1960s Guerrilla Theatre: Fascinating Resources from the Decade of Protests

Guerrilla theatre is a form of theatrical protest popularised in America in the 1960s in its purest form by the San Fransisco Mime Troupe and to some extent by the Bread and Puppet Theatre, among others. Commedia dell’Arte and satire were actually the San Fransisco Mime Troupe’s principal modes of performance, not mime, while the Bread and Puppet Theatre focused on street parades with huge, oversized puppets. At its most effective, guerrilla theatre was left-wing political activism in the form of avant-garde performance in non-traditional spaces such as public parks, sidewalks and city streets. – Justin Cash

Guerrilla Theatre Resources

Original transcript of R.G. Davis (San Fransisco Mime Troupe) manifesto “Guerrilla Theatre” from the Summer 1966 issue of Tulane Drama Review.

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Have You Heard of the San Francisco Mime Troupe?

Essay by Jeffrey C. Jaffe linking the characteristics of this form of theatre to Augusto Boal’s forum theatre and the medieval practice of mumming.

Wikipedia entry on the origins of the form, its practice, and post-1970s performance theatre.

Guerrilla Theatre San Fransisco Mime Troupe

Essay on the emergence of this genre detailing the form’s three main phases in 1960s America.

In guerrilla theatre there are no ‘actors’ or ‘audience’ in the formal sense. In the unfolding of a guerrilla skit the separation between the players and the spectators is destroyed as the spectator becomes organically part of the action.

Lucas, M. “Guerrilla Theatre, the Esthetic, and Technology,” Anarchos 3 (Spring 1969)

Useful section of an article by Angela Rothman on the history of the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

A brief history of the Bread and Puppet Theatre group.

Guerrilla Theater Documentary

Excellent article by Firat Güllü about the activities of the San Fransisco Mime Troupe in the 1960s, their ideals, links to Commedia dell’Arte, and the splinter group the Diggers in New York.

Essay on the common features of guerrilla theatre and the various forms it can take.

Some great images of The San Fransisco Diggers and their guerrilla theatre puppet shows in the mid-1960s.

Introduction to the San Francisco Mime Troupe 2012

Academic thesis discussing the genre’s lead-up, birth, and other agitational theatre groups in America.

NPR article on the history America’s Bread and Puppet Theater, a political / guerrilla theatre company featuring oversized puppets.

Rite of Guerrilla Theater
Elements of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty in this Guerrilla Theatre example, assaulting the senses of those in the university lecture theatre.

Article discussing guerrilla theatre and its links to Augusto Boal’s forum theatre and the Medieval practice of mumming.

New York Times article celebrating the 50th anniversary of the San Fransisco Mime Troupe in 2009 with a look back on its history.

Introduction to the San Francisco Mime Troupe

Academic thesis by Angela Rothman “Revolutionary Theatricality: Dramatized American Protest, 1967-1968” includes a detailed investigation of the San Fransisco Mime Troupe and other guerrilla theatre groups.

Essay on the power of puppets in guerrilla theatre and other forms of political activism.

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