"The Birdcatcher in Hell" was created in the spring of 1971, when Bread & Puppet was Theater-in-Residence at Goddard College.
Inspired by the fresh green of the Cate Farm meadows, Peter Schumann, Bread & Puppet's founder & director, was moved to make a show all in red, sculpting and painting over a dozen masks, including a huge, intricately decorated "King of Hell."
The story came from an ancient Kyogen, a comic interlude in the Japanese Noh cycle. Schumann, together with poet Bob Nichols, had created a blue "Birdcatcher" in the mid sixties in New York City. Strong political messages colored both versions: US helicopter pilots, ostensibly "observers," bomb-ardment of Vietnam civilians in sky-blue, and President Nixon's pardon of Lt. Calley, chief of the My Lai massacre, in hell-red.
Now, 42 years later, a company consisting of many of the original performers--Susan Bettman, Mark Dannenhauet, Marc Estrin, Barbara Leber, Avram Patt, and Peter Schumann--is re-doing the red version, as a response to the Bush-Obama gloves-off politics that result in enhanced interrogation in Guantanamo and drone bombings on civilians in the Middle East.
The 2013 version of "Birdcatcher" uses many of the old demon masks, but the original costumes are so fragile, that a group of Northeast Kingdom volunteers, guided by printer Lila Winstead, met over the winter to dye, print and sew a whole new set of robes, banners, and flags.
The show at Goddard College on June 9th, 2013 starts at 7:00 pm and is $15 at the door.