African-American Shakespeare Company
San Francisco Playhouse
Michael Gene Sullivan is an actor, writer, director, blogger, and teacher committed to developing theatre of social and economic justice, of political self-determination, and, of course, musical comedy. Michael is also a Collective Member and Resident Director of the Tony and OBIE award-winning, always revolutionary, and never, ever silent San Francisco Mime Troupe, where he has written, acted in, and/or directed over thirty plays.
Michael is also an alum of the nationally-acclaimed Playwright's Foundation, and was awarded an Artist Fellowship from the Djerassi Arts Center, and in 2022 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
(For more about Michael and his wife, Velina Brown, see the article about them in American Theatre Magazine.)
As an actor:
Michael has acting credits at the Bay Area's four Tony award-winning regional theatres:
The American Conservatory Theater, The San Francisco Mime Troupe, Theatreworks, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He has also performed at the California Shakespeare Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company, San Francisco Playhouse, The Magic Theatre, The Marin Theatre Company, Symmetry Theatre, Central Works, Word For Word, The Lorraine Hansberry Theater, African-American Shakespeare Company, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, as well performances off-Broadway, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Asian People's Theater Festival (Hong Kong), The Festival of People's Theatre (Canada), the Kwachon International Outdoor Theatre Festival (Korea), the Israel Theatre Festival, and the International Festival of Theatre Action (Belgium). Since 1988 he has also been a principal member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, where he has acted in, directed, and/or directed over thirty productions in the US and abroad.
To visit Michael's acting resume click here.
As a writer:
Michael's most recent play, THE GREAT KHAN, had its World Premiere at San Francisco Playhouse and San Diego REPertory Theatre in the 2021/22 season.
THE GREAT KHAN is a revolutionary multicultural comedy/drama about the effects of systemic racism on two Black American teens.
Then Genghis Khan shows up.
Leon Jones and Brian Rivera, SF Playhouse
1984, his critically-acclaimed stage adaptation of George Orwell's classic novel, opened at Los Angeles' Actors' Gang Theatre under the direction of Academy Award winning actor Tim Robbins. 1984 has had repeated extended runs in LA, toured to Australia, Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and 40 of the United States. In 2013 1984 was published in the United States, Canada, and Spain, is available in six languages, and in 2019 opened at the Theatre on Podol, the newly designated National Theater of Ukraine in Kiev.
In the 2019/20 season, as well as other productions of Michael's1984 around the country, New York's Aquila Theatre had a 35 city tour of 1984, and the prestigious Alley Theatre produced the adaptation under the direction of Artistic Director Rob Melrose - which Wall Street Journal theatre critic Terry Teachout picked as one of the best productions of the year. (click here for a calendar of productions of Michael's 1984.)
A contributing writer on San Francisco Mime Troupe shows since the mid-nineties, in 2000 Michael became Resident Playwright for the Troupe, and has written and co-written some of the biggest hits it the history of the company, including 1600 TRANSYLVANIA AVENUE, MR. SMITH GOES TO OBSCURISTAN (with Josh Kornbluth), VERONIQUE OF THE MOUNTIES, GODFELLAS, RED STATE, (nominated for The San Francisco Bay Area Critic's Circle Award for Best Original Script of 2008,) the Mime Troupe's 50th Anniversary production TOO BIG TO FAIL, (nominated for Best Original Script of 2009), POSIBILIDAD, or DEATH OF THE WORKER, and RIPPLE EFFECT (with Tanya Shaffer and Eugenie Chan), FREEDOMLAND (nominated Best World Premiere Musical, Theatre Bay Area Awards 2015), SCHOOLED (with Eugenie Chan), 2017's WALLS, 2019's TREASURE ISLAND.
During the pandemic years of 2020/21 Michael also wrote and starred in a ten episode detective noir/sci-fi/horror/adventure radio series TALES OF THE RESISTANCE I and II, and adapted to the radio his labor-oriented version of Charles DIckens' Christmas classic, A RED CAROL.
Michael's other produced plays include RECIPE, an all-woman political farce (Centralworks, 2014), his one person show, DID ANYONE EVER TELL YOU - YOU LOOK LIKE HUEY P. NEWTON?, which premiered at the New York Fringe Festival, and went on to award winning and critically acclaimed runs at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, and at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, and his Zoom adaptation of H.G. Wells' THE WAR OF THE WORLDS for the University of San Francisco.
For a list of Michael's plays and review quotes click here.
As a director:
Michael has staged several of SFMT's most popular shows, including SCHOOLED, FOR THE GREATER GOOD, RED STATE, VERONIQUE OF THE MOUNTIES, 1600 TRANSYLVANIA AVENUE, COAST CITY CONFIDENTIAL, KILLING TIME, co-directed MAKING A KILLING and, MR. SMITH GOES TO OBSCURISTAN, and directed the award-winning production of I AIN’T YO UNCLE.
Other directing credits include THE LAST SERMON OF SISTER AMANI (Theatre First), JULIUS CAESAR (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival) JULIUS CAESAR and COLORED MUSEUM (African American Shakespeare Company), DEATH AND THE MAIDEN (Mystic Bison Theatre), HONG KONG MEMORIES, EXOTIC FORTUNES (Castle Peak Productions), STEW, ENVELOPE BOY, (Ironworkers Local 202) and A DAY OF ABSENCE (East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.) He was co-Artistic Director of the Street of Dreams Theater ('80 - ’86), Associate Artistic Director of the Lorraine Hansberry Theater ('93 -’94), and is since 1994 he's been co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. From 2008 - 2010 he directed FRAU BACKFEIFENGESICHT'S SPECTACLE OF PERFECTION and THE SLAPSTICK SLAVIC CABARET for the all- woman, all-amazing, and all-hilarious CIRCUS FINELLI.
For a list of Michael's teaching and directing credits click here.
As a blogger:
For ten years Michael was a regular contributor to Huffingtonpost.com, one of the foremost political sites on the internet. He has spoken politically at events throughout the Bay Area, at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and teaches a workshop for political speakers, "SAY IT LOUD! How to communicate your passion and message, and inspired your audience to action!"
Michael has been a guest lecturer on artistic activism at Yale University, and has lectured on playwriting and play creation at Stanford University, The National Theatre Conservatory, Trinity College, Dartmouth College, University of Southern California, University of California at Humboldt, New Colleges of San Francisco and Santa Rosa, and the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis. In 2018 Michael began teaching playwriting for the American Conservatory Theater's Studio A.C.T, and for the past 15 years has been principal teacher for the San Francisco Mime Troupe's acclaimed Young California Writer's Project, which places a professional playwright/teacher in class for 10 weeks. Michael mentors student writers as they create their own one-act plays, which are produced with professional actors and directors in a one-night festival.
Michael's awards include The San Francisco Chronicle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting, The Bay Guardian's Upstage/Downstage Award and San Francisco Bay Area Drama Critic Circle Solo Performance Award nomination for DID ANYONE EVER TELL YOU..., The Dean Goodman Choice Award for Principal Performer, and the Israel Baran Award for RECIPE. Michael is a two-time Theatre Bay Area CA$H Grant award winner, was awarded the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Award for Best Direction for I AM A MAN at the Harbor Theatre, and his re-staging of SFMT's I AIN'T YO UNCLE won several Dramalogue Awards, including Outstanding Direction. In 2015 Michael was given Stanford University's Equity Award for using his work to help achieve racial, gender, and age balance on stage, and in 2016 he was honored by Theatre Bay Area as one of "40 stellar theatre artists, supporters and champions that have changed the face of Bay Area theatre."