On Stage

Return Engagements

A madman and a mime

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

This is the story of a madman and a mime.

It’s also the tale of how two actors who spent time living and studying in Whatcom County but left it behind are returning to share some of what they’ve learned since they left.

First up, Robert “Robbie” Bowman will be peforming his award-winning production of Diary of a Madman Sun., April 29 at the Bellingham Theatre Guild.

The showing of the adaptation of Gogol’s comedy about the fantasy world of a low-ranking civil servant will raise funds for Coed Dylan, a woodland Bowman owns with his wife in West Wales that they’re adapting into a learning space that combines practical, land-based projects with creative projects in a fun, stress-free environment. If all goes according to plan, Western Washington University students could be heading to the United Kingdom by the summer of 2019 to study abroad there.

Even though he’s been performing Diary of a Madman for almost seven years in countries around the world, the man who left Ferndale to study Shakespeare in London many years ago says it’s still a work in progress, and that he’s not yet sick of it.

“The real joy comes from performing to different audiences each time,” the UK resident says. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the Guild audience is like after having last performed it in India.”

Like Bowman, Henry James Walker made connections in Bellingham and WWU—where he graduated from in 2013—but is returning from his home base in Seattle to perform his one-man show, Mimecycle, which is directed by another Western alum, Emily Harvey.

Originally named One Man, Two Wheels, the dialogue-free show is about Walker’s experience biking the mean streets of the big city to the south, where he lives with the constant fear of being doored by parked cars, hit by distracted drivers or encountering other sketchy scenarios on a regular basis.

“As bike riders, we have to either have our fight-or-flight impulses engaged, or have a moment of Zen and let it go,” he says. “I’m calmest when I remind myself ‘I could die at any time.’ This show was built out of the joy I feel in passing long lines of cars, knowing that I will get to my destination before most drivers have found their coveted $10/hour parking spot.”

While his trusty two-wheeler won’t be along for the ride—he says the bike in the show “is, in fact, a mimed-cycle”—Walker’s mastery of clowning and mime will help bring the story to life. But will the tale be a lighthearted one, or end with its hero on the pavement?

“It’s a comedy,” he says, “but with enough tragedy to breathe some empathy into the audience’s laughter.”

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