“NO!” the audience shouted as the lights dimmed and the fates of thousands of lives were altered. This response was provoked by the cliff-hanger ending to the play My Name is Bill: An Afternoon with an Alcoholic. When the only character on stage turned to the rows of faces and asked if he should take a drink or not, the crowd in Hughes Hall answered with one word and a standing ovation.
When Bryan Bounds attended UMHB, he said he had no idea he would one day be caught in the clutches of alcoholism.
But that was exactly his condition when a friend told him the story of Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, which helped him recover from his illness.
Bounds is the single performer and author of the play, which has received rave reviews over its five year tour in Europe. The performance in UMHB’s Hughes Hall served as its American premiere.
“You know if you have a story that you want to tell … sometimes (it) won’t go away until you tell that story,” Bounds said. “And that’s how this play was with me. Partly because I’m a recovered alcoholic myself, and I felt that a theater presentation would be a good way to tell the story of the man who started the recovery movement.”
Bounds conducted a vast amount of research in order to write this play about the New York stockbroker who founded AA in the 1930s.
The play depicts an afternoon in the life of Wilson when he hits rock bottom and makes an important decision.
When Wilson made it through the afternoon without drinking, he ensured the success of AA, which in turn, has helped thousands to recover from alcoholism.
The university was selected for the first performance in the states because it served as a homecoming for Bounds.
Also, his mother, who lives in Temple, has wanted to see the play but hasn’t been able to make the trip to England.
After the show was over, he recognized his mother, who worked at UMHB for 30 years.
Bounds grew up in Temple and earned his undergraduate English degree at UMHB.
Next, he moved to the University of Texas to complete his masters before moving to Houston where he worked for NASA, giving briefings to the public about the space program.
He started his professional acting career in Houston, a city with one of America’s largest theater districts, before he moved to New York where he met his wife, who was visiting from England. After they married, they began their lives together there.
Bounds founded Amerrycan Productions shortly after starting his family.
He said, “I had a young family… so I decided I’d create a theater company which produces American stage plays that not a lot of English people (have had) the chance to see.”
Many audience members can relate, as alcoholism affects approximately six percent of the population.
Bounds’ own experience as a recovered alcoholic is partially what inspired him to write and perform this play so that he can share information he wishes he had known at that time in his life.
He said. “The main thing is to get the information out that it is a medical condition, and it is treatable with a recovery program. It (the play) kind of draws aside that curtain of misinformation that a lot of people have.”