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An interview with Bill Marchant

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Tell us a bit about your character in Herr Beckmann’s People.

My name is Klaus. I am the older brother of Anna, son of Clara and Rainer. I have a passion for booze and broads. I have secrets that must be revealed at any cost.

What’s it like to work on a brand-new script? When this play is published, it’ll be your name in the front under the original cast. Is this more pressure, or less, for your work?

It is such a joy to work on a new script, to walk into to rehearsal with no preconceived notions of the play and to create a character for the fists time. The pressure is the same every time you do a show, to stay true to the needs of the story, keep your intention clear  and create as much room for the audience to sneak in there with you.

Tell us a little about your process.

My process? Wow. After thirty five years of acting and twenty of teaching, my process is tough to define. I surrender to the text and the impulses from my body. I trust that my partner in a given scene will provide me with enough tinder to set the place on fire. For me, the stakes can never be too high. We all are hungry for more: more light, more fucking, more fighting, more dancing, more desire, more singing, more shouting, all in the name of love. Every scene is a love scene. Every single one.

Outside of being an actor, you are….

Awriter, a producer, a director, a poet, a teacher, a musician, a wreck, a man of peace, a horny son of a bitch, a dreamer, a fraud, a gasmonger and a fool.

How is “just” being an actor different from being a director/writer?

Total surrender. Letting go of control is the most terrible euphoria. I love it.

What’s next for Bill Marchant?

Rest. Write. Rest. Teach. Write. Fear death. Write. rest. More fear. Produce. Contemplate suicide. Get slimmer. Rest.  Fuck. Rest. Rest. Direct. Rest. Act. Rest. ( most of the resting will not occur, but it sounds good in theory)

Mac or PC?


Bill Marchant is honoured to be working with Katrina Dunn and Touchstone Theatre.  Originally hailing from Georgetown, Ontario, Bill has spent the last twenty years as a proud member of the Vancouver arts community as an actor, writer and director.  His first feature film, “Everyone”, won the Zenith D’or at the Montreal Film Festival in 2004, followed by the debut of his next picture “By The Hour” at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006. His upcoming feature, “Exley”, a collaboration with Canadian filmmaking legend Larry Kent, will be released this Fall. Last year saw the debut of two of Marchant’s original plays, “Ashes’ and ‘Gift of Screws”. “Seven Miles Out”’ an album of alt rock tunes co-written with Michael Chase came out in may of this year. Bill Marchant is Head of Department at Vancouver Film School. He thanks Sally Stubbs for her beautiful and provocative play and his students for their love and patience.

An interview with Playwright Sally Stubbs

Thursday, May 27th, 2010


Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

On May 25th 2010 The Jessie Richardson Award Society announced the slate of nominations for the 2009/10 season. A wide range of excellence in Vancouver theatre found the spotlight among the categories, including all three of Touchstone’s shows that were eligible for nomination. Judith Thompson’s searing political triptych Palace of the End took three nominations including Best Production Small Theatre (with our partners Felix Culpa and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades) and Actress in a Lead Role for Laara Sadiq’s unforgettable embodiment of Nehrjas Al Saffarh. Nominations for Shawn Macdonald’s Demon Voice found recognition going to longtime Touchstone designers Adrian Muir and David Roberts, and to Patrick Keating for his moving portrayal of Darryl. Excellence in design was also highlighted in the nominations for DualMinds’ Any Night (co-presented by Touchstone and The VECC), as was Ron Jenkins’ stunning direction. Touchstone congratulates all its nominees and wishes them the best of luck at the Awards Ceremony on June 21st at the Commodore! Below is a detailed list of the 9 nominations:

Palace of the End by Judith Thompson
(Touchstone Theatre in Association with Felix Culpa and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades)
Outstanding Production Small Theatre
Outstanding Direction Small Theatre – David Bloom / Katrina Dunn / Mindy Parfitt
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Small Theatre – Laara Sadiq

Demon Voice by Shawn Macdonald
Outstanding Lighting Design Small Theatre – Adrian Muir
Outstanding Set Design Small Theatre – David Roberts
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Small Theatre – Patrick Keating

Any Night by Daniel Arnold, Medina Hahn and Ron Jenkins
(DualMinds co-presented by Touchstone Theatre and the Vancouver East Cultural Centre)
Outstanding Direction Small Theatre – Ron Jenkins
Outstanding Lighting Design Small Theatre – David Fraser
Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition Small Theatre – Gordon Heal


Monday, May 24th, 2010
Andrew Pilliar and Amanda Kemshaw as Oliver and Denise

Andrew Pilliar and Amanda Kemshaw as Oliver and Denise

30 amazing lawyers defied the odds and took on the Bard from May 12th – 15th 2010 in Touchstone and Carousel’s annual Lawyer Show fundraiser. Rich language, delicate ensemble work and kick-ass wrestling were some of the finer features of the show, which our cast brought forth with great panache. Thank-you to everyone who worked on the show, and to our Assistant Stage Manager Kieth who proposed to his girlfriend onstage on opening night. Not a dry eye in the house!

cast members and guests dig into oysters on Oyster Night

cast members and guests dig into oysters on Oyster Night

An interview with Christine Willes

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

We sat down with Christine Willes, who plays Clara Epp in our upcoming production of Herr Beckmann’s People. Christine is just finishing up in Dangerous Corner at the Playhouse, and is also the Artistic Director of the William Davis Centre for Actors at Van Arts. You might recognize Christine as Delores Herbig from Dead Like Me, or everyone’s favorite demon from Reaper.  Needless to say, she’s a busy lady….

Tell us a bit about your character in Herr Beckmann’s People.

Clara Epp was a concert pianist in Germany in the 1930′s. She met and married a German Mennonite at the same time, and had 2 children. In the 1935, her husband urged her to emigrate to Kenya with him, because he believed war was coming. She refused because it would kill her career as a pianist. Instead, through her mother’s connections, her husband became an SS interpreter. Clara , now in her 60′s in the play, has seen the effects of her commitment to “her music” for almost 40 years – estranged daughter, husband dead, son dead of alcoholism complications. She is very strong, and heartbroken. Music is her main solace – Debussy and Chopin.
What’s it like to work on a brand-new script?

It is exciting, stimulating, challenging and terrifying. I think Sally has written a fantastic script, and I want to do it justice. I want the world to see this play.


Tell us a little about your process.

First I get the story of the play straight in my mind, then I fill in the back story and build images for everything and everyone I talk about in the play. At the same time I hunt for what drives the character – what does she want, and what does she do to get what she wants. I consider myself a story-teller. And the power of the story is in knowing the story thoroughly – in my bones.

Outside of being an actor, you are….

A Mom of 2 great kids. An educator. A fiery champion of women in the arts.

What’s it like to be part of two TV shows that have such a cult following? Do you get recognized on the street?

It’s lovely! Both shows have strong fan bases, and they love the shows so much. I do get recognized on the street, but I also get puzzled looks of semi-recognition. Someone remembers me from somewhere…..but where? I love that! I’m a character actor, a chameleon. I almost prefer not being recognized.

What’s next for Christine Willes?

A film – very exciting and hush-hush.

Vanilla or chocolate?

Vanilla or cinnamon!!!!

Herr Beckmann’s People runs from June 10-19 at Playwright’s Theatre Centre.

The 2010 Lawyer Show is in Rehearsal

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

First Rehearsal for As You Like It

First Rehearsal for As You Like It

This year a cast of 30 brave actors is tackling William Shakespeare’s multi-layered comedy As You Like it. The second of our adventures with the Bard, this one is set in the political and cultural hotbed of the roaring 20’s. The above photo of our first rehearsal gives you a great idea of the abundance of talent, brains and silliness brought to bear on this beautiful text. So far, rehearsal highlights have included the ever dynamic wrestling scene between Orlando and Charles, and a Duke Frederick modeled on Al Capone, complete with hit men and attendant molls. We’ll keep you updated as the show continues to grow.

Katrina Dunn

The Show Will Go On

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Last night was a fabulous opening to the PuSh Festival. In the brand new theatre at the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts at Woodwards – a stunning 400 seat theatre – everyone was there, excited, not only about the opening of PuSh and the theatre, but also about this crazy time we’re entering. Regardless of what you think about the big O its undeniable that there are some good opportunities to take in great art coming up. PuSh’s first offering – The Show Must Go On – juxtaposes the sentimental pull of pop songs with a crew of 21 volunteer performers toying with our ideas of performance through the entire evening. I can see how the show would shift radically with different audiences, but last night’s crowd of luminaries from many disciplines was giddy with delight at the evening’s exploration. It was a great affirmation of the surge of energy and creativity surging through this community despite the funding crisis and the lack of support from some government that we now find ourselves facing. I woke up from this rich feast to find that one of Touchstone’s offerings last season – Hannah Moscovitch’s East of Berlin – has been shortlisted for the Helen Smith Blackburn Prize (a single award given to a female playwright writing in English). Kudos to Hannah! Let’s hope she wins.

Katrina Dunn

Onward and Upward

Monday, January 4th, 2010

At the launch of this new decade we’re thrilled to be a part of the thriving theatre and arts scene in BC. 2009 was a remarkable year for Touchstone. January to June saw the completion of one of our most ambitious seasons ever. Focusing on Canadian women playwrights, we co-presented Hannah Moscovitch’s East of Berlin with the Firehall Arts Centre and the Chutzpah! Festival in February. Then we moved on to Linda Griffith’s stunning Age of Arousal in partnership with the Arts Club Theatre. This highly successful new Canadian play played to over 5000 people on the Granville Island stage. The capper to the season was Judith Thompson’s award-winning Palace of the End, produced in association with Felix Culpa and Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. This powerful work had a profound impact on those who saw it and generated some very interesting discussion. All of these shows met with great reviews and excellent houses and we are grateful for that. The latter part of 2009 has been consumed with our Made in BC season. Launching with a co-presentation (with The Cultch) of DualMinds beautifully staged and acted Any Night and followed by the world premiere of Shawn Macdonald’s provocative script Demon Voice. In the midst of it all there has been our wonderful relocation to Granville Island to share with our great friends Carousel Theatre, the casting of another Lawyer Show, the welcoming on board of long time Touchstone supporter Louise Bentall as our new General Manager, and of course the nagging problem of looming arts cuts. But even the specter of losing that all-important support cannot dampen the energy infecting Touchstone and so many other thriving arts organizations in this city. We are growing and moving forward and nothing can stop us. Another bright star has been the news that Touchstone, along with our partners November Theatre, Rumble Productions and Theatre Network, are the recipients of the 2009 Banff Residency Award. We will be taking the entire production team for Hard Core Logo: Live to the Banff Centre for the Arts for 10 days in April to do some high end workshopping of the work’s considerable visual and musical elements. It’s an amazing opportunity that unfortunately knocks out the in-progress showing we were planning for Tremors, but we will be getting back to subscribers to let you know of another opportunity to glimpse this much anticipated work. And we are swinging into production gear for Herr Beckmann’s People – our 2010 Flying Start project, showcasing the prodigious talent of Sally Stubbs. This piece has already won several awards and we’re sure Touchstone’s audience will find it engaging. At the launch of a new decade Touchstone’s mandate seems ever more important. How can we better understand who we are as a national community than be telling and promoting our own stories and our own creative discourse? So thanks so much for supporting us and frequenting our shows. See you at the theatre!

Demon Voice Video Blog #12 – In Tech!!!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Shawn chats with set designer David Roberts and lighting designer Adrian Muir as we try to finish the Q to Q.

Demon Voice Video Blog #11 – Patrick Keating

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Shawn talks to Patrick on the first tech day.