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Gerald Carpenter: Westmont to Debut Randall VanderMey’s ‘Platinum Circle’

Westmont College’s ever imaginative and phenomenally talented professor of theater arts, John Blondell, will direct the first production — ever, anywhere — of Randall VanderMey’s Platinum Circle: A Play in Three One-Acts.

Randall VanderMey
Randall VanderMey

It will star Westmont seniors Jackie Dressler and Shawnee Witt; juniors Paige Tautz, Mak Manson, Lauren White, Chris Wagstaffe and Ben Offringa; and first-year students Laura Shultz and Connor Bush.

The three one-acts are called “Cell Division,” “Fleas” and “Bluetooth Paternoster”; separately and in sequence they “probe the spiritual underside of our obsession with cell phones.”

VanderMey, a professor of English at Westmont, took more than 10 years writing and arranging the three-play sequence.

“I’ve hardly made any changes to the initial drafts of any of the three plays,” he said. “When they came, they all came at white heat.”

He has been staying away from the theater during the rehearsals.

“I know John’s way of working with plays and actors,” he says, “and I know better than to meddle. I’m eager to see the play performed in order to learn what a brilliant director and talented actors will do with it.”

What makes this a Blondell project, I think, is the unsuitability of the cellular phone as a generator of drama, or any kind of movement or action. Indeed, cell phones are now banned for drivers, because of the paralysis they impose on all our other senses except hearing. What could be less dramatic? This, of course, is a flung gauntlet for Blondell; he’s bound to pick it up and hand it back as an origami fan. It’s the kind of challenge he thrives upon. He also seems quite smitten with the material — always a good sign.

“The plays,” he says, “are wild and eccentric — mysterious and quite moving.”

One of the plays is staged in Westmont’s new black-box theater, adjacent to Porter Theatre, and it holds only 45 people, so patrons should get their reservations early.

Platinum Circle plays at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday and Feb. 28-March 2 in Westmont’s Porter Theatre. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $7 for students and seniors, and they may be purchased by calling 805.565.7140 or clicking here.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are his own.

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