Creating and Performing Cantastoria: Activist Street Theater with Bread and Puppet Theater

Cantastoria is a form of street theater involving the performance of pictures through the use of song, movement, text, and puppetry. In this special three-hour off-site workshop copresented by the 2727 California Street art center, members of the legendary activist troupe Bread and Puppet Theater will teach three cantastorias, then facilitate small groups in the creation of new cantastoria shows based on local issues.

The Bread and Puppet Theater was founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City’s Lower East Side. Besides offering rod-puppet and hand puppet shows for children, the first productions took on concerns including rents, rats, police, and other problems of the neighborhood. More complex theater pieces followed, in which sculpture, music, dance and language were equal partners, and the puppets grew bigger and bigger. During the Vietnam War, Bread and Puppet staged block-long processions and pageants involving hundreds of people. The group has survived to become one of the oldest nonprofit, self-supporting theatrical companies in the country.