What went on in the Westmont Theatre Arts program in 2016/2017?

A top ten list!

Our Professors
1. Westmont Theatre Arts professors spent an active summer working on three separate Shakespeare productions in Europe. Lit Moon Theatre’s Hamlet, adapted and directed by John Blondell and featuring Mitchell Thomas, with Lighting Design by Jonathan Hicks, played at the Puppets Metamorphosis Festival in Bialystok, Poland, on June 22nd. Lit Moon’s newest show, an all female Richard III – featuring Westmont alums Marie Ponce-De Leon and Paige Tautz with Direction by Blondell and Lighting Design by Hicks – played the Bitola Shakespeare Festival on June 28th. Blondell’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Bitola National Theatre opened on July 31st in Bitola, played at the Ohrid Summer Festival on August 5th, and continues as part of the Bitola National Theatre repertory for the 2017-2018 theater season.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Technical Director, Jonathan Hicks, kept 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.

Our Productions
5. In the fall, John Blondell’s playful production of As You Like It was hailed by the SB Independent as “delightful…fascinating…remarkably interesting….fun, and funny." The Indy also loved our highly physical and poetic spring mainstage production of Blood Wedding, directed by Mitchell Thomas, describing it as “…an excellent new production…ingenious…and profound.”
6. Our dance program continues to be featured in a fall dance concert and the spring Fringe festival. We are lucky to have two fantastic choreographers and teachers in our program, Susan Alexander and Melanie Bales. Both have had long, distinguished careers, and bring what the SB Indy calls “…an inventive, thoughtful, spirited troupe that works well together in a variety of idioms.”
7. The 2017 Fringe Festival, our springtime explosion of original theatre, dance, performance art, design, and film, was better than ever. Led by student artistic directors Elena White and Anna Telfer, the 2017 Fringe’s four-day festival featured 27 different performances involving 100+ current Westmont students and was an epic effort and success by the department. Our annual HIVE process - new short plays by MFA writers paired with current Westmont student directors – also featured a residency and dramaturgical mentoring by Jerome Fellow and UCSD MFA playwriting grad Kristin Idiszak (a 3 year HIVE alumna herself!).
8. 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, war and the global refugee crisis, the series featured Nocturnal, by Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga, Letters from Cuba, by Cuban American playwright Maria Irene Fornes, and The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield in the Bosnian Wars, by Romanian playwright Matej Visniec.

Our Program
9. The Theatre Departments 2017 Capital Improvement Grant from the college will provide a brand new sound system for Porter Theatre (which we need SO badly!), a new camera for our students interested in film production, as well as a wide variety of theatrical equipment designed to enhance the educational effectiveness of the design and technology program.
10. 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. Key designers for 2017-2018 include LA-based scenic artist Yuri Okahana and alumna Lynne Martens ’08 (MFA CalArts) in costumes!

And number 11….

Let’s not forget our Alums!
11. Westmont Alumnae Lindsey Twigg (’16) and Danielle Draper (’16) won Independent theatre awards for their original production of Sinner/Saint that they co-wrote, directed, and performed. Bethany Sutherland (’15) won an Indy for her choreography of Tribal Instincts. Both of these pieces were originally created for the Fringe and further developed post-graduation by our talented grads!