Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

August 16, 2010 at 6:41pm

Performance piece "Seaside Opera" arms adolescents

The Seaside Opera, performed by Mimi Allin, is a combination of movement and poetry designed to illicit feelings one might feel while at the beach. Photography by J.M. Simpson

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1:20 p.m.: I arrive on Pacific Avenue, relieved to find a space in one-hour parking. I'm here for Seaside Opera, a performance art piece by A K Mimi Allin, aka ThePoetessAtGreenLake.blogspot.com. She promises a 10-15 minute celebration of "sea-inspired operas" in Tollefson Plaza. Aha, I think: Idomeneo. I sang "Placido è il mar" back in college choir. Andiamo! Seaside Opera is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.  Allin puts the finishing touches on a rickety lifeguard station. It's 90 degrees but feels hotter.

1:30 p.m.: I stroll through James Sinding's installation Letters, which consists of hundreds of wooden, multicolored alphabetic letters distributed on the plaza steps. The artist encourages us to arrange these letters into meaningful phrases.  Thus far the height of our ingenuity appears to be first names, "LOVE YOU MOM," and "PANTS ON THE GROUND."

1:45 p.m.: Allin puts on an LP of tango music as played on the accordion. She finishes arranging her space and drives away to change clothes. The lifeguard station stands empty, ringed by beach paraphernalia including floaties and plastic lobsters.

1:50 p.m.: Two pubescent sk8er bois commence flipping 360s just as loud as they possibly can five feet from Allin's set.

2:05 p.m.: Allin returns to gaze at the skaters, willing them, it seems, to take up residence elsewhere. They're not very good, and a botched move launches a skateboard at our photographer's leg. I retrieve the board and approach the skaters. "Hey, there," I smile, "how ‘bout you give her fifteen minutes of silence so I don't have to throw your board into traffic?  Cool?" The skater is taken aback by this and reconvenes with his buddy at a nearby table.

2:08 p.m.: Mindful of expensive parking infractions, I introduce myself to Allin and ask if she'll be starting soon. "At 2," she assures me. "It's 2 o'clock now." It isn't. I'm looking at my cell phone. It's 2:08.  I shrug and back away.

2:09 p.m.: Allin loads water pistols from a pail.  She waves lazily at the skaters, then aims a spritz at my notebook and me. She misses.

2:10 p.m.: She approaches the skaters and hands them loaded water pistols.  They're delighted by this and immediately faux-murder each other. Allin chases them around the plaza, sometimes threatening to splash them with the remnants in the pail. Are they plants? I can't tell. They seem as confused by her behavior as I am, but hey: Free weapons.

2:13 p.m.: Allin climbs the plaza steps, changes the LP to "Ride of the Valkyries," and dances about like a contestant on So You Think You're a Ballerina.  "Theme music!" cry the skaters, who continue to pester and shoot her.

2:17 p.m.: "Ride of the Valkyries" repeats. This Wagnerian scene, by the way, is set on a mountain, not a beach. Allin salutes the horizon. She somehow accomplishes this without appearing touched in the head.

2:20 p.m.: Allin retrieves her pail of water and schleps away. I don't know if the skaters were part of the act. I'm not convinced the act is over. I'm not 100 percent sure it's begun. But I am about to get a ticket, so I run for my car.

This is the part where I'm told I don't get performance art.  Still, what might be dismissed as "flyweight" and/or "masturbatory" can become "unpolished" or "charmingly goofy" when it's free.

Seaside Opera

Through Aug. 21, every half hour on the half-hour, 2-7 p.m., Free
Tollefson Plaza, Pacific Ave. at South 17th Street, Tacoma
part of Spaceworks Tacoma

LINK: More Seaside Opera photos in our Photo Hot Spot

LINK: Spaceworks in the windows

Filed under: Arts, Tacoma, Theater,

Comments for "Performance piece "Seaside Opera" arms adolescents" (4)

Weekly Volcano is not responsible for the content of these reviews. Weekly Volcano reserves the right to remove reviews at their discretion.

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Just Because said on Aug. 16, 2010 at 11:36pm

Can they wrap it up a little early on Saturday?? please.. I can't say why but gaga oh lala please?

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A K Mimi Allin said on Aug. 17, 2010 at 11:30am

Thankful to be viewed and reviewed and yet surprised not to be spoken to at all. I myself was happy to incorporate the skateboards and found them to be sweet, open, generous and fun. They were, in fact, the only users in the park when I arrived and so I quickly found a way to incorporate them as any good artist would. I offered them a part in the play, which they were quick to accept. I found them to be respectful of me, my performance and the stage and believe them to be an asset to the park. These same boys interacted with me for over 2 hours and took various parts and were delighted to be photographed. They later brought their friends to see. Fans! In return, I am theirs.

I'd planned to perform for 15 mins every half hour, but went straight through for the first 2 hours and then stayed in the park until 8pm as there were families coming in with children waiting to be seated at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

What a hot beginning it was!! One of my records melted (and is now unusable). I took refuge in the cascading pools from time to time to keep myself from melting and filled my bucket (which has holes) and carried it on my head as you can see which kept me cool.

Here's a little bit about my experience and some idea on how to view this piece. This is a mishmash of ideas that centers on a seaside theme set to opera music (on vinyl records). My movements (gesture, work, play, dance) come in response to the environment and to the music and props (squirt guns, fish, bucket, lobsters, umbrella, seashell mobile) and to my costumes (dresses, robes, swimsuits, skirts, &c). The music is also a mix, of sea-inspired operas, great short operas and carnival and accordion music. The music is meant to invoke an audio-visual landscape and to encourage some visioning on behalf of the viewer. I am not performing a set piece of movements over and over again but am exploring the plaza as if it were a beach and, I, its sole beachcomber. I'm having some fun in the space, enjoying the weather and water, and invite you too, whomever you are, to free yourself and have some fun too. See you in Tollefson!

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Melanie Manista-Rushforth said on Aug. 18, 2010 at 7:14am

I do not understand performance art either...Maybe it's the Virgo in me.

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A K Mimi Allin said on Aug. 18, 2010 at 11:07am

I wanted to add how terrific J. M. Simpson, the Volcano photographer, was--professional, inquisitive, thorough and polite. Simpson stayed on the scene for 2 hours, posing questions to me and the skateboarders during set-up and after the performances. For a viewer like Simpson, it's hard not to want to keep moving and moving.. which is what I did. Thank you for your time & careful attention!

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