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San Francisco Mime Troupe

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Theater

Mission: The San Francisco Mime Troupe creates and produces socially relevant theater of the highest professional quality and performs it before the broadest possible audience. We do plays that make sense out of the headlines by identifying the forces that shape our lives and dramatizing the operation of these giant forces in small, close-up stories that make our audiences feel the impact of political events on personal life. To make this work accessible the Mime Troupe performs its shows in local parks at a price everyone can afford: FREE.

Results: We currently perform our annual summer show for an average of 40,000 people every season, which has steadily grown to this number in the 50+ years the Mime Troupe has been performing free in the parks. In that time, we have been bestowed with a Tony Award for Excellence in Regional Theatre, 3 OBIES, and numerous local awards and recognitions from cultural and governmental entities. Our Youth Theatre Project has directly served over 500 local youth in its 15 years, many of whom who have go on to teach in the program themselves, and/or pursued theatre and other artistic endeavors beyond high school.

Target demographics: People of all ages, ethnicities, genders and income levels enjoy our main Summer Show; since we perform outdoors and for free, anyone can come, and cost isn’t an issue. However with that fact in mind, and with a stated mission of reaching the broadest possible audience, we definitely have an eye toward serving those who couldn’t otherwise afford to experience live theatre. Our Youth Theatre Program, a free teen afterschool program held every spring, is geared toward local youth aged 14-18.

Direct beneficiaries per year: We perform for an estimated 40,000 people every season, and serve 30-40 youth every spring in the Youth Theatre Project. We also teach various workshops for youth and educators throughout the year, reaching, on average, another of 150 people.

Programs: Theatrical performances, tours & workshops to promote public awareness of headline issues in an entertainment format. Approximate 24 performances in bay area and throughout the usa.

Community Stories

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been watching SF Mime Troupe productions (THEIR PLAYS ARE NOT SILENT, despite the name) in the parks of San Francisco for the last 30 years! I am never disappointed. I have been so enamored by their work that I sent my son to a program for public school students that they sponsored where he worked with other teens from a variety of schools in various neighborhoods to create, write and produce their own play. What a pleasure to watch students of all colors and backgrounds collaborating while producing their own creation!
I am especially impressed with how the Mime Troupe has managed to bridge chasms of race and class. Their cast is multi-racial and multi-national and respectful of gender identities. Their themes are universal. Their productions inspire action for building kinder, stronger communities and a better world. The Troupe is well worth supporting!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Saw my first Mime Troupe show in 1988 in Columbus, Ohio - Seeing Double, about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Been hooked ever since. I go every summer now to recharge - get outside, be entertained with hilarious, clever politically progressive musical comedy, see my friends, remember that there are thousands of us (and we need to stick together!), get some ironic distance from whatever craziness is going on politically - and get insight at the same time. Tickle your funny bone, sharpen your wit, strengthen your commitment, warm your heart - and do it in great company. Go see the Mime Troupe as soon as you can! Oh and -- bring some cash - they need it, and boy, do they deserve it! You won't be sorry.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of watching the Mime Troupe's summer shows since about 1987. They are excellent! They really explore and satirize the currents events of the day in a very humorous way with very skilled and appealing actors, very good accompanying music, very good costumes, and amazingly flexible attractive sets. I have never seen a show of theirs that I didn't completely enjoy! I saw "Freedomland" this past summer and couldn't have imagined a more appropriate way to comment on the police brutality against black men in our country at this time than the way the SFMT portrayed it. The issue of the bureaucracy the police use and their willingness to manipulate facts were both effectively displayed. They perform not only in the San Francisco Bay Area but in nearby parts of California and sometimes elsewhere. Go to see them whenever you can!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've been a fan of the San Francisco Mime Troupe since around 1970. I think the first show I actually saw was at UC Santa Cruz in the early 1970s-- "Electrobucks". Although a Mime Troupe program will probably not serve as a new membership tool, it is nevertheless true that long standing left wing people need encouragement and inspiration too. "Freedomland" is one of the most inspirational shows I have experienced. We may live in an era of atrocity and indifference but the San Francisco Mime Troupe gives us fresh evidence every year that evolution and revolution are still part of a future we are all working to build. Freedom is, indeed, a constant struggle.

Robert Scott, Boulder Creek CA

Donor

Rating: 5

Th SF Mime Troupe: I first attended a performance in the 1960's, in a downtown building basement. Bill Graham did their publicity then, I think. I was a devoted fan until I left for l.A. and stayed in SoCAL for 17 years. However, upon my return in 1983 I have managed to attend nearly all performances, minus a couple when I was in poor health or hospitalized. I just love the Mime Troupe. and enjoy bringing friends who've never seen it to get caught up in the atmosphere and the talent. Nowhere is there anything at all like this in theater. The satire on political and civic endeavors are always perfect pointed.. The cast is enormously talented, taking several roles, and sometimes I cannot figure who is playing which role. The music is lively and catchy. Most of all the audience is "as one" at these events. People are in tune and "chiiing out", as a crowd united in joy and appreciation for a viewpoint held by all.this theater group must NEVER close. Its point of view is essential to public sanity, the unique arena to laugh at what is truly quite tragic and dispiriting in
our culture. Claire Isaacs Wahrhaftig Dec. 31, 2013

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The San Francisco Mime Troupe is the best theatre in San Francisco and anywhere else for that matter. I have been to many shows over the years, beginning in 1978 when my now 34 year old nephew sat in a stroller beside me as a pre-one year old and enjoyed the sounds and sights of theatre in Dolores Park. Continued success, Mime Troupe!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The chemistry that a troupe has onstage is so important, and it cannot be feigned. These singers/dancers/actors are having fun together!! The writing was AAA+, the timing couldn't have been edited to be any tighter, the whole show simply ROCKED! Go out of your way to catch it...you will be glad you did...

John H.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

AS A YOUNG CHILD WHOSE UNCLE AND AUNT WHERE PART OF SFMT.

I TRAVELED WITH THE TROUPE IN A OLD MAIL TRUCK FROM PARK TO PARK. I LEARNED SO MUCH ABOUT TRUTH AND JUSTICE AND FAIR PLAY.
I ALSO LEARNED ABOUT RACISM AND EQUALITY . I COULD NOT HAVE ASKED FOR A BETTER LEARNING ENVIRONMENT AS A CHILD . WHAT A BLESSING. THANK YOU SFMT JOHN HOLDEN

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We saw our first Mime Troupe show, “City for Sale”, in Boston in 2000 when the Troupe was on an East Coast tour. It is impressive that the Troupe presents not only a quality theatre experience but also that the script & music are original. The Troupe is a talented group of writers, musicians and actors who have blended their skills and who collectively turn out a superbly entertaining, yet highly relevant play each season. Their plays have a message which makes you think long after the show is over. We would love to see the Troupe tour the East Coast again, but until then we will continue going to San Francisco as often as we can to catch a performance.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I first saw the SF Mime Troupe in the early 90s, when I had just moved to San Francisco. I had grown up being involved in theater communities on the East Coast and in Europe, but I had never seen anything quite like this particular blend of entertainment, education, and activism. Over the years I have seen the Mime Troupe perform in SF and Oakland, and each time I have been blown away by the Troupe's willingness to pull out all the stops in order to tell a story. Their comic timing, originality and overall energy are simply outstanding. Why can't they be on the 6 o'clock news? We might have a more educated (and happier) citizenry...

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been a fan of the San Francisco Mime Troupe for almost 50 years. Their plays are always on target. They meet contemporary political challenges with humor and song, and never fail to educate and entertain. They're the best.

Ginny R.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Mime Troupe is world-class, but maintains vigorous grass-roots connections to "the people," wherever they travel - from Dolores Park, to Santa Rosa, to Iowa City and faaaarrr beyond, around the world. A "must know" for anyone interested in the history of political theatre, they are also a "must see" for all ages, ethnicities, etc. We look forward to their new show each summer; it's the best way to celebrate the 4th of July weekend in SF ! - or - will be sure to see the show later, "on the road." Reasons to see: Best values (ethics, politics, collaboration); Best performances and directing (passionate, talented, energized); Best writing about today's issues (clever, meaningful, funny but packs a punch); Most clever sets, costumes, props; Most engaging LIVE music; FREE (be sure to make donation) and FUN - All while learning what's currently important to be thinking and talking about ! The Mime Troupers are a Bay Area and USA TREASURE.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The San Francisco Mime Troupe has been developing and performing cutting edge and even edgy stories for us to reflect on, enjoy and use for our spiritual energy against the limited view of the Powers-That-Be for decade upon decade. They deserve all the support we can muster and all the encouragement possible to continue giving us food for thought mixed with humor, drama, theatrics and also great music!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

There are not many performing artists who can bring to our attention a message about the world's travails and make it dance and sing like our very own San Francisco Mime Troupe ! An eclectic collective who still holds that art and politics, as well as joy, music and laughter, are essential ingredients for the well-being of a community, especially our multi-ethnic and varied community of San Francisco. The work they have done over these 5 decades has touched so many people, of all ages, from our city and all over the world. They are a unique treasure, as what they offer does not simply entertain but informs and often calls us out of our lethargy to act, to sign petitions and to become more involved! They are an exceptional group that I had the great honor and pleasure of working with for way too brief a time! I wish them all the best in the New Year and beyond, they deserve all of the awards and honors our fair city can bestow as well as the recognition of their tremendous and unique contribution to the on-going cultural enhancement of San Francisco!

Mark F.

Donor

Rating: 4

The San Francisco Mime Troupe, bring people together, there message of love , compassion, happiness,understanding, and love, has us wallowing in joy. This group do nothing but give, I look forward to every show, if there would be more productions like this we could bring people of all races , ethnic backgrounds, and orientations together. Spiritualisticy they connect our soul with our mind, this is what the world need at this present age.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The San Francisco Mime Troupe is an extraordinary resource that has brought the magic of theater and critical thinking to a broad spectrum of people...young and old, people of various ethnicities, economically disadvantaged and advantaged.

The Mime Troupe has enriched my family's life. I hope it will continue to enrich tens of thousands more.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first encountered the Mime Troupe way back in 1979 as part of a grad school research project on guerrilla theatres of the 1960's. My professor only had one question for me: "Are they still active?" I couldn't answer him, didn't know. Fast forward to 1993 and a faculty appointment at a CSU in northern California...and who should be coming to town but the San Francisco Mime Troupe!! The what...?? No way.

Now it's 2011 and I make it a point to see the Mime Troupe's annual summer show every year I can possibly get in range of them. I've done week long workshops with them and taken my classes to their shows and to participate in their lecture/demonstrations whenever they come to town. I often use what I've learned from them artistically and socially (and steal their best bits) in my own work.

I am dead serious when I say that the San Francisco Mime Troupe is a national treasure. There is no one else like them. They are a nagging, sharp elbowed, quick witted moral conscience for a nation that is losing its own. And they need a bigger megaphone!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This theater troupe is amazing! I have been going to the free shows they give in the local parks for over 20 years, and each time I have laughed heartily and learned things I didn't know about current political events or issues. With just a few actors, they manage to put on a first class show every time, with live music and singing. I love the way they provide the artistic experience free to all who come, and then ask for donations at the end, reminding people how much they paid for the last movie they saw, and asking them to match that, at least. I'm sure lots of people pay nothing or only a couple of bucks, but after I'd invited friends to the show multiple years in a row, I decided to be a more generous patron. I don't know how they manage to put on these great, original shows year after year, but I sure hope they keep on doing it.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

San Francisco Mime Troupe: not mimes. Definitely a theater troupe. And spreading the best of San Francisco arts and politics to the rest of the state and the country. I've been coming to their shows for 30 years and love their form of musical comedy / commedia dell'arte / political parable. They're brave enough to take on topics that most other popular entertainment ignores, and creative enough to make it enjoyable and inspiring. I count on the SFMT to point out when the emperor has no clothes, to show the systemic causes of contemporary problems, and to inspire the audience with examples of how we can, together, make things right.

How many other arts groups can do this AND give so many free shows in public parks? SFMT deserves our support. They are a San Francisco treasure that the world should embrace.

(From someone who, as a young punk in the early 1980s, stumbled upon the SFMT's classic "Factwino" performance in a public park and has been following them ever since. My hair is graying but SFMT is as fresh as ever.)

Donor

Rating: 5

They are the LOUDEST mimes in the world and entertain while teaching. How can you not love that? The fact that they have existed as struggling artists for more than 50 years without compromising their ideals in this world of political upheaval speaks (once again-VERY LOUDLY) to true committment.