est. July 2009

Lisa Krause's Artwork (2003-Present)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bread and Puppet Summer Apprenticeship: Part 1

Photo: Matt Palo
I spent just over a month this summer as an apprentice with Bread and Puppet in Glover, Vermont.  

This is something that I’ve wanted to do for about 10 years, since when I was more of an activist doing Food Not Bombs and working at New World Resource Center in Chicago.  But it was something out of reach in my former life.  While it is easier now, coming up with the money to drop out of my life for a month was hard to do.  But now after the experience- I can't imagine not having done it.  I am thankful now that I can go because of my current lifestyle, flexible occupations, and Eamon.

Before leaving, I knew that going to Bread and Puppet is a chance to live collectively among activists and artists while collaborating on political puppetry and I was curious about the way that something like this can actually happen.  
I was looking forward to having the opportunity to work under Peter Schumann-  to understand just what kind of person could travel the world with urgent, politically relevant, beautiful and often terrifying puppet shows completely made out of trash for 50 years.  I have come to realize that he is not slowing down.  He is becoming more urgent with his years.

“There is no time…” 

“Art making against the existing order of life”

Bread and Puppet began as community theater, tackling the neighborhood issues inherent to a city such as New York, but it quickly grew.  The idea was to make political theater in the streets of New York in the 60s as a reaction to Vietnam.  To interrupt the faceless masses of people trying to hold on to conservative ideas during a time of world-wide insanity. Only a few people who had some of the facts  were freaking out in their minds. What can be done?  Tell their stories.  Perhaps the urgency was due to the lack of information available at that time, before computers gave us more than we can understand.  
“For us there was a need to create something better than stupid leaflets and intellectualizing- its boring."  Peter said,  "It’s the color and speed that gets to people.”

Peter Schumann began as a sculptor.  He uses scrap materials and works with the clay dug from the farm in all of it's awful naturalness. He moves quickly from project to project.  Sculpting, painting, carving... we come to finish it with paper-mache over the clay, rigging the puppets, or printing his woodcuts.  I had a very liberating feeling there watching him work.  Seeing him work quickly with whatever is available was one of many realizations that helped me reflect on my own values.  Its funny how a 70+ year old man can be more of a punk anarchist than I ever was.  He works hard with whatever is available- using cardboard collected from local businesses, mixing glue from cornstarch-based packing peanuts, and painting with leftover house paint- everything is recycled.  The aesthetic is raw, quick, unapologetic, and intense.  If you need it, you make it.  Like when I needed a strap to carry my drum- in 2 min. I was quickly shown how to make one from a flat bike inner tube, trash foam, and duct tape.

“The world is a giant terrible place.  We must create chaos to live in this terrible mess”

Peter's aesthetic style of woodcut is as much part of Bread and Puppet as the puppets are.  Jagged words chalked out and cut into scrap masonite and printed on old bed sheets with watered down house paint. Swirling archetypes, iconography and words in a form of english intended for a more urgent impending time.  
During our visit, Peter and Elka gave us a tour of the print shop.  Peter told us about how in New York he would use the masonite that was ripped out of the tenement houses that were constantly being gutted- or from the backs of furniture thrown in the alleys.  He makes the woodcuts in the quiet winter months and while it used to be his wife Elka that decided the color and printing, Lila prints them now- working with Elka on those decisions.  The fabric prints are often sewn into things used in our parades and performances as well as stocking the museum store with posters, banners, patches, flags, etc.

"A fragment of an image of a story becomes a big huge show" 

The Bread and Puppet Museum is in what used to be a dairy barn from the 1800s.  It's a massive building that houses work from across the 50 years of the theater's existence.  In addition to puppets of all sizes there are dioramas, reliefs, small paintings on cardboard, flat wooden figures and giant paper mache globes.  Each stall and bay has scenes of shows with puppets of various sizes in themes such as Anti-Vietnam War, the assassinations of Oscar Romero and Chico Mendes, My Lai Massacre, Cambodian genocide, Environmental themes, angelic figures, Uncle Fatsos- the grotesque counterpart of Uncle Sam, Persephone, St. Francis, Medieval and Pagan figures, giant red demons representing the threat of nuclear war, and the garbage men and washer women who fix everything.

During my internship, I had the good fortune of getting my first choice of jobs- working in the Museum.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with work that has spanned the entire history of Bread and Puppet.  I enjoyed the intimate experience with all of the work while cleaning the exhibits and even got to repair some of Peter's work that had proven its impermanence a little too soon.  After our Friday night shows, I was often staff in the museum store and got to anonymously overhear audience members reaction to the shows, learned how far they travelled to come, and also helped to educate the public on some of the exhibits.  My favorite part of the job was getting to know and working directly with Elka Schumann.

Elka giving us a tour of the museum when we first arrived.
Photo: Elmogin Huang
The Bread and Puppet Museum Store
Photo: Elmogin Huang

"PEOPLE have been THINKING too long that ART is a PRIVILEGE of the MUSEUMS & the RICH.  ART IS NOT BUSINESS!  It does not belong to banks & fancy investors.  ART IS FOOD.  You cant EAT it BUT it FEEDS you.  ART has to be CHEAP & available to EVERYBODY"  Across the street from the museum lies the Cheap Art Bus.  It serves as a place for puppeteers and interns to make a little money selling things they make- from small art to prints, patches and stickers.  I found a little time a few weeks in to the summer where I drew and painted warriors on cardboard and sewed a frame of sticks around them.  It felt good to have a quiet activity in my free time and sell all the stuff I made.

"I am an anarchist.  Bread and Puppet is over-organized anarchy."

Every morning began with a meeting at 9am during which Peter would lay out the plan for the day ...which would then be amended at the 2pm afternoon meeting.  He would often give quick plans for rehearsals, or the development of shows and other projects on the agenda- and then he'd be off to finish baking bread, paint a contestoria, sculpt or paint new puppets.  It was then turned over to those just under Peter that would decide how exactly things would get done- these were the puppeteers who have been working with Bread and Puppet for many years.  Most days there were 40-60 of us- we'd pick our jobs to be handled in smaller groups and reconvene after siesta.  At the end of each morning meeting, we sang Shape Note songs.  This was something very difficult for me because I don't just sing all the time, and I had an involuntary repulsion to many of the songs because of their Christian themes.  Later though I realized the epic intensity of reviving songs written ages ago out of awe and reverence for nature.  Maybe it was a survival tactic, but I began to realize how many of the most apocalyptic songs would be great metal covers. It was felt great to start the day yelling with a huge group of friends.

This was one of my favorites:

Word quickly got around among my new friends that I loved the idea of a shape-note metal band, and so by late in the month something epic happened.  Eamon came up to visit with Matthew Thurber and Rebecca Bird- and they bore witness to one of the most amazing things that has ever happened for my birthday: Sacred Harpcore.  A huge group of some of my favorite people made my idea happen!  It was amazing to see a them get all dressed up, sharpie tattooed, and growl the lyrics to these songs.  I was really shocked and before it was over they grabbed me, a pit broke out, and they crowd-surfed me!  Hilarious!

Our days often included night activities where we learned more about the history of Bread and Puppet through a panel discussion of long time company members taking place at Emergent Mosaic, an exhibit of photography by Mark Dannenhauer.  There were also opportunities to go to political actions and protests surrounding the Vermont Tarsands project and installation of the controversial wind turbines.  We saw many shows from visiting performers and puppeteers- including Less Miserable- a 100 person huge touring show adaptation of Les Miserables, directed by Baltimore-based Donna Sellinger of Missoula Oblongata.  There also were shows by current puppeteers doing Bertold Brecht's St. Joan of the Stockyards, a performance of Do Right Bellyfire, Do Right Monkey Brain at Plank House Farm where Bread and Puppet's Rose Friedman and Justin Lander live, and Y No HabĂ­a Luz from Puerto Rico, among others.  

* * * * *
All quotes are by Peter Schumann from my notes, unless otherwise cited. 

Next: Part 2- Bread and Puppet style 4th of July Parades, our first weekly Friday night show "The Possibilitarians", and development and rehearsals for the weekly Sunday Circuses and Pageants.

Later: Part 3- The Everything and Everywhere Dance Circus, The Pageant of The Possibilitarians, the second weekly Friday night show "The Shatterer of Worlds" and saying goodbye to your mother ...among other people. 

Disclaimer:  This is my second draft of writing this entry.  I already wrote the entire thing and had it pretty ready to publish but then accidentally deleted it.  Aaahrgh!  I hope I can recreate the mood accurately now that I've been back a few weeks.  Also, I'm using some other people's photos and giving credit- so If you see something you took not cited-Please let me know. Thanks!

Bread and Puppet: : Part 2- Bread and Puppet's 4th of July Parades, our first weekly Friday night show "The Possibilitarians", and development and rehearsals for the weekly Sunday Circuses and Pageants

"We are all in the same Boat"  As soon as the internship began, we started learning the sequence for the parades Bread and Puppet had been booked to participate in for the 4th of July celebrations in 5 surrounding Vermont villages.  We revisited a parade that they had done in New York for May Day this past year.  It was a chapterized performance where the first part involved many people inside of a boat that was made of a long continuous printed fabric and several large flags that look like sails- each person holds up a section and dips while walking forward.  I was in the a drumline in the boat that alternated with the yodeling singers, giving them a break and keeping momentum for the length of the parade.  There were random interruptions by cymbalists that ran around the boat clashing- signaling rough seas and the sinking of the boat.  People would thrash the fabric back and forth and collapse to the ground- drowned, while the drums were beating wildly.  We would then resurrect with Genevieve Yeuillaz beginning the calling yodel from the front of the boat- echoing back and forth until the sails and boat rose and we began to march again.

Each time we drowned, we would be heckled by longtime puppeteer Linda Elbow- dressed as a CEO, and Peter Schumann- dressed as Santa Claus who was walking with Uncle Fatso in his own ship: The Pursuit of Want.  Behind them were the 1% stilters and their brass band- dressed in fancy clothes and drinking cardboard martinis saying "they're all in the same boat".  Following them were skeleton with long arms wearing signs that said "Excellent Wind" representing the controversial wind farming- and the end were children dressed in blue waving flags that said "the Wave of the Future".   Reactions were varied from applause to crossed arms, support to confusion- but Peter said it was one of our most successful parade performances.  Each town had invited us and were happy we were there to add a spectacle to their annual parade celebration.

Video by my friend Myra, one of the printshop interns

 “Cultural preparation precedes revolution, not through organizing or arms training”  Every day through the week was spent in rehearsal of some kind.  Either we were practicing for the Friday show, the Sunday Pageant, or developing acts for the Sunday Circus.  The process of developing acts began with us listing ideas and inter-/national or local issues that we were passionate about.  It was facilitated by the staff puppeteers, and they would do a great job guiding projects and helping them be most successful.  We would go over the list in small parts deciding which acts we each would want to participate in.  Then we would break off to go to the shed where all of the masks, puppets, and props are stored.  There were things made over the course of the history of Bread and Puppet available for us to use in this space.    

It is a really well organized and beautifully overwhelming place.  I enjoyed wandering the walkways exploring all the giant boxes and masks hanging overhead.  This process was pretty hard for me, because I'm not used to improvisational acting.  But it was always interesting to see what everyone was able to come up with in the 20 minutes or so that we had to put something together before showing it to the group.  Acts that weren't used in the Circus were available to be revisited on our own as Ding-Dongs- side shows that happen before the Circus starts, as a way to welcome the audience that trickles into the Circus Field.  Peter seemed to appreciate the new interpretations of characters created for acts and performances long ago.

An act that wasn't used about Immigration

"Remember the importance of joy and uplifting in activism" While some of our acts had serious tones, it was important to keep them fast and strange in order for them to be exciting to the audience.  So much can be conveyed in humor or absurdity, even when the theme is somewhat bleak.  After returning from the shed and practicing a bit in our small groups, would show our skits in the backyard between the garden and the house where the staff puppeteers live.   We would go through each act- with or without a response.  Then the acts would be further developed, combined, shortened, put on hold for the next week or axed all together.

(somewhat) Captive Audience

The Circus band showing new songs and rehearsing Flatso movement for the Pagaent

Vermont Yankee act- about America's Geriatric Power Plants and the Zebra that runs through the Circus

“We use all our performances as rehearsals.  We never ever finish them because the performance is a rehearsal. Its just a rehearsal with public, so the public becomes an actor...

Interior of the Dirt Floor Theater
(AKA the Paper-Mache Cathedral)

...Its not that you bring something to perfection and they eat it up- that’s not the case- you bring something to imperfection and they have to then help you ...chew it, do something with it, digest it.  They have to help, they have to do something.  If you just dish up something they can expect anyways, it’s not good.”

After our shows on Friday night and the Circus and Pageant on Sunday- we had a day off on Monday.  Tuesday morning meeting was when we heard back from Peter about the performances and got an outline for the week ahead. It was then that we learned what would be changed in each of the shows or acts, and what would need to be developed in the week ahead.  Following that Tuesday morning was also our work day- where we did our main jobs on the farm.  I was in the Museum restocking the store, cleaning, and repairing displays; but after that we returned to work on our shows and acts. 

“What is a Possibilitarian?  It is a utopianist, someone who believes in what is possible in this impossible world”  

Photo: Matt Palo

This years season of imperfect performances began on July 6th with our first show of The Possibilitarians in the Paper Mache Cathedral.  The Cathedral is a former barn that is now a dirt floor performance space covered in paper mache reliefs and paintings from floor to ceiling. It was a show we did the next 2 Fridays -until we first performed The Shatterer of Worlds on July 27th.  The Possibilitarians was inspired by the Diggers- an 17th Century squatters movement in England where people reclaimed common land and lived in peace without god or government.  The show began with a contestoria, which is a series of painted pictures on fabric banners attached to a pole so they can be  flipped as the song is sung.  We sang World Turned Upside Down that told the history of their uprising in order to set the tone for our show. 

One of my favorite verses:

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell

We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feeds the rich
While poor men starve

Photo: Cynthia Ene
Once the gong rang and the audience was seated, I helped open the show by lowering the biggest marionette I've ever seen from the loft above so it could dive over the audience and begin a dance sequence with clouds.  It took 12 people working in tandem to operate the puppet smoothly, and my job was basically what my thumb does to control the marionettes that we use at Black Cherry Puppet Theater- I helped steady the head and make her movements more dramatic.

In this video by Matt Palo taken on July 20th- our last performance of this particular show, You can see the descent of the Blue Sky Goddess that began The Possibilitarians.  I'm up in the balcony to the right.  In the second act, you can also see me playing the chimes- which were basically 6" washers, rusty circular saw blades, and iron scrap chunks of metal tied to the 2x4s that framed the walls and hit with smaller metal rods as strikers- for the Animal Dance in Paradise.

The Earth Momma, a gift from the Blue Sky Goddess
The Earth Momma was delivered during the Blue Momma's first appearance.  Following the cloud dance, puppeteers manipulated separate pieces of her form.  The Earth Momma was confused- pieces were at war with one another- it kept forming different sculptural shapes until finally becoming a reclining woman and gave birth to a small, naked, and scared looking man.

The Proletariot
I'm not sure if that spelling of proletariat was intentional, but it seemed that way.  In this act- these 2D cardboard people came out garbling and hooting in a wild mess- dancing forward to see the man born from the Earth Momma.  Various representatives came forth from the crowd preaching about agrarian theology, injustices committed against the earth, and respect for all kind.  The other characters echoed back what each representative said in a silly chatter and danced from side to side.

Following this act was the University of Hands and Feet, where we learned basic skills such as caring for one another, the benefits of digging in the dirt, and raising hands against the existing order of life.  We learned to walk carrying our body and soul, and to kick the ass of government.  

Then everyone moved to put on jackets and ties, grabbed weapons that had been lain around the stage and raised them in unison for next act: The Epic Battle of Good and Evil.  The battle was entirely in slow motion and we silently killed each other off until we were all dead on the ground, and operatic singers advanced through the bodies- joining us on the dirt floor.  Peter gave his Fiddle Sermon of the folly of our times, calling us to rise up to the potential of a new understanding.  We finished with several verses of The Diggers Song.

* * * * *
All quotes are by Peter Schumann from my notes, unless otherwise cited. 

Coming Soon: Part 3- The Everything and Everywhere Dance Circus, The Pageant of The Possibilitarians, the second weekly Friday night show "The Shatterer of Worlds" and saying goodbye to your mother ...among other people. 

Bread and Puppet Apprenticeship: Part 3 -The Everything and Everywhere Dance Circus, The Pageant of the Possibilitarians, and The Shatterer of Worlds

View of the Circus Field from the hillside.
Space between the buses is used for stage managing acts
Photo: Matt Palo

The Everything and Everywhere Dance Circus was the name of the Sunday Circuses that we performed each week.  At Bread and Puppet, a dance can be a very abstract thing.  I was in a variety of acts that included being one of many drones that couldn't find a single sheep, running around cawing and imitating a bird in the landscape before wind turbines, gently rocking back and forth a large piece of reinforced cardboard painted to look like grain while following a massive group of lions singing Italian opera, waving tree branches in the air and rhythmically imitating sawing, tossing, and gathering them- then breaking them and lying in childs pose while waiting for a group of ugly monsters to stop promoting politicians so that I could reveal ficticious statistics about deforestation, and a spasmodic dance of thrashing and rolling on the ground to imitate someone attempting to sleep while being surrounded by windmills.  Each week people from the community would arrive to participate in the different acts.  I really enjoyed teaching people the acts that in which I was involved, and also found myself doing a lot of stage managing- which is a role that I'm very comfortable with due to experiences working at Black Cherry managing kids in theater production.

Peter Schumann getting into his stilts
My favorite part of each week was when Peter got up on to the circus bus in order to get into his really tall stilts for the Circus finale.  I think that seeing him was an amazing site because of how physically strong he is and how much fun he's always having.  We worked pretty hard to get the acts together, but it was often that things would be changed.  They could be changed, combined or cut all together at any point up to the performance- so things were always morphing.  Peter had met with us at the beginning of each week to discuss the circus an pageant- what worked, what didn't work... and his idea was that he wanted total chaos.  Most of his complaints were that it was too fluid.  He wanted more acts- toppling over one another- interrupting eachother...  Everything had to be shortened and changed, and new acts were made and incorporated each week.

Photo: Cynthia Ene
Photo: Cynthia Ene


Scenes from several circuses over the weeks in July.

Photo by long time puppeteer Mark Dannenhauer
Casualty Act (Lions/Sheep/Grain)

This act began as 3 completely separate acts that were combined.  By the end, it became a Casualty Act- which is something that happens in every circus, every year since the war in Afghanistan started in 2001.  It began with the sheep slowly descending down the slope of the circus field amphitheater during the preceding act.  As the sheep enter into the circus ring, the lions entered at the same time from behind the bus and the grain followed.  The 2-person foreground lions were slowly moving to an Italian Opera sung by walking lions behind them.  Following the lions are the grain- a wall of yellow grain painted on large sheets of cardboard that slowly rocked back and forth.  The grain moved to center stage and continued rocking in time, until a chime sounded.  The grain parted and someone walked forward with a sign showing the current casualty numbers of Afghan Civilians and Coalition Troops in Operation Enduring Freedom as wheat with faces rise in the background.  The chime sounds again, and the sign disappears- the wheat closes and rocks,  then slowly leaves the stage as the lions and sheep mix with one another and head backstage.  In addition to acting in our last performance, I was the stage manager for the grain- I repaired puppets, updated the casualty sign, and trained community volunteers the act so they could participate.

4 different acts become one: The drama of the pig-faced Vermont Tarsands engulfing dancing alligators and turkeys at a final rehearsal. The week before it was chickens, and the week before that - it had included dancing pigs and a sleeping farmer

The Pageant of the Possibilitarians

This year's Pageant took place on the beautiful rolling hills to the north of the circus field.  The intent was to catch the glowing light of the late afternoon sun.  Each crest of a hill became it's own stage where activities would happen.  Each group was its own set of actions and there were pauses in action so the audience could shift their focus to other areas.  Groups would join up with one another and then there was one final group action.  In contrast to the circus that came just before, the Pageant was mostly very slow with predominantly black, white, and grey tones.

Peter calls the action using two bugles at once.
The second set of fallers in the foreground appear,
just as the first set of fallers reach their destination.

I played a snare drum for the first set of Fallers.  In the photo, we are walking up the hill in the back toward where we had stashed all of the puppets we would be using.  Both groups of Fallers had the same action sequence- following an angel character and moving slowly with ritualized movements of raising their hands at random intervals.  They walked to the slow sound of an accordion which in our group was played by my friend Fraea- until she chose to make an audio cue for them to fall to the field.  I chimed for the angel to move in circles around them and rolled the snare for them to stand up and continue.

The Holy Nobody family (Flatsos) to the left, and the empty chairs appear in the distance to the right.
The chair choreography was intense.
People were running through the fields for the entire performance.
There were assassinations and hostile take-overs of other groups.

Peter drew his inspiration for the family of the Holy Nobody from parody in the Medieval age- when it was common that people said "nobody that could do anything" ...And therefore the saying became that the Holy Nobody was holy because he can do anything.

Holy Nobody and his family joins the horses and the riders.
They leave together.
I was helping with the horse and riders- adding and subtracting riders as the horse paced back and forth between trees that were always changing sides.  The trees would move, then the horse would follow in it's turn but always behind the fence- it would call to it's filly that was free trotting around outside of the fence. We would occasionally put all the cardboard puppets down and walk to the fence ourselves- holding the bars like prisoners, rocking the fence back and forth, and groaning hopelessly.  Before the Holy Nobody family joined us- we had advanced down the hillside nearby and set all the cardboard puppets and the fence down. We called to them and prostrated ourselves, chanting and bowing.  When they came and join us, we all stood and walked off together -at which point we were out of audience view and moved to the far back of the field and began rolling heads slowly across the hillsides.

Heads begin to roll West to East across the hillsides.
...more and more.
       Mother Earth appears over the hillside, advancing forward to catch the rolling heads in her embrace.
Photo: Elmogin Huang 

A man says goodbye to his mother.  

In New York, Bread and Puppet had been asked to create a show from the grieving mothers of Puerto Rican men that had died fighting in the Vietnam War.  This was a serious constant issue where there was an extremely high percent of these men who had all died fighting, possible having been sent into more dangerous places than most.  This piece was revisited and performed after our second Pageant by Massimo Schuster and several Bread and Puppet company members.  Massimo is a pretty incredible person and a long time member who now lives in Italy and has a company there.  He was president of UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette) in 2004-08.  I've seen the books published of his beautiful photographic work of the Bread and Puppet museum.  I didn't know all that when we were hanging out though- he seemed to really enjoy giving me a little ribbing here and there- and as no surprise to people who know me- I dished it right back.  He had a really nice group of French filmmakers following him during his 2 week visit.  They are making a documentary about him and his influences and are traveling to 3 other countries to tell his story.  They're looking for a producer so if you know of anyone, seriously let me know.  

Photo: Massimo Schuster

"I am become death, the shatterer of worlds"– these were the first words out of J. Robert Oppenheimer's mouth as he saw his handiwork blossom over the New Mexico desert, in 1945, at the dawn of the nuclear age. He was quoting the Bhagavad-Gita.  Peter Schumann- inspired by these words, led us into an exploration "...for those applying for citizenship in the Shattered World." for our last Friday night show of the internship, July 27th in the Dirt Floor Theater known as the Paper Mache Cathedral.  It was a slow, very heavy and dark show.  The environment was created by hand-held and swung lighting, various junk whirling crashing or droning instruments, loosely scripted dance that included slow swaying movement with jarring fit-like interruptions, standing/falling/crawling in the dirt and distant or bored expressions, and occasional use of white puppets on a neutral background and neutral shrouded/shredded clothing.  The only words were occasional readings of short excerpts by Peter and Rose that included the Bhagavad-Gita and naturalization forms. These interruptions helped to frame and chapterize our movements through the show. 

This is Peter directing rehearsal for our last Friday night show on July 27th "The Shatterer of Worlds". 

One of the main things I did in this show was to be what Peter called a string puller.  My role was in manipulating the huge paper mache Bystanders that stood suspended from the ceiling by a rope and pulley rig.  To Peter, even the act of pulling the rope became a performance to be included in the show. Although it was extremely light weight, I responded like I was moving sails on a ship in slow motion as the puppet would lean and rock forward and to the sides- finally lying down on the dirt floor of the theater- all the while dictating or responding to the movements of the actors.  Our first show was okay, I think- we really did better in our rehearsals but I'm glad to have had the opportunity to explore this idea that Peter had.  Several of the company members said that its a pretty rare opportunity to be along on the ride of Peter's creative process.  For these shows, he usually knows exactly what it will be before any of us would be involved.  It is bound to be a very intense piece and I would love to know how it ends up getting crafted from this point with the new group of interns.  

The Pine Forest 

 One of the most intense experiences I had early on in my trip was the day I wandered into the pine forest beyond the former quarry that serves as the circus field.  It was growing dark and there was a low rumble in the distance from a gathering thunderstorm.  I had no idea what I would find on my walk as I happened upon a small village of fort-like houses surrounded by closely set pin-straight trees that shot into the sky all around me.  

It was obviously an intentionally planted space and very striking, but as I approached- I realized I was entering a sacred place.  The Pine Forest has been used as a performance space over the years for many pageants, but through the 50 years of Bead and Puppet- it has become a place to remember all of those who have been part of the community over time.  Through spending time in each of the shrines, I felt I had gotten an intimate look at the lives and contributions of many interesting people.  The gravity of the space was humbling.


My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run

My strongest trials now are past, my triumph has begun

Oh, come Angel Band come and around me stand

Oh bear me away on your snow white wings to my immortal home

Oh bear me away on your snow white wings to my immortal home                

-Jefferson Hascall, Pub.1860

*   *  *  *  *

I had a really great time getting to know people from all over- the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, Taiwan, China, Ireland, Italy, France, Hungary, The Netherlands, Brazil...  It was pretty crazy to be in such a group of talented musicians, artists, weirdos, dancers, activists and performers; To learn from Peter and his staff and to see what we could do together.  

One of the things I miss the most about just being there with everyone is the nonstop music- and sitting around talking till forever- and the intense stars -and Jeff's cooking- and...well, just by chance walking in on this random kinda thing:


Photo: Massamo Schuster

**All quotes by Peter Schumann from my notes during meetings 
(except where otherwise noted)