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'Recovery theater' helps alcoholics through production

'Pass It On: An Evening with Bill W. and Dr. Bob' about 2 men who founded Alcoholics Anonymous

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Prevention is stepping into the world of theater.

The organization is sponsoring the production "Pass It On: An Evening with Bill W. and Dr. Bob," about the men who founded Alcoholics Anonymous in the mid 1940s.

Gary Kimble plays Bill W. in the two-hour production.

"They were very typical garden-variety alcoholics," said Kimble. "The two men met completely by chance and together stumbled on to the treatment for alcoholism which has saved so many lives."

The treatment is the 12-step program.

"These guys were not saints. They didn't walk on water. They were hardcore nose-in-the-gutter drunks who had a miracle happen in their lives and started to share it with others passionately," Kimble said.

Kimble now carries on that passion through his portrayal of Bill W., since he, himself, is a recovering alcoholic.

"I had a career in professional theater and toured all over the world until alcohol and drugs took me out of the game," Kimble said.

He joins fellow actor and friend Will Stutts, who plays the role of Dr. Bob.

Kimble started performing in the original Off-Broadway production of "Pass It On," but said he knew it would be too expensive to take it everywhere people needed to hear the message.

In 2010 while in San Antonio attending the International AA Conference, he came up with the idea of turning that massive production into a two-man play. Now they can reach many more people.

"We believe the more tools to carry the message, the better to carry the message of recovery wherever and whenever possible," Kimble said.

Their version of the original doesn't change the message, but it does add to it. They not only tell the history of AA through drama and humor, but they also go into the 12-step program.

"We teach the early history of AA, how they wrote the big book for AA, how they created the steps and what the steps are," said Kimble.

But they don't stop there with the 12 steps.

"(We show) how to use them in a way that is not dry and preachy not a piece of sandpaper -- it's actually very funny," he said.

Not to mention successful.

"We received so many letters from people about their experience and they would go into meeting rooms the next day," Kimble said.

The play runs March 20-23. It begins at 7:30  p.m. with matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available online or by calling 800-838-3006.

For a list of recent stories David Sears has done, click here.


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