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HomeOscar's JourneyOscar Freedom Campaign in the NewsCan Bread And Puppet's Play Get Obama To Pardon A Jailed Puerto...

Can Bread And Puppet’s Play Get Obama To Pardon A Jailed Puerto Rican Activist?

unnamed-590x281by Greg Cook, WPUR, Boston’s NPR® news station

When Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater brought its show “The Seditious Conspiracy Theater Presents: A Monument to the Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera” to New York’s Theater for the New City last December, a woman arrived at the opening night with a letter from Lopez Rivera himself and read it aloud to the crowd before the show.
“I would like to thank the members of the Bread and Puppet Theater for its solidarity with the campaign for my excarceration,” Lopez Rivera wrote. “I’m extremely grateful for the support you’re giving me and for all the support you have given to just and noble causes. … Puerto Ricans, who have struggled for the independence and sovereignty of our beloved homeland, have a good appreciation of how important compassion and solidarity are to keep the spirits strong and hopes alive especially when we have had to face oppression, criminalization and imprisonment. I believe no one should accept colonialism no matter where it exists or who practices it, because it’s a crime against humanity.”

“We weren’t anticipating it,” puppeteer Joe Therrien says. “That was incredible. We were all just backstage. … It felt really personal to me.”

Bread and Puppet Theater, which was founded by Peter Schumann in New York in 1963, is known for its tradition of distributing fresh baked bread free to audiences at the end of performances; its monumental, mythic papier-mâché puppets; and its participation in street protests against the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, American torture. The company was also one of the landmark New York experimental theaters of the 1960s-and continues to elaborate its signature blend of vanguard performance, expressionist dance and folk pageantry.
“Peter has said the point [of this show] is to bring enough attention to it that [President] Obama will pardon him before he gets out of office,” Therrien says. “We didn’t expect to hear from him [Lopez Rivera].”


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