San Francisco Mime Troupe to Present RIPPLE EFFECT at Bay Area Parks, Begins Today
Skyrocketing rents. Loss of diversity. Evictions, Google Glass wearing nouveau riche, The War on the Poor. What is The City coming to? The Tony Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe (SFMT) opens its 55th season with RIPPLE EFFECT, a musical comedic tale of intersecting lives and cultures that reflect the familiar neighborhood tensions that are polarizing San Franciscans today.
Done in their characteristic quick-change, singing & dancing, Commedia dell'Arte political style, a cast of four, playing multiple characters, tell the story of three very different women, all at a critical life point, who find themselves in a boat on San Francisco Bay, brought together by chance. Although they perceive each other as "different", each is a member of the working class and has been betrayed by a system that rewards only the few motivated solely by greed and self-interest. As they tell their stories, they discover through their failed hopes and aspirations they are more similar than they thought and are connected in ways never imagined. In solidarity, they refuse to let their home town fall into the hands of those who have no heart for it. Their actions will have a positive Ripple Effect.
RIPPLE EFFECT - written by as esteemed trio of beloved Bay Area writers and performers including Michael Gene Sullivan (SFMT), Eugenie Chan (Cutting Ball) and Tanya Shaffer (Let My Enemy Live Long!). Music & lyrics by Ira Marlowe. Michael Bello is the music director and lead musician. Other musicians include: Peter Penhallow and Mick Berry. The show is co-directed by Hugo E Carbajal and Wilma Bonet. Bonet has directed recent Troupe shows, 2012 - The Musical! & Possibilidad, or Death of the Worker. She was a longtime company performer and Collective member during the late 70's and 80's. She was in the Factwino plays, Steeltown, The Uprising at Fuente Ovejuna and main others. She features significantly in the documentary "Troupers". RIPPLE EFFECT features longtime Mime Troupe collective members - Velina Brown, Lisa Hori-Garcia, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, and Michael Gene Sullivan. Tech credits for RIPPLE EFFECT include: Scenic Designer: Sarah Edkins; Costume Designer: Heidi Leigh Hanson; Props Designer: Daniel Yelen, Poster Design: Nina Grosser, Poster Photography: DavidAllenStudio.com and Puppet Designers Keiko Shimosato Carreiro and Lawton Lovely.
RIPPLE EFFECT plays July 4 thru Sept. 1, 2014 (press opening: Thurs. July 4 at Dolores Park in San Francisco) throughout the Bay Area in San Francisco, the North Bay, East Bay, and Peninsula. All park shows are free and open to the public. Additional, ticketed indoor shows will be in, Point Arena and Redway. For a complete schedule and more information, the public may call 415-285-1717 or visit www.sfmt.org. Additional info on SFMT and community organizations is made available at information tables at each of our park shows.
The central action takes place on Deborah Johnson's tour boat in the middle of the Bay, with each woman's story acted out as a flashback to her companions. Each woman represents a different aspect of the working class in SF, but sees at least one of the others as "the enemy:" Sunny dislikes and fears the leftist Deborah, Deborah distrusts Jeanine as a representative of the technological surveillance state, and Jeanine fears both of the them as the SF wackos who hate newcomers and tried to tip over the Google bus she was riding.
Deborah Johnson - late 40's - 50's. Long-time activist, eco-warrior. Runs a boat tour of SF bay (also lives on the boat.) Loud and abrasive, she been fighting rapacious American Capitalism and militarism all her adult life, and is last of her revolutionary comrades still in the fight. She spends her days showing yuppies around the Bay, and her nights as a unrepentant revolutionary.
Sunny Nguyen - early 40's. Vietnamese beautician. Arrived in US as refugee, fiercely loyal to the "American Dream," believes in the system, and believes anyone who doesn't is a traitor/communist. She is staunchly apolitical. Just found out she is being evicted to make way for tech dorm.
Jeanine Adenauer - late 20's-early 30's. A socially awkward, brilliant software designer. Her family mortgaged their farm in the Midwest to put her through school, and now she has a great job in Silicon Valley, and plans to not only pay off their mortgage, but to make the world a better place...with technology! She has invented an app that allows you to track someone and control their smart phone without their knowledge. Invented it to keep track of senile grandmother, but just found out her app will be used to spy on everyone!
It Really Does Take A Village
2013 was a nail biter for the SF Mime Troupe with its possible season cancellation due to a severe funding crisis. With "The Cost of Free" campaign, the Troupe alerted its audience to the actual costs of doing free shows. Seeing the itemized list of park fees, rental toilets etc. was an eye-opener and fans responded with astounding generosity, allowing the show did go on! Meanwhile, the collectively run company is creating an already successful model for a stable and sustainable SF Mime Troupe. Yet free still costs, so the Troupe has invited more supporters to join the village that will support their political and artistic vision.
2014 Awards Won
The SF Mime Troupe has been awarded the Rosetta LeNoire Award by Actors Equity Association for 2014. In addition The Mime Troupe has received the 2014 Award for Achievement from the SUI Generis Foundation in Berkeley which comes with a $5000 cash award.
The Rosetta LeNoire Award strives to recognize outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in American theatre. Award Criterion: Inherent in the award is acknowledgement that the recipient has an exemplary record in both the hiring of ethnic minorities (including female actors, actors with disabilities, and senior actors); and should have a working relationship (and a history) with Actors' Equity Association.
San Francisco Mime Troupe (SFMT) History
Founded in 1959 by R.G. Davis, as an experimental project of the Actors' workshop, the San Francisco Mime Troupe's early works were...silent, (but not pantomime) avant-garde pieces that today would be called performance art. By the early sixties the SF Mime Troupe began performing spoken plays with character archetypes drawn directly from the Commedia dell'Arte. Continuing in the broad styles of popular theater, the Troupe's productions became overtly political. In l965, Davis, Saul Landau, and a racially mixed group of actors created A MINSTREL SHOW, OR CIVIL RIGHTS IN A CRACKER BARREL, using an historically racist form to attack racism in both its redneck and liberal varieties. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) sponsored performances around the country, the Troupe began its life as a touring company, and there were more arrests. In 1965, 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. The Troupe clinched its radical reputation in 1967 when L'AMANT MILITAIRE, a commedia by Goldoni updated to satirize the Vietnam war. Davis left the Troupe in l970. The company became a collective: partly by ideology, partly by default, and began a series of experiments with industrial-era popular theater forms: melodrama and its descendants: science fiction and spy thriller. Adding music, songs and physical comedy the Mime Troupe's style solidified and its national and global popularity increased. In addition to performing the Troupe has taught workshops on both the SFMT "style" and in its unique method of collaborative playmaking. In 1987, the troupe's Brechtian style of guerrilla theatre earned them a special Tony Award for Excellence in Regional Theater. Making fans along the way, the Troupe has received a myriad of awards and toured the USA as well as Belgium, France, Germany, Nicaragua, Cuba, Israel, Korea, Hong Kong and more. Yet the Bay Area parks still remain the Troupe's home stage. Live Community Forum Events associated with SF Mime Troupe's production of RIPPLE EFFECT - (TBA - 5/20/24) The issues addressed in RIPPLE EFFECT hit close to home, for the SF Mime Troupe, literally. As long-time residents of the Mission District, we have witnessed the effects of economic and cultural polarization. As tales of protests at Google bus stops make the national news, we questioned whose San Francisco is it? And why are community tensions so high? These questions are being asked in many US cities as tenants are forced to leave their homes because of skyrocketing rents and greedy landlords. How can we make room for everyone and keep our city diverse and progressive? We will address these topics in 2014 Community Forum Events to be held in our studio and after selected performances. By inviting various community leaders to speak and hosting group discussions, we hope to initiate a dialogue which will discover a constructive solution for SF residents and mend the divide. For more info. and a list of events and speakers for Summer 2014, visit www.sfmt.org. Past speakers may also be viewed at www.sfmt.org/schedule/forum.php.
SCRIPT / DIRECTION Eugenie Chan (Playwright) is a 5th generation San Franciscan. Her work includes, Bone to Pick (Best of 2008 List, SF Bay Guardian); Madame Ho; Kitchen Table; Daphne Does Dim Sum; Rancho Grande; Emil, A Chinese Play; Novell-aah!; Pilgrim; Consent; Circus; and opera libretto, Snakewoman. Theatres that have produced or developed her plays include, in the West: Cutting Ball Theater, SF Mime Troupe, Houston Grand Opera: HGOco, Magic Theatre, Thick Description, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Northwest Asian American Theatre, Group Theatre, East West Players, and the Asian American Theater Company; on the East Coast: The Public, Playwrights Horizons, Ma-Yi, Centenary Stage, Pan Asian Rep, and Perishable Theatre. Her screenplays have been seen in films screened at the Berlin Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, Cinestory. Upcoming: Cantonese Style! at the DisOrient Film Festival in April 2014; Ripple Effect - the SF Mime Troupe 2014 Summer show co-written with Tanya Shaffer and Michael Sullivan; and a public workshop of her new piece, 19 Wentworth Alley, Chinatown next Spring (2015) at Z Below. Eugenie has received multiple commissions from Cutting Ball, and the SF Arts Commission; and commissions from the Houston Grand Opera, Magic/Sloan Science Initiative, Handful Theater, among others. Eugenie is a Resident Playwright at New Dramatists, Playwright Emerita at Cutting Ball, a member of the Bay Area's new self-producing playwrights collective 6 New Plays, and an alumma resident of the Playwrights Foundation. She is an adjunct professor at the University of SF's Performing Arts & Social Justice Department, where she teaches Asian American Performance and Playwriting. Eugenie Chan Theater is a Member of the Intersection Incubator.
Tanya Shaffer (Playwright) Tanya's plays have been produced by Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, TheatreWorks, and the Eureka Theatre, and have toured to more than 40 cities nationwide. Her solo show Let My Enemy Live Long! ran for six sold-out months in the Bay Area and was awarded a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for solo performance. Her play Baby Taj, which premiered at TheatreWorks in 2005, was selected by the SF Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Oakland Tribune as one of the Top Ten Shows of the Year and nominated for a National Theatre Critics Association Steinberg Award for the best play to premiere that year outside of NYC. It has since been published by Samuel French, Inc. She's also the author of the critically acclaimed travel memoir, Somebody's Heart is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa. Her musical The Fourth Messenger (book & lyrics) played at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley in 2013. Her stories and essays have appeared on Salon.com and in numerous anthologies. She is currently a resident playwright at Playwrights Foundation. tanyashaffer.com
Michael Gene Sullivan (SFMT Collective Actor/Resident Playwright), joined the Troupe as an actor in, has since performed in, written, and/or directed over twenty SFMT productions. As an actor, Sullivan has also appeared in productions at the American Conservatory Theater, Denver Center Theater Company, Magic Theatre, Theatreworks, Lorraine Hansberry Theater, SF Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theater, and San Jose Repertory Theater. Michael has also directed for the Mime Troupe, SF Shakespeare Festival, African American Shakespeare Company, Mystic Bison Theater, and Circus Finelli. In 1992 he became a contributing writer for the SF Mime Troupe, and the Resident Playwright in 2000. His scripts for SFMT include GodFellas, Red State (2008 nominee, Best Original Script, SFBATCC), and Too Big To Fail (2009 nominee, Best Original Script, SFBATCC and Posibilidad, or Death of the Worker. He is also the author of "Did Anyone Ever Tell You - You Look Like Huey P. Newton?", his award-winning one person show, and 1984, his critically acclaimed stage adaptation of George Orwell's dystopic novel. 1984 opened at the Actor's Gang Theater under the Direction of Tim Robbins in 2006, and has since been published in English and Catalan, and has been performed in Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, and has had several tours of the USA. His script "Recipe" won the Israel Baran Award, and will premiere at Central Works October, 2014. Michael is also a blogger for the political website, The Huffington Post. http://www.michaelgenesullivan.com
Ira Marlowe (Composer & Lyricist)
Ira Marlowe's songs have been described as "four-minute movies", known for a rare combination of lyrical wit and emotional impact. Marlowe listened to his parents' jazz and show tunes, begged for guitar lessons at 8, got them at 13, experienced a high school conversion from folkie to rocker, and at 19 started penning songs that sounded somewhere between Daltrey and Townsend and Lerner and Loewe. While the label "folk-rock" is used, Marlowe's writing swings from funny to sad to poignant to political, often within a song. His awards include the SF Weekly "Best of the Bay" song contest, the Napa Valley Music Festival, plus a half-dozen Northern CA Songwriters Association competitions. In 2004 his song "The Wish" was selected for the Songs Inspired by Literature CD and appears alongside songs by Tom Waits, David Bowie, Steve Earle, Roseanne Cash and others more famous than him.
In 2005, burnt out after a series of fizzled major-label deals, he was performing in a SF cafe when he was approached by the director of The Learning Company, the world's largest producer of education software for kids. Hired on the spot to write a series of songs their new release, Marlowe took an anything-goes approach to his task and started having FUN again. He soon had his own kids' music label, BRAINY TUNES--"Smarter Songs for Smarter Kids". In the past five years he released six CDs, won the coveted Parents' Choice and Mr. Dad Awards, and sold thousands of units, mostly to schools and libraries. But though he loves writing kids' music and usually enjoys performing for children, he never felt at home with the smiley, squeakly-clean persona required for the job. Having recently teamed with a partner to handle to business aspects of BRAINY TUNES, Marlowe has returned headlong to writing and performing for those big kids known as adults. In 2012, Marlowe opened The Monkey House, a cozy nest for thoughtful performers of all stripes: singer/songwriters, storytellers, comics, magicians and more. Seating about 50--with lights, sound system, stage, and black velvet curtain--it will soon be home to an effort several years in the making, "Tales from Varley Mansion", a spooky stage show for kids. Stay tuned.
Hugo E Carbajal (SFMT Collective / Co-Director) is a recipient of the 2013 Theatre Bay Area Titan Award. He began his involvement with the Mime Troupe as a mask designer for the production of 2012: The Musical! In 2013, he performed in SFMT's Oil & Water. He's performed with Bay Area companies such as Cuttingball, Bay Area Children's Theatre, Shotgun Players, Stagebridge, Alter Theater Ensemble, Shadowlight, and TeatroVision. He was also a performer with Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre, touring the bay area for eight years. A proud member of the Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists Network. Follow on Twitter.