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The San Francisco Mime Troupe is a theatre of political satire which performs free shows in various parks in the San Francisco Bay Area Coordinates: and around California. The Troupe does not, however, perform silent mime, but each year creates an original musical comedy that combines aspects of Commedia dell'Arte, melodrama, and broad farce with topical political themes. The group was awarded the Regional Theatre Award at the 41st Tony Awards.
The group was founded in 1959 by R. G. Davis as a medium of expression of his divergent theatrical concepts.[ citation needed ] The group debuted with Mime and Word (1959) and The 11th Hour Mime Show (1960).[ citation needed ] However, by 1961, the group transitioned to the Commedia dell'Arte format to more thoroughly comment on perceived political repression in the United States of America, the growing American Civil Rights Movement and military and covert intervention abroad. In the mid-1960s the group started to rely less on the direct Commedia dell'Arte format and transitioned into a more rambunctious, satirical style.[ citation needed ] It also began integrating elements of jazz into its musical composition, eventually leading to the inclusion of a jazz band within the troupe. The group gained significant notoriety for its free performances in Golden Gate Park and numerous altercations with law enforcement. They also travelled to Canada and played at Simon Fraser University on Nov. 9, 1966 with “A Minstrel Show or Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel" by Gary Davis and Saul Landau (SFU Archives Library).The 'Minstrel Show' madits public debut in April 1965 at the Encore Theater on Powell Street in san Francisco, produced by Bill Graham. Its cast included John Broderick, Willie B. Hart Jr., George Matthews, Jason Marc Alexander, Julio Martinez, Malachi Spicer (Kai Spiegel as the minstrels and Robert Slattery at Interlocutor.[ citation needed ]
By the early 1970s, the Troupe had earned a reputation for opposing capitalism, sexism, and war.
In the early '70s Davis left the Troupe when it re-formed as a collective, the members of which operate as the Artistic Director, at which time the Troupe produced one of its most successful shows, The Independent Female (1970). In the 1980s, the group's productions retaliated against the Reagan administration.
Some of the Troupe's popular shows include:
As well as the park-based shows, the Mime Troupe also tours nationally and internationally, having performed throughout Europe, Asia, South and Central America, and has won several awards. The group also facilitates community workshops. They are a nonprofit organization. The season traditionally starts on Fourth of July weekend and ends on Labor Day weekend.
Early Mime Troupers include Joe Bellan, Saul Landau, Arthur Holden, Nina Serrano, Steve Reich, John Connell, Robert Nelson, William T. Wiley, Sandra Archer, Robert Hudson, Wally Hedrick, Judy North, Jerry Jump, Fred Hayden, Victoria Hochberg, Joaquin Aranda, Esteban Oropezo and John Broderick. Posters for several of the 1970s productions were designed by Jane Norling, and are accessible online.
Later veterans include Arthur Holden, Sharon Lockwood, Peter Coyote, Luis Valdez, Barry Shabaka Henley, Bruce Barthol, Joan Holden, Joan Mankin, Melody James, Andrea Snow, Daniel Chumley, Marie Acosta, Jael Weisman, Jim Haynie, John Robb, Emmett Grogan, Bill Graham, and Ed Holmes.
The current San Francisco Mime Troupe Collective comprises Rotimi Agbabiaka, Michael Bello, Velina Brown, Ellen Callas, Hugo E Carbajal, Michael Carreiro, Marie Cartier, Lisa Hori-Garcia, Taylor Gonzalez, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Daniel Savio, Michael Gene Sullivan.
In 1987, the troupe's Brechtian style of guerrilla theatre earned them a special Tony Award for Excellence in Regional Theater.[ citation needed ]Red State, the Troupe's 2008 fable about a small Midwest town that, after years of being ignored, demands accountability for their tax dollars, was nominated for a San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best New Script, as was their 2009 production, Too Big to Fail, which detailed how credit and the philosophy of profit at all costs trap mesmerized citizens in a cycle of debt, while endlessly enriching the capitalists who cast the spell.[ citation needed ]
The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American form of racist entertainment developed in the early 19th century. Each show consisted of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music performances that depicted people specifically of African descent. The shows were performed by mostly white people in make-up or blackface for the purpose of playing the role of black people. There were also some African-American performers and black-only minstrel groups that formed and toured. Minstrel shows lampooned black people as dim-witted, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious, and happy-go-lucky.
The Fillmore is a historic music venue in San Francisco, California.
Peter Coyote is an American actor, author, director, screenwriter, and narrator of films, theatre, television, and audiobooks. He is known for his work in various films such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Cross Creek (1983), Jagged Edge (1985), Patch Adams (1998), Erin Brockovich (2000), A Walk to Remember (2002), Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012) and Good Kill (2014). He was also known as the "Voice of Oscar" for the 72nd Academy Awards ceremony, the first Oscars announcer to be seen on-camera.
Bill Graham was a German-American impresario and rock concert promoter from the 1960s until his death in 1991 in a helicopter crash. On July 4, 1939, he was sent from Germany to France to escape the Nazis. At age 10, he settled into a foster home in the Bronx, New York. Graham graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and subsequently from City College with a business degree.
Saul Landau was an American journalist, filmmaker and commentator. He was also a professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he taught history and digital media. He was born in the Bronx, New York.
John C. Broderick was an American film director, producer, screenwriter and entertainer.
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Luis Miguel Valdez is a Chicano playwright, screenwriter, film director and actor. Regarded as the father of Chicano film and theater, Valdez is best known for his play Zoot Suit, his movie La Bamba, and his creation of El Teatro Campesino. A pioneer in the Chicano Movement, Valdez broadened the scope of theatre and arts of the Chicano community.
Matthew D. Walker is an American film and television actor and television director.
William Joseph Raymond is an American actor who has appeared in film, television, theatre and radio drama since the 1960s.
Carlo Mazzone-Clementi was a performer and founder of two schools of commedia, mime and physical theater as well as a contemporary and colleague of leaders of modern European theater. From his arrival in the USA in 1957, he was largely responsible for the spreading of commedia dell'arte in North America.
Guerrilla theatre, generally rendered "guerrilla theater" in the US, is a form of guerrilla communication originated in 1965 by the San Francisco Mime Troupe, who, in spirit of the Che Guevara writings from which the term guerrilla is taken, engaged in performances in public places committed to "revolutionary sociopolitical change." The group performances, aimed against the Vietnam war and capitalism, sometimes contained nudity, profanity and taboo subjects that were shocking to some members of the audiences of the time.
Devised theatre - frequently called collective creation - is a method of theatre-making in which the script or performance score originates from collaborative, often improvisatory work by a performing ensemble. The ensemble is typically made up of actors, but other categories of theatre practitioner may also be central to this process of generative collaboration, such as visual artists, composers, and choreographers; indeed, in many instances, the contributions of collaborating artists may transcend professional specialization. This process is similar to that of commedia dell'arte and street theatre. It also shares some common principles with improvisational theatre; however, in devising, improvisation is typically confined to the creation process: by the time a devised piece is presented to the public, it usually has a fixed, or partly fixed form. Historically, devised theatre is also strongly aligned with physical theatre, due at least in part to the fact that training in such physical performance forms as commedia, mime, and clown tends to produce an actor-creator with much to contribute to the creation of original work.
The Committee was a San Francisco-based improvisational comedy group founded by Alan Myerson and Jessica Myerson, formerly known as Irene Ryan, Irene Riordan and now known as Latifah Taormina. The Myersons were both alums of The Second City in Chicago. The Committee opened April 10, 1963 at 622 Broadway in a 300-seat Cabaret theater that used to be an indoor bocce ball court in San Francisco's North Beach. Garry Goodrow, Hamilton Camp, Larry Hankin, Kathryn Ish, Scott Beach and Ellsworth Milburn were the cast. Jerry Mander handled the group's PR, and Richard Stahl, who later joined the improv troupe, was its first company manager. Jessica Myerson joined the company in May. Arthur Cantor took the company to Broadway in New York in 1964 for a limited engagement at the Henry Miller Theater. This occasioned a second group to hold the fort in San Francisco. Morgan Upton, Peter Lane, Leigh French, Chris Ross, Howard Hesseman, Nancy Fish, Peter Bonerz and Carl Gottlieb became the mainstays of the San Francisco troupe. Roger Bowen, a founding member of both The Compass Players and The Second City, joined in 1966. John Brent, co-creator with Del Close of the How to Speak Hip album and a bit player in many movies, was also a member.
Keith Franklin Fowler is an American actor, director, producer, and educator. He is a professor emeritus of drama and former head of directing in the Drama Department of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts of the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and he is the former artistic director of two LORT/Equity theaters.
Joan Mankin (May 16, 1948 – September 26, 2015] was an actor and clown prominent in the San Francisco Bay Area, from the early 1970s through 2014. Mankin started her professional career in San Francisco in 1970 with a production of the San Francisco Mime Troupe's An Independent Female. Thereafter, she appeared in major roles in many Bay Area theater companies including the American Conservatory Theater, Aurora Theatre Company, Berkeley Rep, San Francisco Playhouse and California Shakespeare Theatre as well as the feminist Lilith Theater in the late 1970s early 1980s, of which she was Artistic Director for two years. In 2006 she had a major singing role in the Los Angeles Ahmanson Theatre's production of The Black Rider: The Casting of Magic Bullets.
Jane Norling is a visual artist active in San Francisco Bay Area cultural venues since 1970. Her work addresses social & environmental justice and aesthetic concerns through public art, graphic design, painting, printmaking & small press publishing. She graduated from Bennington College in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts and began her career designing books at Random House before relocating to San Francisco in 1970.
Leonard Emlyn Davies is an American lawyer, civil rights activist, writer, and painter whose early work defending migrant farm workers and the Black Panther Party resulted in his participation in "The Trial: The City and County of Denver vs. Lauren R. Watson," the first criminal trial to be filmed in its entirely in the United States.
Darryl Henriques is an author, satirist, stand-up comedian, and actor on stage and radio, and in TV and film.
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