Gotta Getta Life, Written by Gregory R. Tate and Joan Holden, adapted from plays by Girls Against Gang Violence, JCYC, Horizons Unlimited, and the Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club.
Directed by Keiko Shimosato, Costumes by Brooke Stanton
performed throughout the California public school system,1996
Since its establishment in 1959 the San Francisco Mime Troupe has been a multiracial ensemble, “…to reflect the complexity of America’s present reality, and to state our hope for a multicultural future.” When funding from the National Endowment for the Arts was slashed in the early 90’s, they replaced one of their touring seasons with a Youth Theatre Project which helps at-risk kids create and perform plays about their world. This new annual program has made the Troupe multigenerational and open to a whole new audience of younger activists.
Because it was created by teen-agers, the play reflects issues that they think about the most: sex, peer pressure, drugs, AIDS, gang violence, school, and parental annoyance. The characters speak not only of prejudices felt against African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos, but also by “white” minorities like Russian immigrants. The story is about the relationships between these kids from different cultural backgrounds, kids and older authority figures, and of course, members of the opposite sex. The Troupe has a definite visual and performance style that they described to me as “cartoon epic”. They create larger-than-life characters based on reality, much along the lines of the classic commedia dell’arte satires. I had to design clothes that the kids would approve as hip, but that would all work together within this cartoon world.