Bread & Puppet Theater Apprenticeship Info for Summer 2020


Truck drivers, farmers, musicians, students, grandmothers, activists, lovers of papier-mache tigers:


Come spend your summer in rural Vermont, performing shows on a working farm with a 56 year old political puppet theater.


This opportunity is open to everyone who is interested in participating in Bread & Puppet style show making. We are especially interested in creating as diverse an environment as possible, and would like to make space for apprentices of a wide range of ages, ethnicities, gender identities, nationalities and backgrounds. Not having theater experience and/or not being familiar with the work of the theater is in no way a detriment.


Bread & Puppet Theater, one of the oldest non-commercial and self-supporting theaters in the country, has created political puppet shows with a commitment to community participation for 56 years. The apprenticeship program is an intensive (and often intense) communal living and working experience with an eclectic group of people on our farm in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.


Please note that the focus of the apprenticeship program is specific to the shows being made and not a particular syllabus: We are not a school and we do not conduct classes in different styles of puppetry or puppet building. Also, we are not a summer camp for adults! Apprentices need to be self-motivated and adaptable.


Learning is accomplished by engaging in different aspects of Bread and Puppet show production, which may include movement and dance experimentation, mask and puppet manipulation, vocal and instrumental music or organized noise making, printmaking, paper-mache, puppet making/repairing and stilt dancing. Each summer’s showmaking is also the sum of its specific constituent parts: the political awareness, talents, musical instruments and interests that apprentices bring can be an important part of our show creating process. PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL APPRENTICES ARE EXPECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN REHEARSALS AND PERFORMANCES. If you don’t consider yourself a performer, that’s totally fine: this is an opportunity to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Much of the performance we do involves group movements behind puppets, rather than traditional “acting” with lines and solo performing. It is very important that you understand that coming to bread and puppet only to do farm chores or work on your own projects is NOT an option: the shows are the most important work that apprentices do.


Apprentices will work with the theater’s founder, Peter Schumann, the summer staff of experienced puppeteers, and local volunteers to create and perform in our weekly Sunday program (outdoor circus, pageant and sideshows) and also participate in our indoor Friday evening shows. 6-week apprentices will also perform in many local parades. Integral to the apprenticeship is participation in agricultural chores as well as everyday tasks (such as cooking, cleaning, firewood stacking, recycling, outhouse maintenance, painting posters in the printshop, etc). We use outhouses, conserve water, compost leftovers and generally try to be thrifty. Accommodations are very simple, even rugged, and most apprentices live in tents. Apprentices must be 18 or older. Dogs, drugs, and underage drinking are not permitted. Sorry, no trailers or campers.




This year we are offering two summer apprenticeship programs, a 6-week program and a 3-week program.


The 6-week summer program will run from Tuesday June 23rd to Tuesday August 4th, 2020.


Apprentices will arrive on Tuesday, June 23rd  and work will begin on Wednesday, June 24th.  This apprenticeship includes the initial creation process of summer 2020’s Circus, Pageant and Parade as well as the continuation of the processes of rehearsal and performance over the course of July. 6 week summer apprentices will depart on Tuesday, August 4th.


The fee for this program is $3300, or $550 per week. If you cannot afford the fee, please contact us to discuss the possibility of fee reductions.


All meals are included in this fee and are prepared for everyone by the Bread & Puppet cooks, except on Mondays, our weekly day off. On this day bulk foods and produce will be available to you for cooking.


The 3-week summer program will run from Tuesday July 28th  to Tuesday August 18th, 2020.


Apprentices will arrive on Tuesday, July 28th and begin work on Wednesday, July 29th. This group of apprentices will participate in the shows that have already been created, and work with the staff and existing apprentices to push the work to its next logical manifestation. 3-week summer apprentices will depart on Tuesday, August 18th.


The fee for this program is $1,650, or $550 per week. If you cannot afford the fee, please contact us to discuss the possibility of fee reductions.


All meals are included in your apprentice fee and are prepared for everyone by the Bread & Puppet cooks, except on Mondays, our weekly day off. On this day bulk foods and produce will be available to you for cooking.


ALL FEES MUST BE PAID IN US DOLLARS. If you need instruction about how to convert your fee, please contact us. Further instructions on exactly how to pay your fee will be located in your acceptance letter.


*We here at Bread and Puppet understand that due to the systemic cycle of poverty perpetuated by capitalism, our fees are too high for many people who might want to apply.  We want a diverse community of voices in order to inform our creative work.  In our ongoing attempts to underthrow the oligarchs and their capitalist empire, NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY FROM OUR PROGRAM FOR LACK OF FUNDS.  If you are selected for the apprenticeship program, we will work with your financial situation to enable you to attend this program.  If you can afford to pay the full price, or have access to outside funding, your support helps us offer fee reductions for those who need it.



Send a physical letter of interest (no e-mails) that includes your email, phone number and mailing address to:


Esteli Kitchen

Re: Bread and Puppet Apprenticeship 

1614 Hampton Avenue

Redwood City, CA




In the first sentence please tell us your age, which session you are applying for, and your email address. If you would like to be considered for both programs, please let us know.

Then, please help us to get a sense of who you are and why you have chosen to apply to the Bread & Puppet apprenticeship at this time. If you like, you can tell your life story. It’s great to get a sense of how and where you grew up and what experiences you’ve had that have helped you to become the person you are now. The letter is loose, and this requirement can be interpreted however you like. We are basically hoping to get a sense of you, rather than your specific theater achievements. Please note that form letters or very short letters are likely to be rejected.


Puede escribir su carta en español si éste es su primer idioma.


Theater or art training is not a requirement, but please let us know if you play a brass instrument, woodwind instrument, or violin/viola/cello/bass. If you are able to bring it with you, even better (though this is also not a requirement).


PLEASE DO NOT FORGET TO INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR LETTER. All communication after the initial letter will be through email.




All apprentice application letters must be submitted by March 1st, 2020. Getting your letter in sooner than this is recommended.


If the submission date has passed but you just can’t imagine not spending the summer with us, write us anyway. We can put you on the waiting list and let you know if a spot opens up.


If you are accepted, a non-refundable deposit of $500 is due within a month of your acceptance. The remainder of the fee is due by June 1st, 2019. We are sorry, but because we turn many people away from the program and it’s difficult to find last-minute replacements, the apprenticeship fee will be non-refundable two weeks before the apprenticeship starts. Please contact us to discuss payment plans if necessary.


A note on fees for college students:


Talk to your professors about the potentiality of college grant money to help cover your apprenticeship fees. Often colleges have money earmarked specifically for their students participating in summer apprenticeships. It is also sometimes possible for students to receive college credit for completing the Bread & Puppet apprenticeship.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email. The email for the summer apprenticeship is:


[email protected]


Please remember, however, that your formal application needs to be a non-electronic letter.


Thank you for your interest and we look forward to meeting you next summer! 

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