Kinbote (kinbote) wrote,

Bread & Puppet presents... 6 World-Can't-Wait dances

A week ago I travelled to Glover, VT to see Bread and Puppet perform on their farm.  They perform an indoor show on Friday nights, then outside on Sunday afternoon they present their large-scale Circus (preceded by a half-hour of Sideshows) and Pageant.

These are my notes from the indoor Friday evening show, presented as the Lubberland National Dance Company.  These dances are performed by about 18 summer interns as a group.  While there may be yelling or grunting or other human-produced sounds, this batch is performed without words -- other than the huge long wordy titles which are presented and raised to the rafters, where they hang above the performance of each dance.

A 14-piece band sat atop the bleachers behind the audience.  They did not play songs, but created occasional effects during and between dances as noted below.

The Glover Gardening Society bits, presented between dances, were performed by three B&P regulars.  They were simple, physical and joyful, enacted to the playing of a ukulele.  How much mileage could our group get out of the act of digging a hole and planting a seed?  They got a LOT.  These light, straightforward  bits also provided a welcome counterpoint to the dark tone and interpretive demands of the main dances.

While fairly abstract, the main dances were tightly focused and effectively communicative -- significantly more so than the set I saw in 2005, when there was no unifying theme.  And now....

Lubberland National Dance Company presents....

  Six  World-Can't-Wait  Dances

Dance #1: The Our-Government-On-The-Basis-Of-Outrageous-Lies-Wages-A-Murderous-And-Illegitimate-War Dance

 - Monster and Pig crank handles of nefarious machines.
 - Enter the People, who fall to the ground, oblivious and asleep.
 - Enter the Red Waker with wings, who attempts to waken the people with brass band fanfares, but fails
 - Monster and Pig crank on.
 - Enter Death and Attendant, who dance around as the People sleep on
 - Monster and Pig crank on.
 - Waker gives up.
 - Exeunt Waker, Death, Attendant.
 - Exeunt People.

Band interlude:  Full brass fanfares.

Glover Gardening Society:  2 actors and a Narrator/Ukulele Player.
GGS Scene 1:  Donkey Pulls the Plow.

Dance #2:  The Government-Is-Openly-Torturing-People-And-Justifying-It Dance

 - People enter, look down
 - Remove their shoes
 - Crouch w/hands over faces
 - Slowly stand up
 - Remove hands and look out to audience
 - Respond to the torture they see
 - Become assertive, defy the torturers (point at them, raise fists, entreat them, scold them, etc)
 - Advance on audience.

Band interlude:  Mostly light percussion.

Glover Gardening Society Scene 2:  Dig a Hole; Plant a Seed.

Dance #3: The Our-Government-Jails-People-Refuses-Them-Lawyers-And-Holds-Them-Indefinitely-Or-Deports-Them Dance

 - Enter a Door and a Large Crank
 - Enter People in a circle around the Crank
 - Enter a Naive-Faced Onlooker and a Nurse with Hanky
 - Crank turned, People in circle convulse as they are drawn into crank, then repelled.  Very strenuous.  They appear jerked around by the Machinery.
 - Onlooker singles out one Person for aid.  Nurse wipes the Chosen’s brow with hanky.  The Chosen is motioned to the Door, knocks 3 times.  The Door opens and the Chosen passes through.
 - The rest remain.  The Crank starts up again.  People jerked around again.
 - Repeat twice more: Chosen is singled out for aid; the Naïve Onlooker is satisfied; the rest remain and are jerked around by the Machinery.
 - Crank rests.  The People all move inward toward the Crank.  They rise up around it.  But it starts up again and they are thrown back, and jerked back under control.

Band interlude:  Discord

Glover Gardening Society Scene 3:  Apply Water (f/watering can) and Sun (after Cloud is blown away).

Dance #4:  The Join-Millions-Around-The-Globe-Who-Demand-This-Government-Be-Stopped Dance

- People enter.  Giant cardboard Wall enters.  Wall presses the People against the barn wall.
- The People push the giant cardboard wall away, exposing its other side: a horrible painted scene of distorted bodies, with much red color.
 - The People hurl selves forward towards the scene, but cannot reach it.  When one sprawls on the ground, others pick him/her up, then hurl themselves.
 - A red cloth is thrown forward during the hurling.  So is a blue one, and a white one.  Also a sandal and another object.
 - Eventually the People stand back against the barn wall, with arms raised.  Surrender?  Or pinioned above their heads?

(no interludes)

Dance #5:  The That-Which-You-Will-Not-Resist-You-Will-Be-Forced-To-Accept Dance

- People still standing against barn wall, though torture scene wall has exited.
 - Enter Angel, who moves toward People, and Big Bad Dude, who hulks in far corner.
 - Angel moves among People, then moves to confront Big Bad Dude.  He EATS Angel’s white paper wings!
 - Angel seeks refuge among the People.
 - Big Bad approaches.  He tries to eat one of the People, but together they fight him off.
 - He tries again, and they rip off his Hand!  Repeat with other Hand, and finally his Face!

Band descends through crowd and plays triumphant fanfare.

Glover Gardening Society Scene 4:  Enter 4 tall puppets with tall daffodils.  Actors dig in hole, find daffodil there too!

Dance #6:  The Silence-Is-Not-Acceptable-In-The-Face-Of-This-More-And-More-Fascist-Democracy Dance

- The People gather and yell.

Lights out.

Rumbling, knocking noises as masses of brown bodies/Population puppets emerge into playing space and extend their arms.

And finally, a Broom Dance to sweep away the miserable Government!

 - People in formation YELL and SWEEP in unison. 
 - They sweep right out the door into the night.
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