56th summer with the SF Mime Troupe new ‘Freedomland’
‘Freedomland’ asks powerful questions
along with a tight well written script and songs.
The Tony award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe celebrating its 56 year is on the road this summer as the company traditionally is famous for. Always original and written by SFMT member Michael Gene Sullivan, with a score by Ira Marlowe with additional music by director Andrea Snow. “FREEDOMLAND” is a powerful take on mass incarceration. The 4th of July marks their launch each season in San Francisco's Dolores Park, but I saw the company over the weekend at Live Oak Park in Berkeley. They have a whole summer ahead for you to catch this family musical drama. The crowd at Live Oak park was mostly silver haired Berkeley regulars who grew up with this family, it would be nice to see a younger crowd experience this political theatre.
This summer theme is always appropriate, FREEDOMLAND deals with Mass Incarceration, police profiling, frivolous war on drugs, and the police military type tactics. The story at heart has comic intentions but quickly turns dark, but still has the Mime Troupe educational force they are so famous for. Long time SFMT member Michael Gene Sullivan is ex-Black Panther, Malcolm Haywood a man who is constantly harassed by the police, due to an error in a database. Lisa Hori-Garcia plays the only sympathetic cop and keeps Haywood from being shot by trigger happy police. Garcia is charming in this role and has a great voice in the powerful number “Until There is Order”. The music and book by Ira Marlowe is well done. The songlist is memorable and this cast all have great voices, the cast shines in the number “How Can We Live”. Other numbers include “There I was” with Sullivan, “Keep Alive”, “All I Want” George P. Scott and “Until There’s Order”
Haywood son Nate who has just returned from a mission in Afghanistan, is played by the talented George P. Scott. He has a voice that steals the show with the song “Monster/ All I Want”. Malcolm knows that a young black man is safer on a battlefield in the service than on the streets of any U.S. city. The other player is Lluis the neighbor on the lam and no green card, played by the very enticing Hugo E. Carbaja. Of course the main team doubles for Pimps, a school girl, police captain and the Mayor. The four including Keith Arcuragi are a mix of gripping performances and the 90 min tale and it's an important message.
Directed by Andrea Snow, FREEDOMLAND has a nice pace and the comedy slapstick an over the top characters, keep the afternoon smiling till the dark ending. “How can we live in a world like this” is the question the story ends with a powerful company finale of “How Can We Live” under the musical direction on Michael Bello. Sullivan's important message is one of his better scripts and a great way to enjoy a summer afteroon. The music is performed by Ray Frenandez, Aaron Kierbal and Daniel Savio. The Troupe still plans to visit many more parks and venues this month and next. Follow the list of dates below. Pack a picnic, bring some wine, and your low back deck chair, come early to hear the SFMT Band.
by Michael Gene Sullivan. Directed by Andrea Snow
Music & lyrics by Ira Marlowe.
Music director Michael Bello.
Musicians Ray Fernandez, Aaron Kierbel and Daniel Savio. Freedomland With Mime Troupe collective members: Hugo E Carbajal (Lluis), Lisa Hori-Garcia (Emily Militis), Michael Gene Sullivan (Malcolm Haywood) and first-time troupe performer George P. Scott (Nathaniel Haywood).
Photos by DavidAllen
Live Oak Park July 11, 12 - 2:00 pm Sun.,
2:00 pm Shattuck Ave. & Berryman St., Berkeley 94709
Mitchell Park, South Field Wed. July 15 - 7:00 pm
600 East Meadow Drive & Cowper St., Palo Alto, 94306
Montclair Park - Ball Field Thurs., July 16 - 7:00 pm 6300 Moraga Ave, Montclair, 94611
Cedar Rose Park Sat., July 18, 19- 2:00 pm
1300 Rose St. & Chestnut St., Berkeley, 94702
Lakeside Park - (Lake Merritt) in front of the Edoff Memorial Bandstand, July 22 - 23
7:00 pm Bellevue Ave. & Perkins St., Oakland 94610