Beyond Words—The Power of Silence


Gay mime breaks away from small town America and goes on to perform in Asia, Europe and all 50 States. Despite his silent profession, he has much to tell you.

Born in Missoula, Montana in 1959, Bill Bowers came home from the hospital with a poem titled “What Is a Boy?” pinned to him.

That poem, and what it means to be different in wholesome America, is the inspiration for Bowers’ one-man show Beyond Words, that opened on October 12, at Urban Stages, 259 W 30th St.

Drawing largely from personal experience, Beyond Words is written and performed by Bowers and directed by Scott Illingworth. It blends mime, song, literary and real tragedies, and intimate monologues into 75 continuous minutes.

Bowers mimes colorful stories—a cowboy saloon fight, a boy’s trip to the County Fair, and a bored factory worker’s purchase of pink ballet slippers—but the real strength of Beyond Words comes from the performer’s private life.

The dramatic acting out of other people’s stories (like Matthew Shepard’s death) feels a bit over-the-top and disconnected, when compared to the natural and vivid storytelling that results from Bowers’ own experiences.

You feel for his mean, manly uncle who owned a doll as a kid and got teased mercilessly for it. You imagine the cascading lettuce and radish arrangements of his “salad boy” era. Without ever going to Choteau, Montana, you are warmed by the small community that welcomed the artist with open arms.

Beyond Words talks to the silenced outsider in all of us and for a show by a mime, its words are stronger than its actions.

Tickets cost $40 and are available at or by calling 212-868-4444. Performance schedule: Monday at 8 p.m.; Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 5 p.m.

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