Bread and Puppet Theater is one of the oldest self-sustaining and continuously active theaters in the United States and has been enormously influential in both theater and political protest movements since the 1960s. B&P epitomizes the tension at the heart of prefigurative politics, between creative world-building and alternative decision-making structures.
Cultural Politics
2023

Prefigurative Politics at Bread and Puppet Theater

Bread and Puppet Theater is one of the oldest self-sustaining and continuously active theaters in the United States and has been enormously influential in both theater and political protest movements since the 1960s. For participants and audiences at B&P, the interwoven elements of embodiment and puppetry, shifting temporality, and heterotopia, create an immensely powerful version of prefigurative politics which not only generates and communicates alternative political possibilities, but allows individuals to experience those possibilities through their art and performances. Yet at the same time, despite the frequent use of Marxist language and principles, in practice the theater functions like a monarchy in miniature, and relies on a traditional hierarchy. B&P epitomizes the tension at the heart of prefigurative politics, between creative world-building and alternative decision-making structures. The way that B&P has negotiated these tensions over the past sixty years offers insights for social movements and artistic practices in the contemporary resurgence of prefigurative politics.

Cultural Politics
Moving beyond the boundaries of race, gender, and class, Cultural Politics examines the political ramifications of global cultural productions across artistic and academic disciplines. The journal explores precisely what is cultural about politics and what is political about culture by bringing together text and visual art that offer diverse modes of engagement with theory, cultural production, and politics.
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