Bill W. and Dr. Bob

by  Samuel Shem, Janet Surrey

Full Length Play, Drama  /  3m, 3f

Winner! 2007 Performing Arts Award from the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence

Winner! 2010 Best Play - Regional Drama Festival, British Columbia

"Wonderful uplifting new play...a joyous drama of the triumph and survival of the …

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License Estimator

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    3m, 3f
  • Duration

    Duration

    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Docudrama/Historic
  • Suggested Use

    Suggested Use

    • Scene work
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior

Additional Info

Newly revised edition! From the author of the best-selling novel, The House of God, this critically acclaimed version which played Off Broadway in 2007, tells the amazing story of the two men who pioneered Alcoholics Anonymous, and of their wives, who founded Al Anon. During the roaring '20s, New York stockbroker Bill Wilson rides high on money, fame, and booze. In '29, both he and the market crash and he becomes a hopeless drunk. Dr. Bob Smith, a surgeon in Akron, Ohio, and a pillar of the community, has been a secret drunk for thirty years, often going into the operating room hungover and high on sedatives. His family has tried everything to no avail. Through an astonishing series of events involving doctors, ministers, the Oxford Group evangelical movement, and Henrietta Sieberling a scion of the Goodyear Rubber fortune, Bill and Bob meet on Mother's Day of 1935. The two men form a relationship which keeps each sober. Fired up, they seek out a third drunk to see if their program will work for others. Richly textured with the ragtime and jazz of the era, the play tells a magnificent American success story.

For more information, please visit the offical website at www.billwanddrbob.com.

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Accolades

  • Winner! 2007 Performing Arts Award from the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence

    Winner! 2010 Best Play - Regional Drama Festival, British Columbia

Reviews

"Wonderful uplifting new play...a joyous drama of the triumph and survival of the humor spirit...filled with humor and grace." -Examiner

"Top Cleveland Theatre Stories of 2010, Great Shows at the Cleveland Playhouse: Bill W and Dr. Bob. A sober but far from somber telling of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous...a surprisingly fun and funny play...an intimate, balanced and intoxicating portrayal of the teamwork and tensions between the men who took the first 12 steps together...a metaphor for the AA phenomenon: The light of truth shining through the testimony of one drunk's experiences to another, a phenomenon that Bill W. and Dr. Bob makes sparkle." -Tony Brown, The Plain Dealer

"The play deals with relationships...The playwrights, through the script, don't attempt to teach, nor are they judgmental. They explore each man's relationship with his wife, with each other and in the final scenes, their relationship with other alcoholics. You don't have to be an alcoholic or a member of AA or Al-Anon to enjoy Bill W. and Dr. Bob. Bergman and Surrey have written a powerful script. The play begins and ends with an AA meeting's traditional opening and closing. However, what happens between those brief scenes is mesmerizing drama...This is a good, strong story that is well written" –Talkin' Broadway

"A deeply human, audience embracing tale." -Variety

"One of the best plays of the year." -San Diego Union Tribune

"Inspiring." -Boston Globe

"The just-concluded theater season was the biggest at Cleveland Play House in more than a decade...it was the nightcap that put the Play House over the top: a production of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, a play about the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. The show sold more than six times the anticipated number of tickets, resulting in the venue's biggest season finale in 20 years." -Cleveland Scene

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre

Cautions

  • Caution Alcohol Alcohol

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1950s, 1940s / WWII, 1930s
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: Several towns in the United States, inside hospitals, homes, hotels, and bars, etc.

Casting

3m, 3f

Bill W. -  Wide range of emotions; Loud, proud, headstrong, extroverted, an idealist.

Dr. Bob - Wide range of emotions, Grumpy, depressed, joking, inspired.

Anne - A kindly, good-hearted, motherly figure living in Ohio.

Lois - Cold, doubting, lonely, New Yorker. Wishes she had children.

Man - Plays multiple comedic and dramatic roles.

Woman - Plays multiple comedic and dramatic roles.

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Cast Attributes

  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Parts for Senior Actors

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Authors

Samuel Shem

Samuel Shem

Janet Surrey

Janet Surrey

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