The All For One Theater (AFO) an off-Broadway producer of full-length solo shows since 2011, is presenting “All Over The Map” as part of their 2016 Spring season. The show, written and performed by Bill Bowers, will begin performances on Thursday, April 21 and open on Wednesday, April 27 for a limited run through Sunday, May 8 at the Lion Theater (410 West 42nd Street) on Theatre Row. Tickets are $36.25. According to the official press release:
In “All Over The Map” master mime Bill Bowers takes audiences on a 30-year globe spanning adventure ride through 50 states and 25 countries. Assisted by two hookers, one bunny, and his mastery of mime, Bowers vividly depicts cultural differences through personal connections, sharing fantastical characters and indelible memories.
Writer Bill Bowers has traveled the globe and his impressive theater credits include Zazu in Broadway’s “The Lion King” and Leggett in “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” He has also appeared at Madison Square Garden, the Kennedy Center, The White House, and many major regional theatres. Moreover, Bill has written and performed his own plays Off-Broadway, including “‘Night Sweet-heart ‘Night Buttercup” at HERE Arts Center, “Under a Montana Moon” and “Beyond Words” at Urban Stages. He also wrote “It Goes Without Saying” at Rattlestick Theatre. A former student of the famed Marcel Marceau, Bill has enjoyed critical acclaim for his incredible mime abilities and he has won top honors in the International United Solo Festival, International Fresh Fruit Festival, and the International Thespian Festival. Additionally, he is featured in the film “Two Weeks’ Notice” and on television on “The Meredith Vieira Show,” Disney’s “Out Of The Box,” “Remember W.E.N.N.,” “One Life To Live,” and “All My Children.”
Recently Bill Bowers spoke to AXS about his experiences working on the play and in the theater industry in general:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?
Bill Bowers (B.B.): I never imagined that I would be an actor. I was, and am, quite shy. Because of this I discovered the art of mime at an early age, because it didn’t involve talking. That led me through the side door of high school drama, to college theatre, to grad school. I got encouragement for teachers and family all along the way, and even though the odds are against making a living as a performer, I just kept moving forward on that path.
M.M.: What makes being a mime distinct from other theatrical professions, and how has this specialty influenced the kind of theater you do?
B.B.: Mime is a universal language so doesn’t depend on words necessarily. Because of this, I have had the great opportunity to perform for all kinds of audiences from many cultures. I also think that Silence is powerful. Asking an audience to take in information visually, rather than through words, opens them up in an interesting way. Mime asks for the audience’s participation; they have to bring their imagination to the experience.
M.M.: Can you please tell us more about your travels and how they landed on stage in “All Over The Map”?
B.B.: I have been on the road for 30 years as a performer, and most of that time I have been doing solo performance. I have been to all 50 states and soon to be 25 countries. I have done many, many, many solo shows, playing superheroes and dinosaurs and multiple characters. I am a storyteller by nature (I got that from my Dad), and I have always told stories about my adventures and crazy experiences. Ten years ago I wrote a play called “It Goes Without Saying”, which is a collection of true stories about why I became a mime. This play has taken me all over the world, and led to even more stories. “All Over The Map” is about being on the road as a mime; the people I have met and the stories that have told me. I keep journals of my adventures, and “All Over The Map” comes directly from these experiences of being on the road. It is a solo show about being on the road doing a solo show. As a writer, I find true stories really compelling, and my sense of humor leans toward the absurd. So this play is a collection of true stories, ranging from unbelievable to heart stopping.
M.M.: How do you feel rehearsals are going? What do you love most about the play?
B.B.: I love working with Martha Banta, who is directing this play and also directed “It Goes Without Saying.” She is a great listener, and has an incredible skill at getting to the heart of a story. She helps me edit, and keeps me honest. I love “All Over The Map” because it is really funny. It is a celebration of a life on the road, and a reminder that human beings are not all that complicated.
M.M.: What are some of the highlights of your career and what would you tell people just starting in the business?
B.B.: I feel so lucky that I have had a thirty years’ career doing what I love to do. My job is my art is my passion. I love performing and teaching and traveling, and my career has been a blend of all of these loves. I am so thrilled that I have gotten to perform on Broadway, and that I have had my own plays produced around the world. I am equally thrilled to go to little tiny towns in the middle of nowhere and perform for people who have never seen a play, or maybe never even heard of mime. I absolutely love what I do.
M.M.: What advice would you give someone who is an aspiring playwright?
B.B.: For those just starting out in show business, my advice is to read. Read plays. Read the newspaper. Develop your own POV. Find your own voice. What is it you want to say with your voice? I also think you can’t skip any steps along the way. You have to study, and practice, and work, and work some more, and succeed and fail. It is all part of the journey of an artist. If you believe that this is the path for you, it will be your path. But know that the direction of that path will probably change a few times. Be true to yourself.
M.M.: What kind of writing inspires you?
B.B.: I love David Sedaris and Sarah Vowel. I love true stories. I love documentaries.
I also just finished “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, and thought my heart would explode. It is so beautiful.
M.M.: Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work as an actor thus far?
B.B.: Spalding Gray and David Sedaris are huge influences. And Lily Tomlin. She is a genius. I saw “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life” five times when it was on Broadway.
M.M.: What else are you working on right now?
B.B.: I am adapting the anti-war novel “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo into a play. I have been working on this project for several years in collaboration with director Scott Illingworth. We will produce it this summer as part of the Harold Clurman Arts Festival, and also have a production at NYU Tisch in Winter 2017.
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To learn more about Bill Bowers, see here.