Columns & Blogs

One-act plays at Bellingham Theatre Guild, Feb. 29-March 12

Glen Nelson Bristow, Tess Nakaishi, and John Gonzales are in “On the Range” for the Bellinghamster One-Act Theatre Festival at Bellingham Theatre Guild.
Glen Nelson Bristow, Tess Nakaishi, and John Gonzales are in “On the Range” for the Bellinghamster One-Act Theatre Festival at Bellingham Theatre Guild. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Sean Walbeck is once again rocking the boat at Bellingham Theatre Guild. It’s his 12th year staging the Bellinghamster One-Act Theatre Festival. It kicks off Monday, Feb. 29, and runs through March 12, with a mix of original short works by established and new Whatcom County writers — comedies; storytelling and poetic pieces; and tragedies.

The BOAT Festival is a fringe festival, Walbeck says, meaning the content is entirely up to the producing organizations and companies, playwrights, directors and actors. He accepts entries on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Every production is forged by the desire of local people to speak directly to their neighbors — through their shows — by those are putting their time, money and energy into shows they chose, or chose to write, that last 30 minutes or less,” Walbeck says.

“I’m always amazed at how much people risk, putting a show up at the BOAT Festival,” he says. “How much audiences risk, trying completely unknown shows. All that risk is really tasty, packed into these bite-sized shows.”

Walbeck says he’s produced several plays in the festival, acted in the festival, sold tickets, pleaded with people to turn off their cell phones, and run lights in the booth. Also hung posters, lifted furniture, edited programs, counted votes (audience members can vote for their favorites), balanced books —financially, not juggling, he adds — and promoted.

Jenny Woods, who is appearing in The Neighborhood Playhouse entries, “There’s an Alligator Under My Bed” and “A Nightmare in My Closet,” says the shows have a Bellingham quirkiness.

“All ’hamsters know what is meant when someone says, ‘That’s so Bellingham!,’” she says.

Walbeck says the Neighborhood Playhouse productions may be the first the festival offers specifically for kids, but there are shows that are definitely not for younger viewers.

Michael Wallace has been writing and producing one acts for the BOAT for almost as long as it has been going. His plays include “Going Postal,” about a little old lady holding up a post office; “Extinction: Millennium Edition, a road fantasy; and last year, a play about women who drink beer and fish for men.

Zoe Bronstein is directing “The Garden,” a play about the relationship between two women in the 19th century; one is an outcast by choice, the other an outcast by accident. Bronstein worked at the San Francisco Fringe Festival when she was in college, and says there was so much going on that it was difficult to catch every show, or even most of them.

“The BOAT has the same potential to bring the community together, but because of the way Walbeck organizes it, it’s way easier to enjoy all the shows,” she says.

At BOAT, there are four plays each evening.

Judith Owens-Lancaster, in her fourth year with BOAT, says the cost to see so many shows is so low that anyone can and should see all of the plays. Admission is $10 for 16 shows, or $4 each.

The festival needs people to be ushers, box office helpers and tech volunteers. To help, call Walbeck, 360-647-9242.


And the Oscar goes to ...

Time to get out your tuxedos and evening gowns and pretend you’re at the Hollywood & Highland Center. The 88th annual Academy Awards await your viewing pleasure at Pickford Film Center’s seventh annual gala, The Red Carpet Affair, beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at 1318 Bay St.

Feb. 25 Red Carpet Rosebrock-Pickford-7943
Phil Rose Photography will snap photos, celebrity-style, at the Red Carpet Affair Feb. 28 at Pickford Film Center, as Lindsey McGuirk and Brian Sibley were in 2015. PHIL ROSE PHOTOGRAPHY Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

There will be a photographer to snap you, a wealth of decadent appetizers, and (new this year) a dinner bar from twofiftyflora, plus a dessert bar, fine wines and specialty cocktails (tickets include two drinks). The broadcast starts at 5 p.m. Pickford staff will entertain the audiences with interactive games and live entertainment during the ads.

Event details:, 360 647-1300. Oscar details:

Forum on new performing arts venue downtown

An open forum to discuss a new performing arts center project in downtown Bellingham will be 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at iDiOM Theater, 1418 Cornwall Ave. Organizer Glenn Hergenhahn says organizers would like to introduce the broad strokes of the project, and to receive input from people who are creating plays, dance, music, and art about their needs, interests and thoughts about a new venue downtown. The forum is open to arts organizations, teachers, students, and anyone involved in the performing arts in town. The iDiOM signed a lease for 205 Prospect St. and has 15,000 square feet of space to work with. Hergenhahn says this will be iDiOM’s last season at 1418 Cornwall Ave., after 14 years. There will be an event April 1 at the new space, and information on the arts center as it develops. On April 2, there will be a fundraiser at iDiOM with cocktails, jazz, and the start of the “long goodbye,” he says. That being said, Hergenhahn says iDiOM will live on at Prospect Street. Details:


Ferndale Arts Commission is seeking poster entries for its annual Cherry Blossom Festival, April 16-17, as well as haiku entries with a cherry-blossom theme. Details: (search cherry blossom), or call 360-685-2354.

Margaret Bikman: 360-715-2273,, @bhamentertainme