Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: 'Idea of Silence' means the world for mime Bill Bowers

Bill Bowers is doing something he sees so little of in the United States. It's a language he's not hearing as often as he would like, and so he's spreading the word – the silent word – through the universal language of mime.

After being stuck in Colorado during the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, Bowers' return trip back home to Lower Manhattan did not find damage to his residence though, he said, he was only a block away from major flooding. He had just completed two nights of performing his solo show, "Beyond Words," on Theatre Row on 42nd Street, at the annual United Solo Theatre Festival.

No stranger to the Lehigh Valley, Bowers formerly resided in Bethlehem some years back and performed at the former Pennsylvania Stage Company, located at the J.I. Rodale Theatre in Allentown. This weekend, he performs on the other side of the Delaware at Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown, N.J., with another of his original solo shows, "Under a Montana Moon." The black-box show opens tonight and runs through Sunday at Centenary College's Lackland Center, 715 Grand Ave.

Bowers describes "Under a Montana Moon" as "a series of silent stories that conceivably could happen under the western sky." He performs them in white face and without words but utilizes music as he uses the Art of Silence to investigate the Idea of Silence, or what he explains as "what it's like to remain silent, to be silenced, or to silence someone else."

A physical (Equity) actor and teaching artist, Bowers has been mastering his art professionally for more than three decades in the United States and abroad. He was Zazu in Disney's "The Lion King" and Leggett in "The Scarlet Pimpernel" on Broadway. He's performed his original solo shows Off-Broadway, as well as appeared in regional theater productions across the country. Television credits include appearances on soaps, "All My Children" and "One Life to Live," and in film he was the mime in "Two Weeks Notice," starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.

The Montana native said he found his inspiration for pantomime at a young age in "the big quiet of the West." It was the idea of silence and its power that fascinated him. By the time he reached high school, he had taught himself how to pantomime. But it was when his mother bought him a ticket to see world-renowned Master of Mime, Marcel Marceau, in his home state that he spent the next 25 years perfecting his art enough to come under the wing of Marceau for studies in movement and technique.

Bowers headed east after graduating from Montana's Rocky Mountain College to pursue acting and performance studies at Rutgers University. He currently leads a training program for actors at New York University and is a teaching artist in elementary and high schools throughout the country, presenting programs that incorporate mime, creative movement and theater games. He also has found mime and creative movement effective in working with individuals with learning challenges. Following the September 11 disaster, Bowers was invited as artist-in-residence at several New York City schools, helping children find creative expression for their feelings of anxiety and loss.

"Mime has been my ticket to seeing the world," he said.

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Veterans and armed forces worldwide will be recognized in a special "Salute the Troops" concert on Sunday at 3 p.m., at Freedom High School in Bethlehem. The program, presented by the Bethlehem Morning Star Rotary Club, will feature the Allentown Band with Conductor Ronald Demkee with Jason Ham (Euphonium) of the U.S. Military Academy Band. The high school's Fife & Drum Corps, and members of its Patriot Band conducted by Michael Moran also will perform. Proceeds will benefit the Victory House of Lehigh Valley's Homeless Veterans Program, plus other Morning Star charitable activities. Tickets are $10.

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It wouldn't be Christmas in Bethlehem without Christkindlmarkt, which marks its 20th year of holiday magic with a six-week run beginning today through Dec. 23. The event is located at the PNC Plaza, 645 E. First St., and features more than 125 vendors each week. In addition to shopping among fine artisans, there will be ethnic foods, specialty foods and live holiday music provided by local school choirs and musicians. New this year will be live Christmas trees, wreaths and swag by Hidden Pines Farms. Highlights include Make Your Own Glass Ornament sessions, ice sculptors, and Breakfast with St. Nicholas.

Hours are Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving Day).

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The Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra marks its 30th anniversary of performing a full series of classical chamber music in the Lehigh Valley. Its "Musical Milestone" event will be marked with an evening of Schumann, Mozart and Haydn on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., at Allentown Symphony Hall. Featured soloist is cellist Meta Weiss, with Schumann's Concert for Cello and Orchestra. Weiss performed with the Sinfonia in March 2011. A native of San Francisco, she made her international debut at the age of 7 in Utrecht, Holland, at the International String Convention. She has been featured numerous times on National Public Radio.

The evening also will feature a performance by the Camerata Singers with Haydn's Mass in D Minor with the orchestra. Music Director Allan Birney conducts both groups.

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The Reading Symphony Orchestra presents Liang Wang, principal oboe for the New York Philharmonic, on Saturday at 8 p.m., at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center. Wang will perform Mozart's Oboe Concerto. Also to be performed are Barber's School for Scandal Overture and Elgar's Enigma Variations. Wang, a native of China, has held principal oboe positions with such companies as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.

Also on the program are junior and senior members of the Reading Youth Symphony Orchestra in a side-by-side performance of Lezghinka by Khachaturian.

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"Get It While It's Hot" – That's the theme for Saturday's fundraiser at the GoggleWorks in Reading, with live glass blowing by renowned glass artists from Berks County and beyond. A Mingle & Meet with the artists will be held at 5:30 p.m., followed by a glass blowing event at 7 p.m., and live auction of the hot works. The evening also will feature a silent auction. The event helps support the GoggleWorks Hot Glass Studio and the venue's mission "to nurture the arts, foster creativity, promote education and enrich the community."

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The Reading Public Museum hosts the 10th Annual Art of the Craft on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., an invitational show featuring contemporary and traditional artisans. Proceeds benefit the museum.

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