San Francisco Mime Troupe to put on ‘Treasure Island’ musical in Nevada City
Special to Prospector
Know & Go
WHO: San Francisco Mime Troupe
WHAT: Treasure Island: A New Musical
WHERE: Pioneer Park, 421 Nimrod St., Nevada City
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday (music at 6:30 p.m.)
HOW: Free admission ($20 donation)
The first thing you need to understand about the San Francisco Mime Troupe is that they are not mimes, not in the popular sense of the word. They talk. They sing. They like to make a lot of noise, politically speaking and otherwise.
For 60 years, the San Francisco Mime Troupe has been using the term “mime” in its original definition, from ancient Greece and Rome, which is “a simple farcical drama including mimicry.”
San Francisco Mime Troupe member Brian Rivera explained, “They take it from one of its more original meanings which is an exaggeration of daily life, so rather than mime, we follow the commedia dell’Arte style of high comedy and musicality.”
This year, the Troupe brings the story of Treasure Island to the stage. Not the classic tale, but a one with a bit of a twist that tells the story of the Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay.
“We are trying to get the word out about what we have learned about Treasure Island,” Rivera said. “On one hand, it functions as an adaptation of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s book, so there are pirates and there are sword fighting scenes. But it also deals with just getting the word out on what’s been going on environmentally with Treasure Island.”
“Treasure Island: A New Musical” was written by Michael Gene Sullivan with Ellen Calla and Marie Cartier with music by Michael Bello, lyrics by Daniel Savio and is under the direction of Wilma Bonet. The five-member cast includes veteran SF Mime Troupe members Keiko Shimosato Carreiro (John Livesey); Michael Gene Sullivan (Benny Gunn); Andre Amarotico (William Bones); Lizzie Calogero (Jill Hawkins); and Brian Rivera (L.J. Silver).
As synopsized in their press release, the play is about unscrupulous land developers:
“Treasure Island — is it the mythical isle where untold wealth awaits marauding pirates, or the freezing cold, artificial island in the middle of San Francisco Bay awaiting cut-throat developers? Or is it both? That’s the question for Jill Hawkins when an old sea-dog of a developer drops anchor in her office at City Hall, and drops a mystery in her lap. ‘Developers…they scour the map looking for cities with fat purses, ready to be plundered, damn the regulations!’ But if Treasure Island is such a wonderful opportunity, why has no one developed it yet? What about the people who live there now? And who is the one-legged developer Hawkins was warned about?”
The San Francisco mime troupe is known for its political overtones. Rivera, who has a resume that includes a part in a 2005 production with the Community Asian Theatre Company of the Sierras (CATS) and a 2015 stint on Broadway and the National Broadway Tour as the King of Siam in “The King and I,” loves to perform.
“I’m really enjoying playing a variation on Long John or shall we say, L.J. Silver,” he said. “That’s been fun.”
The Sacramento native added, “The information that we give about the toxicity levels of the ground — just the land — goes beyond politics this season, but normally they do have a left-leaning stance. But this is basically getting the word out about how essentially the Navy said, before they sold off the land, that it was clean. But it turned out, it’s not — especially radioactively. “
The Troupe has been performing Treasure Island: A New Musical” since the beginning of July in various parks around the Bay Area and will be at Pioneer Park in Nevada City on Friday with music beginning at 6:30 p.m. and a 7 p.m. curtain. Admission to the 65-minute performance is free but a suggested donation of $20 is encouraged.
If you have never seen the San Francisco Mime Troupe perform, it is a fun way to learn something new, Rivera said, adding, “We try to deliver some important information … Hopefully, people are entertained and informed by it.”
In celebration of their 60th year, The San Francisco Mime Troupe is holding a retrospective in October in San Francisco.
“They were formed in 1959 during the free speech movement,” Rivera said. “As it shows in today’s climate, the struggle is never over. Every generation needs to keep fighting the good fight in regard to searching for truth and injustice. … The Mime Troupe has been a bastion of Bay Area theater and political awareness. They are a San Francisco institution and I am glad they are still around.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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