Missing the theater? The anticipation of the big curtain being drawn back, revealing an array of amazing scenes? Not to worry, Westmont Professor of Theatre Arts and Lit Moon Theatre Company founder John Blondell has been hard at work bringing the magic of stagecraft right to your computer. Despite a global pandemic and in the shadow of a trying election, Blondell and his troupe are creating multiple projects. First up will be Small Enchantments, from a new script by Lila Rose Kaplan. Westmont students play twelve fairies who have been locked away by their father only to sneak out every night to dance in the forest. Blondell, the performers, and the production crew have worked tirelessly to craft this video gem. Although the play was still in rehearsal when I sampled several scenes, the music, design, and monologues I saw were captivating and awe-inspiring.
Another project in the works, 929, revolves around maintaining positivity during a strenuous time. The play consists of segments focusing on friendships, community, and well-being — all aspects of life that we desperately need in these uncertain times. 929’s group of global activists is composed of 60 visual artists, writers, actors, opera singers, and more, all in various locations. With the pandemic making travel difficult, Blondell and his group have persevered online. When being in the U.S., Canada, Athens, Armenia, and elsewhere made scheduling rehearsal times a challenge, these artists found a way to make it work. While actors in Athens were getting ready for bed, actors in the United States would be just waking for a morning rehearsal.
Instead of wondering how to keep theater the same during quarantine, Blondell and his team have focused on how to reimagine theatrical works so that they fit current times. Reading New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statement about “reimagining” the reopening of New York City after it faced devastating losses from COVID-19, Blondell decided to pursue the same approach when it came to reopening theatre. With his various and far-flung casts, Blondell is reimagining, reinventing, and re-enchanting the performing arts.
4-1-1: View Small Enchantments on Friday, October 30, at westmont.edu/watchtheater.
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