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 latest hyperlink within the lengthy heritage 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 loose outside performances to public parks within the Bay quarter. In a mode that's festive and a spirit that's progressive the Mime Troupe has depended on renowned theatre varieties to handle well timed political and social concerns. Their productions keep a latest political part, 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 aid of Vietnam battle protests. to find what makes those it appears frivolous theatrical traditions potent for modern political theatre, Festive Revolutions explores the ancient origins of the preferred types the Mime Troupe attracts on. In outdated Europe, the place functionality traditions all started, political turmoil mixed with festive occasion.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 various thoughts for dodging censorship. Productions like Ripped Van Winkle proceed this day to re-light the radicalism the Troupe inherited from the tradition of the Sixties. Festive Revolutions exhibits that such varieties have encouraged political theatre for hundreds of years. Claudia Orenstein is an assistant professor of theatre at Barnard university. Festive Revolutions is her first ebook.
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Additional info for Festive Revolutions: The Politics of Popular Theater and the San Francisco Mime Troupe
Like the culture industry, agit-prop addressed itself to a mass audience. Yet it had as its main goal the task of educating the working class concerning their situation in industrialized, capitalist society. Its further purpose was to inspire workers to fight to improve their condition. Unlike the products of the culture industry that Horkheimer and Adorno describe, agit-prop theaters were primarily revolutionary, specifically devoted to fostering communist revolution. Their means of achieving that goal, however, were often extremely didactic and on the whole diverged sharply from the "frivolous" or playful elements of popular theater.
I am especially grateful to Ellen Callas and to Marieville Sales for the time they took sending me scripts, getting photo reprints, and answering all my questions. Many people helped me work out my ideas through discussions on the topics I cover here and by reading the manuscript at various stages. I am grateful for their time and input. Sandra Richards, Martin Esslin, and JeanMarie Apostilides all helped in the preliminary stages of my work. Alice Rayner, Harry Elam, Bill Eddelman, and Carl Weber of Stanford University gave me copious comments and insightful suggestions on early drafts of the manuscript, when I worked on it as my dissertation.
Ed Holmes and Keiko Shimosato, backstage, put on makeup for Killing Time (1997). Photograph by Taylor Carman. 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.