Politics Suck 

The Mime Troupe's 40th season

"In the early Soviet era," says Michael Sullivan with a sigh, "they used to assemble thousands of people to re-enact battles, like the storming of the Winter Palace, to instill revolutionary fervor. Now, in America, we have commercials to remind us we're part of the system."

And when the commercials get to be too much, we have the San Francisco Mime Troupe to bring us back down to earth. The company's latest remedy for political skulduggery and corporate greed is a mock-horror epic called 1600 Transylvania Avenue, a lurid tale of White House bloodsuckers, frightened reporters, and free-trade vampires -- told in the Mime Troupe's classic agitprop-meets-Three Stooges style. The musical comedy, written by Sullivan (who also directs) and Ellen Callas, with songs by Jason Sherbundy and Bruce Barthol, plays free this summer in Bay Area parks, and is just now beginning an East Bay run, with shows tonight (Wednesday, August 8) and Thursday in Oakland's Lakeside Park (music at 6:30 p.m., curtain at 7) and this weekend at Live Oak Park in Berkeley (Saturday and Sunday, 1:30 p.m. music, 2 p.m. curtain).

We need the Mimes more than ever. Amid news of wrecked G8 summits, unconfirmed reports that Dick Cheney sleeps in a coffin by day and drinks oil instead of blood (says Sullivan, "I don't see many shots of him in the sun"), the woes of laid-off high-tech workers ("Everybody blames them. There's an arrogance there, a kind of hyper-'80s feel. Being rich and intelligent is absolutely no guarantee of being nice"), and rumors that Mexico is being groomed for US statehood ("I feel bad for them," swears Sullivan. "We've been trying that on Puerto Rico for years, and look what it's done for them"), it's comforting to know that someone in America is still skeptical.

This is the Mime Troupe's 40th season of stirring up the masses as "the most established anti-establishment theater in the United States."


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