GFS Theatre Proudly Presents
Bread & Circuses
a Festival of Fools
Performed on the lawn of the Loeb Center for the Performing Arts
Germantown Friends School
October 30–31, 2020
Making Theatre In and Of This (Very Strange) Moment...
When we set out to make a play this fall, there were LOTS of questions to ask. With physical distancing and masks, with limited gathering sizes, no indoor assemblies...how would we even begin to imagine a production season?
It was the moment that we decided to embrace these realities as ‘givens’ in a creative endeavor and not just limitations on our work that things started to open up. Soon - it was theatrical masks (not just PPE) and giant puppets (that would allow students to perform 6ft apart)...it was an outdoor event, sure - but what else? We didn’t know what we were building, but something was brewing.
Then is was the question of content. What would this thing be about?
Celebrating Values Instead of Arguing Issues
GFS Theatre has a long tradition of looking to the zeitgeist for inspiration - and this time around, it was hard to ignore the politics of 2020. But how to engage with such a tumultuous and noisy topic as this? It seemed maybe too touchy. Was there any sense to be made of all that is happening? Yet...how could theatre be a mirror? A window? A balm?
There is so much about this political moment that is confusing and uncertain - but we do know that in fraught times such as these, it is especially important that we remain engaged, that we recognize and exercise our power as a collective, and that we commit to truth-telling as its own form of resistance. It is in this spirit that we came to the notion of bread and circuses.
The phrase originates from the Roman satirist, Juvenal, in the early 2nd century AD/CE. In his Satire X, Juvenal describes how the government of ancient Rome placated its citizens with free food (bread) and entertainment (circuses). In a time of over-population and discontent, Juvenal describes an easily distracted populace - and the strategies used by government to divert the attention of the people. This idea resonated.
As scholars and as artists we refuse to be placated. Especially in times as confusing as these, must pay attention. As Quakers, we have a responsibility to speak truth to power. A phrase first introduced in 1942 by Bayard Rustin (a gay, black, Quaker civil rights activist, who himself spent plenty of time here at Germantown Friends).
But we also knew we needed levity...In the heaviness of the moment, we knew we needed to smile. As a community, we needed joy - and play - and laughter.
And so our fall event, Bread & Circuses, emerged. It is a reminder of our sacred rights and responsibilities. It is a celebration of the fool...and the mask...and drag...traditions that aren’t afraid to say the truth out loud. Traditions that, also, aren’t afraid to find joy.
You’ll encounter clowns in the Italian street-performance tradition of commedia dell’arte. Playful as it is, commedia is all about power and a social constructs - justice served and justice denied. You’ll see a puppet pageant devised in the style of the politically-minded Bread & Puppet Theatre Company. Our puppets will tell the story of Antigone by Sophocles, an ancient tale of civil disobedience. And, finally, you’ll see a short play by Moliere, the French neoclassic playwright who exposed the hypocrisies of the wealthy and intellectual classes from inside the very halls of Versailles - a maker of ‘good trouble’ in his own right and in his own time.
Theatre should ‘comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable’ (a phrase borrowed from Finley Peter Dunne’s mission statement for journalists). And we hope that is your experience today. We hope that the work of these young people can inspire us all to remember joy, seek truth, and call out injustice wherever we encounter it.
Thanks for being here!
Lazzis 1 & 2
Stage Manager: Natalie Bauder
Mask Design: Carla Childs
Director: Sean Close
Antigone, A Puppet Pageant
Devised by the Ensemble & Geo Decas O’Donnell
Stage Manager: Sadie Hammarhead
Director: Geo Decas O’Donnell
Puppet & Mask Fabrication:
The Ensemble, Sloane Kearny, Rachel Reynolds, Spencer Kamens, Haven Arms, Middle School TMA, Tech Theatre Class, April Tvarok, Ada Cheung, & Geo O’Donnell
The Burial at Thebes by Seamus Heaney
Antigonick by Anne Carson
(both based on Sophocles’ Antigone)
Gathering the Bones Together by Gregory Orr
The Forced Marriage by Moliere
Sganarelle: Alex Purdue
Geronimo: Haven Arms
Doremene: Natalie Bauder
Pancrace: Isaac Bateman
Marphurius: Ruby Simpson
Swindlers: Marissa Shaffer, Madeline Keenan
Alcidas: Ada Yeomans
Lycaste: Madison Wells-McFee
Alcanor: Spencer Kamens
Understudies: Tilda Stace, Amanda Katz
Stage Managers: Samantha Egner, Naomi Tanier
Costume Designer: Lisa Hempbill Burns
Director: Jake Miller
Sound Board Operator: Laxmi McCulloch
House Management: Sloane Kearney
Poster Art: Bernie Mattson
Technical Director: April Tvarok
Assistant Technical Director: Ada Cheung
Deb Mateffy and our fabulous Security Team
Carla Childs, Amy Celentano, Michelle Sonsino, and Joanna Volpe
Rachael Hassan, Laurel Colvin, Michelle Levin, and Mary Pasculi
Sean and Niko, Jessica and Gideon, Kacie, Dara, and Emme
Scott, Eleanor, and Leroy, Ellie, Eddy, and Leia
The Middle School Theatre Movement Arts Crew
Quintessence Theatre Group and Jane Casanave
And finally...many thanks to GFS leadership & families for trusting us to pull off this wacky idea in the midst of a global pandemic