"False Promises/Nos Engañaron"


"False Promises/Nos Engañaron"




The San Francisco Mime Troupe was an avant-garde, “guerilla theater” troupe created by R.G. Davis in 1959 and dedicated to political satire. Peter Berg directed the group throughout its heyday in the 1960s. Initially performing in lofts and basements, the SFMT gained notoriety during the mid- and late-1960s for its rambunctious free performances outdoors in public parks, particularly Golden Gate Park. Their performances targeted political repression in the U.S., American military intervention abroad, racism, sexism, materialism and capitalism. Seen as a part of the countercultural movement, the SFMT also had several well-known run-ins with law enforcement, often charged with “obscenity”. Their 1965 Minstrel Show, Or Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel, was performed in black face and offended some — both black and white. In another piece, an actor played a military policeman who paraded prisoners into Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza and began to abuse them. The troupe was also arrested on the campus of the University of California-Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement. Berg later went on to co-found, the Diggers with Emmett Grogan, a collective that brought a sense of theater to their charity work with the hippies and the poor in San Francisco.

This poster by Jane Norling, was created for the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s 1976 original production of the play, "False Promises/Nos Enganaron.” According to the Troupe’s website, provides the following summary of the play: “Set in a Colorado mining town in 1898 where Mexican and American workers are organizing a copper mine, this simple story evolves into an epic that links the stories of Mexican and white miners, black and white dance hall queens, and a black soldier to the global machinations of Teddy Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan. The play also ties in U.S. expansion into Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Hawaii with the development of the American West.”

The play was written by Joan Holden, directed by Arthur Holden, with music and lyrics by Andrea Snow, Bruce Barthol and Xavier Pacheco. It featured Marie Acosta, Lonnie Ford, Sharon Lockwood, Melody James, Ed Levey, Dan Chumley, Esteban Oropeza, Patricia Silver and Deb'bora Gilyard and a band, the “Rough Riders,” including Bruce Barthol, Barry Levitan, David Topham and Jack Wickert. The production toured West Germany, Italy and France after its initial run in San Francisco.


artist Jane Norling


Roz Payne


Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln






artist Jane Norling, “"False Promises/Nos Engañaron",” Roz Payne Sixties Archive, accessed June 18, 2024, https://rozsixties.unl.edu/items/show/56.

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