Award winning actor and mime, Bill Bowers has appeared on Broadway as "Zazu" in "The Lion King" and "Leggett" in "The Scarlet Pimpernel." His other New York credits include "Souls Of Naples" (with John Turturro) at Theatre for a New Audience, "Zero Church" at St Anne's Warehouse, and "Hibiscus" at La Ma Ma. Three of his original shows have been produced Off Broadway as well: "'Night Sweetheart Night Buttercup" at Here, "Under A Montana Moon" at Urban Stages, and "It Goes Without Saying" at Rattlestick Theatre. His play "Heyokah Hokehay," inspired by Native American "Contrary Clowns," has been produced at several theatres in the U.S, and also at the Edinburgh Festival. Bill’s solo show "Under A Montana Moon" was presented 10 years ago at Urban Stages and has since been performed around the world including Romania, Macedonia, Italy, Japan, Norway, Denmark, Puerto Rico, as well as the Kennedy Center, Steppenwolf, and theatres around the U.S. In 2006 his solo play "It Goes Without Saying" premiered at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, and garnered rave reviews, and an extended run. This show has been produced all over the country as well - in 50 cities in 23 states. (Berkshire Theatre Festival, Adirondack Theatre Festival, Historic Asolo Theatre, Mt. Baker, Two River Theatre Co.). The show has won many awards including "Best Performance" at the International Fresh Fruit Festival, the International United Solo Festival, and the Out of the Loop Festival in Dallas. It was also listed as Best of the Berkshires, and a New York Times Critics Pick. He is featured in the film "Two Weeks Notice" starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant and on such hit television shows as "Law & Order," "One Life To Live," "All My Children," "Remember W.E.N.N.," and Disney's "Out Of The Box."
Bill's latest show "Beyond Words," is a collection of mime, music, and monologues: a poignant journey that continues Bowers' ongoing investigation of silence in our culture. Set against the backdrop of "small-town America," "Beyond Words" takes the audience on a funny and poignant journey of sound and silence. "Beyond Words" plays at Urban Stages in NYC (259 West 30th Street) through October 30! Click here for tickets!
For much more on Bill be sure to visit http://www.bill-bowers.com/
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My hero is Charlie Chaplin. I saw "The Gold Rush" when I was about 7, and then found out that Charlie Chaplin and I share the same birthday.....it was HUGE in my 7 year old brain!
2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Cherry Jones, Bill Irwin, Dan Puric (the most famous mime in Romania)
3. How did you decide to study mime? What do you like about mime performance as opposed to non-mime performing? I have been a mime all my life....before i knew what MIME was. I grew up in Montana, which is a big quiet place. I am also from a large QUIET family, who talks about NOTHING. I am also a gay man, and I was a gay kid growing up in small town Montana in the 60's, before "Oprah" or "Glee."
I love the SILENCE of mime. It puts the audience in a place of contemplation, sometimes an uncomfortable place, and asks them to participate, in this is imaginary world. When it works well, the audience is a partner in the story telling.
4. How did you come up with the idea and title behind "Beyond Words" and what do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? What excites you most about this show? When I was born the nurses pinned a poem to my little blue blanket. It was titled WHAT IS A BOY. Very hokey and from the 50's. I found this poem a few years ago, while going through my Mother's house.....she had passed away. I was intrigued with the poem and how little it seemed to relate to me as a boy (or a man). That is the
original inspiration. I then looked for stories about what boys learn on their way to becoming men. What are the messages about masculinity that we get from the media, from society? And what happens if you don't fit the mold of the "average all american boy."
It is exciting that the response is so strong to BEYOND WORDS. Audiences seem to connect to the stories I have collected. Some stories are from my life and some from literature, current events, and from my imagination.
BEYOND WORDS as a title seems to resonate to the idea of a mime show, and also to the fact that some experiences in our lives go beyond what words can communicate.
5. What do you get from writing and performing your own shows that you don't get from strictly performing? What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting a show together and in the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to write/rehearse on your own? I create my own work, which means it is suited to my strengths, as a movement artist in particular. I also like to develop my plays with a strong collaborative director, in this case, Scott Illingworth. Much of the writing actually occurs through movement and improvisation.....I like to think of it as my Body's imagination.
I love the collaboration, and I also like to open up rehearsal at a certain point, and invite some people in to watch and see what they take away from it.
I mostly write while moving, and then take notes afterward......or have a great stage manager who can notate......in this case, Laura Lindsay.
6. What is it like/mean to you to have your shows performed around the world to such acclaim? It is a dream come true. It reminds me that Mime is a universal language, and that people aren't as complicated as we might think.
7. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? How has being an openingly gay performer enhanced your craft? What made you decide to be openly gay in your career? How accpeting is the mime community of being openly gay? I feel incredibly free on stage, more and more. This has to do with my own self acceptance. I made the decision to be openly gay as a performer and teacher, because I travel and perform in many communities around the US where young people may not have access to a LGBTQ community. I feel like it is my responsibility to be honest and open as an artist and as a human. Again, I don't think people are as complicated as we might be led to believe.
In my experience all across the world, audiences and students have been incredibly open and receptive to my work. I would like to be a positive, accessible gay American male, who happens to perform mime.
8. What was the best part about studying under Marcel Marceau? He was THE source of what we all know about pantomime. A sense of history.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Show up and pay attention.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Enrique Iglesias!
11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Favorite way to spend your day off? Bikram yoga!!! I love it. With my boyfriend, as a shut in, watching tv.
12. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer briefs....lucky is my favorite brand.
13. Favorite website? Huffington Post.
14. Superman or Wonder Woman? Superman......for sure.