Rehearsing with Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread & Puppet Theater (Hardcover)

Photographs and Essays on the Bread & Puppet Theater

By Ronald T. Simon, Marc Estrin

Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 9781931498197, 240pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2004



Peter Schumann and his Bread & Puppet Theater are likely the most important, and surely the longest-lasting, contributors to modern American theater history. Since the early sixties Schumann and his puppeteers have been pouring out work after work on every scale: political works, mysterious works, grand works, modest works, works on the street and works in fields, works to be played in every size theater on four continents, books, prints, posters, and banners which live as show-and-tell in so many homes.

Now Ron Simon and Marc Estrin, a remarkable photographer, and a long-time puppeteer, who have each in his own way contributed to the shows, recorded events, and reflected on them. Out of their experiences they have created Rehearsing with Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread & Puppet Theater.

Far more than history or documentation, they identify eight archetypes engaged repeatedly by Peter Schumann and his crew. Their book consists of parallel meditations--the texts not commenting on the photos, the photos not illustrating the texts--unified and intertwined by the chapter themes of Death, Fiend, Beast, Human, World, Gift, Bread, and Hope.

Altogether, it's a collaboration that reflects their sixty-odd man-years of personal experience in, hidden narratives of, and speculative reflections on Peter Schumann's projects, ever-more relevant to our times. This is a book that will engage both fans and newcomers--an inside-view of Peter Schumann's political-artistic world.

About the Author

Ronald T. Simon is a Canadian photographer whose 20-year study of the work of Peter Schumann remains his most important documentary project to date. His photographs have appeared in Orion Afield, American Theater, and The Globe and Mail. He has also worked for the National Film Board of Canada and CBC Radio. Ronald lives in Montreal. Visit his web site,, to learn more. Marc Estrin is a writer, cellist, and activist from Burlington, Vermont. His recent novel, Insect Dreams: The Half Life of Gregor Samsa, recently won a New York Public Library award as one of the 25 extraordinary books of 2002 and was dubbed "a pivotal literary landmark" by the Library Journal.