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Instead of Public Performances, the SF Mime Troupe is Doing a Radio Serial This Year

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Photo of the San Francisco Mime Troupe in 2008 by Fabrice Florin

For the first time in 60 years, the Tony Award-Winning San Francisco Mime Troupe will not be performing free shows in the parks. For many, that is truly a sign of the dark times we are in. The Mime Troupe is synonymous with summer for those of us who enjoy theater, music, politics, activism, sitting in sunny parks and the Troupe’s signature combination of all these things. Luckily, being the longest running political theater company in America, the Mime Troupe knows how to get creative when times are tough.

With everything that was once a live experience moving online to Zoom, the Mime Troupe has opted for a more classic option: a good old fashioned radio show. But wait, mimes on the radio? Don’t let the name confuse you – the Mime Troupe is never silent, literally or metaphorically: “We use the term mime in its classical and original definition, ‘the exaggeration of daily life in story and song,’” the Troupe explains often. Their first ever serialized radio play, Tales of the Resistance, will premiere on July 4th, their summer show’s usual opening date in Dolores Park.

Featuring 9 parts in four distinct genres that will run throughout the summer, you can get a taste of the series here. Four different storylines – told in the style of horror, sci-fi, noir and adventure – will culminate in a finale where all the narratives converge. The show will be in the Troupe’s signature style of political comedy, including biting satire and catchy original music. With scripts by Michael Gene Sullivan, Ellen Callas and Marie Cartier, the song lyrics for Tales of the Resistance are written by Daniel Savio, the son of famed 60s activist  Mario Savio, a leader of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the 1960s.

The series will air on a handful of local radio stations, since listening to an old timey radio serial on an actual radio seems appropriate, including KALW, KMUD, KTDE, KZXY, and KZFP. But you can also access all the episodes as they air on their website.

SFMT collective member Velina Brown will direct the radio series. Photo by Lois Tema

It’s of course free to listen, but I strongly urge you to donate if you can. Theater all over the country is suffering from the inability to physically gather people, and if we do not make a conscious effort to save it, we may emerge from this crisis with few options for viewing live performances and a lot of poverty-stricken performers. The Mime Troupe is an important part of this city’s theatrical history; for sixty years they have been out in the parks bringing thoughtful and fun political theater directly to the people. They do not take corporate donations and rely strongly on the kindness of their fans to survive. Moreover, unlike many theater companies that are currently re-evaluating their power dynamics when it comes to racial equity, the Mime Troupe has always been a diverse collective that practices what they preach.

Tales of the Resistance premieres Saturday July 4th, with new episodes released every other Saturday until October 24th. You can find more information and listen to the episodes here.

 

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Genie

Genie

Genie Cartier is a San Francisco native. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in English/ Creative Writing and earned an MFA in Creative Writing/ Poetry from SFSU. Check out her novella Fog City Summer on this website. When not writing, she is also a professional circus performer of 24 years and will be directing Dark Side of the Circus, a circus choreographed to Pink Floyd, in April 2020. Find out more at http://cartiersisters.weebly.com/.

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