top of page



The iconic Tony Award-winning actor, Bill Irwin, is back in town to restage his brilliant ON BECKETT tour de force one man performance about the playwright Samuel Beckett. In December of 2016 Irwin sold out a 2 day run at the Strand stage with his tour de force ON BECKETT, and returns this month only through Jan 22nd. The Strand stage is the perfect space to see this exhilarating romp as the writer's plays, prose, poetry and soft-shoe moves the Irish writer . Irwin combines a series of Beckett passages with personal musings from a lifetime of exploring the writer's work. Irwin does make it clear that he has never read the writer's books, but has performed a number of his classic plays including WAITING FOR GODOT with Robin Williams.

ACT’s Artistic Director, Carey Perloff, says “ I am excited to continue ACT’s 50th season with one of the many artists who has made major contributions to ACT - (this) presentation is the next step in Bill’s journey with Beckett; it is a production that will undoubtedly continue to evolve over many years”

Tony Award winner Bill Irwin returns to American Conservatory Theater with On Beckett, an exhilarating look at Samuel Beckett's plays, prose, and poetry performing at A.C.T.'s Strand Theater now through January 22, 2017.

This insightful one man lecture of sorts ON BECKETT is a grand way for the exceptional Irwin to explore one for America's most acclaimed writers. Irwin is the perfect clown to foolproof some of Beckett’s most acclaimed scenes from his plays and books. Irwin won a Tony for his 2005 performance in WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF and help to create SF’s Pickle Family Circus. Irwin's love for Beckett's work is clearly demonstrated in this 70 minute mix of clowning around and brilliant bits of the author's body of work. From the beginning Irwin reminds us a few times that he is not a Beckett scholar and this could never compete for a PhD thesis.

Besides performing GODOT on Broadway Irwin also did ENDGAME and an adaption of TEXTS FOR NOTHING both for ACT back in 2012 and 2001. Irwin says "Mr. Beckett's language has lived in my head for a long time, - I first encountered it and started the actor's work of committing it to memory decades ago when the world was much younger. I think these two weeks at The Strand will offer a different take on Beckett's writing - a good entry point for people not familiar with Mr. Beckett, and for aficionados and scholars, some new angles."

Sixty-six year old Irwin brings out the amazing best of the Irish writer “I have a special affinity for the way Beckett writes for the body”. The clown culture emerges from Irwin and he brings his classic Chaplin, Buster Keaton body language to Beckett's words. He performs three of Beckett’s 13 TEXTS FOR NOTHING, small parts from the scripts GODOT and ENDGAME and a passage from the novel WATT. The words come alive and Irwin's intense body language and facial expressions bring Beckett's words to a higher level than I have ever seen them performed. The treat of watching Irwin do his class act on stage is inspiring and I was sorry to see the session end. The sold out opening night audience was just as inspired as I was, only wanting more at the end of each of his scenes.

The evening moves smooth and a young actor from the conservatory joins him for a brief moment for a clip from GODOT. The set is simple and mostly features Irwin's iconic costumes including his Bowler hats that he spends a delightful time explaining the character of each of his hats. His layers of clown keep adding to the comic vaudeville that hilariously takes us to the bridge of his performance.

Wednesday’s night opening-night show, included a Q&A that began 90 seconds after the final roaring scene. The well read crowd kept his pro’s entertaining and

Irwin ended the Q&A with a reading from Beckett’s novel THE UNNAMABLE. Yet the highlight of the evening for me was the end of the first act. Irwin brings into play Beckett’s connection for his love of vaudeville with his superb tap dance soft shoe and a classic song. It is a touching moment and as Beckett and Irwin words mesh you don’t want this to end. Bill Irwin both conceived and directs this homage to Beckett and its first class must see theatre. Just to sit and watch the amazing Bill Irwin is sure pleasure.

ACT Presents


Conceived and Performed by


Only through Jan. 22 at

ACT’s Strand Theater,

1127 Market St., San Francisco.

Running time 70 Min

Tickets are $30-$70. Call 415-749-2228 or visit

Pictures by Kevin Berne

BILL IRWIN Talks about his meeting BECKETT with CHARILY ROSE

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
bottom of page