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Thanks for the Memories – by Jonathan Fuller

“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

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Meet the Cast of Bill W. and Dr. Bob: Alan Gardner

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Meet the Cast of Bill W. and Dr. Bob: Alan Gardner (Dr. Bob Smith)

Alan Gardner is the co-founder / co-artistic director of City Equity Theatre and has acted in or directed many productions since the company’s beginning.  Patrons might remember his acting from last summer’s The Seahorse and Superior Donuts.  Alan has been a member of Actor’s Equity and the Screen Actors Guild for over 15 years; he has an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.A. in Theatre from UAB. Professionally he has acted in nine feature films, 50 television commercials, and onstage off-Broadway, and regionally in Los Angeles, Denver, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.  He has also just achieved another personal goal with the formation of Ashland Films (2013), of which he is co-owner, and has sold Ashland’s first project.  For 22 years he has been the proud husband of Francie Gardner and is also extremely proud of his four sons, McNeill, Stuart, Hamilton and Walker.  He also is proud to lead the Vestavia High School Theatre Guild as director since 2007.  He thanks all of his talented castmates and crewmembers for their hard work and dedication on this production.  He dedicates his performance though to Sandra Taylor, his own high school theatre director (Berry, 1986), who clearly made an impact his life! Thanks, T.

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Meet the Cast of Bill W. and Dr. Bob: Jonathan Fuller

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Meet the Cast of Bill W. and Dr. Bob: Jonathan Fuller (Bill Wilson)

Jonathan is a co- founder and Co-Artistic Director of City Equity Theatre; Graduate of Alabama School of Fine Arts (1974), BFA from the Goodman School of Drama, (1978). He is currently also the Artistic Director of the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) Theatre Arts Department. In his career, Jonathan has worked in many of the country’s prestigious regional theatres such as The Guthrie, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He has starred in over a dozen films such as The Pit and the Pendulum and A Day Without a Mexican. Here at City Equity he has acted in True West, Faith Healer, Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, and Race.  He directed last summer’s acclaimed August: Osage County and other CET shows including: The Cripple of Inishmaan, Spring Awakening, Stage Door, Superior Donuts, and Ruined. Jonathan is proud to have returned to Birmingham to bring his ongoing theatrical experience and an Actor’s Equity presence back to his hometown and students at ASFA. Proud member of Actors’ Equity since 1979.