San Francisco Mime Troupe Serves Up World Premiere Musical Comedy

The San Francisco Mime Troupe, the only touring ensemble to ever win a Tony Award for Excellence in Regional Theatre, opens its 2006 season with the world premiere of Godfellas, a musical comedy that takes aim at religion in America. The play will be performed primarily in Bay Area parks from July 4 to October 1-with tour stops as far as

Sacramento, Santa Cruz, and Southern California (at Tim Robbins’s famed Actors’ Gang Theater in Culver City). Most performances are free, with indoor shows priced between $15 and $20.

Godfellas imagines a country swept up in religious rhetoric. The Reverend C.C.B. De Love embarks on a personal crusade to ensure that the military-industrial God complex rules the nation. But the good reverend finds a foil in Angela Franklin, an atheist and activist who fights to defeat the coming theocracy-only to find herself falling prey to her enemies’ zealous tactics.

The Troupe is no stranger to hot-button issues, and courts controversy every summer by presenting ensemble-created plays that cast a critical eye on such topics as the Bush administration, the war on terror, and corporate America. Playing to liberal audiences mainly in the Bay Area may be preaching to the converted, but the Troupe aims to reframe social and political discussion in new and entertaining ways. Perhaps that’s why the company has staying power (46 years and counting) and plays to large crowds in parks and packed auditoriums.

The San Francisco Mime Troupe admittedly discusses changing its name on a regular basis, due to many people’s misperceptions about what the company does. Most folks connect the word “mime” immediately to an image of a skinny, pasty-faced man in a beret, pressing his hands against imaginary walls. This is far from what the Troupe is all about. The company uses the term “mime” in the ancient sense-that is, exaggerating the big topics of the day through story and song. With its many awards and prestigious history, the San Francisco Mime Troupe is hesitant to let go of the name that made it famous.

After two preview performances on July 1 and 2 in San Francisco, the opening day of Godfellas will be celebrated at Dolores Park at 2 p.m. (Live music begins at 1:30 p.m.) The show’s final performance will be on October 1 at San Lorenzo Park
in Santa Cruz. (See complete schedule below.) For more information, call (415) 285-1717 or e-mail info@sfmt.org. Visit www.sfmt.org.

GODFELLAS 2006 TOURING SCHEDULE
2006 Free Park Shows and Indoor Venues
July 1 PRECITA PARK
(Sat) – Preview
Precita amp; Harrison – San Francisco
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

July 2
DOLORES PARK (Sun) – Preview
18th amp; Dolores – San Francisco
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

July 4
DOLORES PARK (Tues) – World Premier/Opening Day
18th amp; Dolores – San Francisco
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

July 8 amp; 9
CEDAR ROSE PARK (Sat amp; Sun)
1300 Rose Street, a block from Cedar amp; Chestnut – Berkeley
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

July 15
PEACOCK MEADOW – GOLDEN GATE PARK (Sat)
JFK Drive, bet. McLaren Lodge amp; Conservatory – San Francisco
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

July16
LAKESIDE PARK (Sun)
Lakeside Drive at Lake Merritt- Oakland
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

July 20
ARENA THEATER (Thurs)
214 Main Street – Point Arena
Music 7:30 p.m., Show 8:00 p.m.
Ticket info Call: 707-882-3272

July 21
MATEEL COMMUNITY CENTER (Fri)
59 Rusk Lane – Redway
Music 7:30 p.m., Show 8:00 p.m.
Ticket info Call: 707-923-3368

July 23
MILL VALLEY COMMUNITY CENTER (Sun)
180 Camino Alto near
E. Blithedale-MillValley
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

July 29
MOSSWOOD PARK (Sat)
MacArthur amp; Broadway – Oakland
Music at 1:30 p.m., Show at 2:00 p.m.

July 30
YERBA BUENA GARDENS (Sun)
Mission amp; 3rd – San Francisco
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

August 5
GLEN PARK (Sat)
Bosworth amp; O’Shaughnessy – San Francisco
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

August 6
BOLINAS COMMUNITY CENTER (Sun)
Mesa Park – Bolinas
Music 2:00 p.m., Show 2:30 p.m.
Ticket info Call: 415-868-2128

August 12 amp; 13
LIVE OAK PARK (Sat, Sun)
Shattuck amp; Berryman – Berkeley
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

August 18
TOWN HALL COALITION (Fri)
To be announced -Sebastopol
Music 7:00 p.m., Show 7:30 p.m.
Ticket info Call: 707-824-4371

August 19
MITCHELL PARK (Sat)
600 E. Meadow Drive- Palo Alto
Music 4:30 p.m., Show 5:00 p.m.

August 20
WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK (Sun)
Columbus amp; Union – San Francisco
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

August 26 amp; 27
WILLARD PARK/HO CHI MINH (Sat amp; Sun)
Hillegass amp; Derby- Berkeley
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

September 2-4
DOLORES PARK (Sat, Sun amp; Mon)
18th amp; Dolores – San Francisco
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m.

September 9
COMMUNITY PARK (Sat)
F Street btw. 14th amp; Covell – Davis
Music 3:30 p.m., Show 4:00 p.m.

September 10
SOUTHSIDE PARK (Sun)
6th and T Street Bandshell – Sacramento
Music 3:30 p.m., Show 4:00 p.m.

September 12
CHABOT COLLEGE (Tues)
Performance Arts Center, Hesperian Blvd. – Hayward
Music 6:30 p.m., Show 7:00 p.m.

September 14 amp; 15
CENTER FOR THE ARTS (Thurs, Fri)
314 W. Main Street-GrassValley
Music 7:00 p.m., Show 7:30 p.m
Ticket info Call: 530-274-8384

September 16
CEDAR GROVE IN BIDWELL PARK/KZFR (Sat)
1968 East 8th Street – Chico
Music 6:00 p.m., Show 6:30 p.m.
Ticket info Call: 530-345-8136
www.chicotickets.com

September 20-24
ACTORS’ GANG THEATER (Weds-Sun)
at the Ivy Substation, 9070 Venice Blvd – Culver City
Music 7:30 p.m., Show 8:00 p.m., Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat
Music 1:30 p.m., Show 2:00 p.m., Sat, Sun
Ticket info: TBA

September 28
SEBASTIANI THEATER (Thurs)
476 First Street East (on the plaza) – Sonoma
Music 7:00 p.m., Show 7:30 p.m.
Ticket info Call: 707-996-9756

September 30 amp; Oct 1
SAN LORENZO PARK (Sat amp; Sun)
Dakota Avenue (downtown) – Santa Cruz
Music 2:30 p.m., Show 3:00 p.m.

How to Make a Living in the Music Business

In our last session we established the fact that you, or your band or ensemble are a market driven manufacturer, and that you manufacture sound. As you probably can well imagine, you will go broke very quickly if you manufacture a product and don’t ever sell it. You will go just as broke if you manufacture a product and pave the road to hell with your good intentions of selling it at some nebulous future point in time.

As much as they want to play live, or have their music on store shelves, there are a ton of musicians who die frustrated because they were never ready. Never ready to get on stage. Never ready with an acceptable final mix. Some of those guys (when I say “guys” you should understand that I mean both males and females, equally. It makes writing easier for me and when I’m writing, that is the most important thing.) are right. They aren’t ready. Some, however, are either ready and don’t know it; will never be more ready and don’t know it or won’t admit it; or will never be ready no matter what happens. How do you know?

This can prove to be a tough question because it can be so subjective. I’m not going to get into the area of how to define art, or what is “good”, but ask yourself these questions.

For live music(minimum):

How many full sets of music do I/we have that I/we can play all of the way through without stopping (approx. 45-60 minutes minimum)?

The requirement here is not that the sets are perfect and polished, but only that you can get through the entire contents as they were intended to sound including the intros, and endings of each selection without stopping, or starting over. If you have never played live before in front of a real audience you will come to learn that no matter how much you prepare your sets you can never really know with 100% surety exactly how the audience is going to react or interact with your presentation.

You will also learn that although you get a certain reaction for something you do or play one time, the odds are that you will not get the exact same reaction the next time you do the same thing even if, or especially if, you try to do the same thing exactly the same way. Tightening and tweaking a set to its performance perfection can only be done to the fullest degree while you are on stage.

If you have one set, you are ready. Ready for what? You are ready to put your unique product into a package and start selling it. The next question is how do you put a live performance into a package. Well, in this instance I’m not talking about a “box-like” package. The kind of package that I am talking about has several components, some of them are tangible and some are intangible. I’m going to cover the intangible first.

In determining the readiness of your product you will have to consider your image. Make no mistake that I don’t believe there are any right images or wrong images. However your image on stage should be thought out and it should also be supportive of the sound you are making and most important it should appeal to the demographic (age, income level, social standing , lifestyle, etc.) of the audience you are targeting to buy your product. For example, if you have a butt rock band and your gimmick is dressing in drag, you probably won’t be getting or wanting to get bookings playing in Alaskan logging camps. You wouldn’t want to play the Apollo theatre dressed in klan hoods. You wouldn’t want to play chamber music and have one of the members of your group show up wearing purple spandex while the rest of your group arrives wearing white tie tuxedos.

Whether you want to play naked, or wrapped in a roll of orange shag carpeting while reading exerts from “Autobiography of a Western Yogi” like a friend of mine used to do, make sure that your appearance is thought out, planned, and an image that fits well into the types of venues you want to play while at the same time supporting the message you are trying to convey in the sound you make – whatever that may be. Once you have that image, be consistent. You want to be as consistent with your image on stage as you are with the type of sound you are producing. Even if your image is that you are inconsistent, be consistently inconsistent.

The reason for this is simple. Once you have a winning formula you want to be sure you consistently deliver the same quality product at all times so that if a person sees you do a show in January, that person is going to see the same level of performance(or better) when he brings three new friends to see you in June. Another reason for this is tied into the tangible aspects of the product package I’m going to cover in a minute. Simply put again, you want to be able to ensure that the club owner, booking agent, concert promoter, corporate party planner, wedding planner, etc. sees and hears the same performance (or better) as that person saw when he saw you live or looked through your promo kit.

The idea of a promo kit, which is the other part of this package, is the tangible part mentioned above. The promo kit, or media kit, is essentially your sales tool. It will include a small write up about your sound or your message, It might boast about your “draw”, or the number of tickets you can count on selling based on the size of your last show. It will also include something called a “Bio Sheet”. A bio sheet is a paper that includes very brief background and or personal history on each player in the group. Each bio should have no more that 1 paragraph and a picture. Next, you will need at least one photo of the group. This should be a black and white glossy 8″X10″. If you have the ability, it is a good idea to have the group or performer’s name, agents name , and a solid, professional contact phone number stripped into the bottom of the photo.

You might also want individual photos of each member. That is a matter of choice. Finally you will want a list of past and future show dates and places where the performances either have been or will take place. Naturally, if you have none of these you will not be able to include any. And, of course, if you have a finished demo CD or full length CD you should include this as well. Some experts will tell you that a demo or audition CD should not feature full length cuts of your sound and that they should only have three to four songs at the very most because club owners, promoters, etc don’t have time to listen to your entire collection of “Greatest Hits”. I’ll tell you that is a bunch of feeble minded crap from the butt of a bull.

If you have 13 finished cuts on a packaged CD, you just go right ahead and include that in your promo kit. I’ve been a club owner and a promoter and many were the times I kicked myself in the rump for not demanding full length or full content demos after hiring groups that sounded great on a couple of 30 second audition tracks only to find out that the only time they sounded good was on those 30 second spots, or that the rest of what a group played was totally different from the content on the brief demo I had heard. OK it wasn’t many times but it was enough to piss me off.

Remember you are only as strong as your weakest link. Give every aspect of your package the attention it would require if your very life depended on it and nothing less. At any given point in time, a person should be able to ask you about any individual aspect of your package and receive an answer from you that is essentially, “Perfect”. Shooting for perfection will get you bookings, keep you working at the highest pay scale, and put you on the road to success. Settling for anything less than perfection will make you just another egotistical schlub which is alright. The ones who are truly on their way up will need something to walk on. You will do just fine.

Web Site Review of Ligeti’s Spiderweb, an Interactive Music Education Web Site

Most of the web sites dedicated to the Hungro-Austrian composer, György Ligeti, are merely biographical text extracted from the Grove Dictionary of Music with so-called “permission” from the publisher. If an educated individual or music enthusiast wants to read the Grove Dictionary of Music, they will go to www.grovemusic.com and certainly not trust the information conveniently pawned off onto another web site. In other cases, the composer’s list of works is quite incomplete. This is not necessarily a major problem, unless the site is intended to be in the format of a standard biography. Since the majority of these sites, as mentioned above, are biographical they should include an extensive list of works so that we can hear a representative collection of the composer’s music. Taking these issues into account, it might be a surprise that my choice for the best Ligeti web site does not have a standard biography at all. It is the culmination of a project called the Ligeti Spiderweb and a three-day course supported by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Festival Hall. The nature of the web site (http://www.braunarts.com/ligeti) is interactive. It permits the user to become acquainted with the composer’s music and gain a rudimentary knowledge of his creative process; namely, the user can formulate his/her own judgment of Ligeti’s music with this newly acquired knowledge.

The main page may look somewhat eccentric at the onset. All it contains is a gigantic magnifying glass that encapsulates icons floating freely within the imaginary pane. If you are within the vein of most modern computer users, you will eventually be tempted to roll the mouse pointer over some of these little icons. Upon doing so, a description of the item is released. This tempts the user further and after finally double-clicking the icon, a new window opens with vital information. This represents the web site’s ingenuity and ease of use. Also, it can be perceived as a means for being metaphorical. It is similar to the phenomenon of music whereby the simple of effort of trying to peer more closely into it can yield an even more fascinating world.

Therefore, the information on this web site is clearly not intended to be a textual guide through the composer’s life or works. The web site is an interface between the composer, his work, and the user. It is reminiscent of a pre-concert conversation with the composer, who generally will not just stand before an audience, recount all their accomplishments, and say “goodnight.” They may mention aspects of their life that are meaningful, somehow related to the creative process, or a particular work. For example, clicking the ‘folk music’ icon explains Ligeti’s influence from Bartok and Hungarian nationalism. The folk music page, correspondingly, contains a sample of the third movement of Ligeti’s “Viola Sonata.” In addition, it suggests listening to one bar of the “Viola Sonata” to generate your own piece of music. Within a single link among many on this homepage the user is briefly educated in the history of the composer, his influences, receives a sound sample of his work, and is encouraged at the very least to attempt to see what it is like to write folk music.

Furthermore, there are visual representations of the scores throughout some of the pages. This is particularly helpful when studying his use of clusters on the score and analyses of African rhythms in his “Piano Concerto.” The web site juxtaposes the actual analyses of the Yoruba rhythms from the ethnomusicologist, Nigel Osbourne, against the score for the “Piano Concerto.” Likewise, when discussing “Le Grande Macabre” there are sound samples, snapshots of the scores, and a brief explanation of Ligeti’s incorporation of humor in his work. The items discussed are only a small case sample of the web page. For a more in-depth look at its features, it must be visited.

Most importantly, the web site grants the user relative freedom in gaining a perspective of a composer. There are no explicit descriptions of his work as being “avant garde” or “experimental.” The choice is left to the user to decide how they might categorize or illustrate the music. This is especially rare when approaching a composer such as Ligeti, whose work is often misunderstood by the mainstream. At the same time, a music scholar can easily speculate upon a study of Ligeti’s music without being governed by principles. The site channels his music, history, and inspiration into tangible sets that can be analyzed in further detail, if a researcher is using the site as a catalyst for a more extensive written thesis.

The Ligeti Spiderweb is a web site that makes tremendous use of the vast resources the Internet has to offer. The multimedia features stand as not mere novelties or entertainment. They are harnessed into an excellent learning tool that is an admirable and very accessible resource for people with all levels of knowledge. The information is quite reliable since the London Philharmonic and a professional arts organization called, Braunarts, supports the page in large part. Braunarts excels in its presentation of performing artists and works on the web. They even have an award-winning computer program that can use scientific research on the Antarctic to compose music. If the web site is too progressive for an individual’s tastes, it is an excellent companion to a traditional, abridged biography. After reading an abridged biography, it is revealed that the same information is contained within the Ligeti web site. The information is simply presented through a different medium, one I would argue is more in agreement with what the CERN World Wide Web team originally envisioned.