The best kind of political activist is the kind that puppeteers. If you don't believe me, then you haven't heard of Bread and Puppet Theatre. If it wasn't for the company's coming appearance in the Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival, I also wouldn't have had the opportunity to gleefully examine their work but, now that I have, I can invite all of you to join me in celebrating founder, Peter Schumann, for his accomplishments in puppetry and performance art.
Schumann was a dancer in Germany before he moved to New York in 1963. It was there that he founded The Bread and Puppet Theatre Company wherein he would conjure political puppetry shows whilst distributing fresh baked bread (Schumann was also a baker) to his audience. The show became a means of creating a political spectacle and the bread became a means of creating community (he was pretty left of center, which kind of scares me but I'm going with it because I like his puppets). Interestingly, Schumann tells this anecdote about the founding of the company:
"In the winter of 1961-62 I met Richard Tyler, uraninan ambassador and super of the tenement in which we lived. Consequently Dick and his team of uranian philansterers became the dancers and musicians of the Dance of Death, performed on the occasion of the anti-nuclear “general strike for peace” at the Living Theater, Judson Church, and at the Putney School in Vermont. These masked chair and rope dances resulted in the Putney School’s denial of my application to teach dance, and prompted me to offer puppetry as an extra-curricular activity instead." (taken from http://breadandpuppet.org)
Indeed, revolt founded the company. Meanwhile, communion continues to comfort its members and audience. Most importantly, dance, music, narrative and puppetry support every mission.