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events, creativity

The circus parade flowed past. How did it feel to be one of those animals, a natural part of the jungle, yet instead pulled in a cage or clomping on cement down Wisconsin Avenue with hordes of two-legged creatures staring and pointing?

Part of being human is our ability to imagine ourselves in others’ shoes, or others’ hoofs! And another major parade taking place in Milwaukee this summer, on August 8th, will do just that. It’s a parade that will, in a sense, be the opposite of the circus parade: the animals that clomp or dance or trumpet past will be created by, not captured by, humans. You could say it’s the humans who will be caged in their self-made costumes. Aren’t we all?

Artists and non-artists of all ages, races, religions, and ethnicities are working together to create THE ALL-CITY PARADE AND PAGEANT, produced by Milwaukee Public Theatre and Milwaukee Mask and Puppet Theatre . The structure is based loosely on Minneapolis’s annual HEART OF THE BEAST parade; the content was developed through brainstorming sessions that began last April in the Milwaukee area.

I went to one. We sat in a circle and threw around our problems and pleasures, our nightmares and dreams, and the visual images these evoked. The sessions eventually provided the material for the parade’s themes: a close look at greed and all its implications, a look at where we’re heading and why, at problems and solutions. Participants will express all this through the senses, through the arts, visually, musically, in dance, in words.

I went to one of the workshops last month and saw the beginnings of the masks and puppets volunteers are creating.


Some, like the ones above, are the usual size of masks. Others, like the structure below that will one day soon become a squid, are gigantic. I have no idea what the three men in the doorway were working on, but that makes no difference. It will float past me on August 8th!


Time is closing in. Perhaps it’s not too late to save the world. In any event, it’s not too late to take part in the parade! A special insert in this week’s SHEPHERD EXPRESS will give you the details, whether you want to participate in, or be an observer of, this spectacular event.

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