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Friday, November 04, 2011

Taking The Stairs

Although humility is a much desired character trait, particularly when found in the rich, famous, or powerful, it is unfortunately not a necessary condition to greatness. One cannot ascertain a person's level of accomplishment based on his/her humility or lack thereof. There are braggarts who are indeed what they say they are and ones whose words are no more than puffery.

Conversely, there are humble persons of ordinary means and ones who have achieved much and carry it not as a badge but remain shrouded, such as my late friend, Dave, who, until he was on his deathbed, kept his achievements secret from us all.

In four decades of living in New York City, and with the privilege of meeting tens of thousands in the course of my business, I have seen all the variants of humility and accomplishment. Of course we all love those who are humble - who amongst us wants the achievements and greatness of others rubbed in our face?

One of the greatest perks of my business are the occasions when I meet the world's luminaries, both those known to the public at large and the many who are relatively unknown to the public but are legends within their community.

But there is even a greater privilege - being graced with meeting those who are humble, accomplished, and NICE, regardless of worldly achievement. It is people like Jamie Adkins, whose unadulterated niceness and gentle manner is so DISARMING that meeting him leaves an indelible impression and a smile on my mind. I am left feeling lighter and am reassured that people are good and my work is worth doing.

Recently I was paid a visit by Bill Irwin and David Shiner. I have known Bill since the 1980s. An actor (stage, film, TV), clown, and writer, his accomplishments are many - too many to list besides the highlights here. He has won a Tony Award, an Obie Award, New York Drama Critics Circle Special Citation, Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a CFCA Award, and a New Victory Arts Award. He was named a Guggenheim Fellow and received a National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer's Fellowship. He is most well known for being the first performance artist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship*, often called the Genius Award.

Bill created a number of highly regarded stage shows that incorporated elements of clowning - The Regard of Flight (1982), Largely New York (1989), Fool Moon (1993), The Harlequin Studies (2003), and Mr. Fox: A Rumination (2004).

Before leaving my showroom, I asked Bill and David if they were willing to do a little schtick for our company, which he readily agreed to. For those who would like to meet Bill, I would not bother looking for him strutting in the streets of New York or on TV doing interviews. This is not a man inclined to chest-thumping bravado, limousines, or red carpets. You may find him on Broadway, Taking The Stairs :)


Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

What a wonderful piece, Brian! Bill Irwin truly is an amazing performer, and I'm not surprised at all to hear that he's a really nice person. So cool that you know him.

Mary P. said...

Great piece...and impromptu, too!

Naomi said...

This was a really fun day. Both gents were so friendly and live to entertain.