Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Bread and Puppet Theater Archives,
Date (inclusive): 1962-1981,
Date (bulk): (bulk 1964-1975)
Collection number: D-136
Bread and Puppet Theater
3.3 linear feet
University of California, Davis. General Library. Dept. of Special Collections.
100 North West Quad
Davis, California, 95616-5292
Abstract: Founded by Peter Schumann, the Bread and Puppet Theater emerged as one of the first alternative theater groups of the 1960s
and 1970s. Schumann incorporated religion and morality into the central anti-war theme of the plays. The Bread and Puppet
Theater offered bread, baked by the group, to the audience at the beginning of every performance. Schumann believed that theater
was as basic to life as bread. The Bread and Puppet Theater Archives (1962-1981, bulk dates 1964-1975) includes scripts, programs,
monographs, and serials of the experimental theater.
Physical location: Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections, as many are stored offsite.
Collection is open for research under regular Reading Room rules and copyright restrictions.
Copyright is protected by the copyright law, chapter 17 of the U.S. Code. All requests for permission to publish or quote
from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf
of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.
[Identification of item], Bread and Puppet Theater Archives, D-136, Department of Special Collections, University of California
Library, Davis, California.
In 1975, Peter Schumann donated this collection to the Library. Material was added in 1981.
Lola Aguilar processed this collection and created its finding aid. Melissa Tyler encoded the finding aid.
West German immigrant Peter Schumann (1934-) founded the Bread and Puppet Theater in New York in 1961. Influenced by the peace
movement in New York, Schumann wrote radical anti-war plays for his puppet theater. He incorporated religion and morality
into the central anti-war theme of the plays. The Bread and Puppet Theater offered bread, baked by the group, to the audience
at the beginning of every performance. Schumann declared that theater was as basic to life as bread, hence the name. A street
parade with masked puppeteers on stilts, oversized puppets up to twenty feet high, banners, and at times, over a hundred singing
and dancing volunteers, preceded the plays. The plays contained little dialogue, usually spoken by a narrator. Schumann believed
the plays' imagery communicated best in an outdoor setting, therefore most of the plays were performed outdoors. With only
a small core of paid staff, the Bread and Puppet Theater relied on a fluctuating volunteer staff whose numbers changed according
to each performance. Charging the audience a nominal fee, the group received most of its funds through grants and donations.
The group performed in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Australia.
The Bread and Puppet Theater expanded in 1970 when the group moved to Cate Farm in Plainfield, Vermont as theater-in-residence
at Goddard College. They offered workshops in sculpture, mime, dance, story-making, puppet building and operation, music,
and instrument making. The group also held workshops to produce Bread and Puppet publications. One of Schumann's plays, the
Domestic Resurrection Circus, was first performed in 1971 at Plainfield as part of a two day festival. The festival became an annual event. Beginning
in 1971, Universal Movement Theatre Repertory director Mark Amitin arranged performances for the Bread and Puppet Theater.
After a cancelled series of performances for the North Jersey Cultural Council in 1973, Schumann severed his relationship
with the booking agency. In 1974, Schumann moved the group to Glover, Vermont where the group opened a museum for their collection
of Bread and Puppet Theater masks and puppets. The Bread and Puppet Theater continued to perform for national and international
Bread and Puppet Theater 98, accessed 3 March 2004; available from http://www.scenesofvermont.com/bread&puppet/bread.htm
Bread and Puppet Theater, 1962-1985, accessed 13 February 2004; available from http://bailey.uvm.edu:6336/dynaweb/findingaids/bredpupt/
The Bread and Puppet Theater. New York: Routledge, Chapman, and Hall, Inc., 1988.
American Alternative Theater. New York: Grove Press, 1982.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Bread and Puppet Theater Archives is arranged in seven series: 1. Works by Bread and Puppet Theater, 2. Business Records,
3. Reviews, 4. Ephemera, 5. Photographic Materials, 6. Realia, and 7. Added Materials. Items span the years 1962 to 1981,
but the bulk of the collection dates from 1964 to 1975. The collection contains published and unpublished works by the Bread
and Puppet Theater and its founder and director Peter Schumann. The Theater's scripts, programs, monographs, and serials are
mainly pictorial. The collection contains audiotape recordings of "Bread and Puppet Theater Rehearsal" and two video recordings:
"Bread and Puppet Theater" and "The Meadow's Green." Also included in the collection are reviews, fliers, posters, photographic
prints, and other ephemera related to the Bread and Puppet Theater's performances. Realia from the Bread and Puppet Theater's
anti-bicentennial performance of
A Monument for Ishi at the University of California, Davis campus in 1975, includes two banners, a mask, a sign, and a deer puppet. Business
records are primarily limited to correspondence, press releases, contracts, site information, and clippings concerning arrangements
made by Universal Movement Theatre Repertory Director Mark Amitin and the North Jersey Cultural Council in 1972 and 1973.
Other materials related to the Bread and Puppet Theater may be found in the following collections at Special Collections:
D-145: Universal Movement Theatre Repertory Archives
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Library's online public access catalog:
Bread and Puppet Theater
Schumann, Peter, 1934-
American drama--20th century
Experimental theater--United States
Theater--Moral and ethical aspects