San Francisco Mime Troupe's 'Ripple Effect' takes on the Bay Area's roiling class divide
The Mime Troupe has not been immune to the financial upheaval shaking the city. Last year, the collective had to launch an emergency fundraising campaign called the Cost of Free to make up for a serious budget shortfall that jeopardized its ability to offer its annual show. Velina Brown, Sullivan's life partner as well as fellow artist, explains that the 2008 economic downturn had reduced the offerings of arts foundations by as much as 40 percent. "Being already a really lean organization anyway, 40 percent going away is huge." But where another theater might have folded up shop, the Mime Troupe, with help from its audience, bounced back.
"One of the things that's helped us over the years with all these ups and downs is that we are a collective," says Brown. "It's not all on one or two people and if they feel like that's it, then that's it — there's a larger group of people that have to agree that that's it before the doors close. We also own our building, and that has definitely saved our behinds. We haven't had to be at the mercy of a landlord — who says, "Hey, I could get 10 times what you people are paying" — and kicked to the curb."
"Because we're a collective it takes people a lot longer to get burned out," agrees Sullivan. "Because we're worker-owners of our company we are willing to put in more time, do things for a little less pay, come to meetings when we're not paid to be there. We do get paid; it's an [Actors] Equity company. But we have a sense of ownership you don't get at other places, and that also helps the company in the most difficult times." *
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
Through Sept. 1 at various NorCal venues
Fri/4-Sat/5, 2pm, free
19th St at Dolores, SF
Also Sun/6, 2pm, free
Yerba Buena Gardens
760 Howard, SF