Bread and Puppet’s “Dead Man Rising” and “The Possibilitarians”

From our report on Bread and Puppet Theater’s performances of “Dead Man Rising” and “The Possibilitarians” at the Boston Center for the Arts:

“It’s not an antiwar piece,” Peter Schumann, founder of Bread and Puppet Theater, explained of the troupe’s opening performance at the Boston Center for the Arts Thursday night. “It’s an anti-American culture piece. And it’s an anti-noise piece. And it’s an anti-modern culture piece.”

In this introduction, Schumann listed the enduringly challenging themes of the Vermont-based experimental, political mask and puppet theater as it arrives in town at the start of the company’s 50th year.

For their annual Boston run, they’re offering a double bill at 7 each night through Jan. 27. The evening opens with a breathtaking fable, that “anti-modern culture piece,” Dead Man Rises. It’s a revival from 1967, when the company performed it for “students who occupied Columbia University in protest of Columbia University’s indirect participation in the war in Vietnam,” Schumann said.

It’s followed by a new companion piece, The Possibilitarians, an epic and raucous pageant addressing 17th century English radicals called the Diggers who planted parsnips, carrots and beans on common land as they sought to found a society of greater equality and without private land ownership. This was much to the displeasure of local manor lords, who harassed them and defeated them through courts and by force within a few years

“Quite meaningful even though not many concrete results come of it,” Schumann told the audience. But here the theater mulls parallels to the Occupy Wall Street movement, looking backward to consider ways to challenge inequity now.

Read the rest here.

Bread and Puppet Theater performs “Dead Man Rising” and “The Possibilitarians” at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston, at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 to 27, 2013. It also performs its “family-friendly” “Circus of the Possibilitarians” there at 2 p.m. Jan. 26 and 27.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

“Dead Man Rises.”

“The Possibilitarians,” above photo and following.

Bread and Puppet Theater founder Peter Schumann.

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