The Bread and Puppet Theater, one of the United States’ most beloved theater companies, is celebrating its 50th anniversary of using monstrous puppets to protest the “horror that happens” on the international stage. “Democracy Now!” spoke with Peter Schumann, the theater’s founder, for a full hour Thursday.
“We don’t have playwrights in the theater,” Schumann said. “Our playwright is the daily news, is this—all this horror that happens. And it’s not so much that we want to do it, but we continuously get obliged to do it, because the goddamn media don’t say it. They are—they live by omission, rather than by reporting.”
“It” includes such urgent political issues as nuclear weapons, war and mass domestic surveillance, Schumann says. Nearing his 80th birthday, the thespian discusses the setting of his birth in Nazi Germany ruled by “The Shatterer,” why he refuses to retire and how America squanders the potential of its elderly population.
“They don’t have enough to do,” Schumann says of the “olds.” “Society doesn’t have any place for them. And I don’t get it. Why? I mean, when I see them, I think of my mother-in-law and other older women who I met in my life, especially women. That they were so unemployed, so unused by society, is beyond my comprehension. They are so powerful. They are so able to do things. And they—and society doesn’t find a way of bowing to that concentrated power and employing it. It doesn’t do it. It discards them. It leaves them out.”
“Look in older society. There are many societies where older people have automatically a role as being older people with more experience. This doesn’t exist in this society. This is a society of youngsters and of pushy middle-aged characters, and the rest is not so welcome. The kids are not welcome, and the olds are not welcome.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.