By Patrick Lacombe
The Belton Journal
Bryan Bounds was an alcoholic when a friend told him the story of Bill Wilson the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The story helped Bounds recover from his illness and now he’s going to share the story in Belton through My Name is Bill: An Afternoon with an Alcoholic.
Bounds wrote the play and is also the solo performer. It has received rave reviews over its five year tour in Europe. The American premiere will take place on Sept. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at UMHB’s Hughes Recital Hall.
“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 Bill W. when he hits rock bottom and makes an important decision.
“This play deals with the crisis in his life on the afternoon that he took the steps that then founded Alcoholics Anonymous,” Bounds said. “It is 100 percent factual, in that what the audience are going to see, is what actually happened.”
In addition to telling a story, Bounds wants My Name is Bill to provide people with insight into the issues a person suffering from alcoholism faces.
“I wanted to let people know that alcoholics are not two-headed creatures but they are people just like anybody else,” he said. “They just happen to have this mental condition of alcoholism.”
The performance at UMHB will also serve as a homecoming for Bounds who grew up in Temple and earned his undergraduate English degree at Mary Hardin-Baylor. After completing his masters at the University of Texas, he moved to Houston where he worked for NASA giving briefings to the public about the space program.
He started his professional acting career in Houston before he moved to New York where he met his wife who was visiting from England. One year later he moved to Yorkshire England and they’ve now been married for 15 years. Then Bounds founded Amerrycan Productions.
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.”
Alcoholism affects about 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 with people that he wishes he had known at that time of his life.
“It’s a disease where there’s a lot of misinformation about it,” he said. “The main thing is to get the information out that it is a medical condition and it’s treatable with a recovery program. It (the play) kind of draws aside that curtain of misinformation that a lot of people have.”