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San Francisco Mime Troupe

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I have tons of terrific memories from 1988, the year I moved to San Francisco. I highly recommend moving to a new city, especially one as exciting as SF, as a prescription for mid-life crisis. Everything I did that first year, everyone I met, everything I saw or read or ate, seemed touched with magic.

I spent a lot of time in the various ‘hoods, including North Beach, where I hung with the poets at Café Trieste or Vesuvio’s. It was in Washington Squre Park on Columbus Avenue that I saw the San Francsico Mime Troupe for the first time. I still remember some of the scenery and dialog from that performance, a parody of Alice in the wonderland of urban gentrification. Since then, I’ve tried to see every play, and with the exception of two or three, I have a pretty good track record.

The Troupe does an original politically themed play every summer, performed on weekends in city parks. Besides Washington Square, I’ve seen them at Delores Park, Live Oak in Berkeley, and Mosswood in Oakland—which is where I went yesterday for this year’s Red State.

Red State takes place in the town of Bluebird, Kansas, where a broken voting machine is holding up the final results of Election 2008. The people of this depressed, broken-down small town take advantage of their moment of power by holding the federal government hostage, refusing to re-vote until things get fixed around Bluebird. That’s just the bare bones plot; upon it is hung much hilarious satire, original musical numbers, and, most important, political truths. With the country in the shape it’s in today, I found it nothing short of uplifting to hear those political truths–lighthearted as Red State is, I was frequently moved to tears.

The Troupe will be performing Red State throughout the summer all over the Bay Area. If you’ve never seen them, get thee to your friendly neighborhood park. If you have seen them, you’ve probably already made plans to go. Either way, a complete schedule is available at their website.

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