Umbrella Talk with playwright Bill Marchant

In this week's Umbrella Talk, Bill Marchant talks about his philosophy of acting, writing in restaurants, and the usefulness of praise.

A little more about Bill Marchant

Bill Marchant is a Vancouver based artist. His debut film Everyone won the Zenith D’Or for Best Film at the Montreal World Film Festival. He has had a string of successful plays across the continent, most recently with an acclaimed run of Ashes at The Firehall in Vancouver for Eye Heart Productions and most pleasurably with Clown Elections in 2006. Past productions of his scripts include Big Block Letters, Secret Hearts and A Cure for Happiness.

This year will also see the debut of two new works What Then Must We Do and The Last Days of Las Fabulosas. Fabulosas is a particularly exciting project for Marchant, reteaming him with Nancy Sivak and Suzanne Hepburn, veterans of several of his films. The two star as Vegas-style show girls touring their show in some exotic locale while contemplating girth of love. Is bigger always better?

Marchant has also acted for the last 30 years, dividing his time between the stage and screen. In addition, he is a poet and songwriter with his first book of poems, Auguries, published in 2005. His next album, Love is Not Enough, a collaboration with Michael Chase will be released in 2009. Bill Marchant is the Head of Department for Acting at Vancouver Film School.

What do you drink on opening night?

Who would direct the coolest production of one of your plays?

Me. I am a notorious stickler for depth of performance and I think that actors left to their own devices will often choose the way of comfort, ease or vanity, rich on what they have found in their head but lacking in the real sweet stuff that lies deeper in the cavities of their fear and loneliness. I love actors. I am an actor. But I think acting is best when it’s a collaborative art. The director’s primary responsibility is to play with them and capture the elusive light that only comes from the wilds of rehearsal. I love that sacred pact between us. That is our gift to the audience. Nobody could ever know my script as well as I do. I love to see another director’s interpretation but I always find them a little off from what I intended. One less ego never hurt a play.

What scares you? What can't you write about?

I am scared of breathing. I can only write about love.

What do you want to write about that you haven't yet?


If someone was to write a play about your life, what genre would it be? (eg. comedy, tragedy, melodrama, horror)
I don’t understand genre. Everything is everything. If it doesn’t make me laugh, I don’t want to see it. If it doesn’t make me weep, it’s a lie.

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?
I love praise; it’s the best way to promote the next show. Criticism? I call that family.

Where would you like your work to be produced?

Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?

I write in restaurants. That’s best. Home has too many distractions. I love longhand but I am a keyman more and more.

What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?
I couldn’t care less.

What inspires you?
To quote Nick Lowe, “What lack of love has done.”