Monday, January 23, 2017

A Shining Light in Artists Alley...

From time to time, I have posts form other artists and writers contribute to this  blog.  Such is the post today, this story from Joanne Tawfilis who is the Founder of the Muramid Mural Museum and Art Center. She has brought new life and excitement to our City of Oceanside as a world wide contributor of the Arts.             

Twelfth Night” – A LIVE MURAL at the Muramid Mural Museum and Art Center

Amazing storms hit our beautiful Southern California coast this past week. Oh, how the howling winds and pounding rains pelted away at the metal roof as it felt like never ending rivers of rains would never cease. There were moments of quiet recession when the rains slowed down or stopped for a few moments, but would suddenly find the dark grey clouds roll right on back, returning again, descending with an even more aggressive piercing downpour upon Pacific Coast Highway.
But there, almost hidden in a shimmering new cultural phenomenon in a place called Artist Alley was the Muramid Mural Museum and Art Center. It was there that a merry cast of actors and production crew members rehearsed incessantly, built amazing set designs, sewed away on beautiful costumes and then for three weekends became the impassioned cast in a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The production, directed and produced by Gailee Walker Wells came to fruition with packed and nearly packed audiences giving way to intense and profound focus on the determination to make Theatre Arts West a reality.

The Muramid Mural Museum is focused on murals as its title implies. The museum resides in the center of the Artist Alley Complex in the former “LIVE” space once occupied by an antique shop, a dry cleaning operation and an art gallery or two. However, through the dedicated effort of Ms. Walker-Wells, the metal roof, cold cement floor and open space served as center stage for a pretty cool presentation of a seldom performed style of theater in North County.
It can be said that this writer is not an expert on theater performance or Shakespeare for that matter, but it has to be shared how the cast was truly courageous, determined, and dedicated to everything that should have “stopped the show” but together maintained how “the show must go on!” The environmental issues and Mother Nature all worked to try to deter the cast from making this debut performance, a failure. There were the circumstances of no heating system, that metal roof, the museum surroundings and lack of a bonafide stage that could reasonably accommodate a full blown play. Despite the fact that props, lighting and sound equipment were brought in, other issues like the lack of dressing rooms, mirrors for makeup preparation, storage for wardrobe and more could have been the bain of a performers commitment. Instead, the cast members, from those who performed the briefest of parts, to the stars of the play, kept that love of acting foremost in their efforts. There were two (or maybe more) times that the electricity went out and during tonight’s first half of the final performance because of the untimeliness of Southern California’s worst storm in history, the electricity for the whole building went dark!
And here is where these performers and the audience rocked my world. Flashlights, cell phone lights flickered on and off as cast members who were not “on stage” for the scene at hand literally ran from side to side of the staging area and in and out of converted “stage doors” and with tender expertise and of knowing their lines, supported their cast mates by shining their lights of love and care onto their fellow and sister actors. Several members of the audience did the same and I was touched remembering how this is exactly how our museum came into being.

It is that kind of dedication that I witnessed how they ran in and out of the pounding cold raindrops, some of them already sick with colds from late night rehearsals and lack of heat, to ensure the audience could enjoy a seamless performance that to the cast was void of normal stage accommodations and comforts to any deserving performer.
Yes, I stood on the sidelines delighted that just before the end of the first half, the building electric service flashed back on and despite the cold that had begun to chill me to the bone, I found myself affectionately feeling warmed at how the audience hung in there with great anticipation to see the second and final half of the performance.
And so, the show went on with the laughter and applause it so richly deserved and as the imaginary curtain came down and each of the actors took their individual and group bows, the small audience and I stood up and applauded with vigor and admiration. I had looked upon the faces of the actors throughout the rehearsals and performances as they reveled in their roles during those nights of acting with great intensity. As the owner of this “temporary staging”, I was proud of Gailee, proud of the cast and proud that despite the lack of so many infrastructures, that the passion behind the art, the dedication and determination of the “artists” and audience support showed us once again, how important the arts are in our communities. And that’s why the Muramid Mural Museum exists. It is a hallowed space, a place of good karma and welcoming warmth to artists and those that follow and love the arts. For this, I am grateful to my beloved husband’s belief and support and know that he would be proud of tonight’s peek at a classical art form that graced our community within these walls. I am thankful for our all-volunteer artists and staff and to our friends and family who helped us make all of this possible with a live mural of performing arts!
I don’t know if there is a possibility of nominating the producer/director or actors for some kind of an official award, but the reward is sweet and real, and what has always sustained me. The reward is a solid belief that knowing that the arts; be they visual, performing, spoken word, music, dance, poetry and other art forms would always be what cheers us during the darkest of storms (environmental or spiritual), whether they be in a little out of the way place called Artist Alley, in Hollywood, USA or any magical theater or stage throughout the world.
Joanne Tawfilis

January 22, 2017