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By Claudia Orenstein

Are traditions of well known theatre nonetheless alive in politically-engaged theatre to-day? In San Francisco they're. The San Francisco Mime Troupe is a contemporary hyperlink within the lengthy historical past of public performances that experience a merry air yet have a voice of political protest and social remark. each summer time given that 1962 the Troupe has taken loose open air performances to public parks within the Bay quarter. In a mode that's festive and a spirit that's innovative the Mime Troupe has trusted well known theatre varieties to handle well timed political and social concerns. Their productions hold a latest political facet, whereas exhibiting their origins to be the preferred traditions of the commedia dell'arte, circus clowning, vaudeville, puppetry, and minstrel exhibits. With The Minstrel convey or Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel (1965) they expressed aid of the civil rights circulate. With L'Amant Militaire (1967) they voiced help of Vietnam battle protests. to find what makes those it seems that frivolous theatrical traditions powerful for modern political theatre, Festive Revolutions explores the historic origins of the preferred varieties the Mime Troupe attracts on. In outdated Europe, the place functionality traditions begun, political turmoil combined with festive occasion. The lineage of the Mime Troupe's Punch the crimson could be traced again to the Italian puppet determine Pulcinella via its English and Russian opposite numbers Punch and Petrushka. within the Mime Troupe using stereotypes and reliance upon colourful joyful celebration are different innovations for dodging censorship. Productions like Ripped Van Winkle proceed this present day to re-ignite the radicalism the Troupe inherited from the tradition of the Sixties. Festive Revolutions indicates that such kinds have encouraged political theatre for hundreds of years. Claudia Orenstein is an assistant professor of theatre at Barnard university. Festive Revolutions is her first publication.

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Festive Revolutions: The Politics of Popular Theater and the San Francisco Mime Troupe

Are traditions of well known theatre nonetheless alive in politically-engaged theatre to-day? In San Francisco they're. The San Francisco Mime Troupe is a contemporary hyperlink within the lengthy background of public performances that experience a merry air yet have a voice of political protest and social remark. each summer time due to the fact that 1962 the Troupe has taken unfastened open air performances to public parks within the Bay quarter.

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4. Audience members picnic and chat as they await the beginning of the Mime Troupe show Killing Time to begin (Live Oak Park, Berkeley, 1997). Photograph by Taylor Carman. Page xii theaters, and meeting halls across the country and abroad. In the late 1960s the Troupe came to national attention with original productions like The Minstrel Show, or Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel and L'Amant Militaire that openly and provocatively addressed the most volatile issues of their day: the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.

First and foremost, of course, I owe a great debt of gratitude to all the members of the San Francisco Mime Troupe itself, past and present. Their exciting productions and dedication to creating political theater has been the main inspiration for this research. The Troupe's generosity in opening their rehearsals to me during the winter of 1989 and allowing me to help on their revival of Secrets in the Sand gave me a great deal of insight into the day-to-day running of the company and all the work that goes on behind the scenes.

What had once been a bare, green lawn is tranformed into a theatrical space. The workers have metamorphosed as well. Some don wigs and costumes while others pick up instruments and start to play. The upbeat music attracts and entertains the gathering crowd. Many arrive planning to attend the performance, and, children and dogs in tow, they spread out blankets and unpack picnic lunches. Others, caught unawares by the day's events, watch standing up or leaning against a tree. A booth hawking T-shirts, posters, and tapes, and political activists who work the crowd, handing out flyers and pamphlets, soon round out the festive atmosphere.

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