The project, titled The Happiness Lecture, will be developed during a series of workshops in 2006-2007 and will be the highlight of the company's inaugural 2007-08 season at Philadelphia Theatre Company's Suzanne Roberts Theater, the troupe's new home on the Avenue of the Arts.
The grant was received from the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts.
"We are grateful to the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative for enabling us to continue our relationship with Bill Irwin whose appearance in our production of Trumbo won him a 2005 Barrymore Award," said Sara Garonzik, Philadelphia Theatre Company's producing artistic director. "As a company dedicated to producing and developing new work by contemporary American playwrights, we are thrilled that Bill's newest piece will be a centerpiece in the first season of our new theatre space."
PTC just hosted a three-day workshop which launched the Bill Irwin commission from Philadlephia Theatre Initiative. "We put together 12 exciting movement-based actors, dancers, musicians, videographers, aerialists, commedia specialists and designers from both Philadelphia and New York, including master puppeteer Marty Robinson, for three days of experimentation under Bill Irwin's guidance," a spokesperson told Playbill.com.
Bill Irwin is one of the major physical comedians working in theatre, and has also acted in more conventional scripted works, as well, including Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which he won a Best Actor Tony Award. He is widely revered for his turn in the Broadway clown show, Fool Moon. Irwin starred opposite Sally Field in the 2002 Tony Award-winning play The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, by Edward Albee. Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company dedicated its entire 2003-2004 season to showcasing Irwin's original work, for which he served as writer, director and star. With Steve Martin, Robin Williams, and F. Murray Abraham, he starred in Waiting for Godot.
Irwin has a role in the new M. Night Shyamalan film, "Lady in the Water," and recently completed the film "Dark Matter," with Meryl Streep.
Philadelphia Theatre Company is Philadelphia's only non-profit professional theatre dedicated exclusively to producing world and regional premieres of works by contemporary American playwrights. Under the leadership of producing artistic director, Sara Garonzik, Philadelphia Theatre Company "has had ever-increasing national impact having produced 34 world premieres of new American plays and musicals in its 31 seasons."
Recent world premiere productions include Some Men by Terrence McNally; Adrift in Macao by Christopher Durang and Peter Melnick; Bruce Graham's According to Goldman; Jeffrey Hatcher's A Picasso; Daniel Stern's comedy Barbra's Wedding; John Henry Redwood's No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs; J.T. Rogers' White People; David Ives' Lives of the Saints; three-time Tony Award-winning Master Class by Terrence McNally; Bunny Bunny by Alan Zweibel.
Philadelphia Theatre Company has embarked on a groundbreaking Capital Campaign in support of building its new home, the Suzanne Roberts Theater on the Avenue of the Arts, scheduled to open in fall 2007, when it concludes its 25-year residence at the historic Plays & Players Theater.
For further information please call (215) 985-1400 or visit www.phillytheatreco.com.