Summer time in San Francisco means free theater in the park from the long running (57 year old) SF Mime Troupe. No, they’re not silent mimes. They’re a troupe committed to creating socially relevant theater. In the throws of one of the most dramatic election seasons in recent history, we needed to see something that would make us both laugh, and think. So off we went to see SF Mime Troupe’s Schooled at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival for some drama talk and drinks.
Velina Brown (Lavina Jones) and Rotimi Agbabiaka (Thomas Jones) in Schooled. Photo: Mike@mikemelnyk.com
Katie: Seeing a play in San Francisco produced by a democratic-socialist theater company about why one shouldn’t vote for Trump seemed….I don’t know, like singing to the choir? Did I like the song? Hell yes! It was the song I like to sing; anti-Trump, anti-oppression, anti-big business and lets do what’s right for the people and not just what’s right for the bottom line. I was into it, but it didn’t feel like it was changing any minds. It was great to feel part of the community though. What an awesome crowd.
Brittany: Yeah, the crowd was genuinely diverse, which was neat. You don’t see that at a lot of shows. You are totally spot on with the fact they are singing to the choir, but I don’t know if that’s a problem. It was terrifying that in the end the character which was most like Trump won. The liberals couldn’t get their shit together. If our election plays out like this super liberal theater troupe is saying, we are going to have a Trump presidency and, as you’d guess, it doesn’t end well.
K: Terrifying for sure, I think that’s the point, to show the audience what’s at stake if we don’t all work to make sure he loses. The actors did such a great job. A really well rounded cast with some great singers. They all played multiple characters really well too. The show moved and held my attention. Here we are, in this busy urban park in the middle of downtown, people everywhere and I was so in it. It had good pacing, scene changes, and use of music and sound effects. It all really came together in this piece.
B: Their sets are so cool. I love the way they are so small but do so much. The song where the actors were being spun on and off stage singing about why they should be elected for president of the school board was really well done. You have to think, they do this in different locations where they have to set it up break it down. They’re outside, people everywhere, and technically it goes perfectly. Really impressive and so on point. The show was maybe too real for me, despite being satire. It didn’t feel as hopeful as other Mime Troupe shows I’ve seen, and we need a little more hope in politics right now. That really has nothing to do with the show though, just my depression regarding the current state of political affairs.
Verdict: Relevant. Entertaining. Well done. It’s FREE & anti-Trump. We think this is a well spent day in the park.
The Drama Talk: There’s good reason SF Mime Troupe has been around so long, producing high quality, politically relevant theater, they’re very good at it. Although the show is obviously intended as a satire of the current election, with characters representing Hillary, Bernie and Trump, they did a good job creating their own story-line (a school board election) so it doesn’t feel stale. Although by the end of the play you can’t mistake the commentary on contemporary events, they also tackle some interesting topics which go beyond the election including the purpose of education, the mechanization of labor, and other important themes. The actors are all extremely talented, the band is fun, the set is great. Although none of the songs are super memorable, the message of the show is.
The Drinks: We have been hearing a lot about Susan Sarandon’s ping-pong bar and restaurant project called Spin and since it was very close to Yerba Buena Gardens we decided to check it out. We didn’t play ping-pong (It’s $50 for 1 hour!) but we did have some cocktails which were delicious and average SF prices. This extremely modern, street artsy, swanky “social club” was quite the contrast to our afternoon in a park watching free community theater. Fun, but fancy enough that you could imagine Jay-Z making an appearance.
Schooled runs through September 5th at various parks (see below). Tickets are FREE.
Lakeside Park- (Lake Merritt)in front of the Edoff Memorial Bandstand
Wed., July 27-7:00 pm (Music 6:30)
Thurs., July 28 – 7:00 pm (Music 6:30)
Bellevue Ave. & Perkins St., Oakland
McLaren Park-Jerry Garcia Amphitheater
Sat., July 30-2:00 pm (Music 1:30)
100 John F ShelleyDr.,
Walnut Park-Petaluma Progressive Festival
Sun., July 31-4:00 pm (Music 3:30)
201 4th St. (at D St.), Petaluma
See the complete schedule HERE.