The latest outdoor performance by the San Francisco Mime Troupe is drenched in a perfectly balanced dose of political satire and objective social relevance.
The musical “For the Greater Good, or the Last Election,” written and directed by Michael Gene Sullivan, includes cast members Velina Brown, Ed Holmes, Lisa-Hori-Garcia, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Victor Toman and Reggie D. White.
Overcast weather and chilly breezes were barely noticeable to the 200-300 working and middle class patriots who came to Live Oak Park in Berkeley on Aug. 4. Humbly dressed in comfortable sweaters, they laid out casually on their blankets, eager to be entertained and educated about the fight between the 1% and 99%: Occupy.
“We want to take America back, not burn it down,” said character Damian Landless, who was the protest lobbyist for Occupy. “If we do that, what will we win?”
The plot, based on the conflict between capitalism and socialism, highlights the U.S. government’s misuse of funds, and cases of financial embezzlement which left many people without money, their homes foreclosed, and jobless–a direct result of Occupy, according to the play’s plot.
Occupy was depicted as the 99% living in camps, who wanted a peaceful revolution. The crowd cheered for Occupy, some with gleeful ratification, others with empathetic respect.
A band including keyboards, a trombone, drums and a few smaller instruments lead the way through each musical number. They were an incentive to the punch lines, which projected in a facetious manner, making serious matters more like dry humor, which the crowd related to and chuckled about. Music and lyrics were written by Pat Moran and band members included Michael Bello, Joel Fadness and Pat Moran.
Costume design was simplistic and represented each character according to their stature, without over-exaggerating. The rich man wore a suit while the poor man wore an unimpressive T-shirt and pants. It was representation in its simplest form, mirroring the plot of the play and fitting for a mime troupe funded by donations.
The San Francisco Mime Troupe, founded by R. G. Davis in 1959, started off by displaying shows in lofts and basements. The troupe performs in local parks for free, and is supported by no other means of compensation than donations and fundraisers.
Over the years the troupe has grown to perform melodramas, spy thrillers, musical comedies, epic histories, sitcoms and cartoon epics. Though they refer to themselves as “mime,” they do not actually mime, but instead use the term “mimic” to represent and project an idea.
At the end of the play, character Landless spoke out to the crowd asking, “Will you agree to the idea that we have to take back our country?” The crowd screamed “Yes!” in synchronized agreement. A chant of “Raise up a fist; stop selling for crumbs!” was lead by the cast, as fists pumped into the air among the audience.
SF Mime Troupe’s upcoming performances in San Francisco:
Glen Park, Bosworth & O’Shaughnessy streets, Saturday Aug. 18.
Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission & 3rd streets, Sunday Aug. 19.
Dolores Park, Dolores & 19th streets, Saturday, Sept. 1; Sunday, Sept. 2; Monday, Sept. 3.
All shows at 2 p.m., free, donations accepted. Music starts at 1:30 p.m.