Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

‘Old Hats’ star Bill Irwin to receive Evolving Circus Award at 2nd Annual Celebration of American Circus Awards on Jan. 5

Bill Irwin and David Shiner at the opening night party of OLD HATS at The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on March 4, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Bill Irwin and David Shiner at the opening night party of OLD HATS at The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on March 4, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Circus NowOld Hats star Bill Irwin will receive the Evolving Circus Award from his co-star and fellow clownical artist David Shiner at the 2nd Annual Celebration of American Circus at the Big Top at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 at 8pm.

The celebration, honoring and spotlighting the distinguished achievements in the American circus arts, is being presented by Circus Now together with the Big Apple Circus, in association with Executive Producer and Director Jonathan S. Cerullo, JSC Theatricals. Part ceremony, part performance, the Celebration of American Circus will honor four artists and/or organizations that have been prominent in the circus arts landscape in America, while spotlighting the thriving state of the circus arts across the nation, and will feature Emcee Thom Wall, with performances from a variety of breath-taking acts. Tickets start at $25 and are available online at

The other awards of the evening include the Community Impact Award presented to Circus Smirkus Founder Rob Mermin and Ed LeClair, Smirkus’s Executive Director, by Sabrina Motley, director of the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival; the Elevating Circus Award for Dominque Jando, renowned circus historian and author, presented by Duncan Wall of Circus Now; and the Lifetime Achievement Award for  the legendary Hovey Burgess, presented by the legendary Dolly Jacobs (Circus Sarasota).

The Evolving Circus Award is given annually to an individual whose personal and/or professional contributions have made a significant and permanent impact on the circus field in America, with specific consideration of how the recipient’s work has influenced the perception of the circus arts by the American public and the arts and entertainment industry.

Bill Irwin is a graduate in theatre arts from Oberlin College, OH, a graduate of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Clown College, FL, and received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1984. Irwin began his film career in 1980 and earned film credits in more than twenty movies. His best-known film role was “Lou Lou Who” in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). He is also a producer, director, writer, and choreographer. In 2001, Irwin collaborated with the renowned Russian mime Vyacheslav Polunin, who organized the New Carnival within the framework of the World Theatre Olympics, in the Hermitage Gardens in Moscow. There, Irwin performed in the duo with David Shiner, among some of the best acting comedians of the 20th century, such as Vyacheslav Polunin, Django Edwards, Jérôme Deschamps, Franz-Joseph Bogner, Leo Bassi, Gennadiy Khazanov, Leonid Yarmolnik and Bolek Polívka, and over a hundred of other comedians and mimes from all over the world. He appeared on Broadway in Accidental Death of an Anarchist and at La Jolla Playhouse in The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, among his other stage works. Bill Irwin won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play, for his performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He was also nominated for four Tony Awards as an actor, author, director, and choreographer.

Bill Irwin, Shaina Taub and David Shiner. Photo by Kevin Berne

Bill Irwin, Shaina Taub and David Shiner. Photo by Kevin Berne

Irwin and Shiner are back together again for Signature Theatre’s wildly successful, award-winning, critically-acclaimed production of Old Hats, January 26 through March 3, 2016, with a Thursday, February 18 opening night at The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). Tickets start at $45. To purchase tickets for all Signature productions, call Ticket Services at 212-244-7529 (Tues. – Sun., 11am – 6pm) or visit

After an extended, sold out run in 2013, Signature welcomes back Bill Irwin and David Shiner in  Old Hats, called “one of the funniest shows of the past few years” by the New York Post, and selected as a Critics’ Pick by The New York Times and Time Out New York. This production reunites the clowns with original director Tina Landau and introduces their new songstress and comic foil Shaina Taub, hailed as “a young Judy Garland meets grown-up Lisa Simpson” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Using music, technology, and movement, Irwin and Shiner combine their inimitable magic and slapstick to create an unforgettable outing that’s fun for the whole family.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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