The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Bill Cwikowski

Bill Cwikowski

Founding Member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, Actor
Born on Sunday, August 5, 1945

Interviewed on: Friday, July 3, 2015
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Sally Plass
Interview #47
"I’m always concerned about how much people don’t know… about the history of the theatre."
Bill Cwikowski Highlights
Video Length: 6 minutes, 18 seconds
Bill Cwikowski Interview
Video Length: 2 hours, 5 minutes

A master storyteller, Bill Cwikowski is an actor and founding member of Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST). While attending Smith College he met Curt Dempster, who would go on to create EST in 1968. Cwikowski’s selected theatre credits include: LITTLE VICTORIES (1983), SPLIT SECOND (1984), THE GOOD COACH (1989), THE SCARLET LETTER (1994), and FAR EAST (1998). Cwikowski also appeared in ARIEL BRIGHT (1984), written by his wife, Kate Long. The production got rave reviews in the NY Times, which led to him becoming an “Entertainment Tonight” sensation, when the show followed him during a night in which he was performing in both SPLIT SECOND on Broadway and in the EST Marathon Play Festival. The New York Times said of his performance in SPLIT SECOND: “In his single scene Bill Cwikowski is perfect, offering a scathing portrait of a low-life punk.”

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Cwikowski grew up watching and enjoying great character actors such as Richard Boone, Anthony Quinn, and Lloyd Bridges. His regional theatre work includes time spent at Long Wharf Theatre and running the Summer Theatre Conference at The Barlow School from 1978-1981. Some of his other selected theatre credits include: Lincoln Center Theater, Classic Stage Company, WPA Theater, Theatre Four, and American Place Theatre. Cwikowski’s TV credits include: “NYPD Blue,” “Third Watch,” “Law and Order,” “30 Rock,” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

Mentioned in Interview

Curt Dempster, Jon Voight, , Dustin Hoffman, Olympia Dukakis, Jerry Orbach, Lloyd Bridges, John Cazale, Arvin Brown, Jerry Zaks, Willa Kim, Ellen Parks, Hal Prince, Robert Kalfin, John Ford Noonan, Michael Weller, Miguel Pinero, Jimmy Smits, Linda Hunt, A.R. Gurney, Cynthia Nixon, Daniel Sullivan, Eugenie Leontavich, Steve Buscemi, Willy Hotzman, Equity Library Theatre, The Living Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, Circle Repertory Theatre, WPA Federal Theatre Project, INTAR Theatre, Classic Stage Company, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, ANY GIVEN DAY, THE SEAGULL, HEARTS, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, SCUBA DUBA, LITTLE VICTORIES, SPLIT SECOND, THE SCARLET LETTER