Peter Schumann (born 1934) is the founder and director of the Bread & Puppet Theater. Born in Silesia, he was a sculptor and dancer in Germany before moving to the United States in 1961. In 1963 he founded Bread & Puppet in New York City, and in 1970 moved to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, eventually settling in Glover, Vermont where the company still performs. Schumann's best known work is the Domestic Resurrection Circus, performed annually by the Bread and Puppet Theater until 1998.
The Bread and Puppet Theater
Schumann founded the Bread and Puppet Theater in 1963 in New York City. The theater is named for its combination of puppetry shows with free freshly baked bread, generally served with a dipping sauce. The company is known, according to The Buffalo News for "anarchic, noncommercial, participatory and politically charged approach to art." Among the notable Bread and Puppet Theater shows directed by Schumann are "Nativity 1992", described by The New York Times as "an exemplar of performance folk art", and "The Divine Reality Comedy". He also participated in the Angry Arts week in January 1967
The Domestic Resurrection Circus
After Bread & Puppet's first decade in New York City, Schumann decided to take an offer from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont to become the college's first theater-in-residence. After a few years, Schumann composed his first Domestic Resurrection Circus. Blending vaudeville comedy with political commentary, as well as the company's trademark giant puppets, the Circus became a tradition each summer. After Schumann moved to Glover, Vermont in 1973, the Circuses continued. The Domestic Resurrection Circus's last year was 1998, when over 30,000 people attended. Since then, a smaller circus is performed every weekend during the summer.
In 2007 Schumann premiered "Independence Paintings: Inspired by Four Stories" in Boston and Burlington, Vermont. The series was inspired by ten days Schumann spent in the Occupied Territories of Palestine, as well as John Hersey's 'The Wall', a graphic account of the birth, development, and destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, the largest of the Jewish ghettos established by Nazi Germany during the Jewish Holocaust. The series proved controversial, with critics labeling Schumann's works as "anti-Zionist", "anti-Semitic" and "soft-core Holocaust denial", accusations Schumann denied, stating that "I'm not saying that what's happening in Palestine is the same as what happened in Warsaw ... but it's certainly a reminder." While Schumann later acknowledged that he "may have unnecessarily hurt some people's feelings" with the series, he returned in 2008 to the theme of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his subsequent art series, "The University of Majd: The Story of a Palestinian Youth", which addresses a case of what Schumann believes to be false imprisonment in Israel.
- Puppen und Masken. Das Bread and Puppet Theater, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main/Germany, 1973.
- The old art of puppetry in the new world order, 1993.
- Bread: A lecture to art students at SUNY/Purchase, New York. 1987, reprint 1994.
- Bread & Puppet. Green Man, 1996.
- Peter Schumann's Israeli-Palestinian problem?
- Rehearsing With Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread and Puppet Theater, Ronald T. Simon and Marc Estrin, 2004.
- Sommer, Mark (2008-09-05). "Bread and Puppet invites those who are willing to learn". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- Gussow, Mel (1993-01-01). "An animal nativity of puppets". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- La Rocco, Clauda (2007-12-01). "No escape from reality, even for magical horses". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- Neumann, Osha (2008). Up Against the Wall Motherf**kers: A memoir of the 60s with notes for the Next Time. Seven Stories. ISBN 978-1-58322-849-4., p. 43
- Brecht, Stefan. "The Bread and Puppet Theater" (1988)
- Picard, Ken. (September 19, 2007) Over the Wall. Seven Days. Retrieved 13 May 2008.
- Cook, Greg. (January 29, 2008) Going to Hell The Phoenix. Retrieved 13 May 2008.