[via Jon Axtell]
It’s hard to talk about the history of theater in San Francisco without talking about SF Mime Troupe. So we were pumped when we saw the notice for this summer’s show Freedomland, since DT&D hadn’t had a chance to review one of their plays yet. First just to clarify – SF Mime Troupe is not silent. As their website explains:
The San Francisco Mime Troupe does not do pantomime. We mean ‘mime’ in the ancient sense: to mimic. We are satirists, seeking to make you laugh at the absurdities of contemporary life, and at the same time see their causes. We travel the country and the world with our message of solidarity, comedy, and the plight of the worker in our increasingly corporatized democracy, and have done shows about most of the burning issues of our time – normally debunking the official story. And because we want our shows about the issues of the day to be seen by the people who are most effected by those issues- working class families who can’t always afford to the ticket prices at the other Tony award winning theaters – we perform most of our shows free in public parks, for tens of thousands of our fellow citizens every summer.
So off we went, to join our fellow San Franciscans for a night of Drama Talk & Drinks!
Katie: That was really fun to see a Mime Troupe Show! I highly respect them as a company, and it’s been years since I’ve seen one of their shows. It’s great that they still tackle very topical and important issues in their work. Nothing is more timely right now than the Black Lives Matter movement.
Brittany: One of my favorite theater genres is social justice theater. I’ve always dug the work that was done during the WPA. Unions and political groups using the stage to pass on revolutionary messages through humor and art. I really appreciate that SF Mime Troupe is keeping that kind of theater alive.
K: At times though, it felt like they took a complex issue and oversimplified it. There were some talented actors, but in trying to create such one-dimensional examples of bad-guys and good-guys, they limited the complexity of the characters.
B: I guess that’s one of the failings of this kind of theater. I wasn’t expecting complex character arcs, so I wasn’t disappointed.
K: True, I guess I just don’t prefer this kind of theater, but it was well done. I appreciate that this piece choose to show us long-term institutionalized injustices that compound over the course of a black person’s life. Systemic injustices that they endure over and over again, and then when they’re stressed, or fed-up, or what have you, they finally stand up for their rights and that’s when the events escalate to make an otherwise ordinary oppressive encounter turn deadly.
B: I liked that they were blunt, that it didn’t have a happy ending like most musicals, and that they didn’t try to sugarcoat it, while they still somehow made it funny. The only thing I do wish is that there was a better call to action at the end. At the end of the play I wish the audience had jumped to their feet and had started chanting Black Lives Matter, because they were so moved by the injustices they saw on stage. I feel like that should be the ultimate goal of this sort of piece, and the audience just didn’t get there – they clapped – they were possibly intellectually moved – but they didn’t take to the streets. It didn’t have quite the oomph, or the solution. I guess there isn’t an easy solution, but I wish there was.
The Verdict: Who doesn’t love a day in the park? Who doesn’t love free theater? SF Mime Troupe’s Freedomland allows you to enjoy both, while being funny, topical and maybe even a bit revolutionary. Go see it when it comes to a park near you!
The Drama Talk: They did a good job of using humor to lighten up what could be an incredibly heavy topic and made it accessible. The actors are uniformly talented, and for such a small cast (only 4 people) they convincingly play a wide variety of very different characters. The music is good, as is the band, but you don’t really leave this show humming a tune. It’s a show that makes you think, which is one of the best things theater can do.
The Drinks: Since this show is normally in a park, we suggest BYOB (when allowed), but since we saw the show at the SF Mime Troupe space, we availed ourselves of the vino there.
Freedomland runs through September 7th, so even though we’re nearly halfway through the run, you still have time. Nearly all of the performances are donation based, so while you should totally throw SF Mime Troupe a few to keep this great company going strong, you can just show up. Even thought the show we saw was in the SF Mime Troupe space, nearly all the rest are outside in parks all over the Bay Area and beyond. You can check out the SF Mime Troupe website for more details, but here’s a list of the remaining shows this summer:
Frances Willard/Ho Chi Minh Park
Sat, Aug 8th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
Sun, Aug 9th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
Hillegass Ave. & Derby St., Berkeley
San Lorenzo Park
Sat, Aug 15th @ 3:00 PM (Music 2:30)
Sun, Aug 16th @ 3:00 PM (Music 2:30)
San Lorenzo Park, Santa Cruz
Post-show discussion after 8/15/15. No dogs, alcohol, or smoking allowed in park.
Sat, Aug 22nd @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
Bosworth & O’Shaughnessy, San Francisco
Mitchell Park, South Field
Sun, Aug 23rd @ 4:00 PM (Music 3:30)
600 East Meadow Drive & Cowper Street, Palo Alto
St. James Park
Tue, Aug 25th @ 6:30 PM (Music 6:00)
3rd Street & E. St. James Street, San Jose
Southside Park, Bandshell
Sat, Aug 29th @ 5:00 PM (Music 4:30)
6th & T St., Sacramento
Sun, Aug 30th @ 7:00 PM (Music 6:30)
East 14th & F St., Davis
Bay View Opera House, Outdoor Plaza
Wed, Sep 2nd @ 6:30 PM (Music 6:00)
Bay View Opera House, San Francisco
Peacock Meadow in Golden Gate Park
Sat, Sep 5th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
JFK Drive & Peacock Meadow, San Francisco Btwn Panhandle and Conservatory of Flowers
Sun, Sep 6th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
Mon, Sep 7th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
19th St. & Dolores St., San Francisco
Post-show discussion after 9/6/15
Here’s the deal:
Please join us Saturday July 25th from 9pm onwards at Virgil’s Sea Room for an evening of fun and frolics with toe thumping beats by:
Debbie DD & Skayda.
Head out onto the patio to see pieces from photographer Katie Hanrahan’s last trip to Nepal.
A portion of sales is kindly being donated by VIRGIL’S so you know…. Drink up kittens!
Let’s raise a bunch of money and awareness for ongoing relief efforts in Nepal. All the money we collect on the night will all go towards helping to build a new school at the Orphanage and pay for daily supplies. The name of the orphanage is the Disabled Rehabilitation Centre located in Katmandu.
Normally DT&D tries to take the guess work out of going to theatre in the Bay Area by providing brutally honest reviews of the shows we see. But we also don’t want you to miss out on what might be a very cool show, just because we haven’t had the chance to review it yet!
With only a two day run of Moments From The Bubble, Or: How The [Google] Bus Stops Here, a playwright-driven community action project created in collaboration with Z Space and the 1 Minute Play Festival, there’s no way we’d be able to review show before the run is over. Given what is currently happening in San Francisco (and even more rapidly the Mission), we thought you might want to see it anyway without our official endorsement. To help inform your decision here are more details from the event description:
The drastic changes happening to the neighborhoods and communities in the Bay Area is quite staggering. I don’t think the national zeitgeist quite understands what’s happening here. San Francisco is becoming the most expensive city in the world, and it’s at the expense of everyone and everything that makes is special”, says 1MPF Producing Artistic Director, Dominic D’Andrea. Stressing that the work is designed a social “barometer” project to unearth connections in the zeitgeist via themes, ideas, and trends, D’Andrea says, “When we did our annual festival in partnership with playwrights foundation over the past two years, the topic of gentrification was so charged, so present, so immense, that we decided to come back to make an entire other project dedicated to digging into these topics, and what it means for the community. This is our artistic response to what’s happening. It’s part play festival, and part community action.
If that sounds as interesting to you as it did to us, you can check out Moments From The Bubble, Or: How The [Google] Bus Stops Here, this Saturday June 27th at 8PM and Sunday June 28th at 3PM and 7:30PM at Z Below (470 Florida Ave). Tickets are $20 and available for purchase at http://zspace.org/new-work
We’re going Saturday night, so if you see us, say “hi!” Or if that’s too weird, just let us know what you thought of the show in the comments. Hope to see you at the theatre!
One of my favorite local bloggers, anadromy, just got back from a month of travels — a month of travels which made SF’s problems a little more glaring.
And like, I know everybody’s sick of gripes about SF, but this list is particularly heartfelt and well written, and has a great denouement.
Here’s one good part:
Fuck the rapidly dwindling number of oddballs, weirdos and creative types in this city. And no, I’m not talking about the fucking bourgeois posers who work square jobs all year and then act like adolescent shitheels during Burning Man. I’m talking about the people who made different choices in life. Maybe bad choices. Choices they regretted. People who did not take SAT prep courses. People who did not spend their childhoods striving and climbing and obsessing over their class rank and extracurricular activities. Or people who did do those things but then realized how stupid and meaningless they are. People who play in bands. People who didn’t go to art school but still make art. Jesus, I probably sound like an asshole right now. But it’s real. I remember a different city with different kinds of people. True diversity, economically, racially, you name it. Trust me. What we’ve got now is a pale shadow of it. And it bums me out.
Mission Mission reader Zachary has set up a fire relief fund for the victims of last night’s fire:
On Wednesday night (1/28/2015), a four-alarm fire at Mission and 22nd St in San Francisco destroyed a number of residential units. At least 40 residents, many of whom were long-time Mission families, have been displaced. Imagine losing your home and all of your possessions in a fire.
Anything helps. Whatever you choose to donate will be passed on directly to tonight’s victims. If you are unable to donate, please share this campaign and spread the word.
Let’s band together to prove that we can support our long-time residents in the face of crisis.
Find it here.
[Photo via Mission Local, who's office was also located in the building]
The Director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, Ted Gullicksen, died suddenly in his home the night of October 13th or morning of October 14th. There will be a memorial service this coming Sunday at Mission High. I didn’t know Ted personally, but when my mom and I were wrongfully evicted during dotcom1, the SF Tenants Union was very supportive. Ted and the Union have provided assistance to so many San Francisco residents over the years.