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BREAD & PUPPET: THEATER OF THE POSSIBILITARIANS

A New Feature-Length Documentary
Directed, Produced, Filmed and Edited
By Robbie Leppzer
Turning Tide Films

Robin Lloyd, Executive Producer

           
            A journey into the remarkable world of visionary, avant-garde director Peter Schumann. A German war refugee, he immigrated to New York City in the 1960s, where he invented a revolutionary theater style utilizing giant paper-mâché puppets.  His boundary-breaking Bread and Puppet Theater is known for their epic-scale performances with empowering social justice themes. As a multicultural transnational troupe, they have been inspiring global audiences for almost 60 years. Behind-the-scenes footage profiles Schumann – now 87 — directing young apprentices from all around the world, who come to study with him at the theater’s farm in scenic rural Vermont. 

            In these uncertain times of widespread political and economic turmoil, people need encouragement and upliftment more than ever.  This is a story of creative artistry, expansive imagination, and the possibilities of the human spirit.

            Bread and Puppet inspires people to imagine that a more just world is indeed possible.



Film Synopsis

            Described by theater historian Stefan Brecht (son of Bertolt Brecht) as “one of the greatest artists of the 20th century,” Peter Schumann has passionately directed the iconic, ground-breaking Bread and Puppet Theater for nearly sixty years. Considered by many to be one of the most important and longest-lasting contributors to modern American theater, Schumann and his puppeteers continue to tirelessly captivate audiences and inspire artists all over the globe with their unconventional productions that regularly deal with themes about social justice, war, and the plight of the oppressed.

           Founded in New York City in 1963, Bread and Puppet emerged as one of the landmark experimental theaters of the 1960s and became known for their giant puppets in anti-Vietnam War marches, and then moved to Vermont in 1970 to hold annual outdoor performances, which are a glorious and humble amalgamation of colorful circus, old European and avant-garde pageantry, poignant theater pieces inspired by the news of the day, and astute political satire. With a global following – stemming from decades of international touring – Bread and Puppet is identified by their famous huge paper-mâché puppets and their tradition of distributing freshly-baked sourdough rye bread free to audiences at the end of performances. 

           BREAD & PUPPET: THEATER OF THE POSSIBILITARIANS will profile Peter Schumann’s boundless artistic vision, character, and prolific life’s work, as well as Bread and Puppet’s rich history. We will illuminate the personal story and philosophy of this 87-year-old iconoclastic artist, a German immigrant and refugee from World War Two, who has cultivated a deep sense of awe for this world and opened portals for countless others—portals into new worlds, new ways of seeing, and the democratization of “art for everybody.”
 


  
           We filmed extensive behind-the-scenes footage of more than 60 apprentices, who came from around the United States and from around the world, as they lived communally, rehearsed, created and performed theatrical pieces with the troupe during one summer. Through in-depth interviews, we recorded revealing and impassioned testimony about their personal experiences at Bread and Puppet.

         These young people, who came from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Chile, Egypt, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Greece, as well as from across the United States, not only learn directly from Schumann and the seasoned staff but also are invited to bring their own unique gifts and skills to assist in the creation of the shows.



           We will interweave the story of Bread and Puppet’s six decades with interviews with longtime puppeteers, along with archival photos and film footage from the origins of the theater in the early 1960s in New York City through the 1980s and 1990s, when the theater was at its peak attendance of 30,000 – 40,000 people with hundreds of puppeteers taking part in their spectacular outdoor productions at their 100-acre farm in northern Vermont.

         For more information about the Bread and Puppet Theater: www.BreadandPuppet.org



About the Filmmakers

Director / Producer / Cinematographer / Editor – Robbie Leppzer



           For the past 40 years, Robbie Leppzer has been making documentary films that chronicle people who stick their necks out to work for grassroots social change in the world. 

           Robbie is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker and radio producer who has directed over thirty documentaries over the past forty years. His critically acclaimed feature-length and short documentaries, as well as commissioned television news magazine segments, about contemporary social issues and multicultural themes have been broadcast by CNN International, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, HBO/Cinemax, PBS, CNN, Sundance Channel, HDNet, Link TV, Free Speech TV, National Public Radio, and Pacifica Radio

           Leppzer’s previous feature-length documentary, POWER STRUGGLE, chronicles the successful grassroots citizens’ effort to shut down a problem-plagued nuclear power plant in Vermont. Nationally broadcast on Free Speech TV and Link TV. Regionally broadcast on Vermont PBS.

           For more information about POWER STRUGGLE or to watch a film trailer, visit: www.PowerStruggleMovie.com



           In 2014, Leppzer co-produced, in association with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation – Japan’s public broadcaster and largest television network), a 50-minute Japanese version of POWER STRUGGLE, which was nationally broadcast in Japan.

           For more information on Robbie Leppzer’s previous documentaries, visit our website at www.TurningTide.com  

Executive Producer – Robin Lloyd



           Robin Lloyd, director of Green Valley Media (www.greenvalleymedia.org), based in Burlington, Vermont has been making films and videos for 25 years. From her early experimental films to her more recent videos on people’s struggles around the world, she has sought to bring social issues to life. Her collaborations with nonprofit organizations such as the Colombia Support Network, Witness for Peace and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom have resulted in the production of documentaries that are used both inside and outside the classroom. She is founding member of the Peace and Justice Center in Burlington, Vermont, and serves on the board of TowardFreedom.com.

           Robin extensively filmed the Bread and Puppet pageants in the 1990s, which will provide our documentary with rich archival material. Her films about Bread and Puppet include GATES OF HELL, MEN WITH TEETH, CONVENTION OF THE GODS, BROKEN OFF LETTER and COLUMBUS AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER. www.greenvalleymedia.org/breadandpuppet 
 



How YOU Can Help!

         
We need to raise $225,000 to complete editing for BREAD & PUPPET: THEATER OF THE POSSIBILITARIANS.

         YOUR TAX-DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTION will help us achieve these goals!

  • Tax-deductible online donations can be made here, by clicking on the Donate Panel above. 
  • Tax-deductible checks should be made out to our tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) fiscal sponsor: “From The Heart Productions” and write “Bread and Puppet Film Project” in the memo line.

         Mail to: Turning Tide Films, 2509 Shaftsbury Hollow Road, North Bennington, VT 05257

  • Help us organize a fundraising party for BREAD & PUPPET: THEATER OF THE POSSIBILITARIANS

Contact:

Robbie Leppzer • [email protected] • (802) 447-0035

Robin Lloyd • [email protected] • (802) 355-3256

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