Fueled by honesty and integrity, the theatrical group San Francisco Mime Troupe premiered its latest production, “Ripple Effect,” during the weekend of July 4.
Inventive and fun, the play revolves around the current transitional period in San Francisco, one that chronicles newcomers suffering from historical amnesia and youth attempting to alter the rebellious nature that has characterized our city.
San Francisco, a city that the entire nation once looked upon for inspiration in the fight for social justice, is no longer what it used to be.
The general strike in San Francisco in the 1930s, the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s, Harvey Milk and the LGBTQ movement in the 1970s or the solidarity movement with armed conflicts in Central America in the 1980s and ‘90s are examples of a city with a past committed to the struggle for social justice.
“But what is that?” ask members of the mime troupe.
“Ripple Effect,” a one-act play that spans just an hour and 15 minutes in length, focuses on the characters of a Vietnamese immigrant who fought her way into the country, a young woman who came from the Midwest to work for a tech company, and a militant Bay Area political activist.
Throughout a series of three flashbacks, the story of each one of the characters explains their current dynamic. A dynamic in which apathy prevails, employees of a tech company are the coolest, and the working class sees itself as the equal to that of middle class, just without fighting aspirations.
The grateful immigrant, the naive newcomer and the disillusioned activist, none of them feel the urge to fight for a better world.
Yet while the outlook seems bleak, the mime troupe finds a way to deliver a positive and optimistic twist to its messages.
With its usual mix of political messages, musical numbers and humor, “Ripple Effect” boasts inventive set-design and solid performances from Velina Brown, Lisa Hori-Garcia, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro and Michael Gene Sullivan. Also noteworthy are the good works of Michael Bello, Peter Penhallow and Mick Berry on the musical performance.
The San Francisco Mime Troupe was formed in 1959 and employs a theatrical style in which the subject takes priority over the characters, considering the individual a social and political entity. For this reason the characters serve the theme, and not vice versa.
After 50 years, the group maintains its force and freshness, continuing to dodge the cynicism that could have condemned it over the years.
Scathing yet funny and entertaining, “Ripple Effect” boasts a capacity for quality analysis and maintains commendable integrity.
The San Francisco Mime Troupe will be touring several cities in Northern California during the summer. On July 23 they will be in Mill Valley, on July 26 and 27 in Berkeley, and on Aug. 6 and 7 in Oakland. They will return to San Francisco on Aug. 16 and 17, and the weekend of Labor Day. For a complete and detailed list of the tour, visit www.sfmt.org