Selections from the San Francisco Mime Troupe Archives

In recognition of the renowned San Francisco Mime Troupe's 50th Anniversary, the Department of Special Collections at UC Davis will be exhibiting highlights from the SFMT's archives, which are permanently housed at the university. Early scripts, programs, posters, designs, news articles, legal citations and other documents will be featured, detailing the irrepressible creativity and revolutionary spirit of this internationally-recognized, Tony and Obie Award-winning political theatre company. Free and open to the public during regular Library hours.

WHERE: In the lobby of the Shields Library, first floor, in front of the Department of Special Collections, UC Davis, 100 North West Quad, Davis
WHEN: September 24 - December 11, 2009
Library Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8 am-10 pm; Friday 8 am-6 pm, Saturday & Sunday 1-5 pm. (Holidays & exceptions: Tues 11/11, 10 am-6 pm; Weds 11/25 8 am-5 pm; CLOSED Thurs & Fri, 11/26 and 27)



by Glenn Silber & Claudia Vianello, screening at the Mill Valley Film Festival followed by a panel and musical performances by SFMT Members included in the film, moderated by Mime Troupe alumnus, Peter Coyote.

Originally released in 1985, "Troupers" documents the tribulations & successes of the SFMT on the road during what was then the group's silver anniversary. The first 25 years of the ensemble is illustrated through extensive archival footage, live performances, and interviews with early Troupe members Peter Coyote and Bill Graham, who both went on to active careers in the theater and film (Coyote), and rock promotion (Graham). The documentary also chronicles the company's struggles to tour its 1984 production, "Steel Town" throughout the Midwest, despite money troubles and the wearying personal stress of being on the road. "Troupers" perfectly captures the colorful early history of the Tony and Obie award-winning Mime Troupe, as well as the day-to-day life of "America's finest theatre of political comedy," as it works to bring its trademark brand of musical satire to people from all walks of life.

WHERE: 142 Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley
WHEN: Friday, October 16th, 7:30 pm


"Free in(g) the Parks" (exhibition)

The San Francisco Mime Troupe's early years, defined by their many public fights for the right to free speech, are chronicled in photographs, articles, posters, props, scrapbooks and other artifacts.

While generations of Bay Area residents have grown up with the Mime Troupe's annual free public performances, few realize that the right for the group to stage their political comedies in the community - and in some cases, perform at all - was a hard-won victory. Early park performances of adapted Italian commedias, such as the Troupe's production of The Dowry in 1962, were perceived as "obscene" by the city's establishment, and permits for the group to perform in public were soon refused. Never one to back down from a challenge, however, the Troupe insisted on continuing, citing their First Amendment rights, and highly publicized arrests ensued. The subsequent court case, argued by Marvin Stender, ultimately established the right of artists to perform uncensored in the city's parks. The SFMT has opened a new show in the parks every summer since. This period of highly-charged, confrontational and ultimately precedent-setting events of the Mime Troupe's early history are the focus of the Main Library's exhibit, "Free in(g) the Parks."
Artwork: Gregg Gordon, Gigart

WHERE: San Francisco Main Library, 4th floor, Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon Music Room, 100 Larkin Street (at Grove)
WHEN: October 24, 2009 - February 1, 2010
Library hours: Monday 10-6, Tuesday-Thursday 9-8, Friday 12-6, Saturday 10-6, Sunday 12-5. (Closed major holidays)

"Radical Theater Revisited" (panel discussion)

In 1968, the Esalen Institute sponsored a 5-day "Festival of Radical Theatre" at San Francisco State College (now SFSU). Highlights of the Festival, the first of its kind held in the U.S., included panel presentations and workshops led by the three most prominent guerilla theatre groups of the time. "Radical Theatre Revisted" at the Main Library reunites the founders of these three groups - RG Davis of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Peter Schumann of Bread and Puppet, and Luis Valdez of El Teatro Campesino (author of "Zoot Suit") - to continue the conversation about the role of radical theatre in today's society, and re-visit the goals and new ideas that grew out of the original Festival.

WHERE: San Francisco Main Library, Lower Level, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street (at Grove)
WHEN: Sunday November 1st, 2.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m.


"Engagement, Commitment and Fresh Air - Celebrating 50 Years of the SF Mime Troupe"

Born in 1959 out of the underground social and artistic ferment of the so-called "silent decade," the San Francisco Mime Troupe never set out to last ten years, and is now astonished to reach 50. Coming of age during the Vietnam War, spurred to heightened resistance by the Reagan 1980's, the Troupe has become what the SF Bay Guardian recently called "the conscience of the city, our proudest export, and . . perhaps our most enduring sociopolitical institution." "Engagement, Commitment and Fresh Air" celebrates this rabble-rousing, precedent-setting, Tony and Obie Award-winning street theatre company in an exhibit of photographs, props, costumes, scripts, and other eccentric ephemera from its first half-century. The exhibit - like most Mime Troupe performances, is free and open to the public during regular Gallery hours.

WHERE: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Room for Big Ideas, 701 Mission St. (at 3rd Street)
Gallery hours: Thursday & Friday, 2-8 p.m., Saturday 12-8 p.m., Sunday 12-6 p.m., first Tuesdays of the month 12-8 p.m. (Closed major holidays)
WHEN: November 5, 2009 - January 31, 2010

Street Gallery of Troupe Photographs

Leading a path to the YBCA exhibition will be a street gallery of Troupe photographs, featured in display windows along the Mission Street side of the Fifth & Mission Parking Garage, between 4th and 5th Streets. The Garage will also lend storefront space to complete the YBCA exhibit with the best photos of the company, assembled for the first time: a composite portrait of the Troupe onstage and offstage over 50 years.

WHERE: Windows along the Mission Street side of the Fifth & Mission Parking Garage, between 4th and 5th Streets
WHEN: November 5, 2009 - January 31, 2010

SF Mime Troupe 50th Anniversary Exhibition Birthday Bash

Join Troupe members past and present in a toast to the legendary San Francisco Mime Troupe, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Browse the exhibit "Engagement, Commitment & Fresh Air," be treated to live music and special appearances from famous Mime Troupe characters, and enjoy a performance of Ghosts, - the one-act play commissioned by the City for the opening of the Moscone Center, the first of many redevelopment projects in the very location YBCA now stands - performed by the original cast.

WHERE: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Gallery Lobby and adjacent Forum Theatre, 701 Mission St. (at 3rd Street)
WHEN: Thursday, December 10th, 2009, 7:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Artwork: Gregg Gordon, Gigart

"Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Consumption Christmas"

Sign up for a Street Theater Workshop with the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Ed Holmes, AKA Bishop Joey, founder of the St. Stupid's Day Parade and veteran SF Mime Troupe actor - best known for his spot-on portrayals of Dick Cheney - and Keiko Shimosato, long-time Troupe designer/actor/director, will lead this unique workshop. Class begins with field work - mingling among shoppers, collecting impressions and images - then returns to the YBCA Gallery to create a pageant/procession. Characters, costumes, masks, speeches, songs, actions will be developed among the group, then all will take their show to the downtown streets, amid bustling holiday shoppers.

WHERE: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, YAAW Lounge
WHEN: Saturday, December 12th, 2009, 12:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
TICKET INFO: $15 per person with a $3 handling fee per transaction

"Have you Heard of the San Francisco Mime Troupe (1968)"

by Don Lenzer, screening followed by Q & A. In the mid-sixties, when the San Francisco Mime Troupe was still in the midst of its first tumultuous decade, award-winning documentary filmmaker Don Lenzer (Woodstock, Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision) trained his camera on the controversial group. The resulting hour-long work became "Have You Heard of the San Francisco Mime Troupe," a film that gives an inside look at the struggling political theatre company. "Have you Heard . . " chronicles performances of the free commedia dell'arte productions in the parks deemed "obscene" by the park commission, in-fighting and financial hardships within the group, and includes live footage of the Troupe's controversial 1965 production, The Minstrel Show, or, Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel. Minstrel Show, which was performed in black face by both black and white actors, was banned by city and university officials at various campuses across the country, bringing the Troupe's trademark brand of confrontational social satire to the attention of the rest of the country for the first time. Renowned local actor Peter Coyote is featured prominently in "Have you Heard," along with SF Mime Troupe founder, R.G. Davis. Q & A will follow with actors featured in the film.

WHERE: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Screening Room, 701 Mission St. (at 3rd Street)
WHEN: Friday, January 15, 2010, 7:30 p.m.
TICKET INFO: $8 per ticket with a $3 handling fee per transaction


"Mime Troupe Day" on official parchment.

"Project of the Month: 50 Years of Notorious Political Theatre"
Ink Works

"To celebrate the anniversary..."
Mission Local - 12/10/09

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