2005 Tony Awards Q&A: Bill Irwin

May 16
3:13 PM 2005
Bill Irwin was an original member of Kraken, and was an original member of the Pickle Family Circus of San Francisco. He is also proudly, an associate artist with the Roundabout Theatre Company. Bill's Broadway credits include The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia?, Fool Moon, Largely New York, The Regard of Flight, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and 5-6-7-8 Dance! Off-Broadway he's performed in Scapin, Waiting for Godot, The Tempest, Garden of Earthly Delights, Texts for Nothing, and A Flea in Her Ear. He's also got more TV and Film credits than we possibly could list here. Amongst other awards, Irwin has won National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer's Fellowship, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships.

What's the experience been like for you doing Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

It's a big play, and there's so much that goes into it every day. In fact, a few minutes ago Kathleen [Turner] just came over and said 'I'm leaving baby, I've got to go get ready.' That's because there's a lot of prep involved in this play. We run through the fight sequences before, well before, the curtain every night. We constantly run lines together before every show too, and then there's a long, traditionally long, story to tell the audience every show. Today, we're doing it twice.

So there's a lot more work that goes into it than most people realize…

Absolutely, and with this show, the irony is that you have to go the gym to work out, and to stay in top physical shape to play these people that are epically dissipated, that are hard drinkers. It's an exhilarating play, and you come off tired, but thrilled.

What's the typical audience reaction to the play been like?

To respond to your question, it's really a joy to respond to people and I think that audiences to this show have been pleasantly surprised. The fact of the matter is, is that it's a funnier play than a lot of people have it in their minds that it is. I'm not going to use the word 'uplifting,' but there's a more promising impulse in this play than a lot of people think, so we get to surprise them 8 times a week.

How does it feel to not only be nominated, but to have all of your castmates be nominated as well?

Being nominated is a great thrill, and we like to say that all four of us were nominated, which means that our director, Anthony Page was nominated four times. Had all four of us not been nominated, I don't think there would have been any problems though. Sometimes the producers worry that if someone is nominated and someone else isn't there would be problems, and I could see how there would be, but I don't think that in our cast it would have been a problem.

It's a thrill, and I really look at is as confirmation that we're a quartet. It's like a piece of chamber music, with all four of us playing.

So the four of you will be doing a lot of that playing over the next few weeks?

Exactly, and the fact that we get to hang out is great. The fact is that we like each other very much, and we of course see each other on stage all the time, but this means more time to spend together, and that's great. We couldn't be happier.

Speaking of happy people, it's not just you four that have been nominated, but writer Edward Albee will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award as well…

Edward wrote this play when he was 32, and then 40 something years later, he wrote The Goat that I was in as well. He tells me that he has something new in the typewriter now for me too. He's an ageless playwright, but he won't be with us forever, so it's very fitting that he be honored for his lifetime achievement this year with this show back on Broadway. I have a feeling that he'll be honored at least another half dozen times in his life.

You've raised a good point about the age of the play, how do you think it's holding up today?

People keep telling us, that they didn't know when they were booking tickets for it, but afterwards they say that they've had no sense that they were watching an old fashioned play. We get accused of improvising all time… 'Does Edward know that you're adding that little line in there?' We keep telling people 'no,' that it's his line and we don't make anything up.

This play is truly a great invention, and we're having a great time doing it eight times a week.

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Robert Diamond The 2001 Syracuse University graduate (School of Information Studies) is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media, an award-winning leading design company for entertainment and technology web sites. In his previous life, he held an executive position for the world's leading publisher of technology magazines, web sites and conferences and, as a result, was named among the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by FOLIO Magazine.

Robert Diamond founded BroadwayWorld.com in 2003, which has now become the largest theatre web site in the world. He also serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief, covering Broadway and beyond, with specific local coverage for 100 cities in the United States, 35 countries worldwide and 15 other related areas of entertainment - including dance, opera, fashion, concerts, comedy, films, television and more. In May of 2014, the site was awarded a 2014 Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts Education by the prestigious Theatre Museum.

Diamond got his start in the entertainment field, accidentally, when he created the 'official web site' (while in college) for Michael Crawford, the popular actor and original Tony and Olivier Award-winning star of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (He still blames Crawford - and credits him - for anything that goes particularly right or wrong during an average day.)

As a respected member of the Broadway and theatre community, Diamond also served as Lead Producer for a series of sold-out shows using the BroadwayWorld.com 'brand' for a set of 'Standing Ovations' concerts, which also branched out into titles that included Holiday Shows and even more specific concerts like 'From Stage to Screen and Back Again' in tandem with publishers and movie studios. All proceeds were in turn donated to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, the industry's leader in aid for performers in need.

Robert lives in Manhattan with his wife and two dogs, growing the business and getting little sleep. In addition, you can usually find him in a theatre many nights a week. Robert's very popular blog, 'The Broadway Pulse' appears daily on BroadwayWorld.com and he also wrote weekly about theatre for the USA Network's Character Approved blog.

In December of 2011, Diamond was one of 5 Syracuse University Alumni, all having achieved success in the world of start-ups, business growth and venture capital, participating on a panel addressing young alumni who are currently pursuing their dreams of running their own business and experiencing the day to day challenges of a startup. It is part of the university's new Student Accelerator Program, for which Rob was recommended by Syracuse University's i-School.

In late 2012, Wisdom Digital Media announced the official spinoff and launch of 10 new entertainment web sites including BWWMoviesWorld.com, BWWTVWorld.com, BWWFashionWorld.com, BWWBooksWorld.com, BWWMusicWorld.com, BWWArtWorld.com, BWWComedyWorld.com, BWWDanceWorld.com, BWWClassicalWorld.com and BWWOperaWorld.com.

In January of 2013, BWWGeeksWorld.com, devoted to home entertainment, mobile technologies and social media launched as well, followed by BWWFitnessWorld.com and BWWTravelWorld.com in April of 2013. In July of 2013, BWWHub.com launched as a portal to the complete family of entertainment and lifestyle offerings.

In 2014, BroadwayWorld.com returned to the concert stage, with a series of benefit concerts featuring Broadway's brightest stars. A new partnership with Rock-it Science Records will record and release these special evenings, with proceeds benefiting various charities.

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