Theatre Arts global expansion: “Initiative for Justice and Global Engagement”


Courtesy of John Blondell

Dr. Blondell will fill the role of Global Ambassador to expand the theatre’s global focus.

Megan Bowman, Staff Writer

Over the past few years, the Westmont theatre department has recognized a need to engage with racial equality and inclusion while expanding the theatre’s global focus. With these ideas in mind, the department formed two new positions: the Artist in Residence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Global Ambassador for the Performing Arts. 

Dr. John Blondell’s position as Global Ambassador was announced Jan. 14. Blondell expressed that these new positions “reflect the department’s commitment to seek change and transformation relative to local, national and global conversations and movements.”

The new position will require Blondell to alternate between semesters on campus and abroad. However, these plans are complicated by COVID-19. While on campus, he will teach courses such as Theatre History and Great Literature of The Stage, and a new course currently under development that will fall under the Thinking Globally GE requirement. As in the past, Blondell will continue to direct. With this new role, Blondell will direct on campus as well as abroad.

I am thrilled, honored and excited to develop a new phase of my career, to fuse my life and work at the college with that as an international director, in ways to catalyze new practices and teaching in the art of the stage,” Blondell said.

He recently completed two productions. The first was a film adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” titled “A Midsummer Night’s Quarantine,” which starred  Kazakh and American actors. The second was a Zoom production of “Uncle Vanya” that premiered on Facebook last Summer. In the winter and spring, Blondell will work on three international productions featuring actors from Armenia, Greece, North Macedonia, Albania, Russia, Italy and the US. These three productions are “Ivanov” and “The Three Sisters” by Anton Chekhov as well as Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline.”

While Blondell is overseas, the theatre department will welcome a guest artist for the semester who will bring fresh ideas, different expertise and core values concerning race and culture in the community. Excitement fills the theatre department as actors, directors, playwrights and scholars show interest in the new position.

Mitchell Thomas, theatre arts professor and chair of the department, explained how the Artist in Residence position will expand the global mindset of the department: “The new guest artist/scholar position will … expand our curriculum and course offerings to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive. The ultimate goal is to expand our global engagement and to simultaneously work toward being a program that is justice-seeking and anti-racist in our structures, approaches, curricula and artistic offerings.”

Along with the department’s recent anti-racism statement, the new positions demonstrate how the theatre community at Westmont strives to cultivate a global and inclusive mindset. 

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