“Thanks For The Memories…”
On the morning of our last performance of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob,” many thoughts have come to my mind: Among them, the inherent impermanence of a live performance, and yet the power its message has to resonate, move and affect both those watching and those involved in its production.
As Co-Artistic Director of the company, I campaigned for us to produce “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” for many reasons: economic potential (Because at this writing its attendance has been the second highest in CET’s history), its passionate, gutsy roles, and its period style of the 20s and 30s, which for an actor is always massively fun to play. I had the extra joy at the chance to act opposite CET’s Co-Founder, Alan Gardner for the first time is a little over five years. We had always wanted to act together on the VST stage, and it has been a thrill to do so.
Although I somewhat suspected as much, I have been surprised at how the play’s subject matter has affected audiences. We have received standing ovations for every performance (and not the obligatory ones like one sees at, say, high school plays attended by mainly family and friends). But as a performer, I have been struck by the deep SILENCES of the audience while playing this show; the kind of silences where you know every word is being hung onto, and the communal cathartic moments are being experienced by all present. Just as importantly, I have also experienced feeling that “invisible thread” which connects us all. Many people from the programs AA and Al-Anon have approached me after performances, “broken anonymity” and let me know how this show about the roots of those powerful Fellowships have changed their lives.
I want to thank everyone involved in this very special production from the bottom of my heart: Cast members, Alan Gardner, Jan D. Hunter, Melissa Cox, Julie Steward, Rebecca Yeager, Regina Harbour, Don Sandley, Jeffery Dingler, Todd Ponder, Stage Manager Patrick Ian McCall, Asst. SM Karin Callahan, Asst. Director Lisa Ponder, Costume Designer Mary Gurney (whose expertise “grounded” the period in which the play was set), crew members, Gracie Brazeal, SheKayla Jones and David Van; all of whose participation made this very special production possible.
And I would especially like to humbly thank our director Sandra Taylor for her love and friendship, and the passion, insight, nourishing enthusiasm, excellent direction which has helped this production just keep deepening and growing as its energy resonates and travels to its inevitable status as Memory…as all live performances do by their very nature.
You all have one more chance to experience this powerful, gripping, funny and moving snapshot of a moment in history, that literally changed the lives of millions. If you can make it, I invite you to come to the Virginia Samford Theatre for today’s final performance of “Bill W. & Dr. Bob” at 2:30 pm.
With love and humble respect, Jonathan Fuller