Westmont Magazine Season for the Arts
Westmont Offers Innovative Arts Events
Westmont brings new energy to the Santa Barbara art scene with a stellar fall season of music, theatre and art exhibits.
Thanks to the vision and efforts of theater arts professor John Blondell, the city hosts the first ever U.S. international Shakespeare festival in October. The Lit Moon World Shakespeare Festival features 11 days of events celebrating Shakespeare. Six Santa Barbara venues will showcase the work of seven theater companies from five countries (Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Poland and the United States).
Blondell, Lit Moon Theatre Company artistic director, directs three plays including Westmont co-productions “Hamlet” and “King Richard II.” The festival also features “Rogue” by Eric Ehn, commissioned by the Westmont theatre arts department.
Participating in the Gdansk, Poland, Shakespeare celebration inspired Blondell to create the Santa Barbara festival. He especially liked the strong educational component. “The festival includes a series of events that create context for the performances and a rich cultural, educational and social experience,” he says. “I hope it develops and creates bridges of understanding between people who share in this rich, intercultural experience.” He plans to make the festival a bi-annual event and wants to bring theater groups from Lithuania, Mexico and China to Santa Barbara in 2008.
Audience members fastened their seatbelts in September for a novel performance on a moving bus. Award-winning actor Mitchell Thomas performed the world-premiere of “The Earthquake Predictor Rides the Bus.” In the 30-minute moving theatrical adventure, Thomas plays Hank the earthquake predictor, a confused tour guide in a dark comedy by Hank Willenbrink. The play starts out as an historical tour of Santa Barbara, but as the ride continues, the guide has difficulty distinguishing reality and dreams and separating the past from the present.
Thomas, assistant professor of theatre arts, says the transformation of space is a theme of Westmont’s drama department. The wildly popular “King Richard II” transforms a church into a stage. In November, Thomas will curate and produce “The Car Play Project,” set in a parking lot.
The music department introduces the premier season of the Westmont Chamber Orchestra under the director of Michael Shasberger. The ensemble will present two concerts this fall sponsored by La Arcada Investment Corp., including one at the Music Academy of the West. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, the concerts feature three works by the Austrian composer, including a violin concerto with violinist Philip Ficsor, a new Westmont music professor, and a piano concerto with Professor Steve Hodson.
For the second year, the music department celebrates Christmas with a festival concert featuring the college’s choirs. In addition to presenting classical works and Christmas music, the event will premiere “Magnificat” by Steve Butler, music professor and composer in residence.
At first glance, the items on the floor of Reynolds Gallery appear to be just black rubber balls. But the exhibit is more than it seems. “Cort Savage: Scattered Man and the Particle” is a collection of 214 individually wrapped human bones that reduce the physical human being to an abstract form.
Also on display is “Ken Bortolazzo: Retrospective,” 10 large steel sculptural works, including an 18-foot tall tree, by the Santa Barbara artist.
“This is cutting-edge contemporary art from people who think beyond the boundaries,” says Tony Askew, art professor and gallery director. “The human form and the figure have been the basis of art study since the beginning of time.”