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Monday, August 2, 2021

Elka Schumann, the 'Heart and Soul' of Bread and Puppet, Dies

Posted By on Mon, Aug 2, 2021 at 1:23 PM

Elka and Peter Schumann - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Elka and Peter Schumann
Elka Schumann, whose personal and artistic partnership with her husband, Peter, was a guiding force of Bread and Puppet Theater for almost 60 years, died on Sunday. She was 85.

Her death, at North Country Hospital in Newport, was confirmed by  Michael Romanyshyn, a family friend and longtime puppeteer.  Elka was "everything" to Bread and Puppet, Romanyshyn said. "She was the heart and soul."

Elka was born in Russia in August 1935 to a Russian mother and an American father. Her family left that country, bound for the United States, when she was a young girl.

Elka met Peter, an artist and puppeteer, in his native Germany while she was a college student studying abroad.  The Schumanns were married in 1959 and lived in New York City, where Peter founded Bread and Puppet on the Lower East side of Manhattan in 1963. The couple moved with their five children to Plainfield in 1970, before settling at the Bread and Puppet farm in Glover in 1974.

She was the "bedrock" for both the family and the theater, said her son, Max Schumann.
Peter and Elka Schumann - GLENN RUSSELL
  • Glenn Russell
  • Peter and Elka Schumann
This summer, Bread and Puppet is celebrating the 50th anniversary of  its  Domestic Resurrection Circus. Elka, dressed in white, walked arm in arm with Peter across the natural amphitheater on July 11 at an opening performance of the season  to take her seat on the grassy stage. She played recorder during the show. She also participated  in last Saturday’s performance, Romanyshyn said.

In recent years, Elka became interested in gatherings to remember and mourn the dead in the pine woods at Bread and Puppet, where a memorial village of sculptures, paintings and installations pay tribute to deceased puppeteers, artists, friends and family. One little house honors Elka's parents, John and Masha Dikareva Scott.
Peter and Elka Schumann - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Peter and Elka Schumann

Walking through the memorial village two summers ago, Elka stopped at a site in the grove of trees and listened to Peter as he talked about people dear to them whose names he had carved on a board to mark their deaths.

When he got to the last name, where space had run out on the carving, Elka said: "Peter, you really should make another board."

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Monday, July 12, 2021

The Flynn to Reopen in October, Announces New Shows

Posted By on Mon, Jul 12, 2021 at 12:00 PM

The Flynn marquee - FILE: MARGARET GRAYSON ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Margaret Grayson ©️ Seven Days
  • The Flynn marquee
It's official: The Flynn is reopening its doors on Saturday, October 23. The Burlington performing arts center has been dark since its closure in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The significant moment will be marked by a full evening of reunions, tributes, dancing, stories, and incredible music," read a press release on Monday morning.

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Friday, May 28, 2021

'Hadestown' Returns to Broadway

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2021 at 2:03 PM

Cast of Hadestown - COURTESY OF MATTHEW MURPHY
  • Courtesy of Matthew Murphy
  • Cast of Hadestown
The smash musical Hadestown returns to Broadway on Thursday, September 2. Written by Vermont singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, the show won eight Tony Awards in 2019, and was nominated for an additional six. Performances on Broadway were suspended in March 2020, when all of New York City's theaters closed due to the pandemic.

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Saturday, May 1, 2021

Vermont Pride Theater Evolves Into Vermont Social Justice Festival

Posted By on Sat, May 1, 2021 at 8:00 AM

Actors in 'Family Holiday,' a 2017 Vermont Pride Theater production - COURTESY OF TIM CALABRO/FIRST LIGHT STUDIOS
  • Courtesy of Tim Calabro/First Light Studios
  • Actors in 'Family Holiday,' a 2017 Vermont Pride Theater production
After 10 years hosting festivals and benefits to celebrate LGBTQ theater, the Vermont Pride Theater at the Chandler Center for the Arts is relaunching as the Vermont Social Justice Festival. The event, which will begin in summer 2022, is widening its scope to examine diversity, inequality and other issues.

Vermont Pride Theater began a decade ago to bring LGBTQ voices to the stage in Randolph and has since presented more than 50 events. According to Chandler executive director Karen Dillon, 10-year lifespan was always the plan; that milestone gave the Chandler board a chance to deliberate on what would come next.

Using Vermont Pride Theater as a springboard, they decided to go bigger.

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Monday, December 21, 2020

The Flynn Hires Jay Wahl as New Executive Director

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2020 at 6:47 PM

Jay Wahl - LUKE AWTRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Luke Awtry ©️ Seven Days
  • Jay Wahl
On Monday, the Flynn announced the hiring of Jay Wahl as its new executive director. Wahl was previously the producing artistic director at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. He will replace interim executive director Charlie Smith, who has led the Flynn since January 31, 2020. Wahl will officially take over as the head of the nonprofit Burlington performing arts center on January 1.

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Sunday, September 20, 2020

JAG Productions Wins $100K Grant, Launches Anti-Racist Ambassador Program

Posted By on Sun, Sep 20, 2020 at 6:23 PM

From left: Stevie Walker-Webb, Marie Cisco and Jarvis Antonio Green - COURTESY OF JARVIS ANTONIO GREEN
  • Courtesy of Jarvis Antonio Green
  • From left: Stevie Walker-Webb, Marie Cisco and Jarvis Antonio Green
When the spread of COVID-19 shut down all performing arts venues in March, JAG Productions had to halt its off-Broadway staging of Esai's Table. The play by Nathan Yungerberg previously had a month-long run in White River Junction, where JAG Productions was established in 2016. It was the first time Vermont's only Black theater company was copresenting a work in New York City, and the premature close was a disappointment.

But founder and producing artistic director Jarvis Antonio Green got much happier news a few months later when he learned that the Bay & Paul Foundations was granting $100,000 to JAG Productions. The New York-based nonprofit's heady mission is "to foster and accelerate initiatives that prepare agents of change working to strengthen  our social compact and develop authentic solutions to the challenges of this pivotal century."

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Arts and Culture Nonprofits to Receive $5 Million in State Relief Grants

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2020 at 1:00 PM

"Youth Triumphant" sculpture in Barre - FILE: SUE HIGBY
  • File: Sue Higby
  • "Youth Triumphant" sculpture in Barre
The Vermont Arts Council and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development will distribute $5 million to arts and culture nonprofits, as part of legislation signed by Gov. Phil Scott last week to provide $96 million in emergency economic recovery grants to Vermont businesses.

Applications opened Monday on the ACCD website for all the agency’s Economic Recovery Grants. Arts and culture nonprofits are eligible for up to $50,000 in funding. The arts council will partner with ACCD to review the applications.

“It’s an incredible boost for the nonprofit cultural sector,” said Karen Mittelman, executive director of the arts council. “It’s important as a recognition of the economic stress our sector is experiencing … And we also know it will not be enough. That’s true across the board [in every sector].”

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Vermont Arts and Culture Organizations Awarded $600,000 in Relief Funding

Posted By on Fri, Jul 3, 2020 at 3:26 PM

'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' at the Weston Playhouse in 2019 - COURTESY OF ALEX PERRY
  • Courtesy of Alex Perry
  • 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' at the Weston Playhouse in 2019
Ten Vermont arts and culture organizations received more than $600,000 in direct grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of the federal coronavirus relief package.

The NEA awarded $50,000 grants to Kingdom County Productions, Dorset Theatre Festival, the Vermont Folklife Center, the Community Engagement Lab,  the Yellow Barn and the Weston Playhouse Theatre.

The NEH awarded $133,512 to the Vermont Historical Society, $69,263 to the University of Vermont, $29,362 to the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, $53,036 to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and an additional $97,017 to the Folklife Center.

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Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Flynn: No Main Stage Shows in 2020

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 2:53 PM

The Flynn marquee - MARGARET GRAYSON
  • Margaret Grayson
  • The Flynn marquee
The Flynn in Burlington announced on Thursday that it will not hold any performances on its Main Stage for the remainder of 2020 due to operating restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

"This was not a decision made lightly, and we explored many possible alternatives before concluding that we cannot safely host performances in the theater for the remainder of this year," said interim executive director Charlie Smith in a press release. "Right now, we are unable to open to normal operations, but we’re eager to resume activity and will do so as soon as possible."

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Monday, June 1, 2020

Barre Opera House to Remain Closed Through 2020 Due to Pandemic

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2020 at 12:36 PM

Barre Opera House - COURTESY OF DAN CASEY
  • Courtesy of Dan Casey
  • Barre Opera House
Barre-area patrons of the arts will have to wait a bit longer than expected to get their live performing arts fixes at the Barre Opera House. The historic, 650-seat Granite City theater will remain shuttered through the end of the year due to factors related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Barre Opera House director Dan Casey announced the extended closure in a press release on June 1, citing "uncertainty regarding COVID-19, restrictions on the assembly of large groups, and the ability and willingness of touring artists to perform on scheduled dates."

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