Bread and Puppet Theater has been performing at Time and Space Limited (TSL) for more than 20 years. “We have a unique and fertile relationship with Linda Mussman and Claudia Bruce,” says Josh Krugman of this one-of-a-kind live troupe. Since its inception in the early 1960s, the giant puppetry, costumed players, music and social commentary made by Bread and Puppet have shaped original works that aim at prevailing tendencies in human folly. It was always going to be a good fit for Mussman and Bruce’s venue in Hudson. “We are so grateful for TSL having us again in April.”
The new show is Diagonal Life: Theory and Praxis, based on a premise that, according to founder and director Peter Schumann, investigates “the leaning power of hurt verticals.” What is a “hurt vertical”? It is the perfect, upright citizen whose aspiration is to reflect the agreed-upon worthiness, but who perhaps falls short of that goal. It is a literal personification of directions. While diagonality – to be less than vertical – might appear to be a weakness, this work presents the diagonal as a potent and promising opposition to the dominating verticality of our culture.
But there might be power in a somewhat damaged life, power to resist social hierarchy, explains Krugman. “Bread and Puppet is a kind of theater that people don’t see every day. It reaches back in time to artistic movements in dance, and further back to ritual theater and masked performance. It comes from the Greek foundation of theater, before live performance was separated. To see a Bread and Puppet show is to see all aspects reunited, gaining strength and complexity in all its hilarious absurdity and profundity.”
In Diagonal Life, one sees that the most aesthetically radical movements for puppets are diagonals: movements that cannot be sustained by human actors or dancers for more than a moment. In contrast, verticality – from the architecture of our cities to ladders of success, from mountains to scale to the incessant wakefulness required of us – is the gold standard in position and movement in our culture. This piece brings all possibilities and implications of diagonality to life with song, dance, magic, mechanism and stunning cardboard and papier-mâché puppets painted in Peter Schumann’s exuberant, slapdash Expressionist style.
Scheduled to appear at TSL on Friday, April 26, Diagonal Life promises to provoke an alternative perspective. What else can be expected from one of the oldest not-for-profit, self-supporting theatrical companies in the country?
The show starts at 7:30 p.m., but a special Benefit Supper will be served at 6:30 for anyone wanting to hang out with the performers and contribute to both Bread and Puppet and TSL endeavors. The supper menu includes: Spring Tortellini Soup with Sweet Peas, Golden Beets and Greens (vegetarian); Kale-Stuffed Cauliflower (vegetarian, gluten-free); Garlic Roasted Artichoke and Asparagus (vegan, gluten-free); and Strawberry Rhubarb Custard for dessert. Supper and admission to the show cost $35. Reservations can be made at email@example.com or by calling the number below.
The traditional after-show snack of free sourdough rye bread with aïoli is included in the regular ticket pricing: $15 general admission, $12.50 for members and $10 for students and children. Also, Bread and Puppet’s Cheap Art – books, posters, postcards, pamphlets and banners from the Bread and Puppet Press – will be available for purchase. The Bread and Puppet Practitioners-of-the-Pursuit-of-What String Band will welcome the public. More info on Bread and Puppet Theater can be found at http://breadandpuppet.org.
Diagonal Life, Friday, April 26, 7:30 p.m., Time and Space Limited, 434 Columbia Street, Hudson; (518) 822-8100, https://timeandspace.org.