Posted November 4, 2015 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment

Bread & Puppet Present Fire

In Olympia During Their Westcoast Tour

By Sarah Bradley

              On the evening of Wednesday, October 21st, The Olympia Ballroom became the stage for Bread and Puppets presentation of Fire. Bread and Puppets is a politically radical puppet theatre and performance troupe currently based out of Glover, Vermont. Fire was originally created in 1965 as a response and protest of the Vietnam War, and later dedicated to the three Americans who set themselves on fire in an act of protest. Fire has continued to be performed and has used the shows powerful message to address current acts of war. The present iteration of Fire, announced as the show began, was performed in recognition of the current state of war in Yemen. The Olympia Ballroom was packed with audience members of all ages to see the Bread and Puppets show. The seats were all filled and audience members made space on the gymnasium floor to settle in to be a part of Fire. Fire takes place in a Vietnamese community over the course of one week, depicting the state of events before, during, and after the community is seized by firebombs. Fire is performed with life-size puppets resembling their manipulators. The visual tension of the show is pronounced in the difficulty to determine which figure is a puppet and which is a human-actor. After the show, I learned that the entire production was the work of 6 players, but at times there were as many as 11 figures on stage. The soundscape of Fire was particularly memorable. The sparse and dramatic soundscape is created using primitive handmade instruments. Long bouts of silence are punctuated by sudden drops of a hammer large pieces of scrap metal and chains being tossed about. Fire takes us through each day of the week in a community experiencing violence, war, and occupation. The subject matter is treated with respect and urgency. Bread and Puppet’s presentation of Fire was a visually and aurally stunning performance; the political message of the show and the surreal artistry created a palpable tension in the room. I felt honored to be a part of the audience for Bread and Puppets West Coast tour. The performance was unlike anything I had experienced before. If you missed the Olympia performance of Fire, you can learn more about Bread and Puppets from their website.