Philadelphia Theatre Company marks its 40th anniversary season with an enticing series of on-stage interviews with some of the major theater artists with whom PTC has worked. World-renowned comic actor Bill Irwin kicks off the Theatre Masters series this Monday, February 16. In coming months, Billy Porter (March 23) and Anna Deavere Smith (May 11) also share their personal journeys of transformation and creative growth and how it has impacted their art and their lives.
“These artists have evolved and transformed in a way that reflects changing tastes and priorities in American theater” says PTC’s executive producing director Sara Garonzik. “The Theatre Masters series [will provide] a probing look into the career paths and artistic process of three extraordinary artists, each of whom excels so brilliantly in so many arenas.”
PTC seems to be finding its footing again after a rocky year or so which saw a major production disrupted by union action and the company default the mortgage for its Avenue of the Arts home. Garonzik hopes the interview series will become a regular part of the continuing theatrical offerings, “underscoring PTC’s mission to produce and develop new American plays and musicals and to host our nation’s most noteworthy artists as they work in collaboration with our region’s finest actors, directors and designers.”
Bill Irwin kicks off the series on Monday, February 16, 2015. An actor, film and television star, world-renowned clown, playwright, director and choreographer, Irwin received a Barrymore Award for his performance in Philadelphia Theatre Company’s 2004 production of Trumbo and a Tony Award for his lead role in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He returned to PTC in 2008 with his own work, The Happiness Lecture.
Billy Porter is up next on Monday, March 23, 2015. A Tony and Grammy award-winning singer, recording artist, composer, actor, playwright and director, he conceived and directed Being Alive based on the music of Stephen Sondheim which PTC produced to inaugurate the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in 2007. He recently won the 2013 Drama Desk and Tony Awards for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots.
Anna Deavere Smith concludes the series on Monday, May 11, 2015. Actress, playwright, and social commentator, Smith last appeared at PTC in Let Me Down Easy in 2011 for which she won the Barrymore Award for best actress. Smith’s work blends theatrical art, social commentary, journalism and intimate musings. Twilight: Los Angeles, about the 1992 L.A. riots, received two Tony nominations, an OBIE, Drama Desk Award, and a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle, and Fires in the Mirror, examining a race riot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (1991), when age-old racial tensions between black and Jewish neighbors exploded, received an OBIE Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is probably most recognizable as Nancy McNally, national security advisor on NBC’s long-running hit The West Wing and as Gloria Akalitus on Showtime’s current hit series Nurse Jackie.
[Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad Street] February 16, March 23, & May 11, 2015; philadelphiatheatrecompany.org.