Three questions for Millerd
The genius behind the Arts Club Theatre will speak in Coquitlam on Thursday as part of Place des Arts’ Salon Speaker Series.
Last Friday, The Tri-City News caught up with Bill Millerd about his upcoming talk, titled Creating Canadian Theatre: Celebrating Stories About Here.
Tri-City News: What is your presentation about?
Bill Millerd: Probably about the history of the Arts Club because we are approaching our 50th anniversary. I have a little video and I will give insights into some of the shows we have done with well-known personalities like Michael Buble, Michael J. Fox and Eric McCormack who have appeared on our stage. I think also I’ll also explain our touring program because we go to the Evergreen [Cultural Centre, in Coquitlam] on a regular basis. And then my own impressions of live theatre and why it’s valuable.
TCN: What’s the state of theatre these days?
Millerd: You could have asked me this question two months ago and I might have said, ‘It’s challenging.’ Right now, we’ve got two shows that are selling out so it’s so dependent on the plays themselves. If people want to see the current Ride the Cyclone and Boeing-Boeing, they will go. If they don’t want to see something, they won’t go. The economy doesn’t have a huge amount to do with that. Where I think the economy might affect us or has affected us is more with some of our long-running shows where we expect to reach out beyond the regular theatre-going audience. And we did notice that last summer but there was also a lot of competition and Vancouver is a very pleasant place and people spend a lot of time outdoors.
TCN: What is your biggest challenge?
Millerd: Just balancing the budget. It’s a big operation — approaching $12 million — and a lot of things can go wrong. The Playhouse [closing], that certainly was a shock. One would have to wonder what went wrong there. I think we’re fortunate in that we control our own venues. We own the Stanley, which is our main subscription house, and long-term leases on our theatres on Granville Island so in a sense we can control our destiny. Even though we’re a non-profit society, we are a business as well.
• Hear Bill Millerd speak in person at Place des Arts (1120 Brunette Ave., Coquitlam) on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets at $5 are available through 604-664-1636, www.placedesarts.ca or at the door.