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  November 2010
Happy Thanksgiving
from the Mime Troupe!

... enjoy this humble missive with an extra helping of pie ...
Tantalizing Trouper Tidbits!
  • SFMT Development Director, Jerome Moskowitz, just back from a red-hot run of NYC's cabaret circuit, was recently heard practicing his scales with more fervor than usual.  The ending result?  Why, the Mime Troupe's Winter Appeal, of course!  Click here for all the scandalous details!
  • Who was last seen whispering sweet nothings in Santa's ear?  Let's just say she was wearing a black T-shirt with a red star.  This reporter couldn't get close enough to catch all of it, but rumor has it, you can find it all in writing on the Mime Troupe Wish List.
  • Our source in Washington tells us that SFMT playwright, Michael Gene Sullivan, was spotted in DC last month for the "One Nation" rally, rabble-rousing among the leftist commie-pinkos. The word is he was promoting a union hall tour of "Posibilidad."  Hmm, we like the sound of those possibilities ...
Sandy Archer, 1938-2010

by Rob Hurwitt for the San Francisco Chronicle

       Sandra Archer, a mesmerizing actress whose brief career left a large impression on Bay Area theatre artists, died Oct.12 at Bayview Villa hospice in San Carlos. A lead performer with the San Francisco Mime Troupe in the 1960s, she made an indelible impression on audiences and fellow actors with her beauty, forceful stage presence and impeccable comic and dramatic timing, before she quit the stage in 1970.

       Ms. Archer had been diagnosed with cancer in 2007, which went into remission after treatment. "It came back with a vengeance" last winter, said her close friend Sally Forsberg-Weber. Her "last siege" with the illness lasted nine months. She was 72.

       "Sandy Archer was simply the most luminous, gifted, brilliant actress I have ever worked with," said actor Peter Coyote by e-mail from Madrid. "I loved her madly, and unrequitedly, and to this day my heart quickens to think of her. Her loss hits me like a punch in the gut. I mourn too that she was never adequately captured on film, so that others might have the opportunity I did to be mesmerized by her shimmering like quicksilver."

       "Her voice was superb," said Mime Troupe founder R.G. Davis, with whom she lived in the '60s. "Her talent was enormous. She unhesitatingly knew what she was doing onstage and she could handle any level of work. Whatever she did, she really did it. People said she was a genius. I can't deny it."

       Sandra Lee Archer was born Feb. 23, 1938 in San Francisco and graduated from San Rafael High School at the age of 16, said her cousin and closest surviving family member Linda Jenkins. She graduated from San Francisco State College, where she studied theater, and was briefly married, Jenkins said.

       Ms. Archer performed with the Mime Troupe from 1964 to 1970. She excelled in commedia dell'arte, outdoors in the parks, and in more serious works by Sartre, García Lorca and Brecht.

       "She took command of the stage," said Joe Bellan, a leading Bay Area comic actor. "She was more than a hard act to follow. Sandy was an impossible act to follow."

        In a memorable 1967 turn in "L'Amant Militaire," adapted from Goldoni by Joan Holden, Ms. Archer executed a stunning, instantaneous switch from farce to tragedy. In a scene lampooning the romance of war, she had large outdoor audiences roaring with laughter until, with a sudden change of expression and voice placement, she stopped the laughter cold to express the grief of a war widow.

       Ms. Archer left the Mime Troupe during the conflicts that accompanied its transition to a collective leadership. She participated in setting up a short-lived Cultural Training Center, then, with Bellan, co-founded Tale Spinners, a multi-generational company that took shows to senior centers and drew performers from them.

       "Tale Spinners was close to her heart," said Bellan, who visited her shortly before her death. She coordinated the company's work but never performed with it, he said. After a few years, she left the Bay Area for Westwood in Lassen County to care for her aging parents.

       "She just dropped out," Bellan said. "I think she burned out. She was just doing too much."

       Ms. Archer lived in Westwood until her death. She worked for the non-profit Plumas Rural Services in Quincy, retiring in 2001. She also taught children's theater there and, in the '80s, traveled to Humboldt County to teach classes and direct students at Dell'Arte, one of the nation's leading schools for physical comedy. Dell'Arte founders Joan Schirle, Michael Fields and Donald Forrest each cite her as a primary mentor, a role model for both acting and directing and personal hero.

       Holden, the Mime Troupe's primary playwright for three decades, said Ms. Archer "gave me the greatest playwriting lesson I ever got," simply by demanding, "Don't give me feelings. Give me verbs."

       Holden said Ms. Archer will be remembered for "her beauty, her warmth onstage, her range and the risks she could take with her timing. Whatever is the comic equivalent of perfect pitch, she had it."


This holiday season, we will be thinking of the Troupers we lost this year: Sandy Archer (1964-1970), Willie B. Hart (1967-1969) and Adrian Mejia (2008-2010).  Our best wishes to their families & friends, and infinite thanks to these great performers who gave so much joy to so many.
In This Issue
Sandy Archer
Youth Theatre 2011
Dolores Park Update
Youth Theatre Project Now Recruiting!
YTP photo
  SFMT's 15th Annual Youth Theater Project is just around the corner! An 8-week afterschool theatre program for Bay Area teens, YTP 2011 runs February through April, but we are accepting applications now.
Using methods honed in the Mime Troupe tradition, two groups of teens explore ensemble play creation, develop acting skills and learn to improvise. The workshop culminates in a weekend of performances under the guidance of experienced Mime Troupe directors and designers.

Click here for more information about YTP and to download an application. Questions?  Direct them to victor@sfmt.org


Dolores Park
I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Jake Gilchrist, the new head of SF Rec & Park's planned renovations of Dolores Park.  He assured me that the Mime Troupe won't be displaced from our regular performance spot in DP on 4th of July and Labor Day holiday weekends in 2011 (phew!).  In 2012, however, most likely we'll need to move to another section of the park ... which ain't no big thang.
Many thanks to Jake for working to keep everyone affected by the DP renovations securely in the loop!
- Jenee G @ SFMT
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