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article imageOp-Ed: Live Theater goes on in San Francisco, despite everything Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Nov 18, 2012 in Entertainment
San Francisco - Even with limited venue space, high overhead costs and troubles with parking and public transit, live performance in San Francisco continues to thrive.
It thrives mostly because of dedicated people like actor Tim Vigil and energetic, determined directors like Marcia Kimmell. On November 15, a local home-grown production premiered at the Royce Gallery called, "Stardom - the Musical - A Call to Our Oneness."
As one of the world's "most popular" cities, any space, especially performance space is limited. This is why the City's theater community does what it can to find venues just about anywhere. San Francisco's Mission District, while certainly a distant spot compared to the bright lights of Broadway in New York City, has become the impromptu center for the arts. Ask any artist or performer in San Francisco and they like Vigil have either gone to, auditioned for or appeared in a production in the Mission District or some where near there like the South of Market Area. (Often referred to by residents as the SOMA).
So it is no surprise if an old warehouse or auto mechanic garage is converted into an art gallery or theater space. Such is the case with the Royce Gallery, which was once a warehouse on Miraposa Street in the Mission District is now an art gallery and performance space.
Painter and surrealist artist Cynthia Tom knows all too well the limited number of venues for artists. This is something that any artist of any type or form be it performance, music or fine art, must accept. "Trying to find a venue or secure a venue is part of the challenge," noted landscape painter Xavier Castellanos. His works have been featured in some unlikely places for an art exhibit, such as Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco. Yet for a city like San Francisco the likelihood of just about any place being turned into an art gallery or performance space is becoming more common. Castellanos also featured his works at the Alliance Francais twice. That is how much San Franciscans are now accustomed to the arts being featured just about anywhere.
Of course it does help if transportation and parking will cooperate with the arts. Parking and public transit is not always easy and art and theater patrons must understand this about the San Francisco scene. This was certainly the situation with this reporter and the final performance of "Stardom - The Musical" on Saturday, Nov. 17.
To make getting there more complicated it rained that Saturday evening. Yet as the old saying goes "the show must go on." Rain and inconsistent public transit was the least of actor Tim Vigil's problems. He confided to this reporter more than once that he was worried about all the changes to the script during the rehearsals."A song would be added and then taken away and then put back again," he said.
The musical's director Dino Defilippi described the theatrical creation as " a new myth for the human family." Kimmell who co-directed the production described it as "An adventurous journey through the evolution of consciousness, the love story of every woman and every man."
With character portrayals of "Maya Earth," "Pluto" and "Tar" who represents 'everyman' the production was filled with symbolism and allegory. Vigil portrayed "Pluto." This reporter wondered that with all the changes in script and staging, perhaps the concepts of the play were a bit far reaching?
Nevertheless, Vigil was determined to carry on as the director Defilippi announced that the actors would keep scripts in hand and it would be announced to the audience that the performance was "a workshop."
No doubt to this reporter it was a work in process, originally conceived over 30 years ago by Defilippi. Still as told by Vigil, "the audience did not seem to mind he said, and they applauded, so that really put my anxieties to rest." Vigil had told this reporter earlier before the final run through before opening night, "I am not going to worry or get upset about this I am just going to do my best." He also mentioned that most of the songs were good and thoughtfully composed. Yet getting everyone and everything together in time for opening night was not easy. Vigil was happy to say later that about 50 people showed up for the last night of "Stardom" and that "all went surprisingly well," he said.
What is unique about the creating forces behind this production, namely Defilippi and Kimmell is the unabashed enthusiasm of anything theatrical. Flair and just a touch of eccentricity seem to be at the heart of their endeavors. This reporter had experience in several acting schools in the City, years prior and dogged determination seems to be the intense 'modus operandi' of Kimmell and her associates.
Yet, knowing what is known about the San Francisco art and theater scene, perhaps a director, producer and actor must be determined despite all odds. And, at some point truly serious art and theater patrons must be the same, braving difficult parking, unreliable public transit and out of the way and out of the ordinary performance venues.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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