Bill Irwin is no stranger to the works of Samuel Beckett, with multiple appearances in his major works, including a pair of Broadway revivals of Waiting for Godot and A.C.T. productions of Endgame and Texts for Nothing here several years ago. His newest work, opening tomorrow night at the Strand Theater is called On Beckett, and uses texts by the Irish avant-garde dramatist and author, interspersed with Irwin’s thoughts about the works.
There’s more information about the production at the A.C.T. website.
“It’s a conversational evening, at least that’s the way I think of it,” he explains. “I have a series of passages from Samuel Beckett’s plays, prose, maybe his poetry to share, and they’re short – they’re between three minutes and eight minutes each. In between, I’ll offer some thoughts on them, because I’ve done a lot of thinking about it.” Irwin says to the many who were confused trying to read Waiting for Godot in high school, he knows the feeling: “I’m as befuddled often as anybody by Mr. Beckett’s writings, even though it’s meant a lot to me and I’ve immersed myself in it. It can be daunting. People use the word ‘opaque’ about Beckett sometimes, and sometimes they put a little edge on it, like ‘it’s opaque!’. But it is such gorgeous language, and so active. He is so nimble and quick and funny, and he’s looking at these huge, but also very basic, small everyday questions. But he’s looking at them… with the lightest touch.” He says he keeps returning to Beckett’s works, and doesn’t have a choice in the matter. “These are passages of language that have gone viral. Not necessarily in the internet sense, we use that word now, but like, in my head… in my heart, in my psyche. They won’t let… I won’t speak for anybody else, but they won’t let ME alone once I’ve worked with them.”