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San Francisco Mime Troupe: Best of the Bay 2020 Editors’ Pick

Pivoting to online 'radio plays,' the 51-year-old favorite brought us vibrant 'Tales of the Resistance' and a timely 'Red Carol'


Throughout December, we’re publishing our Best of the Bay 2020 Editors’ Picks, highlighting some of the tremendous people, places, and things that made the Bay Area shine during one heck of a year. View the growing list below—and see our Best of the Bay 2020 Readers Poll winners and our Readers Stories of Resilience here.

The thought was bleak; would COVID Summer 2020 be the first in five decades that San Franciscans would be without the San Francisco Mime Troupe? The historic political theater group has been going strong since 1959, and many city dwellers have fond memories of toting a blanket and snacks to one of its free productions in the city parks—shows that skewer the year’s most powerful politicians and their legislative skullduggery with the broadest of slapstick and silliest of music theater numbers. But with public gatherings on the coronavirus chopping block, the Troupe’s season was unclear.

The worry was happily unfounded. The troupe showed its creative agility with a quick pivot to radio play, recording “Tales of the Resistance,” a nine-part series that followed a cast of characters around the bleakness of Trump’s United States. Protagonists are everyday folks who find themselves thrust into situations that turn their understanding of politics on its head. Catch Jade For Hire, the detective who is set to unravel the mystery of a disappearing worker at an Amazon-like corporation, and Novice Nurse Susie Terse, who must fulfill her professional duties in a world where health benefits are often reserved only for the wealthy.

As in the best of the SF Mime Troupe productions, you’ll laugh uproariously at the dad jokes, and be left pondering solutions for the capitalistic hellscape in which we find ourselves ensconced. “We’ve spent decades developing physical styles to tell a story to people fifty to a hundred yards away,” longtime Mime Troupe member—and “Tales of the Resistance” co-writer—Michael Sullivan told 48 Hills. “Putting that on its head to be totally non-physical was an ironic challenge in our 60th year.” Challenge accepted and met. Fans can catch the entire series for free on the Troupe’s website. 

BONUS: Of course the Mime Troupe also have a special holiday something up their sleeve. A Red Carol, based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” is perfect listening for an age full of Scrooges. (How about that $600 check, folks?) —Caitlin Donohue

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