Meet Bill Marshall Performing in Death of a Salesman

Meet Bill Marshall, who is performing as Ben in Death of a Salesman. Read on to learn about the rehearsal process, how he’s developing his character, and why you should take a chance on this show!

LA: Where are you originally from?

BM: I grew up in Chicago and moved to Minneapolis in 1986 with my wife, Margaret.

LA: Why did this particular play interest you?

BM: It was my father’s favorite play. He used to recite lines from it. There aren’t many chances to be part of one of the greatest plays ever written, so it is an honor.

LA: For those unfamiliar with Death of a Salesman can you tell us about the show?

BM: The tragic center of the play is Willy Loman, a career shoe salesman reaching the end of the line and seeing his world falling apart.  He is disillusioned and slowly losing contact with reality. The dysfunctional Loman family is the result of a man spending his life misplaced.  

LA: Talk about the character(s) that you play in Death of a Salesman How have you developed this character(s)?

BM: I am playing the role of Ben. He is Willy’s long lost and well-travelled brother. He is a very tricky character because he only exists in Willy’s mind. He appears four times in the play as a vehicle to further Willy’s slide to oblivion. We are working on communicating Ben as a bit removed emotionally, larger than life, aloof.   

LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

BM: The greatest joy is watching my fellow actors. They are doing some heart-wrenching and fearless work in this show.  The beauty of this play is there are no incidental characters; certainly some of them are much smaller than others but they all serve a deep purpose. Director, Bob Neu is doing a masterful job of allowing the actors to explore while having a firm hand on his vision.  The work is so intense that it takes great care by the director to guide this process while keeping actors’ confidence buoyed.

LA: What are some of the most impressive elements of Death of a Salesman?

BM: The raw emotions are exquisitely drawn by Arthur Miller.  Although some of the language is from 1949 the story is timeless.

LA: Why should people come and take a chance and see Death of a Salesman?

BM: It is arguably the greatest play written in the 20th century. It is a great reminder that theater is not all about musicals and comedy. You will leave the theater having had a deepened human experience.

LA: What was your first job you ever had?

BM: Putting together the Sunday Chicago Tribune on Friday and Saturday for $8. If I worked really fast I made a buck an hour (foreshadow for Death of a Salesman) and a nod to how old I am!

LA: Sum up Death of a Salesman in 3 words?

BM: Heart-wrenching, intense, loving.

LA: What is your favorite thing about Lyric Arts?

BM: The professionalism and joy I see in the staff and production teams.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

BM: I retired after 30 years in the printing industry. I am realizing my dream of singing and acting. I have been a guest soloist with a variety of choruses and symphonies in the past few years. I have also appeared on five different Twin Cities theater stages in dramatic and musical theater. I am married to my wife, Margaret and we have three adult daughters, Angela, Kate and Sadie.