Talk Explores Bringing Flying A to the Stage

By Scott Craig   |   February 14, 2023
Director John Blondell discusses his upcoming world premiere play on Feb. 16 (photo by Brad Elliott)

Westmont’s John Blondell discusses the world premiere play that will bring Santa Barbara’s silent film history to the stage in a Westmont Downtown Lecture Thursday, February 16, at 5:30 pm in the Community Arts Workshop (CAW), 631 Garden Street, in downtown Santa Barbara. “The Film Within a Play: Celebrating Santa Barbara’s Flying A Studios on Stage,” is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. Ample free parking is available. For more information, please call (805) 565-6051.

Blondell, director of Diamond to Dust: A Flying A Fantasy, will be joined by select cast members, who will perform a scene from Diamond to Dust.

“The talk promises to be a wide-ranging discussion about an important story in Santa Barbara’s history, the ins and outs of theatrical performance, sneak peeks into theatrical process, and how all these impact our students in the show, and ultimately our audience,” Blondell says.

Santa Barbara was one of the centers of American film from 1912-21 with the American Film Manufacturing Company, known as the Flying A, which made more than 1,000 films.

Blondell and Michael Bernard, who wrote the play, collaborated to produce a revealing, live theater event that centers around the mishaps and innovation of the Flying A and how it helped shape more than a century of storytelling. Diamond to Dust will be performed in Westmont’s Porter Theatre February 24-25, March 2-4 at 7:30 pm, and March 4 at 2 pm.

As co-founder and director of the Lit Moon Theatre Company, Blondell will direct Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya later this spring. 

In the fall, Blondell will enter his third year as Westmont’s global ambassador in the performing arts. In the meantime, he will direct Richard III for Prague Shakespeare in Prague, Prometheus Bound in the ancient Roman theater of Heraclea in Bitola, Macedonia and Peer Gynt in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He also helped curate the Verona Shakespeare Festival, which will run August 24-31 in Verona. 

Westmont Downtown: Conversations about Things that Matter is a free lecture series sponsored by the Westmont Foundation. The foundation also sponsors the 18th annual Westmont President’s Breakfast with keynote speaker Doris Kearns Goodwin on March 10.

The next Westmont Downtown Lecture will feature Rebecca McNamara, Westmont assistant professor of English, who will speak about “Care in Times of Crisis: Suicide and Emotions in Medieval England” on April 13.


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