Why do you call yourself a Mime Troupe if you talk and sing?
We use the term mime in its classical and original definition, "The exaggeration of daily life in story and song." It is a form of
popular theater that is as old as the marketplace itself. From the ancient Greek and Roman farces to the Renaissance commedia dell'arte
to modern Chinese Opera, using archetypes comically to illustrate people's issues is a time honored worldwide tradition. Our broadly drawn
characters are instantly recognizable allowing the audience to immediately engage in the action. Our work is political satire and anything but
Having said that, it should be noted that after studying with French mime master Etienne Decroux, R.G. Davis founded the Troupe in 1959 creating
pieces, some silent, some with words, that were considered avant-garde. Today it would be called performance art. So, in fact, the first
year of our long history we did perform pantomime, but our politics were too outspoken for that to last.
What's in a name?
Given the confusion about our name, many ask why we just don't change it. It's true that every one of us has spent far too much time
explaining our use of mime (see above). Nevertheless, after 50 years, numerous awards, and many articles and theses written about us, it's
hard to give up that name recognition. Still there are many who haven't seen a show that still think we "walk against the wind."
It's a dilemma and in fact when we've discussed changing the name (about once a year), we just can't find one that quite fits. But we are proud
of the San Francisco aspect of our name. Our city is also a state of mind, one that represents tolerance, celebrates diversity in a big
way, and raises the bar for progressive thought.
The Troupe part also fits, we are much more itinerant than other companies. Our "home season" is performed in different public
parks each week-end and the rest of our time we tour around the state, nation, and world. This fosters a camaraderie that again echoes
the touring commedia troupes of the past. When it comes to the work load, we all do it all.
Who is your artistic director?
The San Francisco Mime Troupe is a worker-owned company, headed by a collective. The Collective is comprised of
poly-talented people who steer the artistic direction of the company and also hire office staff. A collective member might be an actor
who is also a costume designer and flute player, or a technician who is also a writer and building manager. The eclecticism of the
collective is only limited by the eclecticism of each individual member.
How does one become a Collective member?
After the Collective works with an individual for a while, it becomes apparent that in addition to their talent(s), they have the right work
ethic, one that puts the company ahead of the individual. A member will bring the person's name up as a candidate for membership and after
discussion and interviews, the question will come to a vote. If voted in, the new Collective member must agree to commit two years to the
Troupe. The balance of individual politics and different personalities is a delicate one so the Collective does not add members often. We often
advise our potential candidates to weigh their decision carefully, because though we offer an artistic home, we require a strong commitment to
creative development, political thought, and hard work for not much money.
How much are the tickets to your shows?
Every summer, we perform in San Francisco Bay Area parks, July 4th through Labor Day. After the performance the actors and musicians
come out into the audience to pass the hat. We ask people to donate what they paid for their last movie. And, if they can,
we ask them to pay for others who can't afford to donate or to just give what they can, thus making our accessible theatre truly accessible for
everyone. Other times, we are booked by local organizations wherein they set the admission prices. These types of performances are usually
indoors. For these shows we strive to keep our ticket prices affordable. As of 2008, our touring ticket prices were $20 plus or minus.
What does the red star mean on your logo?
We uphold socialist ideals. The red star and red flags have a long history of representing people's struggle, socialism and communism. This should
not be read as support for totalitarian regimes. Just the opposite.
The dictionary defines "red flag" as follows:
1. A warning signal.
2. Something that demands attention or provokes an irritated reaction.
3. The emblem of socialist revolution.
The red flag is a socialist emblem associated in particular with the revolutionary left as well as with social democratic and labour
traditions having been a banner used by parties such as Labour in Britain, the Socialist Party in France and other social democratic and
democratic socialist groups throughout the world. Usage by these parties has waned in recent years, however, as many of them have moved away
from the left. However, its radical symbolism is much older than socialism. A plain red flag has often been raised or carried by socialists,
radicals and communist groups. Groups not connected with the Soviet Union and China have used red flags defaced by the names or emblems of their
parties, movements, organizations or trade unions as well as plain red flags. Red flags are often seen at protests, demonstrations and left-wing
rallies. The red flag is most strongly associated in public consciousness with Communism and forms the backdrop to the flag of the People's Republic
of China and the flag of the Soviet Union. As well, "waving a red flag" is a euphemism for incitement.
The five-pointed red star is a symbol of Communism and represents the five fingers of the worker's hand, as well as the five (inhabited)
continents. It was often used to represent the rule of the Communist Party.
The red star is or was used on several flags and coats of arms of communist states, for example on the flag of former Yugoslavia. Sometimes
the hammer and sickle was depicted inside or below the star. Since the fall of the Soviet bloc, the red star has been banned in some countries
(e.g. in Hungary, it is a criminal offense to publicly show or use the symbol.)