Bellingham TheatreWorks, a new theater company in town, was recently established by the brilliant team of Mark Kuntz and Steve Lyons. Local playwright Steve Lyons graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and later found his passion in writing. Director Mark Kuntz graduated from University of Washington and University of Oregon in theater, and later taught for eleven years at Eastern Oregon University before teaching for eighteen years at Western Washington University.
After Lyons attended Into the Woods, a show Kuntz produced, he fell in love with Kuntz’s work. They met at a party, and joined forces in theater arts. Their first project was the Commercial Street Theatre Project. After Mark left his job as the artistic director of the Mount Baker Theatre, he was able to focus all his attention on working with Lyons at Bellingham TheatreWorks. “Our company is for local and regional works written by local people with topics of local interest,” Kuntz said of their mission. They work with local institutions such as Village Books, and they are always seeking partners to work with on all of their productions.
Coming August 29 and 30th at 7:30pm at the Bellingham High School auditorium is their premier of their play The Ghosts of Tonkin. August marks the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which led to one of the most devastating events in United States History: The Vietnam War.
After asking Lyons where the idea behind the play originated he said, “The United States was comparing the attack on Iraq with the origins of the Vietnam War. I found a story that has never been told through any visual means, it’s just written down on paper. Not many people know about it.” This play specifically focuses on one man, Oregon’s Senator Wayne Morse, who opposed the resolution that called for military intervention in Vietnam. After visiting Wayne Morse Library on the University of Oregon campus, Steve began compiling data to write one of the most honest and engaging plays of his career.
Lyons and Kuntz are including a post-play discussion, where members of the audience get to ask questions and reflect on the ideas in the play. Lyons said, “This is almost as important as the play, we included a Vietnam War Veteran in our panel to help answer any questions and respond to any comments.”
The Ghosts of Tonkin is centered around a global topic with a local focus, that fosters their idea of locally generated art. Bellingham TheatreWorks is a company that invites everyone in the community, and is available for an extremely affordable price. Tickets are available online at bellinghamtheatreworks.org.