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Bread and Puppet Theater looking for volunteers to join in the fun


Enjoy the esteemed Bread and Puppet Theater (and a few local volunteer performers) on the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) lawn for the free performance of “Whatforward Circus” at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21.


“Whatforward Circus” is about a group of stone-age technology puppeteers, brass players and percussionists who fight the anonymous monster, the Big Fat Wrong. Complete with Mongolian hordes, singing toilets and stilted flying businessmen, Bread and Puppet Theater invites the whole family to dance, sing and question. The audience is encouraged to bring blankets or chairs.


In the true spirit of community engagement, volunteers are welcome to take part in the performances. The DIA is looking for 10-20 people to join in the fun that might include performing with puppets and masks, dancing with a group or just waving a flag. All ages, skill levels and abilities are welcome and the parts can be learned quickly. Those interested should contact Emily Bowyer at ebowyer@dia.org for more information.


Bread and Puppet Theater was founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City’s Lower East Side and continues to be one of the oldest, nonprofit, self-supporting theatrical companies in the country. Besides producing rod- and hand-puppet shows for children, the group focused the first productions on social issues, including rents, rats, police and other neighborhood problems. More complex theater pieces followed, with sculpture, music, dance and language in equal partnership with the puppets. The puppets grew bigger and bigger and annual presentations for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and Memorial Day often included children and adults from the community as participants.


In 1974 Bread and Puppet moved to a farm in Glover, Vermont. The 140-year old hay barn was transformed into a museum for retired puppets. The company makes its income from touring on the North American continent and abroad, and from sales of Bread and Puppet Press’ posters and publications. The traveling puppet shows range from tightly composed theater pieces to extensive outdoor pageants that require the participation of many volunteers.


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