Umbrella Talk with playwright Marcia Johnson

This week on Umbrella Talk is playwright Marcia Johnson. Marcia tells us which director from Newfoundland would direct the coolest production of one of her plays, what makes her sulk and what she wants to write about next.

A little bit about Marcia Johnson

Marcia Johnson has three world premieres in 2008. Binti’s Journey, an adaptation of the teen fiction novel, ‘The Heaven Shop’ by Deborah Ellis was produced by Theatre Direct in February and is touring in 2009. This was followed by another adaptation, Courting Johanna at Blyth Festival, based on Alice Munro’s ‘Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage’. The final play, Late, is an Obsidian Theatre Company production. This piece is based on Marcia’s final assignment when she was a member of Obsidian’s 2006/07 playwrights unit.

Marcia has participated in other playwrights’ groups at Theatre Passe Muraille, the Siminovitch Prize Playwriting Master Class with Carole Frechette; Tapestry New Opera’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory (Lib-Lab) and an Ontario Arts Council Playwright’s Residency at Blyth Festival.

Also an actor, Marcia’s professional acting debut was in 1983 on the CBC TV series Hangin’ In. Her most recent acting role was in The Real McCoy by fellow actor/playwright, Andrew Moodie at Factory Theatre in Toronto and Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa. She was also an original cast member for the 2007 Fringe runaway hit, The Gladstone Variations.

Current projects include writing the libretto for My Mother’s Ring (Tapestry New Opera’s Opera to Go) and adapting an Ursula K. Leguin novella as a full length opera (University of Illinois) both with composer, Stephen Taylor.

Umbrella Talk with Marcia Johnson

What do you drink on opening night?

Champagne. Is that a trick question?

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

Jillian Kielly from Artistic Fraud in Newfoundland.

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

That would be telling.

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

That’s a long list. I think historical figures are next for me.

If someone was to write a play about your life, what genre would it be? (eg. comedy, tragedy, melodrama, horror) ?

All of the above with some interpretive dance.

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?

Praise: I look behind me to see who the person is really talking to. Criticism: I sulk.

Where would you like your work to be produced?

London. I just got back and saw two great productions in beautiful little theatres. And the audiences were so well-behaved.

Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?

Pen for the initial ideas then keyboard the rest of the way.

What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?

She had a huge palette and did not limit herself to any particular theme or genre.

What inspires you?

People who have their act together, especially at a young age.

Thanks again for reading this week's Umbrella Talk. Up next, we will be chatting with Newfoundland's Robert Chafe of Artistic Fraud. If you are a playwright who has been produced here in Canada or elsewhere and would like to talk to us, please e-mail us at