ActivismComedyNew ShitNewsPerformer you should knowSan FranciscoSF Bay AreaSF History

Anything But Silent: The San Francisco Mime Troupe Returns

The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news

When you think of a mime troupe, it’s easy for us to think of a group of folks who don’t speak while they act or mimic something in their movements. However, the San Francisco Mime Troupe (SFMT) is anything but silent. After 2 years away, they are ready for their 63rd season of bringing you their political satire. 

Having you think and feel something from their performances is what SFMT is all about. They want you to come away from their performances thinking about something more critically. Their group was created to speak out and share messages through political satire.

“We encourage you, our audience, to always be part of the revolutionary solutions to support the serious goal of dismantling white and Capitalist supremacy.” – SFMT

"Back to The Way Things Were" - San Francisco Mime Troupe's 2022 production

“Back to The Way Things Were” – San Francisco Mime Troupe’s 2022 production

Political and with a strong opinion, their performances are dynamic, engaging, and filled with social commentary about the world events around us – political satire at its best. SFMT kicks off their 63rd summer of performances starting the first weekend of July this summer. BACK TO THE WAY THINGS WERE features a five-person cast that includes veteran SF Mime Troupe collective member Keiko Shimosato Carreiro as Book; she is joined by Andre Amarotico as Milies; Lizzie Calogero as Alice; Norman Gee as Ralph; and Alicia M. P. Nelson as Zoe.

Every performance SFMT choreographs is special in its own way. Actors and writers taking a stand on modern political issues. They aren’t afraid to speak their mind. What’s special about this year’s performances is that SFMT is coming back together after 2 years of spreading their message to others virtually and from their own homes. It feels fitting that the synopsis of this year’s musical, “Back To The Things That Were”, is about life after masks and more: 

“In a country where we can finally stop wearing masks to get pizza and go to the movies, and where we again have a president who isn’t dumb as a two-dollar ham, hard-working, middle-aged liberals Ralph and Alice wistfully yearn for The before Times, when things seemed normal. But for Zoe – their twenty-something daughter who grew up in a world of climate change, housing crashes, student debt, the rise of dictatorships, and the fall of democracies – there is no “better” to go back to. For her, the purgatory of the last two years was just a pause from life in Hell. So what’s the point? Isn’t it easier to just give up?”

Full cast of "Back to The Way Things Were" - San Francisco Mime Troupe's 2022 production

The full cast of “Back to the way things were” featuring Andre Amarotico, Lizzie Calogero, Norman Gee, Alicia M.P. Nelson, and Keiko Shimosato Carreiro.

I’m looking forward to the new work that The San Francisco Mime Troupe has put together for us since their mission is “to create theater that presents a working-class analysis of the events that shape our society”. They speak out against social injustice, capitalism, racism, and inequality. Through their performances, they are able to get others to truly think about what is happening around them.   The troupe has over the last 63 years under its belt here in The Bay Area. Their political satire performances have been throughout the Bay Area in numerous unique shows which rely largely on donations after their performances.

SF Mime Troupe is a unique group of actors with powerful voices; like veteran troupe member, Keiko:

I’m fascinated with how the actors within SFMT got their start and I was able to sit down with the star of “Back To The Things Way Things Were”, veteran performer Keiko Shimosato Carreiro to ask her some questions about herself. We see performers take on numerous roles but it’s rare that we can learn about who they were when they first got started and how they got to where they are today. Through my interview with her, you also get to know more about SFMT and how their work is different than how you might normally view a performance.

“Back to the way things were” features Andre Amarotico, Lizzie Calogero, Norman Gee, Alicia M.P. Nelson, and Keiko Shimosato Carreiro.

Keiko lived in Boston as a child. Their parents migrated here from Japan after WWII and while Keiko grew up during the 60s and 70s, she saw many different types of protests. From the eyes of a child, this gave her a unique viewpoint. She recalls, “My parents were 1st generation Japanese immigrants who came here post-WWII. I grew up in the 60s and 70s. As a child, I grew up in the midst of Anti-Vietnam War protests, Women’s rights marches, and Civil Rights Rallies. It seemed from the viewpoint of a 7-year-old, that this is what you needed to do. This was a part of what grown-ups did.”

“Today, I am most inspired by anyone who is actively fighting for our democracy, our rights, our planet, our survival. Especially young people in Gen Z who are persisting in speaking up and out against injustice and still have a dream for humans working and living together on this rock hurtling through space. To be honest, I’m probably most inspired by my son who knows that things are bad and yet continues to be positive,” says Keiko.

Keiko didn’t come to The Bay Area until the mid-80s. Having traveled throughout the US with a The Geese Theater Company; a political theater which performed for and taught workshops at prisons throughout the midwest. Eventually, she came to SF with The Caravan Stage Company; a horse-drawn theater company from Canada. A political theater company dealing mostly with environmental issues, performing outside under a circus tent roof. After finishing the tour with the Caravan, I was asked to audition for The San Francisco Mime Troupe. Her first role was “Blossom” and she’s been with the troupe ever since.

Keiko has been with the company for over 30 years. This photo is from "Doing Good" in 2005. Photo by David Allen- (l/r) Jorge Calderon (Brian Rivera), Molly (Lisa Hori-Garica), Lucia (Keiko Shimosato)

Keiko in “Doing Good”  – a 2005 show. Photo by David Allen- (l/r) Jorge Calderon (Brian Rivera),
Molly (Lisa Hori-Garica), Lucia (Keiko Shimosato)

Over the last 30+ years, Keiko has had numerous roles and some just stick out more than others. Whether it’s the message the character sends or their unique characteristics, there are a few favorite characters that come to mind when I asked which was her favorite.

“Perhaps the character I loved playing the most was “Kazuko” in “Offshore”. I was on the writing team for this show as well. Kazuko was the rebellious, cyberpunk, lesbian artist daughter of a powerful Japanese CEO. Not only was this a way that I could work out some issues with my very traditionally Japanese father who disapproved of my life and work in theater, but we learned Kabuki and Beijing Opera movement styles for this show. That was fun.”

Personally, I’m inspired by Keiko. It takes guts to get up on any type of stage but to get up on stage and perform political satire is a whole other level. Since she’s been a working performer for so long, I asked her what advice she had for others who wanted to do something similar to what she’s doing. “If your gut tells you that you want to perform, go for it. You can learn technique, and study how to do it better but the most important part of performing is the feeling that you need to do it, that you love to do it, maybe even that you can’t live without doing it.”

From “Seeing Red” – (l-r) Michael Gene Sullivan (Henry), Lisa Hori Garcia (Bob), Keiko Shimosato Carreiro (Ruby), Andre Amarotico (Joe) in Seeing Red: A Time-Traveling Musical. Photographer: Mike Melnyk

If you know you’re wanting to reach people through your acting, I wholeheartedly believe that joining SFMT would be an avenue to do just that. You can move people through your social commentary. You can connect in a new way and speak out about things that matter to society.

When Keiko can reach audience members through the characters she plays is when she feels she smiles the most. “I can feel it inside my gut when I got through with something onstage. I think I smile the most when I made some people laugh or cry. Yeah, that’s what makes me smile the most, knowing that I made someone feel something and think about something.”

2019 Production: (l-r) Keiko Shimosato Carreiro (John Livesey), Michael Gene Sullivan (Benny Gunn), Lizzie Calogero (Jill Hawkins), Andre Amarotico (William Bones), Brian Rivera (L.J. Silver) in Treasure Island. Photo: Mike Melnyk

2019 Production: (l-r) Keiko Shimosato Carreiro (John Livesey), Michael Gene Sullivan (Benny Gunn), Lizzie Calogero (Jill Hawkins), Andre Amarotico (William Bones), Brian Rivera (L.J. Silver) in Treasure Island.
Photo: Mike Melnyk

 

To learn more about these upcoming shows, and the rich and amazing history behind the San Francisco Mime Troupe, please visit these links below:

Website: sfmt.org
Instagram: @sftroupers
Twitter: @sftroupers
Facebook: San Francisco Mime Troup Facebook Page

The July Calendar for "Back to The Way Things Were" - San Francisco Mime Troupe's 2022 production

The July Calendar for “Back to The Way Things Were” – San Francisco Mime Troupe’s 2022 production

Like this article? Make sure to sign up for our mailing list so you never miss a goddamn thing!
Previous post

Does Mosswood Meltdown’s female-led lineup mark a sea change in rock culture?

Next post

Why Remote Employees May Have to go Hybrid


Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy is a professional smiling machine raised in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.