Marjorie Bicknell was one of the most selfless and giving people I have ever met. In a cutthroat industry that often requires playwrights to be shameless in the promotion of their own work, Marj – though quite an accomplished playwright herself – dedicated so much of her career to giving a leg up to the rest of us.
As the Philadelphia representative for the Dramatists Guild, Marj was unwavering in her dedication to obtaining as many opportunities for local playwrights as she could. As Secretary and website designer for MusiCoLab, Marj persuaded us to grow into our current nonprofit status, and filed all of the paperwork to make it happen – this despite her not even being a composer herself. She just loved musicals, and wanted to see more of them happen here in Philly.
Marj was a pivotal voice in one of the most defining and important conversations of my career: After a reading from my musical “Fresh!” at the Philadelphia Dramatists Center, I had questions for the group (and the women especially) about my whether or not I had succeeded at bringing an honest and nuanced voice and experience to a character with a history of sexual assault. This turned into an impassioned and extremely illuminating conversation about the nature of advocacy in theater, and what our responsibilities are as playwrights when presenting a painful and life-altering experience that we ourselves have not gone through. I’ll carry that conversation with me in anything I go on to do, and will always hear Marj’s passionate voice in my head.
Speaking of voice Marj’s voice: Marj was also my voice student (she could sing a mean “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago), and far more importantly, my friend. She was a voice of support and encouragement when things got hard, and a loving and empathetic presence at all times. I can’t even truly process that she is gone – and the world is a worse place without her.
Rest in peace, Marj. Your absence will always be noticed, and you will always be very, very missed.