Theatre for a Cause

blog_occupyplayersFRESH DIRT > Occupy Santa Cruz protestors get creative

The scene outside of the Chase Bank on 41st Avenue in Capitola is a familiar one these days. As customers rushed in and out of the branch on Friday, Nov. 4, Occupy Santa Cruz protestors tried to communicate their message of frustration and a call for change. But the protestors have shown a departure from their usual tactics with a public display of performance art.

The protestors sound like the ones posted up at cities around the country: they cry out against so-called “big banks” and perceived corporate greed. But in Santa Cruz, Occupy protestors are getting creative with their message.

Instead of the same old signs and chants, a group calling themselves “The Occupied Players” performed a series of short vignettes in front of each of the four major banking institutions on 41st Avenue.


The troupe’s performance aimed to draw attention to Bank Transfer Day, a campaign aimed at motivating people to close their accounts at large banks and move their money to local credit unions. The national event was created by Kristen Christian, a small business owner from Los Angeles. Though she isn’t affiliated with the national Occupy movement, Bank Transfer Day has received considerable support from Occupy protestors.

The skits were largely written by Mythrell Borwerman and Alissa Lund, a recent theatre graduate of UC Santa Cruz. Michael Donehoo, a 41-year-old unemployed resident of Santa Cruz, perfectly assumed the role of the evil, greedy banker, complete with a well-tailored pinstripe suit and a comically maniacal laugh. The troupe hoped to garner local support for Bank Transfer Day with their performance.

“We wanted people to move their money out of big banks and into local credit unions,” says Lund. “At the very least, we engaged people to ask what we were doing and take our flyers and go home and think about it more.”

The troupe performed four separate skits, each one tailored to the particular perceived misdeeds of Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Bank of America. The Occupied Players encouraged patrons of the Capitola bank branches to close their accounts and move their money to local institutions, like Bay Federal Credit Union, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union or Patelco Credit Union.

While some customers bristled at the protestors’ presence, others agreed with their goals and showed their support. Several drivers honked their horns in encouragement and a few even voiced their support as they sat in traffic. As the protestors performed in front of Chase Bank, a young woman drove past them in a blue Volkswagen Jetta and shouted, “I just closed my account!”

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