For twenty-five years, In the Heart of the Beast Mask and Puppet Theatre has staged spectacular performances featuring puppets that sometimes are more than twenty feet tall. This Minneapolis arts organization is one of the premier companies of its kind, recognized nationally and internationally for its lively use of ceremony and ritual in exploring the joys of human existence and posing questions about social injustice. Theatre of Wonder is the companion volume to a retrospective exhibit scheduled for the summer of 1999 at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, featuring masks, puppets, and other artifacts from throughout the theatre's history.
Founded in 1973 by a group of visual and theatrical artists committed to social change, In the Heart of the Beast is best known for its annual May Day parade and festival, an event focusing on environmental, cultural, spiritual, and political themes. Each year more than 35,000 people attend the May Day parade, which the theatre develops through mask- and puppet-making workshops held in conjunction with young people and organizations in its immediate neighborhood, one often troubled by poverty and crime. In the Heart of the Beast has also expanded its activities to include an annual season of productions as well as residencies with elementary and high schools, colleges, and churches.
Theatre of Wonder offers an overview of the creative work In the Heart of the Beast has done in its twenty-five years. It includes more than 80 photographs of everything from hand-held puppets and small masks to the massive puppets for which the group is best known. In addition to a thorough history of the theatre, this volume also provides critical and artisticperspectives on the company's work, celebrating its inspirational, healing, and hopeful visions of what society could become.