Welcome to Puppetry International #44, an issue full of articles about puppets and puppeteers who are working for social justice on many fronts. There are a few notable absences. Vermont’s Bread & Puppet Theatre is well known for its work on behalf of the powerless. For this reason (among others), they have been included in many issues of PI, and we wanted to bring some new voices to this issue. We do, however, consider B & P’s Peter and Elka Schumann the Godparents of socially conscious theatre in the modern age (post WWII).
Another group often seen in these pages is Dragon Dance Theatre, headed by Sam Kerson and his wife, Kata. These two (and the many others they have brought into their projects) have produced enormous works in Mexico, Central America and elsewhere. Recently they have been working with refugees in Europe in a multi-year program called “Artist as Witness.”You’ll find more information at www.dragondancetheatre.wixsite.com/dragondancetheatre/artists-as-witness. Their work and their commitment to social justice is truly remarkable.
Not all of us can commit to traveling the world for social causes. But we can be witnesses through our own work, and we can educate ourselves to be rational and caring voices in a world benighted. We can – one act, one word at a time – reduce the polarization in our society that so often devolves into unproductive name-calling. “Change” is not a city on a hill. It’s here and it’s happening and you’re just a page away from reading all about it.
-Andrew C. Periale