Working with My Heroes

It was 1972, I was walking past my school, Berkeley High, and music was blaring from Provo Park a block away. Provo was my park, where I spent hours balancing on a rope tied between two trees, learning new club routines, and practicing handstands and dive rolls. The other denizens of the park were stoned hippies and the occasional picnickers — no bands playing loud enough to rock City Hall across the street.

Curious, I walked into the park and saw a make-shift wooden stage full of actors and musicians singing, juggling, tumbling, and acting in front of a cheering, laughing crowd. A hand painted sign read, “The San Francisco Mime Troupe” and they were performing Dragon Lady’s Revenge, an anti-war musical that would go on to win an Obie award.

Dragon Lady's Revenge

I was in awe. These people were mixing music and circus, theater and politics, tragedy and comedy, all at once and all on one stage.

That moment, that thought, has guided my career ever since. And many of the people who performed in Provo Park that day became my teachers, mentors, castmates, colleagues and friends – Joan Mankin, Jael Weisman, Randy Craig, Harvey Robb, Larry Pisoni, Andrea Snow, Sharon Lockwood, Jackie Wickert, Bruce Barthol, Michael Christensen.

On May 7th I’ll share a stage with Andrea Snow, who played the title character, and Jael Weisman, who directed the play. Andrea’s piece was written by another artist I’ve known for decades, Emily Keeler.

It’s wonderful to get to work with your heroes.

SFArtsED presents Andrea Snow and Jeff Raz reading “Love Death and Circus” and “Dark Days and a Black Dog” at the Lost Church on Columbus Ave in North Beach on May 7th. Doors open at 7:30pm. For more information on the Lost Church site click here, and for information on Facebook about this event click here.

Jeff in the early days