San Francisco Mime Troupe Youth Theater Project
by Andy Janecko ’20
The Youth Theater Project is an after school program that brings the youth of San Francisco together to create their own one act plays… in eight weeks! Currently, I am six weeks deep within the chaos of their creativity and eagerly awaiting their performance. I spend each day at the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a political satirist theater company in the Mission District. The Mime Troupe is not a silent theater company. The Troupe uses their words and encourages the students to create plays that are politically relevant and that are reflections of their lives here in a city with rapid gentrification, increasing homelessness and criminalization of homelessness, techies, and all the social issues of the US. The themes that the students have raised for their plays this year include working class power and revolution.
Since the program began, half of my daily experience at the Mime Troupe has been spent interacting with the youth and attending their class sessions and half doing various other projects for the program. These various other projects include creating a pre-show video, coordinating food donations, creating posters, creating newsletters, etc. Before the program started, I had a different role where my main priority was to recruit students for the program. In these beginning days, I was busing across San Francisco to different schools to speak to students about the program. I was also in charge of contacting the schools to get opportunities to visit. Outreach aside, I was creating and finalizing documents for the first day of class as well as attending meetings and other events.
The Youth Theater Project is meant to give a platform for youth and a creative outlet for their own personal and political frustrations. The program has been running for twenty two years and is able to feed and pay the students for every session. It gives them a safe space to come and be creative, which is especially important in California. The Youth Theater Project has helped me realize my goals from Antioch to beyond. I have a passion for performance that I had not solidified before arriving here. It has also given me a space to be freely political and allowed me to attack the root of the problem: capitalism. It has grown my awareness of other political organizations and given me hope to find a place in the future that works for the people.
There is more behind the scenes work to be done before their performance day and I am excited to be here to see the project through to completion. The Youth Theater Project has inspired me to continue doing work that I am passionate about. It has also shown me the power of young voices and given me an insight on their political consciousnesses. There is work to be done!