The SF Mime Troupe show that was originally scheduled to play at the Mill Valley Rec Center on Thursday July 27 has been rescheduled for Wednesday August 30 due to a cast member’s bout of COVID-19. The new musical, BREAKDOWN, introduces a social worker drowning in the bureaucracy needed to help their unhoused client, and a news reporter who feeds anxiety over daily atrocities and political scapegoating. “In an insane society,” says the Mime Troup, “sometimes it’s not all just happening in your mind.”
This is the 64th year of Guerilla Theater being presented by the award-winning Mime Troupe, which was founded in 1959 by R.G. Davis as an experimental project of the Actors’ workshop. By the early sixties, SFMT began performing spoken plays with character archetypes drawn directly from the Commedia dell’Arte tradition of humorous theater performed by travelling troupes throughout Italy in the 16th century. In 1965, the SF Recreation and Park Commission revoked the troupe’s performance permit on grounds of obscenity. Davis was busted for performing without a permit while attempting to present Il Candelaio in Lafayette Park. The ensuing court case established the right of artists to perform uncensored in the city’s parks.
That same year, future rock impresario Bill Graham, then the company’s business manager, organized his first rock dance/light show at the Fillmore Auditorium as a bail benefit for the SFMT.
In 1970 Davis left the SFMT, and the company became collectively run by its workers and dedicated to telling the stories of workers.
Adding music, songs, and physical comedy the Mime Troupe’s style solidified. In addition to performing, the Troupe has taught workshops on both the SFMT style and its unique method of collaborative playmaking. The SFMT also has two longtime annual youth theater components: the Youth Theater Project (YTP) which brings students from underserved communities to the SFMT’s studio to study playmaking with veteran troupers and its Young California Writer’s Project (at Balboa High School) which sends a veteran SFMT writer into local schools to teach the art of activist playwriting.
In 1987, the Troupe’s Brechtian style of guerrilla theatre earned them a special Tony Award for Excellence in Regional Theater. The Troupe has since been nominated for and received multiple awards, including OBIE, Drama‐Logue, Bay Area Drama Critic Circle, and Theatre Bay Area.
The Troupe has performed in Israel, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Belgium, Germany, France, Nicaragua, Columbia, Cuba, Off‐Broadway, The Kennedy Center for the Arts, and in tours across the USA. However, the Bay Area parks still remain the Troupe’s home stage.
In addition to live performances, this year the Troupe is also streaming BREAKDOWN on Vimeo. Use the promo code powertothepeople for free access. Donations are encouraged to help cover the costs of filming. Additional live performances are calendared on the SFMT website.