Theatre Arts West, a new performing and visual arts company being formed in Temecula, introduced themselves at the Old Town Merc Theater on Wednesday, Jan. 23, with a theatrical staged reading of “ART.”
“What is art?” was the integral theme throughout. After the staged reading, artists of every genre came together for a collaborate discussion.
“ART” was chosen as the first of six stage reading projects.
Stage readings are a uniquely and challenging genre in which an actor has few props to work off of conveying all that must be conveyed using only voice (tone and inflection) and body language (a gesture or facial expression).
In “ART” there were three props: a white painting, a window view painting, and a dropper bottle filled with a tincture of herbs. The white painting was by Ed Coonce. The window painting was by Robin Golden.
An overview of the night
The theme of the night, “What is art?,” wove three friends into a serious collision course of banter and rhetoric over the subject, which grew into a crescendo of emotion testing their relationships. The cast featured three experienced actors, who are all multi-talented in other genres, as well – Lorin Dreyfuss, Ed Coonce, and Jeff Jones.
In the play, Serge – played by Lorin Dreyfuss – buys a white painting for the sum of $200,000. Whether it is “true” art and worth this price is the question. Marc, played by Jeff Jones, is upset by this and fears his friend has been taken. Yvan, played by Ed Coonce, is complacent, trying to please both sides. Each man is in a different stage of life: divorced, married, and engaged, which plays a part in creating more drama and a different introspect between these friends.
This well-acted theatrical reading was exceptionally timed and believable in its delivery. The clash of thought and feeling while serious in nature lead the absorbed audience into spontaneous heartfelt laughter throughout. This laughter was a testament to the ability of the actors to project the absurdity of arguments for the sake of arguments, a common human condition everyone can relate to. In the end, this 55-minute staged reading lead three friends to self-discovery, honesty and forbearance.
The purpose of the reading was to spark interest in those attending, to come together to explore how to better promote and combine all venues of the arts, and to create something unique to the area which was discussed after the play, an idea close and dear to the heart of Artistic Director and Founder of Theatre Arts West Gailee Walker Wells.
“It has been 19 years since ‘Art’ premiered at the Comédie des Champs-Elysées in Paris. The argument ‘What is art?’ is even more relevant today. Last year, a Picasso hanging in the Houston Museum was vandalized by a street painter who was then given a gallery showing which ignited a public outcry. Recently, articles have been cropping up in magazines and newspapers asking, ‘What is art? Is art important in our lives, and if so, who is supporting the artist and the arts? Do many Americans care?’ Theaters struggle, galleries close, and dance companies stumble. I have chosen ‘ART’ as Theatre Arts West’s first project because I passionately believe that if the arts are going to continue to enrich, enliven and elevate lives, create a community rich in the arts and draw visitors from beyond, who simply come here to experience the talents of artists, actors, dancers and musicians. We as artists of every medium must dance, speak and sculpt, as one growing talent that demands to be seen, heard and felt,” said Gailee Walker Wells, Artistic Director.
“ART” was written by Yasmina Reza and translated by Christopher Hampton. It was presented by the Theater Foundation and was a production of Theatre Arts West.
“What began as a germinating seed a year ago has been made possible by the incredible support of Bobbi Boes, Beatriz Barnett, the Theater Foundation, Temecula Presents, the City of Temecula, and the unbelievable staff of Old Town Community Theater,” said Wells.
Theatre Arts West is devoted to promoting all genres of art. There are projects in the early stages to combine the arts to create new and exciting projects. Their website will have a place to post bio’s and artist’s pictures, paintings, music, etc.
The next production will be “Boomer’s Rock” written by Gailee Walker Wells. “Boomers Rock” won the James Irvine Individual Artist Grant. It is a hilarious comedy about Baby Boomers who lost their boom while celebrating the greatest rock ‘n roll music ever.
Join the cast after the show for karaoke and a birthday party on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Merc. To learn more, go to