Irwin illuminates Beckett at ACT

Jan 12

Irwin illuminates <i>Beckett</i> at ACT

Bill Irwin wants to address everything you've ever wanted to know about Samuel Beckett but were afraid to ask. His casual one-man show On Beckett, now in a short run at American Conservatory Theater's Strand Theater, provides an excellent opportunity to explore the enigmatic Beckett from a safe distance and through utterly delightful filter of the inimitable Irwin.

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Irwin and Shiner: Old Hats are the best hats

Sep 18

Irwin and Shiner: <i>Old Hats</i> are the best hats

I will be the first to admit that clowns have never been a favorite of mine. Not circus clowns, not hobo clowns, not mimes, not even a lot of commedia dell'arte rigamarole. Occasionally, however, I get it – I get the comedy, I get the poignancy, I get the masterful balance of comedy and tragedy in the pursuit of laughs. And by far my favorite clowns – the ones who do it better than just about anybody – are Bill Irwin and David Shiner.

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Enter Stage Left: SF theater history on film

Oct 03

Enter <i>Stage Left</i>: SF theater history on film

Docuemntary film director/producer Austin Forbord (below right) has created a fascinating documentary about the history of San Francisco theater from the post-World War II days up to the present. The movie has its premeire at the Mill Valley Film Festival this week and will likely see wider release soon after.

I interviewed Forbord for a story in the San Francisco Chronicle. You can read the story here.

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There’s no escapin’ the joys of this Scapin

Sep 23

There’s no escapin’ the joys of this <i>Scapin</i>

If you want to see what funny looks like, you should see Bill Irwin in a comedy. In recent years, he’s been fairly serious, what with his stage work in shows like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (a Tony Award-winning turn opposite Kathleen Turner) or The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (opposite Sally Field) and his movie work as a dedicated dishwasher-loading dad in Rachel Getting Married.

But Irwin is a clown in the purest sense. The Bay Area knows him as one of the founders of the Pickle Family Circus, and his alter ego, Willy the Clown, is as beloved as they come.

We’ve seen Irwin on the American Conservatory Theater stage in the last few years, in his luminous Fool Moon project with David Shiner and the conundrum of Beckett’s Texts for Nothing, but his return as the title character in Moliere’s Scapin, ACT’s season opener, is reason to cheer.

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The `irk’ in Cirque

Nov 15

It could be that I have been burned by the Circus of the Sun. Now, I fully realize there are worse things to suffer in life than weariness of Cirque du Soleil, the phenomenally successful new-age Canadian circus troupe. And I also realize that to be weary of Cirque means I’ve had the great good fortune to see a whole lot of Cirque shows. The first Cirque show...

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Another Cirque in SF

Jun 25

The big yellow-and-blue-striped tent — the Grand Chapiteau — is heading back to the Bay Area. Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring show, KOOZA, will have its U.S. premiere Nov. 16 in the parking lot behind San Francisco’s AT&T Park. The show then moves to San Jose Jan. 31. You can never tell with the quirky Cirque, but this show sounds...

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