Sunday, September 19, 2010

San Francisco Mime Troupe's Posibilidad or Death of the Worker

I almost missed the San Francisco Mime Troupe's 51st season, except I ran into Michael Gene Sullivan and Velina Brown at Rotimi Agbabiaka's Homeless at SF Fringe Saturday, Sept. 18. And I am so happy I caught it even if it meant rushing from the African American Leadership Commission kick off event: "Living Up to Our Greatness" with keynote speaker, Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., Pastor Emeritus Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois. That was one auspicious gathering and to think I could have missed it, except for a flier I picked up at the West Oakland Branch Library.
Dr. Wright spoke about the master narrative, the popular discourse that many citizens tie their reality to, to their undoing.

The concluding Mime Troupe performance Sunday evening was at Analy High School in Sebastopol. I'd never traveled there before--I passed dairy farms once I exited I-101 N and traveled along Highway 12 and then 16.

Rotimi was great as the villain, "Juan," in Posibilidad or Death of the Worker, the story of outsourcing production to other countries while maintaining the facade of socially responsible economics was very clear in this newest work.

Juan is the factory owner who spends the profits on himself and when his bottom-line needs adjusting -he balances his account by firing his employees. When the curtain rises, there are only four employees left, two women and two men, one of them Joe (Michael Gene Sullivan) with the company for 30 years. The owner, Juan, inherited the company from his dad.

The company name has changed as well to reflect environmental policies which are bogus--the workers instead of settling for unemployment decide to take over the company and are successful until the leader is bought off by the former owners.

It reminded me of how success is often sabotaged when the insurgents look to the enemy as a model for governance. It always fails, whether that is in formerly colonized countries or at businesses owned by workers. Banks and shareholders are not necessary...and certainly debt should be avoided.

Fear is often used as a weapon by the capitalists who want the workers, those creative people who want to own the work and the means. What Posibilidad shows is how sometimes people know what to do, but are unable to follow through--they self-sabotage.

Joe is not able to follow through, but without him the collective would not have been possible. There are no partial revolutions, but sometimes one's role is to load the ball into the canon, another's job, to light the wick.

Perhaps Michael Gene Sullivan, playwright said it best after the play ended when he said the most important job we have in a democracy is that of citizen and citizens have the right to change systems which are unjust and unfair.

Pat Moran's music and songs are Mime Troupe classics with Velina Brown's solos as an Argentinean revolutionary "Donella," whose pregnant daughter, "Sofia," defects to America are wonderful! Labor Fest 2011 is contemplating inviting SF Mime to present an excerpt of the play next year, so stay tuned.

Carla Pantoja's "Sofia" is really conflicted as she hides her Argentine factory take over story from her disgruntled co-workers. Embarrassed at the outcome in her home country, Sofia allows herself to be cowered into accepting a solution which translates into neoslavery at the small U.S. factory where she now works.

But this is SF Mime Troupe which means, the bad guys --capitalist corporate structures lose.


I interviewed Michael Gene Sullivan in June about the 51st Season on

Pictured: Michael, Rotimi (middle)and another member of the Mime Troupe team. I caught them after Rotimi's Homeless at the Exit on Eddy.


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