What’s going on in the Westmont Theatre Arts program in 2016? A top ten list!
- Westmont professors Mitchell Thomas, Jonathan Hicks, and John Blondell completed a multi-year professional development grant toward work in the Balkans, when they developed, work-shopped, and presented new performance pieces based on Shakespeare’s sonnets for the Bitola Shakespeare Festival in Bitola, Macedonia and the Shakespeare@400.SantaBarbara festival in Santa Barbara.
- Westmont professors John Blondell (directing), Mitchell Thomas (Marc Antony), and Jonathan Hicks (Lighting Design) were part of the Lit Moon Theatre Company’s Julius Caesar, which played at the Bitola Shakespeare Festival in June, and at the Shakespeare@400.SantaBarbara festival in November in Santa Barbara.
- Professor John Blondell produced the Shakespeare@400.SantaBarbara festival, celebrating Shakespeare’s 400 year celebration to theater and culture, which included performances by Westmont College, Lit Moon Theatre Company, Bitola National Theatre, and the films of The Complete Walk, created and commissioned by Shakespeare’s Globe London.
- Technical Director, Jonathan Hicks, keeps a heart beat on the Santa Barbara theatre scene by working regularly with IATSE local union #442 to stage a broad theatrical and musical spectrum at theatres throughout the Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties including theatre, dance, opera, lectures, and a wide variety of concert tours.
- The 2015-2016 academic year featured a remarkable number of world premieres of new plays, including Mad & A Goat and Good Day by alumna Diana Lynn Small ’09, The Sinner and The Saint by Lindsey Twigg ‘16 and Danielle Draper ’16, and Tar and Feather and Second Skin by Jerome Fellow and UCSD MFA playwriting grad Kristin Idiszak.
- The 2016 Fringe Festival, our springtime explosion of original theatre, dance, performance art, design, and film, was bigger and better than ever. Curated by faculty member Mitchell Thomas, the 2016 Fringe’s four-day festival featuring 33 different performances involving 100+ current Westmont students was an epic effort and success by the department (with student artistic directors!). The Festival included 16 short new plays, site specific performances, short films created by students of the religion and film class at Westmont, lighting and scenic design by theatre arts student designers, an art installation by advanced studio art majors, and dance choreography by Westmont students, staff, faculty, and alumni.
- During the fall of 2016, the department initiated its “Boundary Crossings” reading series of important international plays. Featuring diverse voices on topics such as immigration and the global refugee crisis, the series featured Nocturnal, by Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga; and Letters from Cuba, by Cuban American playwright Maria Irene Fornes.
- The Theatre Departments 2015 Capital Improvement Grant from the college provided the necessary funds to update Porter Theatre’s lighting infrastructure with more power control, a new ETC ION lighting console, as well as a wide variety of theatrical equipment designed to enhance the educational effectiveness of the design and technology program.
- The design and technology program at Westmont has undergone a major re-boot and now is offering its students more opportunities to develop designs for both the main stage season and our annual Fringe Festival with high quality mentoring by award-winning costume designer, Miller James, and a rising star in the scenic design community, Yuri Okahana.
And let’s not forget our Alums
- Westmont Alumnae Paige Tautz (’13) and Christine Nathanson (’16) received Independent Theatre Awards for excellence in Santa Barbara Theatre for the 2015-2016 Santa Barbara theater season. Ms. Tautz received hers for acting in Diana Small’s (’09) Mad and a Goat, and Ms. Nathanson for directing Tar and Feather, written by Kristin Idaszak, a Jerome Fellow in playwriting and frequent contributor to the Westmont Fringe; and for playing Dido in Christopher Marlowe’s Dido Queen of Carthage.
Visit http://www.westmont.edu/_academics/departments/theatre_arts/ for more information about our program, faculty, productions, and scholarship opportunities.