Joshua Walters is a writer and creator who has worked on stage as a comedian, storyteller, and poet. His performances explore language, creativity, beatboxing, and madness. He has authored solo theater shows, multi-character plays, and first-person radio stories. In 2021 he founded Mad One Media, which showcases stories of mental health experience and creative expression. With the help of the National Performance Network and in partnership with Reboot’s National Day of Unplugging, he launched a performance on technology fasting called UnPlug! He is a regular contributor to Snap Judgment, a weekly storytelling radio show on NPR with TV broadcasts on PBS. Walters is best known for his TED Talk, entitled On Being Crazy Enough, which explores the bipolar spectrum and is now at two million views. He is involved in mental health advocacy nationwide and takes part in mentoring those on the creative spectrum.
Walters’ first full-length solo play, Madhouse Rhythm, debuted to critical acclaim in 2008. Madhouse Rhythm is an autobiographical collage of traditional theater, spoken word, and beatbox (the art of vocal percussion). This show has significantly impacted the theater and mental health communities and is now included as part of the Performance and Disability Studies curriculum at UC Berkeley. On February 22, 2011, Walters celebrated 10 Years of Madness, a performance that spurred his theater run at The Marsh in Berkeley. Each show features a unique blend of artistic innovation and audience interaction.
Walters’ second solo performance (((JawVox))) premiered in San Francisco in 2010, portraying an alien’s last hour on Earth. The San Francisco Chronicle hailed this sci-fi exploration of human values as, “a warped reflection of our very real foibles, in the funniest possible way.” (((JawVox))) was produced in collaboration with The Climate Theater and The Hub of the JCC SF.
Walters’ eclectic combination of performance disciplines and personal stories in mental health has led to a national platform and audience. He is a state speaker for the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). In 2002, he co-founded the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) Young Adults Chapter in San Francisco, one of the few support groups created specifically for newly diagnosed young adults in the country. For nearly two decades he has engaged in mental health advocacy at conventions and in classrooms nationwide. As a facilitator, he uses his natural gift for humor to address the often dark subject of mental pain, re-framing it as a positive and a gift when managed.
2021, Feb. 9
We started our journey
Mad One Media
A sense of greater community is the ultimate goal of Mad One Media, fostering real connections and support to combat what can be a sense of isolation. The shame and stigma one faces when around a traumatic mental health experience is real. Sharing personal narratives and listening with an open heart are foundational ways we can destigmatize mental health conditions together.