This last weekend's Super Bowl showcased two championship football teams as well as lots of commercials vying for that other championship - getting their business in front of the over 111 million people watching, and the real trophy-- the most post game buzz about their ad .
This year the ads were full of nods to nostalgia, some were sophomoric, and some were downright strange. And, like every other Sunday football afternoon, there were beer ads. This year even the camera on the field was brought to us by Budweiser. And it’s no surprise that the commercials for beer always seem to have women who are beautiful, a guy with a drink who is cool, or even just made cool by circumstance (and alcohol), and an air that everyone involved is living the high life having fun with other sexy, interesting people (and this year dogs!?%!). The message is clear - when you drink, you'll be more attractive, you'll have fun, and you'll probably get the pretty girl. But there is another side to the story Madison Avenue sells on Super Bowl Sunday.
Right now, Illusion Theater relates another side of the story with their production of the award-winning play BILL W. & DR. BOB is the story behind the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. This play recounts the fortuitous meeting, in Akron, Ohio, of a New York stockbroker and a country doctor whose only commonality was their alcoholism, the havoc it had wreaked on their lives and a desire, albeit fragile, to remain sober. By the time they found each other, they were neither attractive, nor fun-loving, nor cool.
Over the past 75 years, Alcoholics Anonymous, the term they assigned to their efforts, has grown into one of the most recognizable movements in the world. Variations on the theme have spawned Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous and countless other self-help groups. Treatment for addiction has emerged as a viable response, joining the list of other clinical maladies that require continuing self-care. Treatment also offers hope for recovery. Research has pointed to multiple paths to addiction, from biological, to psychological, social, behavioral, and even to spiritual. And strategies have emerged to address them all, with varying degrees of success.
But after more than seven decades of discovery and progress, one thing remains constant: no matter how you get sober, your community is what keeps you sober. In the case of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, the community they created for support involved each other, their spouses, and other alcoholics who shared a desire to stop drinking. Before there were 12 Steps, or 12 Traditions, or any other structured interventions, there was simply fellowship, support, and brutal honesty.
This is a play that is about much more than the two men who, through their own shared failures, found success. It is about community, fellowship, and the strength of the human spirit. Seeing this play should be a no-brainer for those in recovery, and those who share their lives.
But there is a lesson in the telling of this inspiring and heartwarming story that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt lonely and lost, or who believed they were alone with their unique set of problems. This is a story of hope.
And you can watch it commercial free.
BILL W. & DR. BOB runs through March 6.