THEATER OF CRUMBS
The Theater of Crumbs is a new form of social theater developed at the Bread Houses, where adults and children (not solely for children) make bread puppets together, bake them, and collectively develop and perform sketches on real-life situations, which are resolved through humor and negotiation; the experience is completed as actors and audience altogether share the bread puppets or take them home. The important element of food in theater where food is being prepared, shared, and/or related to the theme of the play adds the two additional senses of smell and taste usually lacking in theater and thus enriching the actor-audience engagement and reciprocity. The sketches are performed at the Bread House and in streets and social institutions: old people’s homes, orphanages, prisons, etc.
The Theater of Crumbs method is a great way to bridge diverse cultural backgrounds as in the workshop on bread and clay at the Bread House in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, in August 2010 during the first International Summer School on Arts and Sciences for Sustainability in Social Transformation co-organized by the International Council for Cultural Centers, www.international3c.org, and the Bread Houses Networks as a program of I3C, and Cultura 21 International. See the video of the workshop led by artist Atanas Totlyakov and Nadezhda Savova here: http://assist2010.ning.com/video/assist-2010-day-1-evening. The second workshop led by Nadezhda explored street food as ambulant culinary performances, and the Theater of Crumbs is also conceptualized as a public art intervention: http://assist2010.ning.com/profiles/blogs/walking-with-community.
In the evenings, the Bread House becomes the home of artists, both professional and amateur enthusiasts, who are encouraged to share their talents and passions: poetry readings (both personal and famous authors recited), singing, music, photography presentations (projections) and exhibitions, movie projections (in particular, documentaries and independent movies), as well as a series of regular workshops/classes at a minimum fee or for no pay when the instructor volunteers: painting classes, pottery classes, wood-carving classes for the bread-stamps, stitching and embroidery, knitting, etc. We will strive to invite people with various disabilities who have artistic talents to share them (such as blind people singing, deaf people performing pantomime, handicapped people reciting poetry and making pots, etc.) in order to be the space where people from various groups can meet and interact through the particularly uniting medium of the arts and especially in the process of co-creation not simply passive consumption of the arts.
In the collective bread-making and Theater of Crumbs events it is intriguing that those who participate are often men and teenagers who normally stigmatize such activity as limited to the kitchen and to women. However, when it is done as a team work and as a form of art (similar to sculpture particularly when decorating and shaping the breads), the barriers quickly disappear between people who would otherwise never perform an activity together (poor and rich, educated and not-educated, distinct ethnic groups, people with disabilities) since there is no standard or need for skills (while all other creative activities have somewhat skill requirements), and finally it fulfils the creative process with the most complete sense of unity when sharing food and tables. Bread-making can inspire people to explore their creative potential, and once discovered, creativity empowers people with the confidence that they craft their own lives; if not to change their economic and social situation, creativity enriches life with immagination, particularly true for immigrants, oppressed women and children, orphans and people with disabilities who have low self-esteem and suffer discrimination. Facing routine problems, for many people the arts (bread included) are often the last thing they would think about in terms of improving their daily lives: and yet, bread-making as a collective art is the best, cheapest, and most immediate way to make a difference in one’s mind and from there, in one’s quality of life and surrounding environments.