Bill Bowers and Esther Williamson in “ The Making of a Great Moment” at Urban Stages
Renowned performer Bill Bowers is set to captivate New York City audiences in the upcoming premiere of “The Making of a Great Moment,” a play by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, directed by James A. Barry and presented by the award-winning theater company Urban Stages. Bill Bowers, a multifaceted talent with a storied career spanning Broadway, Mime, film, television, and original plays, takes on the role of Terry in this production. In this article, we delve into Bill Bowers’ impressive career, his insights into the play, and what audiences can expect from this exciting New York premiere.
Bill Bowers’ journey through the world of performing is nothing short of remarkable. A seasoned actor, Mime, and educator, he has graced stages in all 50 states of the United States, Europe, and Asia. His Broadway credits include memorable roles such as Zazu in “The Lion King” and Leggett in “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” Beyond the bright lights of Broadway, Bill has written and performed his own plays, both Off-Broadway and around the world. His repertoire includes works like ‘Night Sweetheart ‘Night Buttercup,””Under a Montana Moon,””It Goes Without Saying,””Beyond Words,” All Over the Map,” and “The Traveler.”
“The Making of a Great Moment” holds a special place in Bill Bowers’ heart, as it delves into the life of an actor on tour—a journey he knows intimately. When asked about what drew him to this play and his character, Terry, Bill shared, “A friend of the playwright sent me this play over a year ago. I knew immediately I wanted to do it and sent it to theaters around the country where I have worked before. The Making of a Great Moment is about being an ‘actor on tour,’ and I have been that actor on the road for most of my career.”
As an actor who has performed in diverse settings, including nursing homes and community centers, Bill resonated deeply with the play’s exploration of existential questions such as, “Why am I an actor?” and “What am I doing with my life?” The characters in the play share a profound love for acting, and the humor arises from their passionate pursuit of putting on a play.
Bill Bowers has earned the title of “the great American mime” for his distinctive style and has received numerous awards at festivals worldwide. When asked about what sets his style of Mime apart, he explained, “I like to think of myself as a naturalistic mime. I don’t wear a white face or a conventional mime costume. I also use Mime in combination with text and soundtracking, even lip-syncing. Although I trained with Marcel Marceau in traditional pantomime, I have developed a hybrid style of physical storytelling with and without words. I hope that audiences can experience my work with all of their senses.”
Bill Bowers had the privilege of being mentored by the legendary Marcel Marceau. He shared a poignant lesson from Marceau that has remained with him throughout his career: “Marceau said to me that the genius of theatre is not the performer or the audience. The genius is in the space between where the actor and the audience meet. I think about this all the time. Theater is collaborative; it occurs when imaginations meet and create worlds together.”
Bill Bowers’ mime training has proven invaluable in other mediums, such as film and television. He emphasized the importance of clear and communicative physicality, especially in commercials that are “without sound.” These mediums demand storytelling with precision and specificity, which Mime excels at.
Beyond his stage and screen appearances, Bill Bowers has crafted his own plays, often drawing from his personal experiences. He provided insights into his creative process: “Most of my work is autobiographical, so I depend on memory and journaling. I have always kept a journal of my travels, feelings and adventures. I look back through them and look for ideas. I look for questions to answer. Then I work with a good director, who helps me find the recurring images and themes, and we together develop an arc for the play.”
Bill Bowers’ commitment to the art of Mime extends to his role as an educator. He teaches at NYU, Stella Adler, and the William Esper Studio, sharing his passion for physical theater and Mime. He remarked, “Mime is not a big part of American culture, so more and more, I have students who have never seen it performed or ever heard of Marcel Marceau. That is my mission: to pass on the knowledge and craft of Mime.”
As “The Making of a Great Moment” prepares to make its New York debut at Urban Stages, Bill Bowers hopes to offer audiences laughter and an authentic portrayal of two people connecting. He shared, “We performed The Making of a Great Moment in the Berkshires this summer, and after the show, people always thanked us for making them laugh. It seems like a time in the world when folks need some laughter. I also think this play is quite touching in how it shows two people finding a way to honestly connect with each other.”
In a career that has spanned continents and genres, Bill Bowers continues to inspire through his performances and his dedication to preserving the art of Mime. “The Making of a Great Moment” promises to be another memorable chapter in his storied career. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness this remarkable talent in action at Urban Stages from September 28 through October 29, 2023. Get ready for a truly great moment in New York theater. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.UrbanStages.org.