The lady is full of enthusiasm in talking about her plans for the theater. "For the first couple of years, we'll operate just in the summer," she says. "Eventually, hopefully, we will work year-round--but not necessarily all theater. We may do concerts, opera." In addition to the emphasis on new works, Woodward will spearhead a drive for $10-million in capital funds with a view toward renovating the playhouse's lighting, air-conditioning, and heating systems, etc.
"I'm bullish on the theater," says Woodward, "because we're gone past the whole television thing, in a way. We used to have terrible feelings about the fact that live TV was taking away all the good writers--but, of course, what it did was that it found a lot of writers. It was a place for them to work. Some of the greatest writers we have started in television.
"Actors and writers need to come back to the theater," Woodward continues, "because it's a place where you can learn. You have to pay your dues; and people who haven't paid their dues in the theater, I think, have a hard time creating a whole career."
Our talk shifts to the subject of film. "There aren't a lot of movies for people our age," Woodward remarks, "and I was never terribly enamored of making movies--mainly because I like to work on stage. I didn't make a lot of movies. Maybe 12. I'm very happy doing what I'm doing now: I like to direct and act occasionally on stage. Once in a while, I do television. It's more likely that somebody my age can find a part in television."
Has it sometimes been difficult, over the years, to work and live with a legend like Newman? "Yes," Woodward says, "but it's nice when you accomplish it. We've survived up until now!" Does she have any words of wisdom for other couples? "I wouldn't begin to try and give anyone advice about staying married," she replies. "A lot of it is luck. [Director] George Roy Hill once said, 'Luck is an art.' I think that's true! It's important if people are willing to give and take a little. And forgive."
Woodward does impart one very practical bit of marital advice: Splitting up the household chores can be helpful. "Paul cooks, I clean up," she says. "It works out that way. I used to cook--but now I don't." She also helps her husband with his Newman's Own food company, which has donated more than $100 million to charity, including his Hole in the Wall Gang camps for sick children. And Newman is on the artistic advisory board of the playhouse, so he's been around. The cast of The Constant Wife, in fact, got a big thrill when he joined them on the first day of rehearsal.
"Here we are in this studio in New York," says Janice Muirhead, "and there's Paul Newman, who came to be with Joanne. He went out and got coffee for everybody!"