The National Circus and Passion of the Correct Moment is a two-part evening, beginning with a circus. It's a prologue, with half a dozen little acts including The Rotten Idea Theater Company (populated with "Kaspers" -- fresh, insurrectionist Punch-type characters), a "Russian Computer Dance," and a tongue-in-cheek playlet on what makes a protest. Schumann borrows the structure of the Passion Play for the second--and longer--part. The idea is to dramatize the mind of post-9/11 America, with its yearning for retaliation, as a puppet epic. Schumann remembers that Gulf Wars go way back to Akkadian times. The piece juxtaposes the ideology of the "correct moment," today, with its antecedent in ancient Babylonia. Different movements are used to define the "moments"--ancient and modern.
In the ancient portion, there are two old kings of Mesomotamia and Babylon, boasting to each other in historical Babylonian texts about the shock and awe tactics of their time. The texts are serious, but the scene is thoroughly comic (one dancer's weapon is a fly swatter). When the tableau morphs to modern times, it has table-sitting executives (with huge white cuffs), a screaming chorus, and corpses flying overhead. The latter re-form into airplanes as a metaphor of ultimate revenge. Airplanes made of bodies fly into buildings made of bodies. Iraqi women collect the corpses. But there is hope: the airplanes morph into birds, who pick up the pots and pans of political protest and an insurrection dance starts. All is done without a word of dialogue; there are only constructions and dances. The title contains "passion" because it refers to a tale of suffering--the suffering of war--and because in its evolution this summer, as an outdoor drama, it moved with its audience among various "stages of the cross," like a medieval passion play.
Appropriate For Ages: 16 and up
Visit the Bread & Puppet Theater in The National Circus and Passion of the Correct Moment website: