For John Blondell, 2012, was an extraordinary year. And midway through 2013, this globe trotting scholar and director is showing no signs of slowing down. Last June, Blondell directed a Macedonian company, the National Theater of Bitola, in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 3. Blondell has directed in Macedonia before, but this wasn’t just any production. The invitation came from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, and it involved becoming part of a world Shakespeare festival created to accompany the 2012 Summer Olympics. The three parts of the Henry VI cycle were each undertaken by a company from one of the Balkan states. Part 1 was performed in Serbian; Part 2 in Albanian; and Part 3, directed by Blondell, would be in Macedonia.
When the dust cleared from this extraordinarily ambitious undertaking by the Globe — where every Shakespeare play was acted in a different language — Blondell and the troupe from Bitola emerged triumphant. The Guardian proclaimed Blondell’s staging was “the first to capture the brutality of war… but also the nuances of the individual characters.” Undoubtedly this amazing feat reflects Blondell’s years of preparation, as he has devoted much of the last two decades to studying and performing Shakespeare on an international level.
From Macedonia to London, and then back to Santa Barbara, where the director is currently preparing a version of The Tempest with his own Lit Moon Theatre Company, with the goal of making something he can tour with in the Balkans this summer. On Sunday, July 7, fans of the physical, fast-paced, and highly inventive Lit Moon approach can check out the fruits of Blondell’s tireless labors and wish the 11-person troupe bon voyage before they stretch their wings and take flight in another fantastic Shakespearean adventure.