Old Hats Stars David Shiner & Bill Irwin on Clowning Around Together for 25 Years

first_imgDavid Shiner & Bill Irwin (Photo: Caitlin McNaney) Q: Bill, you’ve acted in Beckett plays, won a Tony for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and done clown shows like Old Hats and Fool Moon. How would you compare them? BILL: They’re very different, but there’s a kind of kinship. Edward Albee, the premier dark playwright of the American theater, would show up at rehearsal and quote his favorite lines from Auntie Mame. He would stand at the back of the theater, not facing the stage, and sort of conduct the music of his play. He grew up in a vaudeville family, and it’s not so far from Edward Albee to the vaudeville roots David and I celebrate.Q: The show is called Old Hats, but a 25-year-old would have a hard time keeping up with the physical comedy you do. What’s your secret? DAVID: You just take care of yourself. I’ve never seen Bill drink alcohol, ever. I don’t drink either. The passion for the work keeps you fit. Of course it’s exhausting, and everything aches when you get out of bed, but that’s gone in 10 minutes after a coffee.BILL: The show itself is kind of a structured workout, and we love what we do. We’re holding on for dear life because we want to keep doing it. Q: Do you remember your first impressions of each other?DAVID: My first impression was that he was the god of clowning.BILL: He always says this!DAVID: No, it’s true. I saw a video of him in [the 1982 solo piece] The Regard of Flight, and I thought, “That is the best clown in the world. Period.” Nobody was doing what he did, [combining] dance, theater, mime, music and clowning.BILL: That touches my heart. But do you remember when we first met? We were like two dogs sniffing each other.DAVID: I was just overwhelmed. When he came to see Cirque du Soleil, I was spying from behind the curtain, going, “Holy shit! Bill Irwin is here. I’ve got to be good tonight.”BILL: Here’s my story: My mother and I were at Cirque du Soleil, looking down on Shiner doing his act. She was always tolerant of my being a clown, but I don’t remember her rolling with laughter. But with Shiner, she could not sit up straight! I’ve been watching him from the wings for 25 years now, thinking, “How does he do that?” People laugh; they don’t get mad. Related Shows When the sublime clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner saunter on stage in baggy tailcoats, loose ties and top hats, it’s impossible not to smile. Within seconds, that smile turns into nonstop laughter as Irwin and Shiner wordlessly engage in a comically violent political debate, play a hobo on a park bench (Shiner) or a businessman wrestling with his iPad selfie (Irwin). These are just three of many highlights in Old Hats, the funniest show in New York and a rare chance to see two masters in top form, aided by sly singer/songwriter Shaina Taub and her band. Sitting together at Signature Theater before a recent evening performance, Irwin and Shiner look like accountants, but don’t be fooled: Shiner will soon morph into a lascivious, ponytailed magician alongside Irwin as his sexy female assistant. How do they keep a straight face amid the mayhem? It isn’t easy.Q: You two have known each other for 25 years. What makes this such a special partnership?BILL: I’m dying to hear what he will say.DAVID: I think it’s because we love and respect each other so much, artistically and personally.BILL: …which is not the same thing as saying we understand each other! Old Hats Q: David can be hilariously abrupt when he pulls strangers from the audience for a silent movie segment, but they love it. DAVID: There’s a secret to that: You have to like people a lot. When I bring someone on stage, I want to make sure they have fun. I’m not there to make them look stupid—although I do that! But they end up having fun watching me make fun of them. It helps that they’ve already seen Bill and me do all kinds of crazy things. By the time I pull them on stage, they’ve begun to trust us because they can see we know what we’re doing. The key is to make them feel they’re not being… what would you say, Bill?BILL: …misused. At this point in our long history, that [ability] is less mysterious to me than how you crawl through the audience.DAVID: Oh, that’s fun. It looks like I’m manhandling them, but I’m light on my feet. Q: What’s your favorite part of the show?DAVID: All the numbers with Bill. I’m always biting my lip [to avoid laughing]. During the magic act, I can’t look at him because the faces he makes are so ridiculous. And he’s really invested in his character.BILL: People ask me, “Have you done much drag?” And I say, “I don’t think of it as drag. I’m playing a woman!” My favorite part is when we play the two [pompous] guys waiting for a train.DAVID: They’re such losers. It’s existential because those two guys missed the train a long time ago.Q: You’re great dancers, and you’ve both had short runs in Broadway musicals [Shiner in 2000’s Seussical; Irwin in the 2009 revival of Bye Bye Birdie]. Is that something you would want to do again?DAVID: Never! Even if I come back in my next life as an actor, I will never do a Broadway musical again. If I’ve made any mistake in my career, that was it.BILL: I don’t see any huge demand for me, so it’s not a question I need to ponder too deeply. I do love the musical form, although it’s often disappointing.DAVID: For me, it was terrifying to be around so many talented singers. I was just a clown! The Cat in the Hat, OK, I looked the part, but when I started singing, I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned my microphone off. I would like to do a play. It would be fun to play a character who is evil incarnate, someone aligned with the devil.BILL: I’ve gotta say, playing a serial killer on CSI was fun for a while, but I was glad when he died. Show Closed This production ended its run on April 3, 2016 View Commentslast_img read more

Jose Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes: No official proposal from Manchester United

first_img Mourinho has been linked with the Manchester United manager’s job over the last week following his dismissal as Chelsea boss. Van Gaal is under increasing pressure after United embarked upon a six-match winless run that has also seen them exit the Champions League. Press Association Some fans clearly want Mourinho to replace Van Gaal, however. Cries of Mourinho’s name could be heard around Old Trafford on Saturday and U nited were booed off the pitch following their third straight defeat, which left them in fifth position. Three weeks ago, senior United figures insisted Van Gaal had the board’s full support, but after a run of six matches without a win, they have now fallen quiet. It is understood the United board were disappointed in particular at Van Gaal’s failure to lead the team through what was viewed as a relatively easy Champions League group containing PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg. And a second straight defeat in the league means United head into the busy Christmas schedule outside the Barclays Premier League’s top four. Although United could stomach another year out of the Champions League in a financial sense, the damage to the club’s standing in the game would be hit if they were not in Europe’s top club competition next season. And with Mourinho available and willing to take the job, there has been a flood of speculation linking the two-time Champions League winner with United. United will also be aware Pep Guardiola is available in the summer, although he is rumoured to be ready to move to Manchester City instead following his stint with Bayern Munich. United travel to Stoke on Boxing Day before hosting Chelsea on December 28. Louis van Gaal will face the media today for the first time since speculation began claiming that he is set to be replaced by Jose Mourinho. Mourinho is understood to be ready to take the top job at United should the board decide to sack Van Gaal, who is halfway through his three-year contract. The Portuguese’s agent Jorge Mendes, speaking to Globo Esporte on Tuesday night, denied a deal had been struck between his client and the United board. Mendes insisted an “official proposal” had not been tabled by United, but the super agent did not exactly pour cold water on claims the former Chelsea manager is set for the hot seat at Old Trafford. “There is nothing,” Mendes said. “We don’t know what will happen in the future, but now there is no agreement. There isn’t an official proposal either – that’s not true.” Van Gaal, who worked with Mourinho at Barcelona, is expected to receive questions on the Portuguese and his own job security at his weekly press conference in Carrington at 1530 today. Speaking after the 2-1 loss to Norwich last Saturday, Van Gaal insisted he had the backing of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and his own players. ”Ed was very fast out of the dressing room but I feel that support, yes,” the 64-year-old said. ”The most important support is from the players because the players have to do it on the pitch and the chemistry between the players and the manager and his staff is very important.” last_img read more