(Thanks, Anonymous Tipp!)
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.
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.
Gentrification is a frequent topic of conversation around these parts. However, recently it’s felt like the tone of these conversations has shifted, from one of righteous indignation, to that of resignation. Two years ago DT&D had the good fortune to interview Eric Reid, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Theater MadCap, who also used to run CELLSpace/Inner Mission SF before it was lost to The Beast on Bryant. Eric, partially inspired by Theater MadCap’s displacement, teamed up with HBO Def Poet and Youth Speaks co-founder, Paul S. Flores, to produce You’re Gonna Cry, a one man show about gentrification in the Mission in the 90s. Their goal is to make the gentrification conversation a little more action oriented. So off we went to Union Square (since their art space was gentrified out of the Mission) for some Drama Talk and Drinks.
Katie: It wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting it to be more innovative, with more spoken word and poetry.
Brittany: Yeah, it felt more like it was going for an Anna Deavere Smith vibe, lots of monologues around a theme. Some of the characters that were created were super compelling. I loved the immigrant mother with her daughter finding the old microwave on the street. Or the old women selling books. I wanted to know their stories. But despite some bright-spots, the pacing was off, and the show dragged for me.
K: The pacing was definitely a problem for me too. The transitions between the different characters took too long, and some of the staging was just wonky, like when he played all 3 characters at the same time. I don’t envy Flores, it’s not an easy show.
B: There were some technical problems with the TVs that were distracting too. This is a one man show, shit needs to be tight, and it wasn’t.
K: I appreciate what they are trying to do though, It’s important to have this dialogue. I also really appreciate that they had the post-show discussion with an activist. You want theater to inspire action, and it’s great they’re helping to direct people’s frustration about gentrification in positive ways.
The Verdict: The show needs some tightening, but the message is on-point. Making yourself a more empathetic and informed San Franciscan while supporting local theater is not a bad way to spend a night. Go and stay for the discussion at the end.
The Drama Talk: A play about gentrification in the Mission couldn’t even take place in the Mission because of gentrification. That’s pretty intense. The production itself could have been tighter. Slow transitions and some tech mishaps meant it lost some of its momentum and therefore emotional impact. MadCap’s website encourages audiences to “Come for the play. Stay for the discussion.” and we really appreciated the dialogue that happened after the show. Each night has a different local artists or activist who leads the post-show talk, so check the list below since discussion will vary dependent on who’s leading:
May 14th – Amy Farah Weiss – Homeless advocate.
May 15th – Norman will talk about wages and the struggle for gente to teach gente in the Mission.
May 20th – Adriana Camarena – Local Mission activist and author.
May 21st – Edwin Lindo – District 9 Supervisor candidate.
May 27th – Luna Malbroux – Comedienne/Community activist.
The Drinks: Afterwards we went to Benjamin Cooper, which was literally right next to the theater entrance. Exit the building, make a left, then an immediate second left into an unmarked door, up the stairs to a small cocktail bar. When you enter go right and head to the back, there are usually a place to sit. And after a discussion about SF’s housing crisis you will need a strong drink.
You’re Gonna Cry runs through May 28th at The Phoenix Theater. Tickets are available through the MadCap website and are $20.
But then they added insult to injury. Our pal Broke-Ass Stuart is organizing a demonstration, set to take place next Wednesday, February 3rd:
Mayor Ed Lee told homeless people they “have to leave” for the Super Bowl.
Our response: “Hey Mayor Ed Lee, No Penalties for Poverty”
We, the people of San Francisco, demand that Super Bowl City and Ed Lee pay and invest $5 million right now in housing – we could house 500 people immediately with that money.
We also demand the use of publicly-owned assets, such as the empty Pier 29 or 80, or the land under the Freeway at 101/Cesar Chavez, and create monitored programs that support secure sleep, hygienic toileting, and access to transition/healing services.
We want an end to the criminalization of poverty and the continued violations of poor people’s civil and human rights. All resources currently being used for law enforcement of anti-homeless laws must be immediately re-directed to housing and support services.
Come out in your red & gold Niners colors to #TackleHomelessness. Join the Coalition on Homelessness, First they came for the homeless, and Broke-Ass Stuart as we protest the mayor’s unjust plan and demand immediate housing for our city’s unhoused residents.
Meet up is at 4:30 in front of Sinbads on Embacadero next to the Ferry Building. We are going to set up a tent city, with plenty of visuals next to the superbowl city. Bring signs and banners and cardboard cut-outs of houses. And bring tents if you don’t mind them getting confiscated.
Read on for more info and to RSVP.
Well, Jeff got at us on Twitter with three fine pieces of further proof of his deeds:
— Jeff Seal (@JeffOSeal) December 24, 2015
— Jeff Seal (@JeffOSeal) December 24, 2015
— Jeff Seal (@JeffOSeal) December 24, 2015
Follow Jeff Seal on Twitter, everybody!
Did you know there was a rad organization in San Francisco dedicated to tracking down war criminals and bringing them to justice? You didn’t??? Well, here’s your chance to get involved and help them out, all while drinking wine and listening to some jazzy melodies from our own Vic Wong!
CJA is an international human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other severe human rights abuses around the world through litigation, policy advocacy and outreach in pursuit of truth, justice and redress for victims and survivors.
In addition to our quarterly free speaker series events, the YPCHR puts on an annual fundraiser for our peers. This year our event is called A Toast to Justice and will be held on December 3 at SomArts (934 Brannan St.). Guests will enjoy wine tasting from several local and international wineries and live music from jazz guitarist Vic Wong, plus remarks from renowned artist Richard Kamler. The exhibition in the gallery is a group show called A Place of Her Own featuring all female artists.
Tickets available here!