved to be cut-out collages from magazine-ads. When they had served their theatrical functions, they were cheerfully thrown over the Landscapers' shoulders or dropped to the floor. They had a lot of picking-up to do when their turn was over.
Also in 2003: Kasparel and Harlequino do MArs?
From "Art this Week" in the 14 Aug 2003 Montreal Mirror:
Puppet Invasion: Probably the best puppet show to be seen on the island this weekend, Punk Puppets Take the Long Hall goes down on Friday, Aug. 15, at The Long Hall (450 Beaumont). The soirée features [...] Vermonters The Insurrection Landscapers with their hit sci-fi show, "Kasparel and Harlequino do MArs?"
Anybody have any details on this one?
- People: Who else performed in/with Insurrection Landscapers? (And is Jason Norris still doing radical puppetry today?)
- Shows: What other shows were performed under this banner?
- Memories/accounts of any performances
- Corrections to anything above
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
This entry will be a repository for links to Peter Schumann interviews, updated as I find more...
- "Revisiting the Sixties and Refusing Trash: Preamble to and Interview with Peter Schumann of Bread and Puppet Theater" by Silvia D. Spitta (21 pp, boundary 2, Duke Press, 2009 36(1):105-125)
- Terrific 3-part interview (Aug 2008) by Greg Cook at the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3
- Briefer 2-part interview (Jan 2008) also by Greg Cook: Part 1 / Part 2
- Radio interview on This Week In Palestine, 30 Dec 2007 (MP3, last 30 mins of 40 min program).
- 2001 interview I need to pursue
- "Theater in the Ruined City: Peter Schumann at the Sarajevo Festival," an interview by John Bell, Movement Research Performance Journal #10
- "The Radicality of the Puppet Theater," The Drama Review 35, No. 4 (Winter 1991) p. 75
- "The Bread and Puppet Theater (interview)," The Drama Review 12, No 2 (Winter 1968), pp. 62-73