If you have ever made the trek up La Paz Road to Westmont College for a theater performance, then you know the campus is a special place to see a show. Perhaps you were there for Mitchell Thomas’s fine 2014 production of Electra, which took place in a purpose-built outdoor amphitheater, or possibly you were one of the bold people who piled into a car’s backseat for the outrageously innovative Car Plays that graced Westmont’s Fringe Fest of 2007.
Most likely though, you’ve sat in either the intimate Black Box space or the larger Porter Theatre. Both spaces will come alive October 16-24, when Diana Lynn Small, distinguished Westmont theater alum and a 2015 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s Michener Center for Writers, returns to the scene of her first dramatic efforts to present two new plays, Good Day and Mad & a Goat.
The undergraduate theater program at Westmont emphasizes the total integration of multiple media and as a result turns out artists like Small, who writes plays that explore every aspect of the theater arts. In Good Day, a young woman returns to her childhood home only to discover she can’t get any farther than the front lawn. An ineffectual exterminator also experiences an unexpected setback in this rueful, slightly surreal portrait of the contemporary American West.
In Mad & a Goat, two women grapple with the ubiquitous millennial issue of college debt by taking over a goat farm. For Mitchell Thomas, the professor who will direct Good Day, Small’s return represents the fulfillment of something that’s been years, even decades, in the making. “When I started reading plays by contemporary writers, I had no idea that I would end up working with someone who had gone through our program,” he told me recently, “but after examining many, many good new plays, the two I liked the best happened to be hers.”
Good Day runs Friday, October 16-Saturday, October 24, in Porter Theatre; Mad & a Goat runs Thursday-Saturday, October 22-24, in Black Box Theatre. For tickets and information, see westmont.edu/_academics/departments/theatre_arts/OnlineReservations.html.