Against the backdrop of COVID-19, racial injustice, and the upcoming election, CulturalDC is staging one of the first large-scale productions in the Washington, DC, area since the pandemic began. The nonprofit arts organization is collaborating with the legendary Bread and Puppet Theater to present Insurrection + Resurrection Service Circus, free performances at the intersection of art and activism. Flag dancers, stilt walkers, and a roaring, squawking menagerie of paper mache beasts and divinities will speak to the current situation in this country.
The 90-minute performances will take place September 19 at 6pm and September 20 at 2pm at the National Sylvan Theater on the southeast grounds of the Washington Monument. The lawn in front of the amphitheater will be marked for physical distancing. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and folding chairs. (Seating will not be provided.) Face masks are required. For more information, click here.
Bread and Puppet Theater is an internationally celebrated company that champions a visually rich street-theater style of performance art filled with music, dance and slapstick. Shows are political and spectacular, featuring huge puppets.
“Insurrection + Resurrection Service Circus asserts the essential role of art in a time of public health crisis, and a time of brazen greed and fascism at the highest levels and hard-won revolutionary possibility in the streets: at such a time, political public art offers us an opportunity to gather together, to mourn together, to celebrate together, and to continue to rise up together against the rotten system and those who profit from it,” said Joshua Krugman, a puppeteer and member of Bread and Puppet Theater. “We are thrilled, with the help of CulturalDC, to be able to play our show for the people of DC, and hopefully lend encouragement to those participating in the ongoing uprising.”
“Our goal is always to offer a platform for risk and expression to contemporary artists,” said Kristi Maiselman, executive director of CulturalDC. “We have worked hard to offer this performance, at this location, at this time in a safe way to the residents of the District, many of whom have been on the front lines fighting injustice. Bread and Puppet embodies the spirit of revolution that CulturalDC values and uplifts.”
• The Insurrection + Resurrection Service Circus is this summer’s contribution to the iconic Bread and Puppet Circus tradition beloved by audiences worldwide for nearly two generations—a bright, raucous melee of short acts governed by a brass band, addressing the heart of the current moment using diverse puppetry styles and spanning many moods, from slapstick to the sublime.
• Founder Peter Schumann says the show is “a service for citizens, aliens & immigrants alike to demonstrate the ills that inspire uprising against callously incompetent government & the tragedies that result from that callous incompetence & call for resurrection.”
• After the shows, Bread and Puppet will serve its famous sourdough rye bread with aioli. “Cheap Art”—books, posters, postcards, pamphlets and banners from the Bread and Puppet Press—will be for sale.
The outdoor production will prioritize both audience and artist safety. Due to the puppet sizes—averaging 10 to 15 feet tall—audiences can enjoy the show from a comfortable distance. CulturalDC staff will be on site to ensure that masks are worn and indicate spots on the grass for viewers to set up. A detailed COVID mitigation plan was submitted to the National Park Service.
About Bread and Puppet Theater
The Bread and Puppet Theater was founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City’s Lower East Side. Besides rod-puppet and hand puppet shows for children, the concerns of the first productions were rents, rats, police, and other problems of the neighborhood. More complex theater pieces followed in which sculpture, music, dance, and language were equal partners. The puppets grew bigger and bigger. Annual presentations for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day often included children and adults from the community as participants. Many performances were done in the street. In 1974 Bread and Puppet moved to a farm in Glover in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The 140-year-old hay barn was transformed into a museum for veteran puppets. Traveling puppet shows range from tightly composed theater pieces presented by members of the company to extensive outdoor pageants that require the participation of many volunteers.
CulturalDC sees the arts as a driving force in building sustainable communities by providing a wide range of programs and services that support artists’ ability to live and work in the DMV and by giving audiences access to affordable and accessible cutting-edge visual and performing art. Since 1998, CulturalDC has brokered more than 350,000 square feet of artist space, including the Arts Walk at Monroe Street Market, Atlas Performing Arts Center, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Source Theatre, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre. In addition to providing space, CulturalDC facilitates opportunities for and presents innovative visual, performing, and multidisciplinary artists. CulturalDC’s Mobile Arts Program challenges the limitations of traditional art spaces by bringing relevant, accessible art directly to local audiences. The Mobile Art Gallery is the District’s first moveable art space and has a commitment to use art as a catalyst to build community. Visit www.culturaldc.org; Facebook: CulturalDC; Instagram: @cultural_dc; or Twitter: Cultural_DC.