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Mime Troupe Has Something to Say

It’s 1968. The Summer of Love has hit San Francisco. While teen-agers fight a losing battle in Vietnam, thousands of war protesters do sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in Haight Ashbury.

Among them is Ripped Van Winkle, who, on his way to the Democratic Convention in Chicago, stops to swallow a megadose of acid in Golden Gate Park. He falls asleep, only to wake up 20 years later, smack dab in the middle of chilly 1988.

The Revolution is over. Ronald Reagan is President. And his free-loving friends have become chic social climbers and coke-selling corporate attorneys.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

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Rip, still an idealistic hippie, can’t believe the changes 20 years have wrought. His exploits through the ‘80s set the stage for “Ripped Van Winkle,” the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s newest offering.

(The 80-minute show will play in San Diego at 8 p.m. Sunday in the auditorium at Marston Junior High School, 3799 Clairemont Drive. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. For ticket information, call 459-4650.)

The show is being presented by Friends of Nicaraguan Culture and will benefit the Nicaraguan Hurricane Relief Effort.

During the last 26 years, the Mime Troupe has attained international fame for its biting political satire. Its original musicals have attacked some of the nation’s most volatile political, social and governmental issues--from the U. S. government’s policies in South Africa to the Moral Majority and the impact of AIDS.

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The troupe came into its own during the anti-war and civil-rights movements of the 1960s. This latest show, written by longtime troupe member Joan Holden, contrasts the commitment and idealism of the ‘60s with the greed and image-consciousness that typify the ‘80s.

For example, the song “Grill of the Week,” pokes fun at California cuisine, while the finale, titled “Just Say No,” urges the audience to sign a petition opposing a movement in The City to dock the battleship Missouri in San Francisco Bay.

Ol’ Rip perks up when he hears the word “movement.” But an effort to bring a ship that carries nuclear weapons to his beloved Bay Area isn’t exactly the kind of movement he had in mind.

And that’s the essence of the show. Using humor as a vehicle, it contrasts Rip’s idealistic belief that the torrid ‘60s would bring positive social change to the cynical, self-absorbed ‘80s reality. Worst for Rip is his discovery that his former “old lady” is now the hip public-relations consultant leading the campaign to make San Francisco the Missouri’s home port.

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The show garnered rave reviews throughout the Bay Area during its summer tour there, perhaps proving that, although times have changed, there’s still an audience for the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s socially conscious satire.


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