In 1984, the San Francisco Mime Troupe celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary with two major productions and a major announcement. The productions were Steeltown, a musical about the current plight of the progressive labor movemat, and 1985, an updating of Dickens' A Christmas Carol in which Ebenezer Jones, a lapsed '60s activist, receives ghostly visits from Richard Nixon (the Spirit of the Past), Nancy Reagan (the Spirit of the Present) and Jones' own daughter (who shows him what the future will be like with a Reagan-appointed Supreme Court). As usual, Joan Holden had an important role in both, as chief writer on Steeltown, and as an important contributor to script revisions on 1985. Holden first began working with the Mime Troup in 1967 when her adaptation of Goldoni's L'amante militaire was performed over fifty times in the parks of San Francisco, and she was one of the original twelve members when the Mime Troup reconstituted itself as a collective in 1970. Since then, she has been the group's principle writer.
The Mime Troupe's major announcement in 1984 concerned an 'Ongoing Ensemble Award' of $75,000 from the NEA for use during its 1986 season, with a possibility of renewal through 1990. Since its inception, the San Francisco Mime Troupe has declined to apply for Federal subsidy as a matter of conscience; Holden comments at length on the group's change of attitude in the interview below.